Thursday 7 October 2010

STARS by Ian Ayris

Time for more crime...


'Lift up my head,' he says, quiet, blood slidin out the side of his mouth. 'Let me gaze at the stars one last time.'

Gaze at the stars? Who does he think he fuckin is? But I'm a bit of a softy, me. All heart, you know. And this one is a bit different. So I bend down to him, slip me left hand under his head and lift it up a bit. No good for me back, the bendin down, but I do it anyway. Sort of bloke I am. He tries to talk but there's just a load of blood comes out, and he starts coughin. I back away a bit, still holdin up his head.

He puts his eyes skywards.

There's a car goes by, but no-one can see us here. I mean, who comes to a place like this, this time of night? No fucker, that's who. Less they got a job to do.

Me dad used to bring me up here as a kid. At night. He'd sit me down in the grass and tell me not to move a muscle. He'd know if I did, he said. Then he'd fuck off to the pub for a couple of hours. I'd sit there shakin, listenin to the owls and the wind and the voices what sounded like they was everywhere. But there weren't never no-one here, not that I never saw, anyways. He'd come back for me, all stumblin and pissed . Drag me into the car, and if he saw so much as a tear on me face, he'd beat the shit out of me with his belt when we got back home.

Said it was like the Spartans. Said they had the right idea. Told me they'd leave their littl'uns on the side of a mountain day they was born. Come back the next night. Any still left, you know, still breathin, they'd bring em down and make warriors of em. My dad loved all that shit. Warriors, and that. Said you gotta look after yourself in this life, your loved ones, and that. Know how to handle yourself, you know.

He'd be tellin me all this while he was hittin me with his belt, so I never got it word for word what he was sayin, but I got the gist, you know. Done me the world of fuckin good, mind. Wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my old man and all the lessons I learned off him. Was a tough little fucker growin up. Hard as nails. Still am. I got respect on the manor cos of it, and respect is the most important thing there fuckin is.

His head's gettin heavy. He ain't got long, this geezer. I don't usually get this close. Usually just do the job and fuck off out of there. But this ain't no usual job. Fuck me, it ain't. Didn't really wanna do it, to be honest, but I got me reputation to think of.
I'm tryin not to look in his eyes, but he's sort of draggin me to em just by lookin at me. Sort of forcin me. He's tryin to say something, but there ain't nothing comin out his mouth other than a load more blood. But everything he's sayin, he's sayin with his eyes, like he's lookin right inside me.
There's a wind whipping round us. And it's got cold as fuck.

Me mum, she never knew the half of it. Reckoned she never, anyway. Said me dad was old school, didn't know no other way. She reckoned he loved me to bits, and in his own way he probably did. Never felt like it at the time, mind. And I never saw nothing in his eyes other than hate and black and blood.

When he popped his clogs, me mum never talked about him again. Like he never lived.

He's coughin up again, this geezer. And I'm cradlin him in me arms and he's shiverin and the blood's splatterin all over me face, and the moon's showin blood all over the dog collar thing round his neck and me breath's catchin in me throat.

I tear me eyes away from his face for a sec cos I can't bear it no more.

The gravestones are watchin us. Watchin me. Watchin what I done. What I am.

Fuckin hell.

I'm thinking of them babies on that mountain not havin a fuckin clue why they're cold and why they're scared and hungry and wonderin if this is it, you know, if this is what it's all about.

I pull him close. Lean right in. And there's a tear comes out me eye. Drops on his face. I twist the knife in harder and push it upward, and I let his head go gently onto the grass. Then I lay down next to him.

And look up at the stars.

Ian Ayris' stories appear in several online and print publications, including the Byker Books 'Radgepacket' series, 'Caught by Darkness' - a Static Movement anthology, A Twist of Noir, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Pulp Metal Magazine, and The Flash Fiction Offensive. Other stories will shortly be appearing in Out of the Gutter, Powder Burn Flash, Yellow Mama, and Beat to a Pulp. Ian lives in London with his wife and three children, and has just completed his first novel.


  1. I won't say anything cliched like, 'You're showing "Star" quality, Ian, but you are!


  2. the story has a great voice and i love the way the strands that are mentioned are slowly woven together. top notch, ian, i enjoyed that very much.

  3. I love that we never know who is being killed or why they're being killed--you stay focused on the mc's story and never stray. Masterful work.

  4. Beautifully written Ian. As already commented this piece has a great voice running all the way through it and a haunting quality - I really enjoyed it.

    Kind regards.

  5. Powerful writing. One of your best.Which says a lot.

  6. This is powerfully written and deepens in its intensity. You have balanced darkness and humour here which is hard to do Ian, great stuff.

  7. Beautiful voice, Ian. Love the piece.

  8. Great writing again Ian! Loved it!

    Phil Beloin

  9. Blimey, thanks so much everyone for such a brilliant response to this story. Means loads to know you all enjoyed it. And for you to have picked up the beauty I was going for in the darkness, just makes me shiver.

    Thank you all.


  10. Stunning. Packed with emotion that outweighs the crime. Loved it.

  11. Great job Ian. Just like the last piece of yours I read, I loved it very much.

  12. Ian,

    The fact that you keep us in the dark about who is getting the knife between the ribs complements the darkness of the sky.

    And the stars represent the scattered memories of your narrator, showing us only what he wants us to see.

    Skillfully done.

  13. Thanks so much, everyone, for the kind and illuminating comments. Funny, I never plan these short stories. I just start writing and see what comes out. I only noticed this morning, for instance, how the story begins with the victim pleading to look at the stars and ends with the killer doing so. Never noticed that link before. Mad, eh. I really should be more organised . . . :)

  14. Nah, Ian. I think we all do the same thing. It just comes from somewhere and when it gets out on the page, we don't necessarily realize it until we re-read it.

    If you get organized, you might lose a step. Keep it messy; it'll all come out clean and in order all by itself.

  15. Superb story, Ian, absolutely top notch. Thanks for a great read!

  16. Wow! What a brilliant read. Fabulously done, Ian.