Tuesday 31 May 2011

TKnC revamped with new features... whadderyereckon?

Hi Folks,

As you can see, I've given the site an overdue makeover, but we've not finished there! Discussions are ongoing among the editors...

There's now a new feature, so I'm throwing out the gauntlet... Can you make our 'top ten popular posts' (see sidebar), and join the likes of Richard Godwin, Sean Patrick Reardon, RS Bohn, Chad Eagleton, Michael J Solender, Nick Quantrill and Jodi MacArthur? Hell, the inimitable Mr Godwin's got three beauts in there!

However, it's not all about the big hitters. If you see a story from a 'newbie', and have a spare few minutes, then give them some words of encouragement to spur them on.

I know subs' are closed until July 1st. That gives us enough time to clear the pipeline, where some crackers await.  Plus, you can hone your stories for 'top ten kudos'! 

I'm no 'techie', so all feedback on our new look is welcome... and, because we're listening, any other suggestions or ideas will be considered. After all, it's YOUR site.   

Thanks for your continued support.
Crime Editor, Col

Monday 30 May 2011

THE CONVENIENT by Robin Billings

Newly revamped TKnC welcomes Robin on her debut with this beaut...

The Convenient

This one guy came into the Convenient most afternoons about suppertime, and every time he came, he bought himself some good beer, the kind in green bottles, and a couple cartons of yogurt. We only talked when I told him how much he owed when he walked up to the counter. He didn’t talk to me when he paid, he just handed me his money and waited for his change and said thanks under his breath when he was turning to go. I was used to that, because it isn’t like people who stop by the Convenient pay attention to the checkout girl. People are usually in a hurry to be gone.

I was in a really happy mood one day, though, so when the guy came to the checkout I smiled at him and said looks like you’re really into yeast. He stared at me like I was stupid for saying that, so I said, you know, because there’s yeast in your beer. And in your yogurt. Then he kind of smiled, like he’d missed a beat but then he found it, and he said did I wanna go out and maybe do something together when I got off work.

He was a tall, bony guy with a faded away look to him, kind of tired, kind of pitiful, with his light brown hair and his pasty face, but it was a Friday and getting dark outside, the time of day that makes a person wanna go out and do something new, so I said yes.

All we did when I met him outside after my shift ended was walk a couple blocks down to his apartment. But hey, I figured, what the hell. Maybe he’d like me and I’d get to do something different with him another night.

He walked us back to his kitchen, pulled a couple bottles of Heineken out of his refrigerator, and we leaned against his kitchen cabinets, drinking.

The only light in the room came from this skinny fluorescent tube over the stove that made us look like shadowy hiders in a secret place. It looked darker than dark outside the kitchen windows, because the fire escape stairs hanging outside the windows hid any lights from the street.

The guy told me he was a prison lawyer. He talked about the prisoners some, but other than that, he didn’t say much. I’m not sure he ever even told me his name. Not that I needed his name.

I was kind of mad we hadn’t done anything I was thinking we were gonna do, though, like maybe have a late supper somewhere nice or maybe have a nice drink in a bar or something. Plus the guy kept staring at me like I was a suspect at the county jail or one of those dead bugs stuck on a pin in a bug collection box. So I took a last swig of beer and said I’d better go, but when I reached down to get my purse off the floor, the guy, he grabbed hard on my arm and yanked me back to his bedroom.

It scared me how hard he held on, and him still staring.

I didn’t wanna get hurt or raped or anything so I said I’m sorry you’re mad when he pulled down hard on my jeans, and I stripped, and him staring the whole time, and then we were on the bed and he was feeling of me like he owned me and humping his ass on me in a crazy target practice. I don’t think he made it all the way inside me, though. I don’t think he went inside far enough for it to count. I think I won on that one, because someone on the other side of his front door starting hammering on it, or maybe someone was working out in the hall, I don’t know.

All I know is, the front door wobbled against the force of the mystery fist banging away out there, and the guy stopped to listen. He raised up just long enough for me to think ahead and slide away a little, so I said we’ve made so much noise, maybe somebody’s called the cops.

He kept listening and looking toward the bedroom door, because of all people, I guess a prison lawyer sure wouldn’t wanna be stuck in prison.

The banging stopped then, a chopped-off, silent sound that you could almost say was a loud noise of its own, like a train running sound, or maybe the sound of blood whooshing through your head that you could hear because there wasn’t any other sound to distract you. And that must’ve caused the guy to come back from his purpose-built trance and see me only halfway under him. All I know is, when he looked down and saw I’d moved some, he looked dead pissed.

Then the banging started again, like somebody was testing on a wall with a hammer to find the stud. I smiled up at the guy’s face and whispered maybe you better check and see who’s out there.

He must’ve agreed, because he slapped his pants on and loped out to the front door, with him probably figuring I was stuck in the bed and he was between me and the front door, so what the hell, I couldn’t get away, but I yanked my clothes up and ran back into the kitchen and out the window and just about jumped out on the fire escape.

I almost fell, but I made it down to the pavement and fast-fast around the corner, pulled my jeans back on, and then I ran. I made it down a block and around a corner and then I leaned up against this big brick apartment house to rest.

For a desperate second, I wished so hard I could close my eyes and open them again and a little room would've grown out of the side of that brick wall and I could live in that room, instantly. Living there would be clean and neat and the perfect shrubs and flower beds would stay all around it just like they looked now, leaves and pale flowers shining in the dark, looking like they grew perfect that way, from their birth, and never had needed any trimming. If a room could just appear right behind where I was standing, I would be very quiet so no one would care I was living in that room. But how would I go and ask for that to happen and who would I ask, and anyway, people would think I was crazy.


I saw that guy a couple days later, back at the Convenient. He plops his beer and yogurt down big as you please, and I’m standing above him on the platform behind the checkout counter, and he’s staring up at me with his bug eyes, then he smiles big, says he hopes I have change for a fifty, and I say yes I do, because hell, what else am I gonna say. Here’s this lawyer guy just about capturing people and making it look like a lucky date for them, and he looks good on paper, doing work for the already-captured people he calls the incarcerated, and if I say anything it’s only me against him.

So I gave him his change, but I didn’t smile. I was bone dead finished with the smiling. Plus, he didn’t know it yet, but he was close to being bone dead, too. I’d been thinking about how he left his kitchen windows unlocked.

The thing is, the thing people don't wanna think about but what is really true, is that all it takes to kill a person is to know they need killing, and not to feel bad about doing it.

Then figure out how to get at them when they’re asleep or something, and have a killing something in your hand so when you do get at them, it’ll do the trick fast and pretty quiet. Like maybe a hammer. Even if you’re kind of a skinny girl, so you don’t weigh much, if you beat into a guy’s temple when he’s asleep, he’ll never wake up again, especially if you crunch down on him with it a few times, even after you know he’s conked out. And by his temple I don't mean his balls, which he probably thinks about right away when anybody mentions stuff like 'my body, my temple'. No. I mean one of the two temples on the sides of his head.

Phlap down hard, and I mean hard, on one of those two suckers, cave it in a little, basically, and he's done. Not done like having his balls hammered on. No. I mean, done done. I know this is true. It works out fine.
Robin Billings lives in Virginia, United States. She's had stories published in the Potomac Journal and in Wilderness House Literary Review. Robin can be contacted on Facebook
If you enjoyed this story, then I'm sure Robin would appreciate your feedback...

Monday 23 May 2011

Submissions suspended till July 1st 2011...plus, a few words...

Hi Folks,

Due to a healthy backlog, we've suspended submissions. However, if you've just penned a story for us, then do send it over in the next couple of days for consideration.

Just a quick word on encouraging new writers, which was the main reason this site was started. There are several damn good stories below, so have a nosey and, if you like them, please leave the author some positive words. It's this kind of feedback that spurs a writer on... I should know!

There will still be a regular flow of stories during the suspension period so, as always, thanks for your support.

Crime Editor, Col.

Ps. We had some formatting issues with the story below, but it deserves it spot on the site.

Wednesday 18 May 2011


The Wrath of Parauma

Date: 12th December, 1967

Location: The island of New Britain, off the Bismark Archipelago.
Status: It is day four, as the Eldridge expedition continues its trek
into the Nakanai Mountains.

The way ahead became noticeably harder. The team were trekking up hill 
now, higher into the Nakanai ranges. Seth Lincoln led the way, with a 
machete in one hand slashing away at the branches and vines that 
blocked the path. It seemed to him that he had only been along this 
path a month ago and had cut back much of the undergrowth then, but it 
had grown back with a vengeance. Even then, the city slickers, Nick 
Eldridge and Ursula Squire struggled to keep up with the pace that

Lincoln set.

The jungle, by midday was like a Turkish steambath. It wasn't just the 
heat but the infernal humidity. Ursula and Eldridge's clothes were 
saturated with sweat, and clung to their bodies making free movement 
awkward. Then there were the plants. Not just the vines and the 
underbrush, but there were palm fronds that could cut through material 
and human flesh like razor blades. Both of them had a series of 
scratches and cuts across their legs and arms. The trek into the 
depths of New Guinea was unlike anything they had encountered before.

The trees and the undergrowth seemed to be closing in on the party, 
consuming the oxygen. The atmosphere was tense and filled with 
electricity. Lincoln stopped dead in his tracks. The porters could 
feel that something was wrong. They dropped their boxes and bundles 
and stared forward with unbridled terror in their eyes. Eldridge was

confused. What was the problem? He stepped to the front of the column 
to see what the commotion was all about. A stone covered in vines 
blocked their path. He walked up to it and pulled back the vines, 
revealing a carved stone head with a horrific expression carved onto 
its face. The porters all jumped back.

Eldridge stared at the stone head in awe. It was about a foot wide by 
about eight inches deep and mounted on top of a stone plinth. The 
carved face was truly frightening, with what looked like sunken cats 
eyes, and its mouth was frowning with its teeth bared. The final eerie 
effect was created by some cleverly concealed, ancient engineering. A 
channelling system had been set up in the branches of the tree above,

and all the moisture would slew down a cleverly disguised gutter and 
run down over the head of the statue. The running water effect kept 
the face glimmering and through a trick of the light, the features 
would appear to move; almost pulsing, as if the weathered stone was 
living and breathing skin. The effect was horrific.

The native porters were clearly effected by its appearance.

“We're going to lose them soon,” Lincoln said in an undertone.
Eldridge turned and looked at the porters. The were talking animatedly 
amongst themselves. Eldridge couldn't understand a word, but didn't 
need subtitles to work out what they were saying. The stone head meant 
something to them. Something evil and they were not prepared to press 

“Wamira,” Eldridge called. Wamira, the head porter walked over and
stood before Eldridge. “What is this?” he queried.

“Parauma!” Wamira said in a state of severe agitation.

“Parauma?” Eldridge repeated.

“Parauma. Pure evil. We cannot go on.”

“It's one of their superstitions,” Lincoln interjected. Then turning 
to Wamira he said with his finger wagging, “Wamira, you and your men 
have been paid good money to come along on this trip. You can't just 
hop off when you think things are getting tough. This stone head is 
nothing. It's just an old sculpture designed to scare people away. It 
has no power.”

“That is where you are wrong, Mr. Lincoln,” Wamira said. “This land is 
full of ancient evil. You may just see a stone head. But to us, it is 
a warning. The stone is here for a reason. We will go no further.”

Before the conversation could go any further, Ursula screamed. 
Eldridge rushed to her side.

“What is it?” he exclaimed.

“There,” she said pointing into the jungle. “A face. A strange 
horrible face, staring at me.”

Eldridge turned and looked in the direction she was pointing and then 
he saw it. A native, with grey clay caked over his face. It looked as 
if the face was made of stone. The native stood dead still as if he 
was a statue with a spear by his side. The porters began to wail. 
Eldridge turned again, and saw that the native was not alone. Four 
other natives, all adorned with the sinister grey death masks had 
circled the expedition. The porters, enveloped in a collective 
hysteria, ran off into the jungle. The grim-faced natives made no 
effort to chase them. Wamira still stood beside Lincoln.

“I told you,” Wamira said. “This is a place of great evil.” However 
Lincoln was not listening as he unshouldered his rifle and took aim at 
the nearest native. Without a second thought, he squeezed the trigger. 
The native dropped dead, the clay mask shattering as the bullet caught 
him in the forehead.

In retaliation a spear was thrown. Lincoln ducked, but Wamira was not 
so fast. The spear pierced through his chest. Wamira's jaw dropped as 
he staggered forward, swaying, before dropping to his knees. He 
slumped forward, but the shaft of the spear stopped him from falling. 
Dead, Wamira sat there kneeling with his head lolling forward.

Ursula screamed again. Eldridge grabbed her around the waist and 
dragged her to the ground as a spear whistled over their heads. 
Lincoln spun and took aim at the native who had thrown it and fired 
again. The bullet hit the native in the shoulder, tearing away a large 
chunk of flesh. The native did not flinch as if he was oblivious to 
the pain. The native then retrieved a knife from a belt fashioned from 
twine around his waist and advanced on Lincoln.

Meanwhile, Eldridge had shunted Ursula to the cover of a tree. He 
unholstered his pistol and started firing at the natives who were 
circling their position. Eldridge shot one of the natives, felling him 
before he could throw his spear.

“Your gun!” Eldridge yelled. Ursula looked confused. “Use it!” he 
added. Ursula unholstered the pistol from her hip and shakily she took 
aim. Another spear flew overhead as she squeezed the trigger. The 
bullet grazed the natives forehead, leaving a large red gouge, but the 
shot did not stop him from advancing on their position. Eldridge 
hurriedly fired another shot at the native, hitting their attacker in 
the arm. However it did not stop him from moving forward. This wasn't 
right. The natives didn't feel pain.

Lincoln leaped up from his position and swinging his rifle like a 
club, bludgeoned the advancing native. The native's head spun from the 
force, but it didn't stop him advancing. Lincoln, dropping his rifle, 
grabbed at the native's knife hand and twisted it towards the man's 
stomach. Then spinning, and with an elbow to the native's neck, he 
forced the man's head and chest down towards the knife. Lincoln then 
kicked free, only to see the native turn and face him, with the knife 
still embedded in his chest.

Lincoln scooted across to his rifle once again and picked it up as the 
native advanced on him once more. Lincoln lifted his gun and at point 
blank range fired at the native, right between the eyes. The native's 
head exploded, and the body fell motionless at his feet.

Then he felt pain across his should blades. Only a glancing blow, but 
it was enough to make him drop his rifle. Another native had crept up 
and thrown his spear. The throw was wide, a glancing blow, but 
none-the-less still gouged a tear across his back.

Eldridge was still engaged in his own battle. Despite the bullet 
wounds, the native produced a knife and advanced towards Eldridge and 
Ursula. Eldridge stood and rushed at the native, throwing a wild right 
at the man's head. Normally a right, thrown with that much force at an 
opponent's head would have been brutally effective, however, maybe 
because of the clay mask or the man's lack of sensation, the punch did 
little to slow the advance. The native brought the knife around in 
front of his body and lunged at Eldridge. Eldridge threw himself to 
the right and rolled out of harms way, scrambling to his feet as the 
native turned and moved towards him again.

Eldridge was ready. He had noticed that the native did not move 
quickly. It was the man's singularity of purpose and ignorance of pain 
that made him a threat. Eldridge feinted a left hand jab, and as the 
native shuffled to the side, Eldridge stepped back and kicked the 
knife from the man's hands. Moving quickly, Eldridge threw another 
punch, his fist landing on the native's bunched shoulder, before being 
gripped in a vice-like hand and twisted. Only a quick jab with his 
free hand to the man's abdomen saved Eldridge's arm from being 
wrenched from its socket. Eldridge jumped clear.

Another native moved out of the dense undergrowth and moved towards 
Eldridge from behind with his knife at the ready. Ursula watched him 
advancing and from her position, crouched beneath a tree, aimed her 
pistol. Her hand was shaking, but she had to fire. She squeezed the 
trigger, the bullet flew low and obliterated the man's knee. He

toppled to the ground, but still using his arms to drag him forward, 
continued to move towards Eldridge. Ursula stood and ran towards the 
man, pulling the trigger. One shot. Two shot. Three shot. Then click. 
Her pistol was empty. Thankfully the first shot had hit the native in 
the head and he was now dead. She stood over his dead body shaking 

Eldridge was still engaged in his own struggle. He found it hard to 
believe that a man who was so severely wounded still had so much fight 
in him. A quick pace backwards had Eldridge off balance and a heave of 
the native's arms had him off the ground. The native twisted and 
threw, and Eldridge's spread-eagled body sailed through the air. He 
landed with a heavy thud, the air forced from his lungs.

Lincoln had picked up his rifle and picked off the second last of the 
attacking natives. He rushed to Ursula's side and pulled her away from 
the conflict. Then he took aim, but Eldridge and the native were 
moving too quickly for him to get an accurate sight. He may just as 
well hit Eldridge as he would the native. It was up to Eldridge's wile

and cunning to take care of the final assailant.

Eldridge scrambled to his feet, and in a blinkered rage charged at the 
native, his shoulder forcing the native back into a tangle of vines. 
The native flailed wildly trying to break free. Eldridge grabbed a 
vine and twisted it around the man's neck. Then he began to pull. The 
native's arms began to thrash as his body fought for oxygen. Ursula 
looked away in disgust. She couldn't watch. Eldridge kept heaving on 
the vine. The man's eyes began to bulge, and his tongue protruded from 
his mouth. Slowly the native stopped struggling. The flailing stopped. 
His limbs went limp, his knees giving way, and he hung there, 
entangled in the vines like a morbid Christmas decoration. Eldridge 
stepped away and then dropped to his knees exhausted. He gulped in 
fresh air.

“They weren't human,” he panted.

* * * * *


David Foster likes spy stories and has been known to talk about them
at length on his blog : Permissiontokill.com