Sunday 28 August 2011


Look who's back... two years after his first ever published piece... he's my best mate, but not my lover!

Best Mates and Lovers

They were best mates.

So when a best mate shits on you from a dizzy height, it puts you in a similar position to the one Jimmy was in now: sat in his mate’s kitchen with his mate’s naked wife tied to a chair.

“I can’t believe Rob would do it,” Jimmy said to her.

There was no response: her balled up panties were stuffed in her mouth and secured by gaffer tape.  Make-up and tears smeared her face.

“What a twat! My best mate for years. I’ll fuckin’ kill him.”


“You wouldn’t believe the shit we’ve done together: dealing, armed robbery, women. Holy shit, we double teamed more women than most men have had hot dinners.”

Jimmy took a big mouthful of Rob’s prized, single malt whisky.

“I’m sure he won’t mind me drinking this… seeing as I bought it for him.”

He pointed the gun at her face, pushing her nose to one side with the muzzle.  She tried to move but Jimmy forced the gun against her skin.

“You know, I should stick one up you right now. Fuck! I can’t believe he’s done it and right under our noses.”  Jimmy waved the gun at his own face and then hers.

The woman shook her head, mumbling something against the gag.

He hit the bottle of malt again, gulping it down.  A trail of the fiery liquid spilled down his chin and he wiped it away with his shirt sleeve.

He gave out a growl and said, “I remember winning this for him at an auction. Two and a half grand I paid for it. Bastard…”

Jimmy drank more from the bottle and slammed it on the table next to his mate’s wife. 

“The only thing is, Sonia, is that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth now. A bitter taste, you know what I mean?”

More sobbing.

“Oh, you can fuckin’ cry, bitch. You’ll cry even more when you watch me put a bullet through your husband's head. Then... then, I’ll drag my whore of a wife over here and put one straight through her cheating face before finishing you off. What do you think about that, eh?”

Jimmy pushed the gun in her face again then trailed it down her neck, between her breasts and down her stomach to the neatly manicured bush between her legs. Her thighs clenched together, a loud sob escaping from behind her gag.

“You know, you’re a fine looking woman, Sonia. I’ll save you for Rob when he gets here. Yeah, wait ‘til the bastard get’s here and fuck you right in front of him. See how he likes it.”

Breathing alcoholic fumes, he licked up the side of her face. With his left hand he brushed the skin of her right shoulder, moving slowly down to her breast.  He groped her and then snatched his hand away, laughing hard.

“So, where are we at, Sonia? Your husband’s fucked me over. He stole all the money from our last job. 120K gone in the blink of an eye and then he fucks my wife behind my back. How do I know, I hear you thinking. The bastard dropped this in my fuckin’ bedroom, that’s how." 

Jimmy slammed a wrinkled betting slip onto the table.  Sonia’s eyes widened.

“Another one of his bad tips,” Jimmy spat, poking the gun in Sonia’s face. “It must have fallen out of his pocket while he was putting his trousers back on after poking my missus.”

Sonia looked down, shoulders shaking as she started crying again.

“So, now I think you can understand my actions, can’t you?”

Jimmy lowered the gun, grabbed the whisky from the table and took a step away from the crying woman.

Lifting the bottle to his lips, he said, “It won’t be long now though, Sonia. As soon as he gets here I’m gonna end his fuckin’ li…”

The bottle exploded in Jimmy’s hand.  Glass, blood and whisky showered the naked woman sat in front of him.  Blood bubbled out of the hole in Jimmy’s throat.  His arms fell to his sides and he dropped to his knees.  He wobbled for a second before falling backwards, his head cracking as it slammed against the tiled floor.

Footsteps approached and Sonia raised her head slowly, a smile spreading behind the gag.  A gun was placed on the table and the gag was removed from Sonia’s mouth.

“Did he hurt you?”

“No. I… I was afraid something had happened to you though,” Sonia replied as her hands and feet were untied.

“Did he fall for the betting slip?”

Sonia was helped to her feet and sidestepped the body, avoiding the glass on the floor. 

“Yes, he fell for it big time,” she replied. “Are you okay, though?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

Sonia shivered, covering her nakedness with her arms. “Did you do it?"

Jimmy’s wife, Helen, removed her jacket and draped it over her lover’s shoulders, kissing her gently.

“Yes I did it. Rob's dead, Jimmy's dead, and we're a hundred and twenty grand better off." 


David Barber is from Manchester, England but now lives in Crieff, Scotland with his wife and their two daughters.  His writing has appeared in various web-zines including Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers, A Twist Of Noir and The New Flesh, to name a few, and on his own website,  He is the editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive and is currently working on a novel.

Wednesday 24 August 2011


Phil Beloin Jr. sidesteps from crime and noir to return to TKnC with a nerve-bashing chiller...

That Morning In The Marsh

Their mommies told them never to shortcut using the marsh, but boys—good or bad, smart or stupid —never listen to their parents, do they? One mother worried about snakes and rats while the other was more concerned about the junk tossed in there—who knew what kinds of chemicals were breeding in all that filth? Little Jimmie, who was almost fifteen and preferred to be all Jamie cuz it sounded more mature, was stomping his boots in the mud, flicking some backwards at his best bud, Charlie, who didn’t give a damn what you called him.

Jamie saw it first, a rolled up brown carpet and he thought it might fit in their tree house. Charlie didn’t think much on flooring—he wanted Wi-Fi in their hideaway, peruse some wireless thumbnails and play with his pretzel when Jamie wasn’t around.

“Over there,” Jamie said, “a carpet.”

It was lying on a mound of straggly grass above a patch of stagnant water.

“Let’s check it out,” Jamie said.

“Fuck it, sure,” Charlie said.

They slogged through the wet bottom, their arms getting bit by the sharp blades of grass and brambles. When Jamie got up close, he saw a high heel sticking out from one end of the carpet.

Looked like a red stiletto.

Whoa, Jimmy thought. Who tosses out a carpet with such a fancy shoe still in it?

“Ah, fuck me,” Charlie said. “There’s a foot attached to that high heel. See it?”

“The shoe or the foot?” Jamie said.

“One? The other? Both? Who fucking cares, dude?”

They squatted down, stared at the foot dangling in the high heel. It was a dirty foot, toes caked in mud, though Jamie thought there might be polish on the nails, a purplish color, what his mom called maroon.

“Think there’s more, you know, person up in there?” Jamie said.

“No, dipshit. It’s just a shoe with a severed foot in it,” Charlie said. “Of course there’s more woman in there.”

“Who said it’s a woman?”

“High heel, asshole,” Charlie said.

“Transvestite, asshole.”

“What’s that?”

“Dude who dresses up like a woman.”

“What for?”

Jamie didn’t know that one, was pondering an answer, any kind of comeback, when the foot flinched.

The boys jumped up from their squat.

“Oh, shit,” Jamie said.

“Whatever gender it may be,” Charlie said, “I’m thinking it might still…ah...”

“How could they breathe, carpet rolled up tight like that?”

Charlie was bending down, his hands on the carpet. “Help me, Jamie, motherfucker.”

They unrolled it over the lumpy, watery ground.

And there before them, they both saw their first naked woman. Well, mostly naked, bra hanging loose, skirt torn apart, hanging by the knee.

“That definitely ain’t no man dressing up like a woman,” Charlie said.

“Nope. Them look like real hooters to me.”

Neither one mentioned the bruises and cuts that covered the woman’s body or the dried gob of blood in her matted hair.

“Probably a hooker,” Jamie said.

“Yep,” Charlie agreed. “I heard they get themselves roughed up all the time. What my Pop calls an occupational hazard.”

“Well, I ain’t touching her to see if she’s still alive,” Jamie said.

“Me neither.”

“Let’s just roll her back up then.”

“Yeah, fucking-a.”

“And get the hell outta here.”

“Never come this way again.”

“You bet.”

They got down in the muck, but even so, they kinda’ rolled her up uneven, her head and a foot coming out of the ends.

“Think the perv woulda’ used a bigger carpet,” Jamie said.

“Yeah, no shit.”

The hooker’s head was upside down, inches from a pool of water, when the boys’ heard an airy moan leak out.

“Umm,” Jamie said, “did you just hear something?”

“Hell no, I did not,” Charlie responded.

“Let’s go,” Jamie said.

The boys were covered in marsh sludge as they backed away from the carpet. Jamie staggered moving this way and fell on his ass.

“Get up dickweed,” Charlie said.

But Jamie didn’t rise up from the mud. Another scantily clad, high heeled, streetwalker did. As the woman lurched forward, Charlie noticed that a piece of her arm had been chewed into.

As the woman jerked down and took a bite out of Jamie’s torso, Charlie knew this wasn’t a hooker killed on the job. Nope, this was a hooker zombie.

Charlie turned to run—screw his bud, right?—and bumped into the brown carpet now standing on two feet. Charlie fell face first into the marsh, the carpet unraveling on top of him.

Bio: Phil Beloin’s first novel, The Big Bad, was published by Hilliard and Harris and is available over there at Read the first chapter on his blog, He has other short stories splattered all over the web, including two others at TKnC.

Monday 22 August 2011

THE EXTERMINATOR by Joseph Clifford

TKnC welcomes Joe...

The Exterminator

When I arrive, police cars are already there and a man is snapping pictures in the hot early morning sun, and I know it is her before I see the yellow tape stretched around the palms and poles like saltwater taffy. I spot the coroner, the gurney with the sheet pulled over the body, the blood seeping into the fibers. Everything slows down. Even though I’ve done nothing wrong, I want to turn around, get back in my van, drive far, far away. But there is nowhere to run. When you have a record like mine you are going to be questioned, sooner or later.

I hear the detective say, “Bring me the Bug Man.


They call me the Bug Man.

If you live in South Florida, you have bugs—silverfish, sugar ants, termites, roaches. I’ve become an expert on roaches. You have your American roaches, your brown-banded roaches, smoky-brown roaches, German roaches, and palmetto bugs, which are still cockroaches, just a lot bigger. Sometimes they’re called skunk roaches because they smell so bad. Word is the hissing cockroaches will be here soon.


The sun had just come up Saturday morning when I pulled my van onto the curb and parked in front of the Seaside, a slummy apartment complex on Ocean Avenue, but it was already hot. When I stepped into the heat, I could feel my shirt stick to my biceps and back.

A faded art deco behind a murky green pool, Seaside stood on a lesser strip of Ocean Ave. that wasn’t as sexy as the rest of South Beach. Tall palms with giant fronds and overflowing big blue garbage bins blocked a view of the sea. It stank like gym socks left in a hot trunk.

The apartments weren’t far from ritzy Lincoln Road, but in Miami you go block to block. High class never far from the hell of Little Haiti. I watched the lowlifes lurking in the in the sawgrass and monkeybrush as I made my way up the walkway. Windblown sands made it feel like I was walking on sandpaper. On the second floor landing, greasy men, arms slung through the bars, scratched themselves and drank from paper bag 40s, women, long past their prime, selling the only thing they had left. A Cuban with a black eye patch stepped in from out of the shadows.

There aren’t many jobs available to a man like me when he gets out of a place like Okeechobee. But there are always bugs in South Florida that need exterminating.

Last time I’d been at the Seaside no one was living in 5A.

Young, tiny like a bird, a finch or maybe a quail, dark skin, she had the body of a teenager, tight, no curves.

Her eyes looked…troubled.

I hit the bathroom, opened the back door and squirted the little patio where tiny pepper plants grew in round pots. A stiff ocean breeze blew back some of boric acid, which stung my eyes and made them tear up. They began to burn and I closed them tight. I felt something placed in my hands.

I wiped my eyes with the handkerchief. Red, silk, with a giant letter “S.”

“Sarhina,” she said, as I handed her handkerchief back to her. She took my hand. “I’m about to make coffee. Would you like to stay for some?” She squeezed tighter.

It’s easy being insulted, having someone be cruel, but when someone is nice to me, it saws like a dull knife on raw bone.

“Maybe next time,” she said with a sad smile.

Walking back to my van, I felt the sun beat down on my back, burning through to my skin. The harsh glare smacked off the asphalt in shimmering waves, making it hard to see. I shielded my eyes.

Across the street, the Cuban with the black eye patch stood watching me. I’d seen him before, this Cuban. So I eyed him back.

At my feet, a fat palmetto bug skittered past. I stomped it with my heel, and it popped like an overripe berry.


“Where were you last night, between midnight and two a.m.?” Detective Kaplowitz wants to know.


“Anybody verify that?”


“What were you in Okeechobee for?”

He already knows the answer to that.

“Never mind,” Kaplowitz says, pointing down at a thick binder on the table. “Got everything I need to know right here.”

And so on. I could do this drill in my sleep.


When I got off work that night, I took a long cold shower, but I couldn’t shake Sarhina from my brain. What was such a young girl who looked like that doing living in the Seaside? And why had she asked a man like me, a 6’4” longhair covered in ink, to stay? Stepping out of the cold water back into the heat, I felt lightheaded, and had to grab the edge of the sink to keep from falling.

I toweled off and poured a drink. I started to get a picture in my head, which got clearer with each slug. When she’d taken my hand, she wasn’t asking me to stay for coffee. She was asking for my help. She was caught up in something, desperate enough to take a chance on a stranger. I thought back to the Cuban with the missing eye, how he’d been watching me go in and out of her apartment, how uneasy it had made me feel. Now I knew why.

It was time to go back to work.

When you are good at your job, you can use more than one sense, sniff out the faintest odor, let the hairs on your arm stiffen, tune into the silent cries of a cityscape, and it will lead you in the right direction. I’d been exterminating bugs all my life, from the drunken trailer parks of childhood, through those long, dark nights inside Okeechobee, with nothing but good deeds misconstrued and perverted, until those insects came creeping out of the stone, squiggling over the dirty floor, thousands of the diseased little fuckers, and I’d jump down, stomping, grinding, punching the walls, until each one was dead…

I knew where to find him. Like all cockroaches, he’d shy from the light, scurrying into the darker corners where he thought he’d be safe with all the other vermin.

But this is what I do. I am the Bug Man.

I followed as he caught a bus, dropped off in the skeleton shantytowns of Little Haiti, no doubt looking for something to breed with. I parked my van under a dense eave of bougainvillea, and put on my gloves, strapped on my tank. Only sporadic light shone from power generators inside little huts, cast over the remains of headless chickens and bones, sweet starches perfect for scavenging.

Behind the tin shed and oil drums, I pouched, a fast, fluid strike. His body flattened, and I pinned a long, spiny leg to the earth as he writhed to break free, mouthparts flicking every which way, squealing and hissing as I inserted the nozzle deeper inside his throat, filling the cavity. He spasmed and twitched. I cracked my tank against his mandible, and ground it into the mud. Then he spasmed and twitched no more.

I rolled the bloated body down the culvert with the rest of the discarded goat and pig carcasses.

I looked down at the black eye patch I held in my bloody palm. He can’t hurt you no more, Sarhina…


Detective Kaplowitz stands up, puts his hands on the back of the chair. “We know you were there.”

I sprayed for the bugs.

“But you can’t account for why witnesses place your van outside the Seaside around midnight last night. A man with a history like yours—”

I was protecting her.

“Protecting her? From who?”

I tell him about the Cuban with the missing eye, not what I’d done to him, of course, because there is no reason, but about how scared she’d been, how she’d asked for my help, how he’d been stalking her, how I was one of the good guys, couldn’t he see that?

Kaplowitz pauses, momentarily stunned, then he smiles, says he’ll be right back.

When he returns he is not alone.

My whole body tenses. I fight to break free from the handcuffs, which cut into my wrists and pinch my circulation until my hands swell with blood like crustacean pinchers and go numb, my eyes beginning to tear up. He just stands there, a ghost.

“This is Detective Gonzales,” Kaplowitz says, putting his arm around the Cuban with the black eye patch. “He was at the crime scene this morning. I think you might be getting…confused. You have a history of getting confused, don’t you?”

I was protecting her. Why can’t you see that? Tears stream down my cheeks.

“Sure, you were,” says Kaplowitz. “Just a question of who you were trying to protect her from.”

The Cuban with the black eye patch reaches into his pocket, pulls something out and places it in my hands.

I stare down at the red handkerchief with the giant letter “S” stitched into the silk.

My skin begins to crawl, as though with a thousand unseen bugs, and my throat starts to close. I feel the choke of boric acid firing down my nasal passageways and esophagus, asphyxiating me. I want to scream but know no sound would come out.

You can’t kill them all, no matter how hard you try. More just keep coming. They fuck and they breed, molting their bodies in the darkness, shedding their sickness and assimilating, until they infest us all.

(This story was originally published in Thunderdome)

Joe's work has appeared in Big Bridge, Bryant Literary Review, the Connecticut Review, Dark Sky, Fringe, Hobart, Opium, Thuglit, and Word Riot, among others. He produces Lip Service West, a gritty true story reading series in Oakland, CA.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

GUM SHOE by Neil Ballard

Neil debuts with a unique take on the PI story...

Gum Shoe

Some rancid-dicked pissant spat his neon green gum on the ground and now it’s stuck on the sole of my left Italian boot. I didn’t see him, I just noticed it when I got home five minutes ago.
 It makes sense because this old guy was checking out my boots on the bus, like he was concentrating real hard. I just figured I hadn’t polished them thoroughly enough or something, or that he was maybe a queer. I shouldn’t be so judgmental. Probably he was just wondering who would chew neon gum.

I’m wondering too.

I go out in my Clarks because they’re comfortable and classy and nobody ever takes much notice of them. They’re quiet. I go to my neighborhood convenience deli and ask the chick to give me all their gum. She takes one of every kind out of the packets and puts them in a little pile on the counter, because she knows me. She winks at me.

I take all the pieces without a word and go home, chewing all the way. As soon as each piece is chewed I put it neatly in the wrapper and fold it over once. The gum sticks to the paper but I can open up the papers easily to compare the colors. I wish I had thought to bring little baggies or saran wrap or something but I don’t cook and I don’t deal so I don’t have any of that kitchen shit in my house.

By the time I finish and have all the wads lined up on the table with a lamp on them, the gum on my boot has hardened and snaps off when I try to lift it with a screwdriver. I don’t want to remove it, I just want to see the color clearly. Most of it is encrusted with rocks and splinters and a small piece of orange rind.

It’s not orange season. Not even close. Must be some genetically fucked-with orange from Texas that someone ate on the street and dropped the peel. Spit your gum. Drop your peel. Toss your beer can. Piss on my lawn. All the goddamn same, right?

My comparison doesn’t take long. The gum on my boot is quite clearly Stridents. “Kinky Kiwi.” the other green ones- or the ones that ended up green after chewing- are much duller, much more faded, like you’d expect. All that food coloring has to go somewhere. I look at my tongue in the mirror and laugh.

I open my laptop and look up “Kinky Kiwi” and get sidetracked by a New Zealand porno, but it doesn’t take long to climax into silk briefs, and I’m back looking up gum with hardly any time wasted. Stridents, I find out, is like the Kools of gum.

So I get my shoulder-holstered .38, cover with a linen jacket, and head outside. Night’s coming on. I look at my watch and luck has it that a bus is coming along, the 18 circulator that’ll bring me to the right part of town.

The driver is Stinky Pete. I sit all the way in the back and we holler at each other. He tells me piss, fart and shit jokes and I tell him he’s the demented product of lax family boundaries.

There’s an officious commuter looking at me like she’s gonna tell on me to the transit authorities once the bus gets to the station so I open up my jacket like it’s too hot, and she sees the real heat. The rest of the ride she looks straight ahead out the window and I periodically grab on my nuts at her or make the universal sign for eating at the Y with my fingers and mouth. Doesn’t faze her. Good for her!

I get off the bus without saying goodbye to Stinky Pete because he really is an offensive person. On the corner there’s a group of them playing with a rubber ball, they’re throwing down small change and huddling and looking out. I lean in an alley and watch for one of them to go to the corner store, grab a Black & Mild. Doesn’t take long.

I go around the long way once I see what the store of choice is. Way I figure it, these guys hang around all day, they hang around the transit mall. Perp discarded the gum there. The blog reviews for “Kinky Kiwi” were mostly negative, which means it’s an acquired taste if it’s still on the market. Nothing could make it easier for me.

All I have to do is show the clerk I mean business and he squeals. I mean really lays it on me. He’s giving names, addresses, who lifted that brand new digital scale from Fro’Jean’s place. I tell him to relax, I go grab him a cup of his denatured coffee, and I set it on the counter. He smiles and relaxes.

So I jerk my hand up and fling that scalding shit in his face.

I tell him if he gives me any more information than I specifically and particularly ask for, I will waste him. I ask him does he know me? Does he know who I am and does he know the company I keep? He says yes. I say good.

I ask him about “Kinky Kiwi.” He gives me a name and an address. A shitty apartment, a shitty building, and a shitty girl’s name, Rochelle. I leave him with all of his faculties and most of his nose, lucky raghead. Or Korean or whatever.

Five minutes, one fire escape and two B&E’s later (I got the wrong place first time, nobody was home) and I’ve got a bead on Rochelle. She’s bopping along to headphones, hair in braids. She’s got the empty pack of gum on her nightstand, just put the last piece of it in her mouth.

Didn’t expect her to be so young.

Didn’t count on her old man being there either. Come at me from behind with the fire extinguisher, doesn’t have the balls to give me anything more than a glancing blow. Rochelle still doesn’t notice.

‘Kid’s sure got some loud music,’ I say, while he gives me the usual get-out-of-my-house. I drown out him, the music and anything else with one shot at the base of the girl’s skull.

After that, it’s real easy to get it to look like he just flew off the handle. Left him sliding down the wall giving that untraceable .38 some good head. The handy-dandy fire escape makes it easy on me too.

Now, I’m going home to Google the best way to get hardened gum off. Stinky Pete’s shift is over. The driver up front is white and bald. Hands me my transfer, he doesn’t say a word.

Finally, someone who knows how to behave.
Neil Ballard, a young crime writer living in Northern California, has a smattering of publications not worthy of mention, for the roiling and nebulous internet gestalt has moved on. He hopes for a more profound success with a novel that he wrote in 2009 and is currently editing. It is about a witch.

Thursday 11 August 2011

SNOW DANCER by Dorothy Davies

TKnC welcomes Dorothy back with a chilling tale of regret.

Snow Dancer

Snowflakes dance, don’t they, as they spiral down from the thick rich darkness of the clouds, pirouetting and sashaying and even tango-ing with the others as they fall. Blown here and there by the thermals, they create a magical image before sliding into the white death that is their fate, stacked one atop the other on any available surface, no matter how slender, there to rot until the time comes when they melt away, their final ending, returning to the matter from which they came.

The man rested his large forehead against the cold pane, staring out at the whiteness. He had heard you could go snowblind if you stared too long but what did he have to see if he lived, anyway? Nothing but the unheeding world, the bustling people who had no time for a man alone.

What was wrong with being alone? Why did everyone have to have a partner of some kind? ‘Not even a pet?’ Eyebrows were raised as the question was asked. Who needed a pet? Who needed the sycophantic love of a dog, the arrogant independence of a cat, the silent needs of a goldfish when there were –

Ah, when there were places to go and people to see beyond the imagination of those who questioned his living alone.

He turned from ever changing display of snow dancers and looked around his room. The piles of newspapers were threatening to topple; if they did, they would resemble a snow scene like the one outside, albeit one speckled with soot. Or ink. Or dirt. Living alone, he thought, meant he could do just that, stack up the newspapers, ignore the dirt and stand and look at the snowscape for hours if he wanted to without someone nagging him to clear this, eat that, take a walk, take a bath...

Did the newspapers rustle? Did the dust on the table lift and fall? Had she at last come in from the cold to be with him? He could see nothing, no hint of movement, no sense of another presence. How long did he have to wait before his love returned to him? Had she not promised, with her last breath, had she not said in that gentle way of hers, 'believe - I will be back.'

Was the problem that he did not believe strongly enough?

He looked for her every spring when the new grass thrust its way through the unremitting coldness of the earth chilled by the winter winds, in the summer amidst the brightness of the flowers and the bustling busyness of the animal world going about its ongoing need to ensure the survival of the species, in the autumn, waiting for someone to disturb the leaves that covered his lawns and still they lay, still in silent glory. How many years now? Five, ten, how long could he stay watching, waiting, whilst his mind narrowed to nothing more than the need to see her again? From time to time he would ask himself how long the money would hold out, then he would dismiss the thought. When it happened, someone would tell him, they would hammer on the door; say they had come to reclaim the place from him. Then they would look around and see the towering piles of papers and the dirt and the dust and they would put their hands over their noses because of the smell, the smell of things rotting.

Sometimes he thought he should remove the corpses, bury them beneath the lawn, but if he did that he would have to disturb the leaves which had fallen in such an artistic way, or he would have to disturb the fresh fallen snow and that would not do either, for had she not said, 'I love the way nature arranges itself.' Her wishes could not be undone.

He turned back to the window to see that the snow had stopped falling quite so heavily, the individual flakes could be seen, dancing for his eyes alone before becoming trapped in the white death.

One of the corpses was hers. In what moment of madness had he struck down, in what second of insanity had he snatched up the iron and crashed it into the side of her head? What had she said that had so enraged him? Long gone. Long, long gone. Did she forgive him in her dying moments? Did she say ‘believe – I will be back’ because she loved him or ‘believe – I will be back’ because she sought revenge? Sometimes he thought one thing, sometimes he thought the other. Either way he welcomed and feared her return.

And the other corpses? Those who had come looking for her.

He could not understand why no one had actually tracked down the fact that his home had been the last call for the people who came and never left. Perhaps it was because they were not 'authority' and perhaps because he had no neighbours. The only living beings who would have seen relatives come looking were the birds, the fox, maybe the badger who snuffled and slunk his way around the garden at night, half seen in the moonlight and ignored. Just as the visitors were ignored, until they became persistent and then they were added to the corpse room. With the door shut the smell was not too bad. After a while you didn’t even notice it any more.

The snow had stopped falling. Silent white world, nothing moving.

Nothing but the snow slowly lifting, lifting, lifting and transforming itself in a shape, a familiar shape, a once loved shape, one that was walking soft and cold over the packed snow and not leaving a single impression as it passed, and as it passed the cold blankness on the front of the head changed and moved and became the once loved face and then, for the first time, he was truly afraid.

He had no choice. It came closer and closer, it pointed to the front door. As if motivated by something he could not understand or resist, he negotiated the piles of papers, knocking some of them over into the ink stained snowscape he had imagined, and went to open the door.

She stood there, smiling, completely white and frozen.

He stepped out to meet her, against his will, against his entire logical mind. He had no choice. ‘Believe – I am back.’ Did she speak, did she project, did he form the words in his own mind? Before he could decide the door slammed against the side of the house and the snow, precariously perched on the slates, cascaded over him as she caught him in her snowy arms.

Together they went down into the white death.


Dorothy Davies, Author and editor. Amor Vincit Omnia
Check out my websites: and

Monday 8 August 2011

TIME by Luca Veste

Luca joins the fray with an absolute beaut...


Just over twenty-two days I’d waited for this moment. Five hundred and thirty-six hours to be more precise. Now, standing here, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Shifting from one foot to the other in a cold second-floor flat. In the small kitchenette opposite, the man who had brought me here. Living room to my left-hand side and a door leading through to the bedroom behind me.

The sounds of outside life, entering through the slightly open kitchen window above the sink. Cars passing by. A few teenagers walking past, talking far louder than necessary, cackling laughter as someone became the punch-line to a joke delivered in poor taste. The television was still on in the corner, volume turned low. Flickering images trying to catch my attention.

536 hours. Or 16,080 minutes to be more precise. 16,080 minutes since the man standing just six feet away from me had led me to places I never wanted to go. To do things I never wanted to do. All his fault. All of it. Blood on his hands as well as mine. All this and more. To lead me to this place, at this moment. In a shit-hole of a flat, 14 miles from where I call home.

And he was nothing. At least four inches shorter than me, wearing a tatty old T-shirt full of holes from being worn so often. Faded denim jeans and no shoes. Just socks which, judging by the smell emanating from them, hadn’t been changed in a long time. Yet I couldn’t find any words to say. Sure, I’d gone over this moment so many times in my head, yet now it seemed pointless. Words would mean nothing to this man. Nothing.

“Where is he?”

Cold, late autumn breeze entering through the open window. I still felt a bead of sweat form on my forehead. We stood only inches from each other. I could feel his breath on me, short and rapid. I moved closer and he tried to shrink back. There was nowhere he could move to though.

“Where is he?” I repeated.

He shook his head. “Not…not here,” he whispered.

I could feel the lie as soon as it left his lips. An almost imperceptible movement of his eyes over my shoulder to the door compounded my feelings. I locked eyes with him. Blue with shades of grey, filmed with the beginning of tears.

Don’t ... please. I’m … I’m sorry.”

“Sit down on the floor, now. Move one inch and it’ll last longer.”

I backed away from the man, keeping my eyes on his as he lowered himself to the kitchen floor. The tears were starting to flow, his shoulders hitching up and down.

“He’s all I have.”

I stopped at this. Tried to maintain control. If he wasn’t here, I’d need the man alive. Told myself to ignore his delusions. Anger was swelling up inside me now, but I forced myself to count to ten before continuing to move back.

16,080 minutes. Or 382,400 seconds to be more precise. Leading me here to this moment. I turned the handle on the bedroom door and entered. Closed the door behind me softly. Greeted by silence. I moved to bed and shook off the dirty old duvet covering it. Nothing. I heard movement and turned to the built-in wardrobe behind me. Walked towards the doors and pulled them open.

He was there.

Huddled into the corner, sitting with his knees up to his chest and his arms around his legs. He lifted his head towards me and squinted from the sudden light that had entered as soon as I’d opened the doors he was hiding behind. An expression of confusion passed across his face.


Six years old. He was six years old and away from his parents for 22 days. Or 536 hours. Or 16,080 minutes. Or 382,400 seconds.

I held my arms out and he scrambled towards me.

“It’s okay, son” I said holding him tightly to my chest, afraid if I let go he would disappear again. “I found you.”

Similar to some other book reviewers/bloggers, I'm a frustrated writer at heart. 'TIME' is only the second story I've completed. Currently working on a few more short stories before moving onto a full length novel. My blog is here ( reviews, interviews and other stuff. I'm a mature student and will be studying Criminology and Psychology in September. From Liverpool and The Wirral, married and with two children...both girls.

Saturday 6 August 2011

The Bullet Awards... TKnC debutant bags 2nd place for July...

If you weren't aware, Geoff Eighinger resurrected The Bullet Awards in June, whereby the judges read all the crime fiction under 1,000 words across the net. There used to be a buzz around the blogosphere when Geoff announced each month's winners, and Geoff knows his stuff so it's great to see him back acknowledging writers for their efforts.

Well done to all who got a mention for July, in particular, TKnC debutant, Margaret D. Whittle for bagging 2nd place with her short crime thriller, "A Felicitous End".

Check out and follow The Bullet Awards here.

Crime Dude, Col