Thursday 30 April 2009

FASHION VICTIM - by Lily Childs

A shocking debut from LilyC...not for the faint-hearted!


I used to say fashion would tear me apart. The clothes I designed were meant for me, but instead I sent size-zero girls down the catwalk to parade in my finery whilst spineless rich women leeched my personal style by buying, performing and presenting themselves in my creations. They drove me completely mad. Yes they did.


I was right. Fashion did tear me apart in the end. In a carefully staged show I arranged for my guts to spill as I took my final step on the catwalk, models towering above my slight frame, praising and applauding me, all glittering in the darkness of my exquisite designs.

I tottered towards the audience - my paying customers, in thigh-length, heeled boots studded with silver charms not unlike those dripping from my wrists, and I threw my arms wide in true Cabaret style. My girls fawned around me as if on heat, and celebrities threw themselves at the stage desperate to touch the models’ feet, their shoes, their stockings, the fabric of the divine creations I had made, which hung off their skin and bones.

I moved forward, the applause was overwhelming. The wry smile on my porcelain white face, a pretty twist at the corner of my mouth belied the fact that I was about to give them the best entertainment of their lives. I’d watched Kill Bill and studied a few hee he haw Chinese martial arts films, with women flying around at impossible speeds, severing heads with bejewelled swords. It wasn’t so difficult rigging up a cape-like, tattered black leather affair to cover my arms – it looked quite the biz, quite the biker-goth style of the season, thank you very much. The built-in contraption which projected stiletto daggers into my waiting hands was rather ingenious, if I didn’t say so myself. Indeed I didn’t say so, but held my hands aloft with the thin blades lying patiently against my palms, breathing in the adoring fans and shaking my head in mock protest at the praise being cast upon me.

I smiled my best ever; my lips crimson and matt, against all the make-up artists’ advice.

‘Don’t do red, darling, it makes you too pale’.

‘Definitely glossy, not matt baby, or the rest of your face disappears and you look just too theatrical’.

Well fuck ‘em. I like red. I like theatrical. My painted mouth is part of the mask I have lived behind all these years.

I threw my head back, the wide locks of my short, curled black hair tickling the nape of my neck. Then I brought myself slowly back to face them once more, my smile erupting into a grin, the stiletto blades hot in my hands as I moved ever closer to the crowd. I stage-stepped towards them and they roared with approval. Vogue, Harpers, skanky paparazzi – their cameras flashed blindingly as I moved amongst the models, reaching up and grabbing the heads of each of my best, my most loyal girls. I kissed every one of them full on the mouth - Kristina, Belle, Alice, Karatori, Anna – all of them. The crowd went wild as my tongue entered the beautiful mouths - at the very same moment that my blades invisibly pierced the jugulars of those regal necks. The gushes of blood seeped unseen into huge, majestic, black-padded ruffs adorning the girls’ throats, designed especially for the purpose and for the wiping of knives.

Clever girls, I loved them – I was so proud of them - they all fell so beautifully, I couldn’t have choreographed it better myself. The audience was convinced it was all part of the show and they begged for more.

Then I saw her; celebrated, no-talent, viper critic, sneering in contempt. This useless wretch was a waste of space but somehow had the ear of every editor across the fashion world, and every commission-paying client. Ella Beatson came right to the front of the floor, and in her own condescending way began to clap very, very slowly. My heart didn’t miss a beat. Instead of gritting my teeth and seething I ran towards her and laughed out loud. Her painted eyebrows lifted as I grabbed her arms and pulled her onto the stage. With the spotlight now on her instead of me, my clothes and my creatures, Ella’s face lit up with a sense of amazement and she began to shimmy about as though she were the star of the show. I giggled. I’d make her the star, if that was what she wanted. I danced over to her as she swayed to the beat, and stretched up my hands to sink leather-bound fingers into her platinum-blond, bobbed hair. I pulled her head down towards me, as I had with my girls and kissed her full and deep on the mouth. When I let her go she drew back and took a shuddering breath.

‘I never knew’ she said, looking at me with desire. The people in front of us screamed at our indulgence and clapped for more cheap thrills. This time Ella bent towards me and she licked my cherry lips before seeking out my tongue with her own. She disgusted me but I took her head in my hands and returned the embrace anyway. The sharp blades flicked easily from their clasps, and I swiftly sliced both sides of her throat without letting go. She began to convulse and my throat immediately filled with her hot blood. The audience suddenly grasped what was going on and there was a tiny moment of silence before someone screamed.

‘Oh my God. It’s real. They’re dead, they’re really dead’.

Then they all started. Mindless, talentless bimbos squealing away like little piglets. I let Ella drop to the floor and watched the carnage as other models, wives, mistresses, girlfriends, would-be designers and celebrity has-beens fought each other to get to the doors. The music – Insomnia by Faithless – came to an abrupt halt, and I called out.

‘Look at me!’

Some of them stopped in their tracks; others poured over themselves to reach the auditorium.

‘Look at me!’ I cried again. This time everyone slowly turned to face me, complete and absolute horror on their faces.

‘You are nothing’ I smiled serenely. ‘You are worthless’.

I was near the edge of the stage, bleeding women around my feet, not a living person within close proximity. But still my audience stood, wide-eyed, stunned, stupid.

‘This is for every one of you’ I said.

‘You are an insult to design. You are an insult to style. You are an insult to creativity, and to my intelligence.’

Tears fell about the place and women wailed in the aisles. I took a single step forward.

‘You are an insult to the female race’.

I grinned, my teeth bloody as several of them collapsed against each other, their silly satins, silks, taffetas and leathers now as out of place and stupid as they all were.

Finally and quietly I said, ‘Look at me. I’m doing this for you’.

I raised my hands once more and the glare of the spotlight, still rotating above us, must have hit the slim steel blades in my palms because everyone recoiled, as one.

I looked down at myself and used the thin knives to tear open the sparkling, silver-thread bodice wrapped tight around my torso, by slicing through the leather ribbon which laced it together. It slipped from my body and I stood there with my breasts on display, my nipples pink and high, perfect and firm – no surgery for me. The little rose-pink organza tutu draped with leather tatters, which hung from my hips, fluttered prettily and I glanced down at my round tummy - it only slightly protruded over the top. I didn’t care – I was proud of it.

I couldn’t walk any further forward on the stage without tumbling off, so I stood where I was, looking around one last time to take in their faces, to enjoy the horror they were feeling. Even as they vomited and wept, they were helpless, edging back towards me like junkies, desperate.

The stiletto blades were still in my hands. Quickly, without further ado I plunged them deep into my solar plexus, then dragged them out to either side, below my ribs. It hurt very badly and I fell to my knees. The screams around the theatre nearly overwhelmed me, nearly stopped me from finishing, but from somewhere came the strength to drive the knives back into my belly and slit all the way down, through the tutu, down to my knickers.

My guts spilled out everywhere, and I was pleasantly satisfied by the heat of them on my hands, before I finally fell into the crowd.

BIO: Lily Childs is a budding writer in the mystery and chiller genre, and is thrilled to have her first short story published on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers.
'Fashion Victim' is Lily's subtle response to being thrown off a clothing design course for being 'too nice!' After a seven-year spell in France, Lily now lives on the Sussex Coast with her artist husband and beautiful 5-year old daughter.

HUMBLE PIE by Vallon Jackson

This is the fourth in the on-going series following the anonymous Wile. E. Coyote killer and his hopeless attempts at murdering his nemesis, Robert. For previous episodes, put PIE in the search blog bar.

Humble Pie

I’m not really the physical type, so the idea of a weekend spent building rafts and scaling gorges while wet through and thoroughly miserable isn’t my idea of a good time. Add the discomfort of sleeping in a tent pitched on rocky ground to the fact that I had to share the damn thing with the red-headed lothario, Robert, and you’ll get a good idea of how peed off I was.

Bad enough that Robert is a gobshite who loves the sound of his own bragging, and he stinks like a donkey’s armpit after a couple pints of stout, but the git was also responsible for knocking off my wife, Roxy, for months.

I put a stop to that.

I skulled Roxy and drove her and her car in front of a train.

Since then it’s been a mission of mine to send Robert to a similarly gruesome fate.

The problem is, three times now I’ve failed to kill the self-proclaimed God’s gift to womankind.

My only saving grace was that Robert had pulled with Becki – a temp who thought she’d extend her contract if she sucked up to one of the bosses. So I had the tent to myself for most of Friday and Saturday night. Free from Robert’s farts and the homicidal thoughts I had every time he lifted his leg and let rattle. (I wondered what the police would find most unusual: the tent peg rammed through his skull, or the carabiners clamping his butt cheeks together?)

Sunday night was going to be different though. Becki had a christening to attend, and it was unlikely she’d come back to our moorland base for the final night. Unless Robert found another pie to dabble his fingers in, I was going to have to spend about the worst night imaginable. The only other female with us was Big Jan, and I doubted that Robert’s charms would win her over. Not when her partner Fifi was waiting for her at home. Robert wasn’t one for crew cuts, baggy football tops and jeans strung with chains, but he’d even bragged once that – if he so desired – he could turn even Jan.

I thought about telling Jan his plan. Let her snap his neck for me.

But I hadn’t. I didn’t want Jan to get in trouble for killing the son of a bitch.

No, Robert was my problem to deal with. I owed him big time.

We were out on the moor, orienteering.

While Jan and Craig, and Billy and James, went off following a map and compass, hunting for the coordinates our ‘team leaders’ had marked out, me and Robert went the other.

To hell with that for a lark, Robert announced after about two minutes. I’m off down the village for a pint.

We’re not going to pass the course if we go AWOL, I told him.

Like I care? There’s a hot bit of crumpet serving behind the bar. Gonna try my luck. Are you coming or not?

I looked fondly at the desolate hillside that led all the way down to Bilgefoot. It was sufficiently craggy, full of loose rocks with sudden drop offs. It would be a great shame if poor Robert just happened to slip, fall of the cliff and splatter on the rocks below. No way could I allow him to attempt the treacherous path alone.

Of course I’m coming. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.

See, Robert said as he smoothed down his copper wire hair, I told the others that you had hidden depths. For such a wimp you've a real sense of adventure.

Robert shoved me in the shoulder. Good pals us.

I get the bird, you get the collie dog, he laughed. That’s the only other hot bitch in Bilgefoot.


We set off, rucksacks lightened by dumping all the unnecessary gear.

We’d come so far in Land Rovers, hiked in the remainder. Bilgefoot was a good three miles off and it was a long time since either of us had walked that far on level ground, let alone over hills.

We’d barely made it a mile when the rain came down in torrents. The rocks underfoot grew very slick, but Robert went over them like he was born to the mountains. I huffed and puffed to keep up, swearing I was going to take up my gym membership again.

Cold pint, hot fire, even hotter barmaid, Robert cajoled me along. And if you’re up for it, you can stroke the hot dog. Bet you’re good at that seeing as you’ve abstained from women since Roxy died.

Very funny you sick heartless pig!

We were on a narrow path over a hundred foot drop off.

What a tragedy if Robert slipped now. There would be nothing I could do for him. He’d fall all the way down, and if he didn’t smash himself to pieces on the rocks, the exposure would kill him while I spent the afternoon in the bar. Stroking the dog.

I was just about to shove him in the small of his back. Send him into space.

But the guardian angel that looks after Robert was working overtime. How it managed to jam that slick stone under my own boot had to be divine intervention.

Aaargh, I yelled, slipping.

My arms wind-milled, grabbing at air but found nothing. Off the cliff I went, with a tuck and a roll, then I was doing a swan dive through the sky.

As I flipped Robert grabbed me by my jacket collar. I dangled there with my heels over space, but then Robert yanked me up and set me back on the trail.

Excitement getting to you, me old mate?

Good God Almighty, I stammered, you just saved my life Robert.

Aah, it was nothing. You’d do the same for me.

God damn it if I didn’t have to eat humble pie.

For now...



Nobody knows them. Nobody can even hear them and they certainly can't even begin to fathom them, they are my secrets...

The man in the chair with his yellow pad and well-stroked beard. He's spying me with eyes which he is attempting to use as keys to unlock the security on my brain.

Pandora's box brought only woes, my secrets if known would end the world and I have seven Reflections with which to keep them safe...

I've already used up three of the Reflections. The remaining four need to count. This walking talking beard and his pilfering wants will have to be halted with Reflection number four.

He thinks I'm just up for a stroll. A nosy over to the window to steal stuff from the sky with my eyes, just like he does.

I don't, I divert myself over towards his braggart wall.

All of his borrowed knowledge imprisoned behind glass. Diploma in Secret Theft, B.A in Thought Pilfering and a PhD in Applied Robbery of the Mind. Their surfaces perfect for Reflection number four's birth.

The reflection reaches out, my hands mimicking the Reflection and trade an empty grip for a choking full one.

Three more Reflections and the world ends.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

BLACK MALE by Michael J. Solender

Black Male

Erin tugged at her skirt. Not down, to cover her legs and what was between them, but up to enhance the view from the diagonal of the boardroom where she arrived early to get a very strategic position directly kitty-corner from United Re’s first African American CFO, Rick Robards.

This was her first time presenting to the Board of Directors and she was intent on making a lasting impression.

Only 25, Erin’s rise at United had been mercurial. Hired into the prestigious derivatives group straight out of M.I.T. at 23, she was United Re’s only hire in the post-financial meltdown year that had seen their reinsurance profits evaporate and government regulators snooping in their linens.

Her stochastic models and projections exploited a previously unknown void in currency fluctuations between the Yen, the Euro and the Dollar and had allowed United to recoup a tidy profit in her first 90 days on the job. Promoted at 6 months to lead a special project team, she again performed flawlessly in an investment strategy that boldly bet correctly on a Dow drop and the corresponding uptick.

Promoted to Director on her 25th birthday, she had gained the respect of her colleagues and notice of her superiors bosses, even the aloof and illusive CFO, Robards.

Her smarts and business acumen could not overshadow arguably, at least amongst her male coworkers, her strongest assets; Erin Stiles was a flat out knockout stunner.

Not a classic beauty, her nose was slightly too large for her fragile and pleasing face, but men found her intriguing and beguiling none-the-less. It was her shape that took most men’s breath away. Petite at 5’4”, she was well rounded in each of the requisite male eye resting spots. She never missed a day at the gym and her form had a toned, firm and strongly feline air that the traders spent hours debating at the pub after work.

She was not unaware of how men appreciated her other talents and was not unabashed in using these assets to advance her career to the corner office that she so coveted.

Robards was a tough nut to crack for her however. Always the buttoned-down professional he barely noticed her, or so she thought, when she had stopped by his office to review the monthly figures. He’d seemed immune to the low cut blouses she wore when she knew she’d be in his company that day. He was one cool cookie.

For his part, Robards could barely contain himself. How could anyone help but notice Erin, her tight buns, dewy eyes and obvious come-ons. He wasn’t getting any relief at home from his marriage-of-convenience wife, Delores, who had all but sanctioned his liaisons as long as he didn’t expect anything in the bedroom from her.

He needed to exercise caution, however. As CFO, he was vulnerable to particular scrutiny and as one of only 3 black executives at United he knew he was under a microscope. He’d have to make any moves and subsequent action on his terms.

The BOD meeting went off per usual. The highlight for Robards was the unobstructed view of leg crossing and uncrossing by Erin designed for both his pleasure and to send a powerful signal. He could wait no longer and like a moth to the flame, cornered her after the meeting.

“How about lunch today?” he asked Erin with a rising intonation that conveyed it was more than nutritional sustenance on his mind.

“That would be great, but I need to run to my apartment to feed my cat,” Erin purring in her own cat-like way told Robards, “Can we stop there first?”

Game on thought Robards. He was about to get the lay of his life and he got rock hard right there outside the boardroom.

“Of course, that won’t be a problem,” Robards now with a lilt in his voice, replied.

The motion activated audio/video recording device that had been set up in Erin Stiles apartment bedroom provided extremely high definition. The participants in the afternoon encounter were exquisitely captured in full bore passion that Erin enjoyed more than she would have liked to admit.

But this was business, there would be no encore. She fingered the jump drive with a lone video file in her hand on the elevator ride to the executive suites. She knew she had Rick Robards and he would deliver for her. She was also ready with plan B, just in case he did not.

Robards, decided to call her bluff. If she went public he thought, her career would be as over as his. Not only that but he’d be damned if he was giving half his considerable net worth to Delores in the certain divorce that would accompany this debacle.

“You bitch,” He sneered, “Get out of here, not only won’t you ever get another promotion, I’ll see you’ll never work in reinsurance anywhere as long as I’m around.”

“I guess I’ll just have to make sure you’re not around.” Erin coolly said and started to leave his office. She reached up to the collar of her silk blouse and violently tore it down to the waist exposing her front S clipped bra that she also tore open and then screamed, running out into the hallway.

“He tried to rape me,” she said to no one in particular though she had the rapt attention of each of the executive secretaries, “Call the police, he’s been harassing me for months, I can’t take it anymore.”

The VP of Human Resources reassured Erin that the company would do anything, ANYTHING to avoid a scandal. Of course she could have the next month off and of course they would transfer her to the London office with a promotion to VP. After all she was an extremely valued employee.

Robards resignation accepted, she had nothing to fear in the way of retribution, the HR VP assured her.

Erin stopped at Starbucks on her way home. She had made one call after leaving the office and hoped her lover would be there to meet her and offer congratulations on achieving their mutual goal.

Delores Robards greeted Erin with a Cappuccino and a big, full on, deep tongued thrusting kiss. “You did it sweetie.” She cooed.

“We did it,” Erin replied, “Is he going to settle?”

“It will be completely uncontested,” Delores said, “Half of everything should be about $6 million including the house in Regent Park. Here’s the keys, meet you there next week.”

Erin smiled; she loved the rose garden at Regent Park.

Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. He writes a weekly Neighborhoods column for the Charlotte Observer and NEVER runs with scissors. His fiction has appeared online at 6S, Powder Burn Flash and Flashshot (soon). He blogs here:

Monday 27 April 2009

THE LATE SHOW by Mike Whitney

A little flash fiction from Mike to keep the chiller humming....

The Late Show

Dimly, through sleep, Catherine heard sounds from the living room. Heavy footsteps thudded in the hall as adrenalin rushed through her, "I have a gun!" she shouted, "The police are coming!"

The door burst open; screaming, she emptied her ex's .38 into the blur of hair, teeth and leathery wings that rushed her.

As the creature ripped at her neck, Catherine sat straight up in bed, moaning. At the foot of the bed, the snowy television screen buzzed, casting a glow on her half empty pizza box. Sobbing, she turned off the set, and buried her face in the pillow, the gun beside her on the bedside table.

© 2003 mikewhitney

TUCKED AWAY by Jeanette Cheezum

Welcome to Jeanette on her debut...

Tucked Away

Mid nineteen fifties

The closet door slammed shut. It wouldn’t do any good for little Cathy to cry, stomp,
or scream. Grandma would cut a switch and use it when she returned. She wouldn’t do anything
now because Grandma didn’t like to get sweaty. She wanted to make a nice impression when
she met the preacher’s wife

“How long will you be gone this time?” Cathy asked through the closet door.

“As long as it takes, now be quiet.” Her grandmother grabbed her things and left the house.
She could hear the key banging metal against metal locking the closet…and…the front door.

Perspiration beaded on her top lip and she had a sick feeling in her stomach.

Her imaginary friends always waited in the dark closet, and were happy to see her.

Not able to remember when it first started, Cathy had become accustomed to this ritual.
She lay on her back and tried to adjust her eyes to the miserable darkness that enveloped the tiny closet.

Impatient, her friends called out to her.

A deep breath filled her lungs and escaped over her tongue and out her lips, “Today my friends, we’re going on a trip to the zoo. You must line up and stay close so you won’t get lost. We’ll feed the ducks first and then see the monkeys. Take a seat quickly and don’t be noisy.”

“We’re here, they yelled. Can we get off the bus?”

“I want to eat the bread, I’m hungry,” an imaginary friend said.

Cathy shook her finger side to side, “No, it’s not allowed. We can’t eat until Grandma says.”

“Ah, the park is beautiful,” She lied, only to wish she knew what it really looked like.

“Now wasn’t that fun? Let’s go home before it gets too dark.”

“I’m getting thirsty!” someone said.

“Remember . . . , we just have to wait,” she said.

* * * *

“What’s that smell?” Cathy sniffed the stuffy closet air. Was something burning? “There’s a fire nearby! Be calm!” She brushed her bangs out of her eyes and held up her tiny hands. “Don’t worry. We’re safe here. This is our secret hideaway.”

She lined up her Grandma’s shoes. “Let’s play Anne Frank.” Clomp, clomp, “Do you hear the soldiers marching? Hide, children, the soldiers are coming.”

She coughed. “It’s hard to breathe . . . so much smoke.

“Grandma, where are you?” She whispered.

“We’re getting scared. Hush children. Don’t cry. I’m sure Grandma is nearby.”

She placed her face as close as she could to the large crack under the door, the light had disappeared. There was nothing to see . . . , only smoke filled the room. Cathy grabbed a coat from above and quickly tucked it against the bottom of the door.

“Everyone, scream as loud as you,” she said. “Even if Grandma switches us, we must get away from the smoke.” She started to cough and reached for a shirt hanging above her head and covered her nose. “Grandma, please come home. I’ve been good. The smoke--everyone scream.”

* * * *

Someone had banged on Grandma’s front door. When no one answered she yelled for someone to call the fire department. That smoke was pouring out the Jacobs windows.

Flames reached out to consume the air . . . attacked the curtains, rugs and anything in their path.

Upon arrival, the firemen broke the door down and sprayed from the ceiling to the walls and down to the floor. They stopped the fire, but didn’t look for Cathy.

She couldn’t call out to them. Her body lay still in the closet.

* * * *

“Mrs.Joyner, Thank God, you’re safe and weren’t in the fire. We called the fire department and they came right away,” the neighbor said.

“Thank you, for saving my house.” She stepped on her cigarette, so no one would suspect.

“Where is your granddaughter? Is she with friends?”

“As a matter of fact she is,” letting the corners of her mouth rise into a smile.

Grandma thanked her neighbor then hurried into the house. She couldn’t let anyone find out her secret. They wouldn’t understand. She opened the closet and reached in. She must have forgotten before she left to put that last cigarette out? But after all, she was in a hurry to meet the preacher’s wife.

Unbeknownst to Grandma the neighbor came in right behind her and saw what she’d done. “Oh, no, didn’t you say she was with friends?”

* * * *

The funeral was held that week, but Grandma didn’t attend. She now spends her time locked in a room, where no one pays any attention when she screams.

She doesn’t have any friends to talk to, and everyone knows her secret.

Sunday 26 April 2009


A stunning debut from Julie...


We went out for dinner. Such a familiar ritual, such a safe, accepted way to begin a relationship. When he'd finished his steak and vegetables, he reached over the table, covered my hand with his.

‘You’re not eating.’

‘I just don’t seem to have much of an appetite.’

‘Do you feel poorly?’

‘No, just not very hungry. I feel more... excited, I suppose.’ I looked at my plate, as full as when the waiter had placed it in front of me, although somewhat rearranged, then up at him through my eyelashes, gave him the smile I practised in front of the bathroom mirror. I believed it combined an element of shyness with the promise of wild, unbridled sex. I reckon I got it just about right; his pupils dilated. In the candlelight, his chocolate button eyes looked quite delicious.

‘Shall we skip dessert?’ His expression told me he was picturing my head on his pillow.

I nodded. ‘Maybe a brandy?’ I hoped mine didn’t reveal that I was picturing his on a plate in my fridge.

He signalled the waiter. ‘Two brandies, please, and... er....’ He flicked his eyes at me. I nodded. ‘And the bill.’

I had made sure that he drank the lion’s share of the wine, a beautiful, full-bodied, blood red claret, and now I made sure to do little more than wet my lips with my brandy while he drank deeply from his. When he went to the lavatory, I topped his glass up from mine.

I let him pay for dinner. Somehow it makes them feel as though they are in charge if they do this small thing, and let’s face it, whatever debt he might rack up on a card tonight would mean absolutely nothing by tomorrow.

I favoured him with my best smile. ‘Take me home?’

He smiled back. ‘I’d like that.’ He had his mobile in his hand ready to call a taxi.

I shook my head. ‘It’s not far, just along the seafront.’ I held out my hand. ‘It’s such a lovely night. Let’s walk.’

He took my hand and we set off. It really wasn’t far, that’s why I had suggested that particular restaurant. I didn’t want to run the risk of a taxi driver remembering us. I also didn’t want to give him time to sober up. In fact, I intended to get another drink inside him just as soon as possible.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘there’s a lovers’ moon tonight.’ He smiled, squeezed my hand and I led him across the street and down onto the promenade. We walked in moonlight, but whether it was a lovers’ moon, or even if such a thing existed, I had no idea. Men seemed to be lulled by such nonsense; it kept them relaxed and compliant.

Before long we reached a spot where the rock this walkway was blasted out of was cut back, a niche created by a natural flaw, big enough for two people to huddle in. I pulled him into the space, into shadow, put my hand on the back of his head and drew his mouth to mine.

After all that food, wine and brandy, he tasted pretty bad. I closed my eyes and ignored the fact, steeled myself and didn’t gag when I felt his tongue alive in my mouth. I felt his heart beating in his rib cage as he pressed against me and knew that he could feel mine racing too. Evidence of my excitement. He knew he was the cause of it, and yet he knew nothing at all.

‘Come on,’ I murmured, when I felt I could take no more. ‘Let’s go.’ I took his hand and led him all the way to the door. It was as easy as leading a child to Santa’s grotto in December.

I kissed him again on my doorstep, pushed up against him and let him feel my excited, racing heart galloping in my chest, then invited him into my home.

Lust makes men stupid and I'm thankful for the fact.

‘Not so fast,’ I whispered, and pulled away from him as he was trying to get his hands in my clothes. He looked puzzled. I gave him my shy, awkward look. ‘Let’s have a drink.’ Thinking he understood, he smiled and nodded. We both had the same thought: another drink and I’m there.

‘Why don’t you put some music on?’ I suggested, indicating the CD player and rack of discs, then I wriggled out of his grasp and went into the kitchen. Finally, I could stop looking and behaving like a fool. My movements were sure and practised as I picked a bottle of wine from the fridge, a one with a screw top, which saved precious seconds. Take too long, and they came looking to see what the hold up was. Once I’d removed the top, I took the bottle of sleeping pills from their hiding place. They were capsules, not tablets; again, this saved time. I set out two wine glasses and, taking one of the capsules, wiggled the two halves apart and tipped the contents into one of them. The contents of a second capsule, then a third, soon followed, after which I filled both glasses with wine. I gave the doctored one a stir, then scrutinised both glasses; they looked sufficiently alike.

The Arctic Monkeys kicked in as I took the glasses of wine through to the sitting room. ‘Good choice,’ I said as I passed him his wine where he sprawled on the sofa. I smiled at him over the rim of my glass. ‘Cheers.’ I sipped at the wine.

‘Cheers,’ he said in return, then took a big drink as I had known he would. They all do. The ritual is irresistible and they want to finish the wine quickly and move on to what they believe comes next. He swallowed, then grimaced.

‘Oh, I’m sorry. It’s quite a cheap one.’ I smiled an apology. ‘But the best I’ve got.’

His smile returned. He didn’t want to offend me; too much at stake. I reckon I could serve up vinegar at this point in the proceedings and, provided I apologise for it and suggest the quality is due to my relative poverty, they would drink it.

They. The victims. My prey.

He took another big swallow. I took a sip, then took his glass from his hand as he sank back against the cushions. His eyes closed and he drifted into unconsciousness.

Heaving a sigh of relief, I lifted an eyelid and checked his pulse. Life secure, but he was out for the count. Good. I went and changed out of the dress and heels into my wetsuit. It repelled more than just water and it showered off a treat. Plus, should he regain a degree of consciousness and grab at me, his fingers would slip away empty. Next, I cut up some heavy duty poly bags and laid them on the floor next to the sofa, then rolled him onto them. Working on the floor was fine, so long as I covered it thoroughly. He wouldn’t bleed all that much. I wouldn’t cut him until he was dead, so there was no chance blood would gout up the walls and maybe even hit the ceiling. I had learned a lot over the years.

After all, a girl has to eat.

I used drugs to slow, and then stop, his heart. This one died without ever opening his eyes again. In a hurry to go. Some were, others fought it, eyelids fluttering, mouths working. It made no difference, it always ended the same way.

Once he’d gone, I realised how hungry I was. I felt starved. I looked at him and ran through what he meant to me: steaks, chops, liver, kidneys, brains, sausages, burgers, black pudding, stock. But right now, I wanted something quick to take the edge off my hunger before I got down to the task of filling my freezer.

I popped into the kitchen for a spoon, set a pan of water to boil on the hob.

Ten minutes later, I raised a napkin to my lips and sat back with a sigh. I had been right about his chocolate button eyes; they were, indeed, truly delicious.

Bio: Julie Morgan lives by the seaside in the north east of England. Her stories have appeared online at various sites including Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Darkest Before the Dawn and Fictional Musings. She wouldn't normally mention it, but she has been a vegetarian for over a decade...

Saturday 25 April 2009

Ye Olde Editor Speaks...

Just a note from Ye Olde Editor here to thank everyone for their support and comments. It is gratifying to see the surge of interest in this little venture and I'm thrilled with the response.

The standard of the stories is very high - attesting to the fact that some great writers are now choosing to submit their work here.

I must, however make a small point and direct some people choosing to submit their work to the brief in the welcome message. We are receiving some truly astounding work, only some of it does not fit the style of the site. The work must be thriller, crime, mystery, suspense, or horror - I know that the genres often cross over and are very subjective, but I think that people understand where I'm coming from. Please keep this in mind when submitting, because it isn't an easy decision for Ye Olde Editor to 'reject' the work. Please don't be offended if your work doesn't appear, it only means that it doesn't quite fit the style.

Any way, that's the sermon over with, and now we'll get back on to doing what we all do best... thrilling, killing and chilling our readers.

Comments to this are appreciated, as I'd like to ensure that we're on track here.

Ye Olde Editor...Matt.

Friday 24 April 2009


A chilling debut from 'Red' over at Talkback...


Michael always believed something lurked in the dark beneath his bed.

The large wardrobe frightened him. The deep alcove in the corner scared him, because that’s where it was darkest. Even the windows overlooking the trees in the field at the bottom of the garden terrified him, especially when the pewter glare of a full moon fleeced the walls and invited the shadows.

Most of all, Michael feared the thing under his bed; the strange movements, scratching noises, the creeping black clouds swarming around the furniture ready to devour him should he look upon the entity.

Each night he would pull the covers right over his head, afraid to peep into the darkness settling across his body. He would dream of his father’s return, dream of the things they could do together, dream of the light of another day, and eventually he would drift off to sleep, safe in slumber.

After breakfast, Michael put on his scruffy jeans and trainers.

‘Where are you off to?’ Dee asked her 10-year-old son.

‘I’m building my den,’ Michael replied, pointing to the field. ‘I want to finish it before Dad comes home.’

Dee lit a cigarette. ‘Your father won’t be back for weeks. You have all that time to finish it.’

Michael stared at his mother. He needed to finish the den. He would rather spend time in there than his bedroom, because he knew The Thing lived under the bed and he didn’t feel comfortable in there, even though it only came out at night. But then he dreaded each night and the darkness it would bring. It hadn’t always been like this. Ever since his father left to work on the rigs, his school friends had told him about the creature that lurked beneath people’s beds. If you looked at it long enough, it would kill you.

‘Just be careful,’ Dee said. ‘Don’t wander too far. Six o’clock is teatime. It gets dark after six, so I want you back in the house.’

* * *
Dee rolled across the bed, poured another glass of wine. She giggled as her lover, Jason, swept his hand down the curve of her back.

‘That was pretty intense,’ he said, planting a kiss on her shoulder. ‘The fear of being caught. Always makes it so exciting.’

She handed the glass of wine to him. ‘Maybe so, but Michael could walk in any minute. He’s only in the field just beyond our garden.’ She noted the time. ‘It’s nearly five o’clock. I said tea would be ready at six.’

Jason gulped the wine. ‘Stop fretting.’ He could easily shut the kid up if he needed to. Nasty threats always worked. He hated kids. They were like vermin. He smiled at the thought. ‘He’d never tell anyone, trust me. Besides, we’ve got time to squeeze another in.’

Dee lay back. ‘Perhaps we should keep the noise down. I would--’

The sound of the front door closing filtered through the hallway. A voice. Jason frowned at Dee’s stony expression.

‘Who the hell is that?’ Dee shot up. ‘Oh Christ, it’s Jimmy.’

Jason let go of Dee. ‘Shit. I thought you said he wasn’t gonna be back for weeks.’

Dee stared at the open bedroom door, shook her head. She lowered her voice. ‘That’s what I thought. Oh God, you need to hide. If Jimmy finds you he’ll kill you.’

‘Hide?’ Jason quickly slipped out of bed and grabbed his clothes from thefloor. ‘And where the fuck am I supposed to hide in this poke hole?’

Dee flung the covers back. ‘Michael’s room. Quick. There’s a huge wardrobe in there. Don’t move until I give the all clear.’

Jason slunk bare-bottomed towards the hallway as Dee hurriedly dressed herself. ‘The kid’s room? You got to be kidding me.’ He looked back at her, his eyes coloured with fear.

‘You don’t have a choice. Don’t try to leave without the all clear.’

‘How long for?’

‘For as long as it takes. Jimmy’s a big man, you’ll have no chance if you try and sneak out of here.’ She pushed Jason towards Michael’s bedroom. ‘Stay in there. Don’t make a sound. I’ll get you when it’s clear.’

* * *
Michael wandered through the trees towards the garden. He looked up at the house. There was something different; he didn’t quite know what. It was only when he approached the back door, and he saw the large shadow standing in the kitchen next to his mother that he realised. ‘Dad!’ He ran into the kitchen. ‘Dad, I’m so happy you’re home.’

‘Hey spud.’ Jimmy glared at Dee. ‘At least someone’s happy to see me.’

Michael clung to his father. ‘I’m dead happy now. I’ve been waiting for you. I don’t have to be scared of the dark anymore.’

Dee brushed unruly hairs from her face. ‘I don’t know what on earth those kids tell him at school. He thinks there’s a monster under his bed. I showed him the other day. There’s nothing to be afraid of.’

Jimmy embraced his son. ‘Mum’s right. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m here now.’

During tea, Michael told his father all about his den, even though it wasn’t finished, and that night he went to bed on the promise that tomorrow they would finish it together.

Michael stood by the bedroom doorway. The light from the landing silhouetted his small frame. He stared at the bed. The covers hung right down to the floor, shielding him from the creature that stalked his waking moments.

He glanced to his left. The wardrobe door was slightly open. Some of his clothes had spilled onto the floor. The Thing had been in there, he was sure. Perhaps it was still in there, watching him, waiting.

Tonight he would face The Thing.

‘Come on, son. Bedtime.’ Jimmy ushered the boy into the bedroom, tucked him beneath the covers. He kissed him on the forehead. ‘Sleep tight,don't let the bed bugs bite.' He smiled. ‘Sweet dreams.’

The light went out. The door closed. The darkness was swift - a cold,consuming, hungry darkness that crawled from the corners and slithered across the walls.

Michael was very still. His mind bubbled. Adrenaline began frosting his veins. His eyes switched from one point to another, seeing shadows. He could make out the outline of the wardrobe in the murk. He stared hard,thought he saw the door move. He slowly reached back and slipped his hand beneath the pillow.

His fingers curled around his father’s hammer. The one he’d carefully sneaked from the shed while mummy and daddy were arguing in the front room.

Something juddered beneath him, then a murmur. Michael gripped the hammer tight. It was so heavy, but he managed to hold it in both hands. The bed rattled. Michael wanted to scream, but didn’t. He eased forward slowly; his breath coming in short bursts as he peered over the edge of the bed.

Something white flashed through the black maw. The Thing blinked.

Michael lifted the hammer and forced it down onto The Thing’s head. Something cracked.

‘Christ! No!’

Michael did it again, listening as it gurgled and spluttered. The bed jerked beneath him and Michael knew The Thing was strong. He jumped off the bed and this time used all his strength to smash the hammer repeatedly into the shadow poking from beneath the bed. He forced one last blow and dull squelch echoed around the bedroom.

Silence returned. The Thing had stopped moving. The bedroom door shot open. Light flooded the room.

‘What the hell...Michael?’

Michael looked up at his father in the doorway. He blinked through the blood smearing his face. ‘Look, Dad. The Thing. It was under my bed all this time, just like I told you. But it’s okay now, I’ve killed it.’

BIO: AJ Humpage works full-time for a local authority, but in her spare time she write articles for local business magazines, short stories and poetry, and she has just completed her first novel.

Thursday 23 April 2009

BEATERS - by Dorothy Davies


See the men come toward us in line with sticks and clubs and guns. Like a line of beaters.
See the men and know they come -
Lord Amighty but I'm that scared I could -

It was Bunce who started all this - or was it Jimmy?
Bunce. It was him who come arunning and said
"Hey guys, there's a spacemen in the woods!" and we, knowing Bunce ain't all there, you know what I mean, the lift don't always go to the top floor, like, we laughed and said: "You've been watching too much Star Trek!"
But he kept on saying, "There's a spaceman in the woods!"
It were a kinda boring day, too hot to kick footballs, torment dogs and cats, too brainstorming to go to school, so we went to the woods.
Well now, like I said, Bunce ain't got all that there is in the way of brains, so we weren't surprised when we got to the woods to find there was not a spaceman there at all.
An alien: not a spaceman.
It was kinda hard to say what he/it looked like, really, green and scaly and like nothing on earth and then it was changing shape, first grey and smoky like my old Dad's pipe smoke, then sort of like a tree, then sort of like a large polecat, then sort of like -
That's when I got a bit scared and backed off a bit but it spoke with Jimmy's voice and kinda sounded sad and lonely-like.
"Stay with me," and it was kinda hard to go, then. Bunce and Jimmy and me, we stared at it for a while and walked round it and it looked more like Jimmy every minute till even Jimmy was taken to say,
"Damn it all, whoever you be, you looks just like the twin brother I never had!"
"But you don't like me as I am," and it sounded even more lonely, like an old train whistling across the countryside in the middle of the night, rushing headlong to - Nowheresville.
And you feel your heart sort of sink in your boots and you want to go and cry into some bale of straw or sommat.
Then it became Bunce. Just like that, in a twinkle of a will o' the wisp apassing us by, it became Bunce.
And then they were astaring and pointing because it became me.
And I got real scared.
"We'd better get going, guys!" I took off running, fast as I could, sweat apouring under the arms and everywhere, heading for home.
"Dad!" I yelled, knowing damn well him were asleeping off the old moonshine somewhere on the back porch but not caring if I got a licking or not. Somehow it didn't matter.
"Dad!" and he woke and shook the porch with thumping feet and yelled enough to bring down the old lightning struck elm outside.
"What is it, boy? This had damn well better be good!"
And I told him about the alien and how it was first Jimmy then Bunce and then me and how it stared and cried and made us feel all lonely.
"There be no such thing as an alien, boy." He spoke kinda slow and serious. "That there be the work of the Devil himself. I'll just go and see old Sam, downalong" and him peg legged off down the dirt track, raising dust devils of his own.
Good, I thought, the men will come and kill the creature!
Then I got thinking about Bunce and Jimmy and how the alien looked like them and how the men wouldn't know who they be ashooting and I got even more scared and ran back as fast as I could, stitch cutting my side into pieces and gasping like I was a marathon runner done the 26 miles without stopping even for a coke along the way and found three people sat at the foot of the old oak where it was once said a man done hung himself after a love affair went wrong and we thought how stupid to do that.
And I was thinking round in a circle because the three who sat at the foot of the tree were -
And something reached out and touched me. I felt cat's paws of tickling all over my head my back my stomach my legs and I felt myself changing and changing and changing -
Into Bunce.
Now we were four.
Work of the Devil.
Satan's children.
No one would believe we were victims of an outer space creature now, would they?

See the men come toward us in line with sticks and clubs and guns. Like a line of beaters.
See the men and know they come -
Lord Amighty but I'm that scared I could -


Amor Vincit Omnia

HOMEGROWN TOMATOES - by Michael J. Solender

Yet another debutant - the second from 'across the water'...


There simply was no other place for him to put the tomatoes.

He absolutely had to have homegrown tomatoes this summer. Heirlooms, Better Boys, Early Girls and his beloved Teardrop Cherry Hybrids. Homegrown it would be.

Caprese salads. Tomato risotto. BLTs. No, store-bought would just never do.

He broke out the spade and had a box by his side for garden debris.

“Honey you just can’t dig there,” his wife pleaded, “you positively can’t.”

“Sweetie,” he offered a compromise, “I’ll move your folks back in the fall, I promise.”

Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. He writes a weekly Neighborhoods column for the Charlotte Observer and NEVER runs with scissors. His fiction has appeared online at 6S, Powder Burn Flash and Flashshots (soon). He blogs here:


A big welcome to Mike on his TKnC debut...


May 1, 2007

Dear Mr. Giddings,

I am in receipt of yours of April 30 regarding your account and recent family illness. We must deny your request for a 30 day extension. Unfortunately, if we do not have payment in full of the arrears amount past due since March 31, we will have to terminate service to your address. In the event you wish to reinstate service, we will need you to pay the full amount, plus service charges and a handling fee of $25. In addition, your deposit will be forfeit, so a new deposit will be required should you decide to continue service to your account.

We recognize that you have been a customer in good standing for the past 7 years without a late payment, so I am authorized to extend you a grace period of 48 hours(close of business May 3) to bring your account into good standing, at the end of which time, service will be terminated and the account referred to our collection department. Additionally, a flag will be placed in your credit report.

Thank you for your understanding.

Hobart P. Clydesdale
Customer Service Supervisor

May 5, 2007

Dear Mr. Giddings,

In the unexpected absence of Supervisor Clydesdale, your account has been referred to me for handling. In reviewing the situation, I see no recourse but to follow his recommendations and terminate your service as of May 7. Should you wish to avoid this action, I urge you to contact me at once.

Franklin Pumpkiss
Customer Service Representative

May 8, 2007

Dear Mr. Giddings,

Your account has been referred to me as Mr. Pumpkiss has apparently been called out of town unexpectedly, and following the tragic and mysterious death of Supervisor Clydesdale, I have reviewed the circumstances of your account and find no reason not to grant your request of April 30 and extend you 30 days to bring your account current.

I hope and trust you find this satisfactory.

J. Smith
Customer Service

© 2008 mikewhitney

Tuesday 21 April 2009

LOST CAUSE by Vallon Jackson


“So what are you thinking of charging her with, Constable?”

“I want to throw the book at her this time, Sarge. She can’t keep on getting away with it all the time.”

“The judge takes one look at her and he’ll throw the case out.”

“Don’t let the blond curls and cutsey turned-up nose fool you, Sarge. She’s a bad one, alright. This is the third time that we’ve had her in here this month.”

“I agree that it’s time we started looking at some sort of intervention. Before she gets out of hand and does some real harm. But-”

“Burglary with that not bad enough?”

“OK, slow down, Constable. Before we get her out of the cell I want the full facts.”

“She broke into the house, Sarge and...”

“Wait a minute. She broke in?”

“Well, not exactly. Door was open, but that’s beside the point. She still entered a dwelling as a trespasser with the intent to cause damage or to steal. That’s as good as burglary when you go by the definition...”

“Don’t start quoting definitions at me, son. I’ve forgotten more definitions than you’ll ever know.”

“Sorry, Sarge.”

“Carry on, and let’s keep this brief shall we? There’s no solicitor here, just us real men.”

“OK, well, she, entered this house when the owners were out. She went all the way through the place, broke a chair, ate some food.”

“And that’s where you’re getting the criminal damage and theft angle from?”

“Well, yes, Sarge. It’s right isn’t it?”

“In a way, yes. What does the Crown Prosecution Service say?”

“I haven’t consulted with them, yet. I trust your opinion, Sarge.”

“ were trying to tell me my job a minute ago.”

“I know. I was over-stepping the mark. Sorry, Sarge, I just don’t want to let the little bitch get away with it again.”

“Language, Constable. You know that’s not the way I run my custody suite. Now, carry on. What else did she do?”

“Well, apparently bounced on every bed in the house and then...”

“Don’t tell me. She didn’t defecate in the bed again?”

“Not this time, Sarge. No. She just lay down and went to sleep.”

“...and that’s how you caught her?”

“Yes, Sarge. Mr and Mrs Bruin came home and there she was. All tucked up like there was nothing the matter. She hit them with her usual story: y’know the one about being lost?”

“Obviously they didn’t believe her?”

“No, so she just gave them a load of verbals and did a bunk.”

“She did a runner?”

“Yes, but I got her.”

“Good work, Constable.”

“Something else we might want to keep an eye on, Sarge. When they found her she was in the baby’s bed.”

“Was the baby in the bed at the time?”

“Well, no, but you still have to admit it’s a little weird.”

“Weird but not enough to put her on the sex offenders register just yet.”

“I was thinking...”

“Forget it, Constable. We can’t go with that around here. You know that.”

“Sorry, Sarge. I forgot for a minute.”

“Once upon a time it was different...but not now. Any way, never mind. Go bring her from her cell. Maybe you’d better get a female to go with you.”

“I can handle her, Sarge.”

“That’s not my concern. Sweet-looking little thing like that, you know how the defence are: if they think you’ve been in her cell alone? I wouldn’t put it past them to shout sexual assault. Can see the headlines now. And her with that cute little face like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth...”

“Wasn’t butter, Sarge.”


“Wasn’t butter she ate, it was breakfast cereal.”

“Ha! Very funny. Just go and get her.”

“Yes, Sarge.”

“Wait on. Before you go...for the charge sheet, how do you spell Goldilocks again?”

Monday 20 April 2009

CIRCUS by Dorothy Davies

A warm welcome to Dorothy Davies and this little tale of speculative fiction...

“Mummy, there won’t be real animals, will there?”
“No, dear, they’re all robots.”

“Nice crowd tonight, Mr. Glover.”
“That there is, Ted, that there is.”
“It’s a good thing they still turn out for a show, innit?”
“Isn’t much else for people to do these days, Ted.”
“You’re right there, Mr. Glover.”
“I usually am, Ted.”
I usually am. That’s why I’m, boss around here and you’re just a technician. At this rate it’ll never be any different. Every last one of you bores me to death with your inane conversations. Conversations! Ha!
“Five minutes to opening, Mr. Glover!”
Five minutes. Time for a quick drink or maybe two before I have to go out there and face them. All those people packing the seats, murmuring, talking, pushing, squabbling, shrieking – how I hate people! Don’t much care for robots either, come to that.Let’s get it over with.
“Cue fanfare, Jem!”
“Right, Mr. Glover!”
Here goes.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to the greatest show on earth! I’ve got elephants, horses, monkeys, lions, acrobats, clowns, trapeze and high wire artists, jugglers, in fact, all the things you ever thought should be in a circus, right here.”
That’s got them, they’ve shut up now. Listen, you could hear a rivet drop in the workroom!
“Well, you’ve paid to see a show, not to listen to me – so enjoy yourselves –let the show begin!”
Music - where’s the damn blasted music - that’s better.
“Mr Glover!”
Patience. Always be patient with the hired hands. No matter how difficult.
“Yes Ted.”
“One of the Flying Olettas can’t be repaired, Mr. Glover.”
“What’s the matter with it?”
“Well, to be honest-”
“Out with it, man, don’t mumble!”
“Well, they’re getting old, Mr. Glover, worn out, in fact.”
“What do you want me to do about it? Am I a technician?”
“No, but-”
“But me no buts, too many of them damned Nobutts getting in around here lately. Do something about it or get out!”
“Yes Mr Glover.”
That’s stopped him for a bit. What happened to the patience, I wonder? Oh shut up!
“Mr. Glover,"
“Yes, Jem.”
“Ted asked me to come, Mr. Glover. You see, there’s a space in the Flying Olettas now.”
“Ted too scared to come and face me again, is he?”
“No I mean yes I mean-”
“Another mumbler! Come on, Jem, spit it out!”
“We’ve taken the dolls’ places before, Mr. Glover, but not up there.”
“So what?”
“Well, they might fall and-”
“So what?”
Nothing. Stupid, like the rest of them. I wish, just once I wish, someone would stand up and fight back. Mind, I’d get rid of him double quick, but at least I’d be sure there were some men left in the world!
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I hope you’re enjoying the show. Our next act, as you can see, is the lions...”
Lions on the loose, coming for me, they wouldn’t ... they couldn’t … they didn’t …

“Mummy, was that a real man the lion ate?”
“No dear, they’re all robots.”
Amor Vincit Omnia
Dorothy Davies, writer, medium, forum fanatic, lives on the Isle of Wight and loves life.

Sunday 19 April 2009

FORUM OF FURY - by Col Bury

You just never know who you're chatting to online...


Frustrated wannabe writer, Joe Barron, had no idea such a simple act could irrevocably change his life.

Just as he was typing yet another post, grumbling about his chronic writers’ block, on the online Writers Forum he frequented a little too much, he heard the slap of the mail on the hallway lino of his lonely two-bedroom flat. A flicker of excitement prompted him to exit his writing room - so-called as he was supposed to write in there, but seldom did - and he headed for the front door.

He subconsciously exhaled on seeing there were no brown A4 envelopes within the small pile of mail, which meant the dream was still alive regarding the three chapters and synopsis he’d sent out to the last wave of carefully selected agents on his list. He flicked through the mail: a mundane selection of junk, including a cheap-looking clothing pick up service pamphlet, some crap about double glazing, a couple of bills and, he was surprised to see, a white envelope with handwriting he didn’t recognise on the front.

Could this be some kind of response from an agent, maybe requesting the rest of the manuscript? Exhilaration swept through him, tempered by panic as he’d still not finished the ‘novel’ yet despite starting it three years ago. The idea of publication was what Joe dreamed of, but the discipline and hard slog of achieving it was another thing altogether. He hastily ripped open the letter and stared in shock at its contents:

Dear Mr Barron,
So now I know your name, you foolish, foolish man.
Did you really expect me to forget our disagreement?
You reap what you sow.
Expect a visit.
Yours truly,

For the rest of the day he stewed on the letter, but couldn’t make any sense of it. It had clearly been meant for him, though he had no idea who ‘HM’ was and couldn’t recall any disagreements he’d had recently.

The ‘expect a visit’ part was playing on his mind and he pulled back a curtain and glanced at the street three floors below. Everything looked as per usual; people going about their business, kids playing football against the graffiti-ridden substation wall and a solitary car parked up on the road. He didn’t recognise the car and strained to focus. There was someone in the driver’s seat: a man…just waiting.

His vivid imagination began to zoom and he chided himself aloud, ‘Joe, you daft sod. Stop being paranoid.’ He knew his excessive cannabis intake didn’t help with the latter.

Then the man looked up, directly at him. Joe retreated behind the curtains, his heart-rate speeding.

A moment later he checked again and the man was still sitting there, but not looking up. His head was dipped towards his lap; he was reading a newspaper, or was it a laptop?
You’re being stupid, Joe, he told himself. Sometimes having the mind of a writer was a hindrance: over analytical, reading too deeply into things and all that. He decided a chat with his like-minded virtual friends was required. They understood him, unlike his family, who just regarded him as the mad, pot-smoking writer!

Joe took a long audible drag of a freshly rolled joint, harsh on his throat, but its effect instant in chilling him. Flash Fiction Feline was online and the first to comment on the thread he’d created in the hope of reassuring perspectives on the letter.

FFF stated it was probably one of his ‘Friends messing about and not to worry.’
Writer Online was next: ‘You could go to the police if it’s bothering you, but as there’s no direct threat in the letter then they wouldn’t waste money on checking for prints, etc, so I doubt they’d take it very seriously.’

Creative Carl was more philosophical: ‘If this idiot was the real deal then he wouldn’t send a letter first. It’s like when people yell from the rooftops threatening to kill themselves – they never jump. It’s the quieter ones who commit suicide. I wouldn’t let it bother you, Joe.’

Joe felt much better and was glad he had such great friends, even though he’d never met any of them as they were scattered around the world. He considered having a stab at progressing his novel, but the thought filled him with dread as it had been like pulling teeth lately, so he made a coffee and returned to the computer for another chat.

Three more comments on the thread he’d started. He knew he was procrastinating - a disease perpetuating his frustration - and that if he carried on like this he’d never finish the novel, but he remained on the forum to read the comments regardless. The first two were pretty much reiterating the previous postings and then he came to the third.

Hatchet Man said: ‘You’re not fretting are you? I once knew a bloke who’d had an online argument, but nothing came of it.’

Joe responded: ‘Hi Hatchet Man, long time, no hear. That happens a lot, but it’s all part of the forum thing, isn’t it? Not everyone will agree all of the time.’

‘Yeah, but this guy got personal.’

Joe shuffled in his seat. ‘Was that on this forum?’

‘You know it was, you foolish man!’

Joe’s heart somersaulted. He glared at the screen as realisation kicked in. Hatchet Man…HM!
Joe’s hands were shaking like an MFI wardrobe as he typed: ‘Did you send the letter?’

HM: ‘What do you think, Mr Barron?’

Shit! He vaguely recalled coming home drunk and stoned about a year ago and having a minor spat with him about a topic so irrelevant he couldn’t even remember.
‘What did I say that’s made you so pissed? It’s been deleted by the moderator.’

HM: ‘I can recall it word for word.’

Joe: ‘Well, whatever I said, I didn’t mean it.’

HM: ‘Even the fact that I am supposedly a “Mummy’s boy,” and you were, “Gonna hunt me down and kick my arse”?’

Joe didn’t respond. He couldn’t deny it. He’d had a few ding- dongs in the pub that night and had had a right one on him.

HM: ‘Well, there’s no need to hunt me down now is there? The last man who messed with me isn’t here any more. Fancy changing your pen name on here, you fool.’

Joe jumped out of his chair, clattering it backwards, and ran to the window. He saw a tall man dressed in all black, alight the car. Closing a laptop, the man glanced over both shoulders before placing it in the boot. He again gazed up at Joe and walked purposefully towards the entrance to the flats.

Joe clasped his hands on his head. ‘Oh, fuck!’ He felt his adrenaline pumping, making him feel nauseous. What are the chances of having an argument with someone on the net and them hunting you down? Trust me to find the only lunatic on a forum for supposedly intelligent people! And why the fuck did I change my pen name to my real name?

He called the police, but struggled to find the right words as he was that scared and stoned. When he began swearing down the phone the silly bitch hung up! He threw the phone in anger and it smashed onto the laminate floor. Scrambling on his knees he tried to piece it back together, but it was useless.

He heard a deep voice echoing in the outside corridor. Looking through the spy-hole he saw a distorted face staring back at him. Joe jolted back from the door.

Three loud bangs on the door. Hatchet Man would have only gone this far for one reason. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed a kitchen knife. This man was clearly a fuckin psycho. Three more louder bangs on the door. I’ll show the bastard.

Joe opened the door and lunged at Hatchet Man with the knife, plunging it straight into his stomach. The scream of a woman was followed by a door slamming across the corridor. Hatchet Man slumped to the floor, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, both hands clutching the protruding handle of the knife. A leaflet wafted to a stop beside him.

Breathless and numb with shock, Joe stared at the leaflet. It detailed a smart-looking bathroom suite with free fitting. He looked down at the man who gurgled then lay motionless.

Joe’s gaze fixed disbelievingly on the growing pool of claret on the carpet and it began to trickle down the stairs. Like a zombie, he trudged into his writing room and checked for any further messages on the forum.

HM: ‘I meant the last man I argued with isn’t on the forum anymore. He’d obviously had enough.’

HM: ‘Joe, are you there?’

HM: ‘Okay, Joe. This has gone too far now. The letter was to spook you, that’s all. When I’d seen you’d put your full name on I just couldn’t resist it. I admit it was a childish revenge. Shall we call it quits, mate?’


The cell was cold, smelly and very basic, but at least he wasn’t sharing. And with no internet connection, maybe now he’d finish that damn novel.

Col Bury is currently writing a crime novel and his ever-growing selection of short stories can be found on TKnC and A Twist Of Noir. He blogs and interviews crime authors here:

Saturday 18 April 2009

THIS OLD HOUSE - by Paul Brazill

A big welcome to Paul on his TKnC debut...


Ten Sycamore Hill was, in the mind of Peter Ord, the font of all of his misfortunes.

While women, work, cars and kids came and went, the only constant in Peter’s turbulent life –apart from the drink, of course -was the weather beaten Victorian detached house overlooking Hart Village; it’s increasingly battered facade and interior seeming to degenerate with each one of his trials and tribulations. With every one of Peter’s disappointments a window frame would crumble; with every disaster - romantic or otherwise- a door handle would come loose or slates would be ripped from the roof by an unsympathetic wind; when his health failed, so did the heating. And, as Peter’s bank account was slowly depleted, the wallpaper and paint seamed to peel itself free from the walls before his eyes.

Each night, as a pickled Peter staggered back from another interminable drinking session at the Raby Arms, he would look up at his home perched on the hill, looming over the village like a great black crow and, soaked in alcoholic self-pity, he would curse: ‘Fuck. Fuckin’... fucker ... fuck.’

Or words to that effect.

And then one Halloween, Peter had an idea.
‘You know, it’s actually possible to kill someone with a bottle of Pepsi and a packet of Mintoes?’ said JT peeling an unlit pin-sized roll up from his bottom lip.

Peter nodded. ‘Oh, aye?’ said Peter, as he hung his camel coat on the mooshead coat rack and sat opposite JT with a sigh.

‘Aye,’ said JT. 'Not a lot of people know that.’

JT, a gaunt, jaundiced looking man with a spidery black quiff, sat at a his usual corner table, near a buzzing slot machine, drumming his fingers on his pint glass to The Shadow’s ‘Apache’ which played from a crackly speaker.

Peter sipped his pint of Stella, gazed at the fading bat-wing tattoos on his hands and faded in on the memory of a drunken night at a Newcastle tattoo parlor that then segued into the time he first met his wife, Deborah, at Astros nightclub. Twenty five years ago now. There’d been a lot of booze under the bridge since then, he thought.

The Raby Arms, an anonymous country pub, was always smoggy- despite the smoking ban-and, indeed , the interior, including the mirrors, the windows and the faces of most of the regulars, all seemed to have a nicotine sheen. As on most nights, the pub was half empty.

There was a loud bang and Big Jim burst through the doors bringing a waft of autumn leaves with him. Peter and JT both laughed as Jim stumbled into the toilets, his fly open as wide as the Grand Canyon, muttering to himself.

‘Here he is, the David Niven of Hart Village,’ smirked JT.

‘So you reckon it’s a non starter then?’ said Peter, massaging his left arm.

JT took a swig of Stella. 'Oh, aye. Great idea. Get Big Jim to burn down your house and then collect on the insurance. A fool proof plan, that. About as fool proof as that canoeist that did a Lord Lucan and got spotted in Rio or somewhere.’

JT had a point, thought Peter. Big Jim wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the box. He remembered the time in the pub quiz when Big Jim had answered a question about the largest Loch in Scotland with ‘Chub’. However, Jim was cheap and Peter really wanted rid of that house. The bills were mounting up and the Invalidity Benefit that he’s started getting after his first heart attack barely covered his drinking sessions.

Peter sighed again and slouched in his chair as he wiped his sweating brow with his ubiquitous tie. ‘Just think, ‘ he said. ‘This time of year kids are always pushing bangers and fireworks through people letterboxes. It’s happened to me loads of times. Now, if I happen to leave some booze splashed around the place and work on my old motorbike in the front room and it catches fire, well...’

They both looked up as Big Jim plonked down next to them.

‘Peter, I’m you’re man’, said Big Jim.

‘I’ll take that with a mountain of Saxa,' said JT.
JT and Big Jim had left and Peter propped himself up at the bar. He was watching ‘Deal Or No Deal’, trying to ignore the numb feeling in his arm, when he heard the bang.

‘Bollox!’ he shouted.

Hot, sweating and wheezing, Peter rushed out of the pub and up the path towards his burning home.

‘Tosser!’, he shouted at Big Jim, who was rushing down the path in a panic. Peter was volcanic and the pain in his arm was getting worse. He heard a sound, turned and saw a group of kids dressed as vampires, werewolves and ghosts.

‘Trick or treat,’ they shouted.

‘Bolox,’ he whispered and then he gasped and crumpled to the ground.

The weight of an elephant was on Peter’s chest before the last stages of the coronary kicked in. The kids were lifting his wallet and watch and, as they frisked him, Peter looked up at his burning house and saw it’s black silhouette against the waxing moon. His vision started to fade like hot breath on a cold window pane. Ten Sycamore Hill’s windows and front door seemed to light up a glowing red like the eyes and mouth of a grinning Jack O’Lantern. And then he thought he heard a laugh.

BIO: Paul Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England-a town famous for hanging a monkey-and is now on the lam in Bydgoszcz, Poland (South of Hel). He has had stories in (or coming up in) Powder Burn Flash, Six Sentences, A Twist Of Noir, Flashshots, Beat To A Pulp and the book 6S2V. He can be found stalking ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you?’ at:

Friday 10 April 2009

The Poll is back

To ensure that we are getting the right mix of stories here at TK'N'C, I have reinstated the poll on the right. We are getting more hits now, so that is probably a good indicator that people are enjoying the work displayed here (so probably no need for a poll, then?), but we do like to know that we're doing things right.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

THE BREAK IN - by Col Bury

There's a loud noise downstairs in the middle of the night...what would you do?


‘There’s somebody in the house,’ whispered Louise, nudging her snoring husband with her elbow.
Malcolm stirred and pulled the duvet, leaving Louise naked and vulnerable. The sound of glass smashing made her heart flicker.
‘Malc! Wake up!’ She shook him this time.
‘What the…? What’s up, honey?’
‘Did you hear that?’
Malcolm reluctantly sat upright, rubbing his eyes. ‘Hear what?’
‘Someone’s breaking in…’
Louise grabbed Malcolm’s arm tightly. ‘Where’s your mobile?’
He searched blindly in the dark on the bedside table. ‘Shit, it’s not there. I’m sure I brought it up.’
More low voices echoed through the house and the sound of drawers being slammed.
‘Malc, what are we gonna do?’ There was panic in her voice.
‘Dunno. I’m thinking.’
‘Should I shout out of the window?’ she said, carefully turning on the bedside lamp which offered a microcosm of solace, until she saw the fear in Malcolm’s eyes.
‘No. They might come upstairs. Shit, what if they’ve got weapons? Think, think, think!’ he said, tapping his temples. He climbed out of bed and began pacing the room, then quickly pulled on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and trainers. ‘Where’s that fuckin phone?’ he asked, searching desperately, the dressing table, under the bed - but nothing.
‘What about if you shout downstairs that the police are on the way?’
He stopped to look at her. ‘I could do, but I don’t know whether that’d work. How’s about I tell them I’ve gotta gun?’
‘But what if they have a gun? Saying that might make them use it.’
The voices grew louder, closer, at the bottom of the stairs.
His voice was hushed and shaky, ‘Maybe if we just leave it, they’ll go away.’
‘Yeah…and then at least we’ll be safe.’
When they both clearly heard, ‘Let’s try upstairs…’ their eyes widened in unison.
‘Oh shit.’ Malcolm frantically scanned the room and fixed on his snooker cue in the corner. He gingerly made his way to the cue. There were footsteps on the stairs as he unscrewed the butt of the cue and held it up as a makeshift cosh. Edging closer to the bedroom door he waited, his eyes manic with adrenaline.
The door creaked in the next bedroom, then shuffling.
Louise gave him a brief hug and a peck on the cheek before retreating to the far side of the bedroom.
‘Louise…I love you,’ he said, his mouth dry with anticipation, his gaze fixed on the door, the cosh aloft.
The door burst open and a man in a black balaclava rushed in.
Louise screamed.
Malcolm swung the cue butt and impacted firmly on the man’s head with a sickening thud. The man dropped to the floor, a kitchen knife clattering across the laminate flooring.
A second male in a face mask appeared brandishing a screwdriver. He lunged at Malcolm’s midriff banging him into the wardrobe.
Louise cowered in the corner.
The butt clunked onto the floor and the man stabbed Malcolm’s stomach repeatedly with the screwdriver. Malcolm yelped with each thrust until he collapsed onto the bed.
Louise was sitting knees up, frozen, peeping through her fingers.
With blood oozing from the puncture wounds Malcolm shrieked in pain, yet still managed to reach down and clasp onto the butt. He promptly struck the man on the forehead. The masked man gasped and backed off holding his head, only for the first male in the balaclava to spring back to life holding the kitchen knife.
‘Fuckin come on then, tough guy!’ he shouted as he dived on top of Malcolm. They grappled on the bed, blood smearing everywhere. Malcolm rolled the burglar beneath him and clutched onto the knife’s handle, but was then rolled back onto his side as his strength began to wane.
While their bodies entwined Louise heard the slushy tear of flesh, followed by a low groan. She was engulfed with sheer terror. Both bodies lay still. ‘Oh my God….no…pleeease!’ Tentatively, she stood up and took a closer look.
The other intruder eyed her from the doorway, rubbing his head. Malcolm rolled to the side and the man in the balaclava sat up holding the bloody knife.
‘Thank God for that,’ said Louise as she lifted the balaclava and kissed her lover while Malcolm lay dead on the bed.
‘Come on Johnny, let’s do one,’ said the accomplice from the door.
‘I’ll meet you at the cottage at the weekend as agreed, Lou,’ said Johnny breathlessly. ‘And you were right…he was a game fucker.’

Col Bury is currently writing a crime novel and his ever-growing selection of short stories can be found on TKnC and A Twist Of Noir. He blogs and interviews crime authors here:

Friday 3 April 2009

Poll results

Judging by the poll I conducted, it appears that we're getting things just about right here at TK'N'C with a good spread of different genres. Something you might have noticed is how closely all the different genres are to each other and how well they lend to other styles. It's great to see such support from our regular readers and contributors. But, we could do with more of your stories and flash fiction to keep things fresh and keep bringing readers back.