Thursday 30 June 2011


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My dad was a docker. And me granddad. Lived and died on the docks, they did. Both of em. Me, I never got the chance.

Most of the actual docks are still there, you know, the water bits. But they turned em into places for posh boats and stuff. Rich boys paddlin pools, that sort of shit. The warehouses and the market and the clubs, and all the other stuff, all that stuff what made this place so special in the old days, it’s all gone. Flattened. Levelled. Fucked. And where all that life was, they went and built an airport on it.

Who’d have thought it, eh. Round here. A fuckin airport. My dad would have laughed himself silly at the thought. Me granddad, he would’ve spit his stout all down his front.

But there it is. Right there. All big and shiny and new.

I only been there once, the airport. There was this job in the paper, see. Baggage handler. The docks was gone, but I’m thinkin, least I could carry on the family tradition, you know, workin where the docks was. Close as I was gonna get to followin in me old man’s footsteps, I reckoned.

So I phone em up and they send me a form. I send it back to em all filled in with me best handwritin. And I get this call they wanna see me. Cushty, I thought. I’m in. So I mosey on over in me Top Man suit and me twenty quid shoes, and a fair bit of hope in me heart.

Was bigger than what I thought, the airport. Huge. Me dad used to tell me the docks was massive in the old days, like its own little world. And walkin into this aiport, it’s sort of like that. People everywhere. Millin about. Thousands of em. And there’s shops and places to eat, and everything. A proper world of its own.

I take meself a deep breath, put me best foot forward and ask one of the security where to go. I show him the letter. ‘Good luck,’ he says, sort of like he meant it but takin the piss at the same time. Couldn’t work out which, if I’m honest. Too nervous, see.

But I let it go.

When I find the office, I knock on the door. ‘Come in,’ someone says. There’s two people when I got inside. All suited up, sittin behind a desk. A geezer and a bird.

They was all pucker, to begin with. Askin if I got there all right, where I see the advert, stuff like that. But then it gets a bit . . . well, you know, they start askin me about me ‘previous experience‘. ‘Other jobs‘. Now I’m a bit touchy on that subject. I’ve turned over a new leaf since I come out the nick. All I’m askin for’s a fuckin chance.

‘Previous?’ I says. ‘Other jobs?‘

That’s right, they say.

‘Mr Livingstone,’ the geezer says, ‘we only want to ascertain your suitability for the post.’ Says it all posh. Like he could shit on me any time he wants.

So I’m straight with em. Tell em about me time inside and how I’m turnin over a new leaf. I tell em about me dad. How he was on the docks from leavin school, shiftin this and shiftin that. How he’d come home for his supper, knackered and filthy, but you know, settled for havin done a day’s work. And I tell em about me granddad and how he worked the docks forty years, till a box of bananas fell on his head. Squashed him flat. Tell em I come here to follow the family tradition. Not the bananas bit. Wouldn’t wanna go that way. But, you know, workin where they worked.

‘You do know this is an airport, Mr Livingstone, I presume?’ the geezer says. He’s sayin the ‘I presume’ bit every time he says me name, thinkin he’s funny or something.

I don’t get it, meself, but the bird, she’s smirkin every time he says it. I ain’t in there much longer than another ten minutes.

‘Thank you, for your time,’ the geezer says. ‘We’ll be in touch soon.’

Two weeks later I get this letter sayin I ain‘t got the job. They wished me luck findin something else, and that. But it was too late for fuckin niceties. If they’d have just listened. If they’d just understood, you know, about me turnin a new leaf, wantin the job cos of me old man and me granddad, and the docks, and not took the fuckin piss, I’d have forgot the whole business. But they didn’t.

So, I couldn’t.

I give me old mate Danny a bell. You don’t wanna know what shit he’s into. Trust me.

You don’t. But if you wanna make a difference, up the anti, he’s your man.

And Danny boy’s come up fuckin trumps.

So, I’m on me way back there, to the airport, gettin out the station, me sports bag slung over me shoulder.

There’s the same security guard. I give him a nod. He nods back.

‘All right?’ he says.

I nod. I don‘t smile. Puts the shit up him. I walk on.

Queues of people, whinin and moanin and grumblin and thinkin they’re the most important fuckin people in the whole fuckin world. But they ain’t worth fuck all, these sort. Standin their with their business suits and their mobile fuckin phones and their laptops. None of em would’ve lasted ten minutes in my old man’s day. Ten fuckin minutes.

All the pretend’s gone now. I went for that shitty job in good fuckin faith. I was tryin to go straight. I really was. But they laughed in me face.

I head for the karzi.


There’s a geezer with his back to me, havin a shave at one of the sinks, and one of the shit-houses is locked. No-one at the pissers, so I‘m as good as on me own. But I don’t care if no cunt sees me anyway. I put the bag on the floor. Open it up. And I think of me dad and me granddad livin and dyin on the docks.

I take out Danny’s piece of kit and feel the weight of it in me hands.

The geezer at the sink turns round as he hears me load up. I pop him with a quick blast, and watch him explode into the mirror.

Then I’m out the karzi and into the airport proper. Stridin. Fuckin stridin. And I’m blastin away and there’s people screamin and runnin and bleedin and dyin and I’m cutting em down like Clint Eastwood in that cowboy film where he goes mental at the end.

You know, that one where you see it’s comin all the way through and when it does, when it does come, it is just so fuckin beautiful.

Ian Ayris lives in London with his wife and three children. He's had over twenty-five short stories accepted for publication both online and in print. His stuff can be found in the Byker Books' 'Radgepacket' collections, A Twist of Noir, Curbside Splendor, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Pulp Metal Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Waterhouse Review, Powder Burn Flash, Yellow Mama, and in print in Out of the Gutter Issue 7.
Ian's novel, Abide With Me will soon be published by Caffeine Nights. He can be found hanging around at

Saturday 18 June 2011


K.R. debuts...

Heir to the Throne

David Allen Mullens paced his cell, anxiously cracking his knuckles in anticipation, knuckles on the same hands that had murdered twelve people in a four week killing spree. He wasn’t scared or sweating he was just excited.

He had been in prison for three years and had only managed to kill two in that time. It is tough to kill when they keep you sequestered from the general population or locked in solitary most of the time. He was beginning to feel robbed of the title. But with the air conditioning, cable TV and three hots and a cot, he thought he hadn’t done too badly for himself considering that he only had a seventh grade education.

He had killed people as far back as he could remember. For one; it was fun, and for two; it was easy money, but that reasoning was one he had grown in to. There was a time that he had taken no pleasure in killing. That was when he had killed his mother. He had killed her when he was 15 years old.

After years of killing small animals and insects he audibly heard something in his head snap, and the next thing he knew his mother was laying on the kitchen floor, the refrigerator door still ajar. He could still remember that her caved-in skull looked like it had spilled strawberry swirled oatmeal, it was his favorite breakfast but she would never make it for him again. His mother had been the catalyst but she was only one cause of his motivation. He wasn’t the type to sit around crying to a shrink about it though; all those pussies that pissed and moaned that mommy didn’t love them made him sick to his stomach.

Mullens had grown to believe that he was a god in his own right. He had not yet created, but he had mastered destroying. Soon though, that would change. Soon he would be a mentor to one, maybe more. Who knew? That was the great thing about being a god. That whole vengeful Old Testament god thing was pretty sweet gig.

Killing was easy…killing people was even easier. Human beings were like scared cattle when confronted with violence. He was the top of the food chain. He was essential to keep the balance of nature. He was simply thinning the herd, if you will. Those he killed were expendable, and it seemed that there was always more bred to replace the fallen. He wasn’t entirely sure the number of people that he had killed over the years, but he did like to boast that it was well over two hundred.

He considered himself a renaissance man of sorts. Sure he would bust a nut, that was a given; but the manner in which he killed them would be no two the same. Shoot them, stab them, skin them, torture them, burn some, strangle some, cannibalize some. Whatever, he was open to suggestions. He watched a lot of horror movies and if he saw an on-screen murder that looked like it would be fun to try, then why not.

As a renaissance man he was something of a philosopher and recognized the fact that those fat cats in government were worse than him. In times of war they had phrases like collateral damage, it seemed about the same to him. There were generals in the joint chiefs of staff that were responsible for more death than he, but they received medals for their actions, they received praise for their resolve and prestige for their carnage. They didn’t even have to wash the blood from their hands. They were the Charles Manson of the military world. And any serial killer worth his salt knew that Manson was a fake and a pussy. Mullens had watched those televised interviews with Manson, he would rant like a lunatic, he made no sense but Mullens thought that that was the whole point of the charade. Manson didn’t want to be released. He knew that someone would kill him about five minutes after he had been released. Man, with five minutes alone in the same cell as that dude, Mullens would show just what a joke Manson was.

It was this hypocrisy that made it so easy to kill. That; and it really got him off.

What was the difference between a murderer and a conqueror? Besides public opinion, he thought it was a very fine line. Everyone wants to be evil. Everyone wants to feel the power then trip on it. It was exhilarating. Why do you think that fantasy revolves around Vampires and werewolves, and creatures that morph into killers? It is because our base nature wants that power.

He believed all humans are evil creatures by nature, most however, lack the courage to act upon those desires. He was not one of those. I am what all human sheep yearn to be. He thought smugly.

He had decided to write his memoirs this past year. Consider it a treat to the world of psychology. Five hundred pages of his heroic deeds written in minute detail. Mostly it was a way for him to show ultimate dominance over the victims. He was proud to have finished his book, but he doubted it would be well received by the masses: the spelling and grammar left much to be desired but the insight into his mind… that was what should sell. But then, he thought, the truth was never well received. Fantasy always topped the best sellers list. People were engrossed with fantasizing. This was another reason they were so easy (and fun) to kill. When confronted with a reality less cordial than a tea party, they simply froze in their tracks, like deer in the headlights.

Soon though, he would be gone and he needed an heir to his throne. Someone who would take the scepter and see it for what it really was… a weapon.

He would become a tutor to one, maybe even more, who read his memoirs. It was the least he could do for the next generation. If only he had had a mentor to learn from, maybe then he wouldn’t be pacing in this cage like some kind of animal.


A priest had come to take his confession an hour ago.

Priests... he had to smile. That priest in particular wouldn’t have lasted more than five minutes listening to his confession. The priest had been a young visionary wanting to change the world by speaking of the works of Jesus. He was naive and ignorant of the way of the world. Maybe Jesus had walked the world 2000 years ago, maybe not, it really didn‘t matter to him, but if Jesus had, then the world had shown that deity what it most desired…his blood.

He had thought of killing the priest. That thought brought him comfort to his jangled nerves. But he was retired now. He had retired on top. He still held the title. He refused to worship a god that would create a race of barely sentient cattle in his own image. Mullens believed that must be a distinctly feeble god. But he wasn’t about to worship Satan either. That would have been even worse, in his opinion. Hell, Satan had been defeated and cast from heaven by that distinctly feeble god.

He knew who the true god was. It was himself. That was why he wasn’t scared to be fried in the electric chaise lounge. Sure he was anxious, but only to get the show on the road.

He had a kingdom to rule. He could hardly wait to be that ‘still small voice’ whispering his wisdom into his successors’ ear. They would become his saints and his disciples. And in time they would rule heaven, hell and earth.

He heard the guards walking toward his cell. He could hear everything. The creaking of their patent leather belts, the jingling of keys, the squeak of their shoes on the concrete causeway, the quick breathing of fear and somewhere…very faintly he could hear a guitar playing a death dirge so sweetly and so sadly that he felt tears well up in his eyes. He wasn’t ashamed of his tears, but he had a reputation to uphold, so he blinked them back and smiled because he felt so damn alive; it was the same feeling he had when he killed someone.

He felt the familiar ache in his groin and patted his growing erection affectionately and sighed.

Soon, Vlad, soon, he thought.

The guards stopped before his cell. He knew the routine and allowed them to clamp the manacles around his wrists through the food tray slot. Then and only then did they enter his cell and shackle on the leg irons.

The young priest was there, enthusiastically reading him his last rights. He knew the kid envied him, he could see the jealousy in his young green eyes. They ushered him from his cell and began their walk down a long hallway. He turned his head to the side and winked at the priest praying beside him as they walked.

Tough luck kid, there is only one deity here.

He could smell the fear emanating from the guards, they knew his record. He felt their hatred for him, but he could understand that, their hatred was rooted in jealousy and fear.

The pressure of his sex against the crotch of his jumpsuit was a bizarre mix of pleasure and pain. It suited his tastes well. The guards noticed it and sneered at him with disgust. He blew them a kiss. Cattle would never understand that kings always had a scepter. Some were just larger than others.

They ushered him, hurriedly towards the execution chamber to the cadence of the Lord’s Prayer. He thought that the Lord had every reason to be praying now. He’d need all the help He could get, here in a few minutes.

They led him to the wooden chair and strapped his wrists and ankles into place. They covered his eyes with gauze and tape and covered his head with a cloth hood and a wet sponge atop his shaved head.

He moaned in anticipation as he felt them affix his crown to his covered head. It was his coronation after all.

He laughed with a spasm as he felt the surge of electric rip through him and the warmth of his release beneath his coveralls.

It was good to be the king.

K.R. Helms is a former Marine and freelance writer. His work has been featured in 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Dark Gothic Resurrected, Death Head Grin, Down in the Dirt, Dark Highlands Anthology Vol.2, A Means to an End from Postmortem Press and Sex and Murder Magazine. He is slated to appear in anthologies from Static Movement and The HorrorZine later this year. He resides in rural Ohio with his wife and daughter.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

THE PERFECT GIRL by John Hardy Bell

Give a warm welcome to yet another debutant, John, and...

The Perfect Girl

Paul Fargas noticed the woman the moment he walked through the bank door. She was standing two places ahead of him in line, sandwiched in between a bike messenger whose tattered clothes and scraped up knees indicated he had taken one too many spills onto the hot asphalt, and a blue-haired little old lady holding a plastic grocery bag full of pennies. Ahead of the old lady were six other miscreants of one stripe or another, all waiting impatiently to be serviced by one of the two tellers who actually bothered to show up for work.

Paul would have cursed his bad timing, perhaps even walked out of the bank altogether, were it not for the woman. She was quite simply the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Her smooth, tight skin shimmered with the light brown edges of a fresh tan. Her pink cotton halter top and Capri-length blue jeans were tailored perfectly to her lean, gym-hardened body. And, as he noticed the first time she turned to look at him, her emerald green eyes were positively arresting in their bright intensity. What Paul saw standing just a few feet away from him wasn’t merely a woman; it was the absolute embodiment of perfection.

In an instant, he knew that he had finally found the person he was destined to spend the rest of his natural born life with.

Paul had a simple checklist of qualities that he looked for in the women he worshiped. They had to be slim, they had to be blond, and they had to notice him, not just with a polite smile or dismissive glare, but really truly notice him. The vast majority of women he came across fell depressingly short in the latter category.

But with her second glance, this time accompanied by a soft smile, this woman was an astonishing three for three.

At first he couldn't believe what he was seeing. He instinctively looked around for the better looking man who surely must have walked in behind him. But there was no one else. That smile, as difficult as it was to fathom, was meant for him. It was a smile that melted him like warm butter; a smile that touched a place in his heart he never knew existed; a smile that said ‘I see you. I like you. I could really go for a guy like you.

But why? he thought to himself, instantly killing his own buzz. Why in God’s name would a woman like this even give me a first glance let alone a second?

By his own admission, Paul Fargas was no prize in the looks department. He was thirty-nine going on fifty-two, balding and had a midsection the color and consistency of a marshmallow. And at a whopping five feet three inches tall, most women he came into contact with, most of the perfect ones anyway, towered over him. It was easy to look past a man when all you could see was the top of his head. Paul had been looked past quite a bit in his life.

But not today. Not by this woman. As unlikely as it seemed, her attention was not accidental. She actually seemed to like him. Her third glance back all but confirmed it.

This time Paul summoned the courage to smile back. His lips quivered, portraying a nervousness he could only hope she would find endearing, even cute. A woman like that was probably used to making men like him nervous. His hopes were realized when he saw the corner of her pink mouth curl into a tight smile as she tucked a lock of curly blond hair behind her ear and shyly cast her glance away. Paul felt a surge of excitement rising in him that he could barely contain.

As the teller motioned her to the counter, Paul plotted his next move. Would he somehow try to get her attention as she walked out? Maybe he would step out of line and wait for her by the front door. Maybe he would walk up to the counter right now, tap her on the shoulder and… wait, wait, wait! That would be coming on way too strong! Damn it man, think straight for a minute would you?

The painful truth was that Paul didn’t have the first clue of what he was going to do. He didn’t exactly have a wealth of experience to draw from. Actually, he didn’t have any experience to draw from. Everything in his life up until now had told him that women hated him; women pitied him; women laughed at him. He was a five foot three inch version of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Why wouldn’t they laugh?

But this woman was different. That smile, that glance given to him too many times to be coincidental. She was the real thing. And she was absolutely perfect.

He longingly watched as she approached the teller with the fluid, purposeful stride of a ballet dancer. He allowed his mind to briefly indulge in the image of her wearing knee-high leg warmers, pink ballet shoes, and nothing else. The thought alone made him gasp.

Before she reached the counter she glanced back one more time and smiled. His heart jumped to the other side of his chest. If there was even the slightest bit of doubt in his mind before, it all but vanished in that moment.

But there was still the matter of actually talking to her. He had never closed a deal this big before. Hell, he had never even been invited to sit down at the negotiating table.

It doesn't matter what you say, you idiot! Just say SOMETHING!

As Paul inched closer to the front of the line he could see her reach into her purse and pull out a small envelope, which she promptly handed to the teller. He couldn’t see her face, but he was positive the smile was still there.

Then something made him look at the teller. Maybe it was the sudden expression of shock in his eyes as he opened the envelope, or the fact that all of the color instantaneously drained from his brown face as he read the note inside.

Paul’s eyes quickly shifted back to the woman. He barely recognized her.

Her face was no longer soft and inviting. It had suddenly become something that frightened him; something he wanted to run away from as fast as he possibly could. But he was frozen where he stood, horrified by what he was seeing, yet unable to turn his eyes away from it.

A second before the gun appeared she spoke the first and last words that he would he would ever hear come out of her mouth.

“Reach for the alarm again and I will fucking shoot you!”

Her voice sounded nothing like Paul imagined it would. The voice he imagined had a quiet, almost sheepish tone. In the fantasy reel that had been running continuously in his mind, he would finally summon the nerve to ask her out for coffee, and she in turn would graciously accept his invitation with the demure uncertainty, yet unmistakable excitement of a teenager being asked out on a date for the first time.

“I would love to have coffee with you,” she would say. “I wanted to ask you myself, but I’m usually not brave enough to approach guys like you.”

Paul let the reel play in his mind over and over again, allowing it to drown out the real and terrifying scene playing out in front of him.

He could see the woman mouthing something, her full pink lips curling up not with a smile, but with blood-chilling rage, as she held the gun up to the teller’s face. Though the increasing volume of the fantasy reel had prevented him from hearing what she was actually saying, he knew there was nothing at all gracious or demure about it.

Paul could feel the growing chaos and panic around him; could see the horror burned on people’s faces as they held their purses and wallets high in the air. Still, it didn’t seem real. He thought for a moment that it had to be some kind of sick joke; a twisted, sadistic version of Candid Camera. He began scanning the bank for hidden cameramen, waiting impatiently for everyone to stop screaming and break out into spontaneous laughter after realizing the prank had finally gone far enough.

But no such laughter would come.

Instead he saw the love of his life, the woman he was convinced was perfect in every way imaginable, approaching him – gun extended, pointing directly at his pasty, perspiring forehead. This time when their eyes met, she was not smiling. In the brief seconds before the end finally came, Paul had time for one last thought:

Why are the perfect one always such fucking bitches?

John Hardy Bell is a mystery / thriller writer from Denver, CO. When he's not writing his arse off (which is most of the time) John loves spending time with his wife and son, reading Elmore Leonard novels, and sucking at golf. He is currently at work on his first novel - 'The Second Circle'.

Monday 13 June 2011

CLIMATE OF FEAR by John H. Dromey

TKnC welcomes John...

 Climate of Fear

The barometric pressure was dropping faster than watermelon seeds at an Independence Day picnic. Hurricane warnings were out for the Gulf coast, but I was in my office as usual. I felt safe there. If in fact a category-five storm was headed my way, the boarding house I call home had about as much chance of remaining intact as a toothpick at a termite convention.

 I expected it would be a slow day with no new clients. Maybe I could catch up on my paperwork.

 Then she walked in.

When you’re an experienced private investigator like me, you can tell a lot about a person by the way she walks. My prospective client moved with an air of quiet dignity. I motioned for her to be seated. She sat on the front edge of the chair with her knees together and her back straight.

“How can I help you?” I asked.

“I refuse to evacuate. I’ve filled my kitchen cabinets with bottled water and non-perishable food items. I’ve also filled my bathtub with water.”

“Sensible precautions, but that doesn’t answer my question.”

 “I want to show you something,” she said. She stood up and turned her back to me. I could see her elbows were raised and surmised she was unbuttoning her blouse. When she turned back around, she was blushing. I couldn’t help but stare.

“They’re real,” she said.

I was momentarily speechless.

“They’re neither paste, nor glass,” she continued. “Every stone in this necklace is genuine.”

I was convinced she was telling me the truth. What I couldn’t figure out was what a well-to-do, refined woman like her needed from a plodding private eye like me.

“Shouldn’t jewelry that valuable be kept in a bank vault?”

“That’s where it’s been for years,” she said. “I took it out just today to use as bait to catch a thief. To do that, I’ll need your help.”

“Why not go to the police?”

“I know who’s guilty, but I have no proof.”

“Who do you suspect?” I asked.

“Jeffrey Lytton. He does routine maintenance at the Mayflower Condominium where I live. Two of my elderly neighbors died recently after taking the wrong dosage of their prescription medicines. Jeffrey could easily have gotten into their living quarters. He has a master key.”

“You think he switched your neighbors’ meds so he could steal from them?”

“I’m sure of it. That’s why I take precautions.” She opened her purse to show me nearly a dozen pill bottles. She was a walking pharmacy.

“Do those have any serious side effects?”

“Like what? Hallucinations? Chemically-induced paranoia? Being afraid of my own shadow?”

I held up my hand. “Sorry. I had to ask.”

“I may be crazy,” she said, “but if I am, it has nothing to do with my prescriptions.”

“I believe you,” I told her. And I did. “What you’re planning could be exceedingly dangerous. If your suspicions are correct, the man is already responsible for two deaths.”

“I’m willing to take the risk. My medical problem is inoperable.”

“Do you want a bodyguard?”

“No,” she said. “If I don’t survive the storm, I want you to convince the police my death was a homicide. I won’t surrender my necklace without a fight.”

She paid me in advance.

It was a dark and stormy night. I don’t know how else to describe it.


The next morning I went to see my client. Her lifeless body, clad only in a nightgown, was lying face down in the sand outside her condo. Her necklace was missing.

I recognized one of the policemen at the scene. “Has the medical examiner determined a cause of death?” I asked him.

“Accidental drowning,” he said. “She was caught in the storm surge.”

I needed to know just one more detail. “Were there any contusions that could have knocked her unconscious?”

“No. Just bruises. Why?”

“She was murdered,” I said. “You already know when. I can tell you the why, the how and the where, and probably even whodunit.”

The detective was a good listener. I told him all I knew about the case and also what I suspected, based on what my client had told me.

“The missing necklace points to a robbery gone bad—the why. Since my client’s modesty would have prevented her from leaving the condo in her nightclothes, that means she was carried out either unconscious or dead. With no indication of blunt force trauma, I suspect she was drowned in her own bathtub—the how and the where—and then her body was moved in an effort to conceal the crime. She accused the maintenance man of being a thief, and in my judgment he’s very likely the ‘who.’”

A subsequent investigation proved I was right. An autopsy revealed no salt water in my client’s lungs and Jeffrey Litton’s DNA was found under her fingernails.

Case closed.

My late client hadn’t needed someone with the deductive powers of a Sherlock Holmes, or the dogged determination of a Marlowe or a Sam Spade. She just wanted a workaday PI who was willing to follow instructions. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes that’s enough. That’s what I tell myself anyway on nights when I have trouble sleeping.


John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline in over one-hundred different publications with short stories published in several anthologies, including The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death (Pill Hill Press, 2010).

Wednesday 8 June 2011

SPINDLER'S LIST by Keith Gingell

Spindler’s List

Having a terminal illness has changed my life. Fucking obvious, you might say, and to some extent it is, but what's not so obvious is how it has changed.

The doctors told me I had about three years, but for the most part I would feel no ill effects, but when the symptoms began I would deteriorate very quickly, a matter of months or even weeks. They assured me they would make my final days as comfortable as possible. Naturally, I wasn’t quite sure how to react to this news and I told them as much. They recommended I had a meeting with a councillor. I agreed it might help and they fixed up a meeting for me.

This councillor turned out to be a bit of a knobhead, but it was his advice that ultimately effected the way my life changed. ‘Mr. Spindler,’ he said. ‘You mustn’t go home and brood.’ He told me I had to find an aim to fill my final days. He said, most people in my position concentrate on looking after their family’s future. Sorting out the estate, deciding how much it was worth, how to split it up. In short, making sure everybody I knew, family and friends, got what I thought they deserved. He said it was surprisingly complex and would take up a great deal of my time, maybe all of it.

I thanked for him for his advice, cancelled the rest of my appointments with him and went home and brooded. But then I got to thinking about what he’d said. I don’t have much of a family and I live alone these days, so it didn’t take much time to decide who got what from my estate. Then I thought about making sure the people I’d come across in life got what they deserved. This wasn’t so simple, but eventually I came up with a list of people I’d known who most needed to get what they deserved.

It wasn’t going to be easy, for a start I had to find them and time was not on my side. This wasn’t just my illness, it was also because of what I had in mind. I decided to make a list in order of importance and trace each one in that order, to make sure the most deserving were the first.

This was my list:

1) Craig Dorset ---- Ran off with my first wife and daughter – who I lost contact with.
2) Fred Hill ---- Ex-colleague who came to me begging for a job after falling on bad times and when I got him in, subsequently stabbed me in the back by arse-licking the boss and got promoted over me.

3) Peter Jones ---- The boss, who eventually squeezed me out of the company and forced me to retire early.

4) John McKinley in Toronto ---- With whom I spent nine months over there training him, and then he blocked my request for a lucrative transfer to Vancouver two years later.

5) My second wife ---- Who had an affair with Paulo Sanchez while I was in Canada

6) Paulo Sanchez ---- Who (I found out after seven years) fathered my son.

Just six: not a long list, but plenty to be going on with given the time restraints. Actually I’ve done pretty well. I’ve managed to track down and visit the first three. It was surprisingly easy to do. I quite enjoyed it really and it’s only taken me six months. That means I have at least another eighteen months to finish the rest. However, I think it might be time to take a few months break. Go away for a while; Canada perhaps – y’know – let things calm down at home for a bit.

I have been writing fiction for about five years, firstly as a hobby, but now I am getting serious about it. I have stories published in Volumes 3 and 4 of Radgepacket and one in the, newly released, Volume 5. I also have a couple of stories on the Radgepacket website.