Sunday 6 July 2014


Bill in Richmond, London.
Thanks to all the entrants, readers and a big shout to the organizers, Eric Beetner, Holly West, Steve Weddle and the other good folk at Do Some Damage who also published the winning stories - and, of course, a thumbs up from the late, great Bill Hayes...

by Angel Luis Colón

Something Old
Hank and Annie were about as good a pair as lit dynamite and an orphanage. They met at dirty little rub and tug just outside Dallas. He was tired after a long day of drug slinging. She was wearing a Walmart kimono and enough pancake makeup to kill a man twice her size. Only thing they loved more than pawing at each other was that damn methamphetamine—and maybe good old fashioned violence.
Old Nelson Hauer found out about the violence first hand with a rock to the side of the head. He made the mistake of being the Good Samaritan for what looked to be a nice, young couple hitching on the side of Interstate 15, a few miles south of Las Vegas. Last thing he saw was those two kissing the way teenagers would and speeding off in his ’62 Chevy II Nova.
Something New
“There’s Vegas up ahead, baby.” Hank ran his arm under his nose—narrowed his eyes at the red streak running from wrist to elbow. “Excited?”
“We’re getting married,” Annie sing-songed.
“We need some money.” He looked over to his lady love. “That old man have anything in the glove? Revolver or something?”
Annie kicked the compartment open and shook her blonde mop. “Nothing but maps and bullshit pamphlets.” She lifted one of the pamphlets and grimaced at the title, Chlamydia: Do’s and Don’ts.
“Gotta make a pit stop, then. Buckle up.” Hank took his own advice—for a change—kept that pedal down like he was trying to touch the asphalt with his boot.
Two lefts and a right outside of town and he found what he was looking for. Big old sign said ‘Gun Garage’. “Hold tight, lover.” That Nova bull charged into the storefront. Wasn’t a soul in the store, so nobody was hurt—not like Hank would have cared. “Stay in here and give a holler if the law shows up.” He booked it out of the car.
Annie nodded and lit a smoke.
Hank was back lickety-split with twin shotguns—one pink—“For my lady-love.” He offered it like a bouquet.
Annie was all smiles. “That is so god damn cute.”
Back on the road they went.
“So we get money…” Hank paused to light a cigarette. “…then we hit up that fancy chapel you talked about.”
Annie bounced in her seat. “The Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel? Oh, you’re the best.”
“Like I said; we need to hit an ATM.” He pulled the wheel hard and came to a skidding stop in front of a local bank, the lights popping to life inside. “Man the fort. I’ll be out in two minutes.”
Annie loaded her shotgun and winked. “I’ll keep the motor running, baby.”
Something Borrowed
Elena stripped off her wedding dress.  A bright pink shotgun between the eyes was all the provocation she needed.
“Thank you, sweetie.” Annie lowered her aim and clenched the dress in her hand, her press-on nails raking against the delicate polyester mesh of the hem. “Give it right back when I’m finished.”
Hank took hold up duties with his own double barrel while Annie stripped. He took a second to admire that well-rounded derriere of hers and licked his lips. “Hurry on up—need to get out of here and get you into a hotel. Some place higher end like that Days Inn a few miles out.”
“You spoil me.” Annie forced the dress over her waist. She had a full head height over Elena—who stood there mouth agape and shaking like a lapdog.
Her fiancé, Bill, was busy nursing a shoulder full of buckshot—Hank’s way of telling him to stop being a fucking hero. Hank gave him a little kick and smiled. “Fucking flesh wound, champ. Man the fuck up.”
The dress on, Annie lifted her shotgun and aimed it over at the Reverend Joseph Love Parrish IV. “Alrighty—get started, Rev.” She turned to Elena. “You think you and your boyfriend can sign the license as witnesses?”
Something Blue
Two “I do”s, forty miles and thirteen squad cars later—there they were—surrounded on all sides by the boys in blue with a score of gun barrels trained on their sweaty heads.
It was easy enough to find the newly christened Mister and Misses Kapowski. One dead senior citizen, an obliterated store front, five bank tellers and a crying bride in a stretched out dress led the coppers towards I 15 South. No telling the tax payer dollars wasted in all that time.
“Shit.” Hank dumped a sloppy rail on the quivering skin between his thumb and index finger. He brought it to his nose and snorted. Sweat beaded across his brow and made trails down the side of his face. “Shut up,” he muttered.
The police were very insistent the pair came on out with hands up, but truthfully, not a one of them really wanted that to happen. That many itchy trigger fingers needed work to do.
Annie—well—Annie was a little too preoccupied covering up her half naked body and coming down from her high. “Maybe we should listen to them.” She tossed that one into a suggestion box had a hole in the bottom.
“No.” Hank’s eyes were saucer wide. He raised the shotgun. “I’m sorry lady-love, but I ain’t going back.” He turned the barrel, slid that bad boy between his lips and leaned his fingers down against the trigger.
Boys in blue would later argue over whether the sound of that gun popping Hank’s head like a zit was louder than Annie’s screams.
Poor Annie Kapowski—alone, bloodied, and with a ringing in her ears that would take weeks to leave. She raised both hands and a few deputies did her the favor of escorting her out that ruined Nova.
A few steps towards the waiting squad car and she stopped short with a wince. “Damn, wait a sec. Think I got something in my shoe.

Angel Luis Colón has landed ass first into crime fiction and is taking a shine to it. His work has appeared in WeirdYear, Red Fez and Fiction on The Web with forthcoming work due out in Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, All Due Respect and Big Pulp. He hails from the Bronx and works in NYC, but is currently exiled to the wastelands of New Jersey with his family—thankfully; he has access to good beer and single malts. 

You can follow his grumblings on Twitter @HeckChoseMe or be audience to his useless ranting over at

Friday 4 July 2014


For Bill (AJ) Hayes & Thury Hayes...                                    
Bill's lovely wife Thury & good friend, Ray Nessly.

by Ray Nessly 

See a little town in southern California, not far from the border, December, 1964. That bank on the corner? Inside, a bunch of folks are waiting in line. But the only ones that matter are Mr. and Mrs. Bill ("don't ask him his real name") Hayes.
            Good looking couple. Young, ambitious. Newly wed in '62. And smart. They understand the opportunities inherent in a bank managed in absentia by a lard ass bozo who loves three-hour lunches.
            Bill believes in practice runs. The books he loves preach it hard. The movies too. First step, the stakeout.
            "See, hon? Manager's gone," Bill says, a trace of Virginia in his voice, sweet n' smoky. He tilts his head, indicating the security guard. "And the guy catnapping on his stool? Manager's cousin. Big butts run in the family."
            "Keep it down," she whispers. She's not so sure about this. They've knocked off filling stations, mom and pop stores, lemonade stands. But a bank?
            "Okay, T, we've seen enough." He calls her "T"—or better yet, "hon" or "toots"—if he calls her anything at all. If he blurts out her real name during a job, they're goners. The only girl in the world with that name.
            Sometimes she calls him "Billy." Usually, it's just plain "Bill." Lots of those around. The country is lousy with Bills.
            He hates the name on his birth certificate. No wonder.  
            Go ahead, press him. All you'll get are initials.  
            Time to practice the getaway now. (Can't practice the holdup itself, right?) Bill opens the door for her, and they step outside.
            Wasn't raining before. It's capital r Raining now.
            "Good omen!"
            "Okay, I'll bite," she says. "How so?"
            "Two things. One, it hardly ever rains around here, right? So bet you anything it won't be raining come curtain time!"
            "And . . . ?"
            "Two, we gotta practice running down the street to the car, right? Well, nobody's gonna wonder what we're up to. It's raining! Hard!"
            They bolt down the street to the '39 Chevy, green. The corner of a tarp hangs from the trunk, just enough to obscure the rear license plate. They hop in; the rain stops. Another omen, she supposes.
            Bill in the driver seat, T riding shotgun. "Okay, let's take the first right," he yells. "Way I figure it? We'll clear this corner before Big Boy gets his second cheek off his stool. Ha! I like that. You?" He turns on the radio. "Music, hon?"
            It's Johnny Cash, mid-song. The Ballad of Ira Hayes. Big hit that year.
            "Any relation?" she jokes.
            "Could be. I have some injun in me. Who doesn't? . . . Hey, let's practice some alleys!" He yanks the steering wheel, tires squealing like Virginia hogs. "Okay, let's open 'er up"—stomping the throttle—"Whoa, move yer tail, mister kitty cat!"
            Is the cat okay? she wonders.
            More important, that funny feeling . . .
            Eyes. Following their every move. As if a movie camera's in the backseat, poking the back of her head, hard as a shotgun barrel.
            She turns around.  Nothing on the backseat but pulp novels. And on the floor, empty beers and crumpled packs of Winston reds.
            He's up to three beers and one pack a day lately. Not too bad. No call for concern.
            Johnny on the radio: drunken Ira Hayes . . .
            "Billy, did you know Peter La Farge wrote that song?"  
            "Oh sure. Met him, in fact."
             Johnny's done singing. A Winston ad comes on. She turns the radio off.
            "Gotta tell you, Bill, I just had this weird feeling. It was like that movie we saw. Newlyweds rob a bank. They're in their getaway car, and—"
            "Oh sure. Gun Crazy. 1950. John Dall and Peggy, um . . . don't tell me. Cummins."
            She laughs. "Is there anybody on the planet with a better memory than yours?"
            "Oh, probably. Okay, that's enough alley practice for—oh shit, another cat?!" He brakes, the Chevy fishtailing, the right rear fender like the open fist of God, slapping down trash cans. The Chevy slides to a stop. Engine's stalled.    
            Bill rolls the window down. A couple of barking dogs is all. "Nobody's come a-runnin. Good."  
             He turns the key. Sucker won't start.
            "Great," she says.
            "It's another omen, Thur—" He almost blurts it out.
            "It's God—or something—telling us we need a backup car."
            "Car trouble insurance. Case in point right here. Plus, when you hop in your backup car? The heat's still looking for the first one!"
            "Where do we get another car?"
            "Your mom's'll do nicely."
            "You're outta your mind."
            "No. Am. Not."
            "Bill? We're not getting my mom involved!"
            He hasn't said a word for three minutes! He's shooting for the record, she figures.
            "You're not cut out to be a bank robber."
            A dog barks. Barks again.
            Dog's done. Bill's quiet. She's quiet. It's uncommonly quiet inside their Chevy.   
            "This car's been good to us," he says at last. "But I've got my eye on a new El Camino. Wanna know why?"
            "Okay," he says, opening the door. "Guess I'll have to fix this one. Again!"
            Hood goes up. Couple minutes later, he's back inside, about to turn the key.
            "Hold on," she says.  
            "Give up this bank robber shit. Get a job fixing cars. Stick to the theoretical side of robbing stuff."
            "Just write about it. Stories. Like those pulps in the backseat."
            Shrug. "Meh. I dunno."
            "Tell you what. Turn that key. If the car starts up? Get a job fixing cars. If it doesn't? Knock off that bank. Deal?"
            Is he stalling? Or thinking it through?
            "On three, Bill?"
            He nods his head, then,

             "Ready, hon? One, two . . . "  

Ray Nessly hails from Seattle but since '82 has parked his butt in a little town east of San Diego. Whilst butt-parking, he pounds on a computer keyboard as music plays in the background and two cats fight over lap rights.   


Bill's hat at Noir @ the Bar L.A. 

by Jen Conley

On a November afternoon, when Erin Lewis was on maternity leave, a repairman arrived on her doorstep holding a large gray tool bag. She was expecting him because her husband had arranged for the dishwasher to be fixed. His dirty white truck sat in her driveway under a heavy gray sky.
            “I’m a little late,” the repairman explained and although the voice was perfectly normal, something about it nagged at her.
            “It’s fine,” she said and stood back to let him in.
            “Just in there?” he asked, nodding towards the kitchen down the hall. When he passed by, his scent made Erin shudder. She couldn’t place it, but somewhere deep inside a dark bell went off.
In the kitchen, the repairman placed his bag on the floor next to the dishwasher. She asked if her husband had described the trouble.
            “Yep.” He swung around and underneath the roughened skin, the graying beard and balding head, underneath the girth of his large body, she suddenly saw who he really was: Bill Vinson. She was thirty-eight years old, lucky to have gone through therapy and lucky to have pulled her wrecked mind together and lucky to have met Kevin on a train to New York and set up this life: a nice marriage, a decent colonial house to live in, and a healthy two-month-old daughter.  I was worried about you but you did good, her mother said often.
            Now this man, Bill Vinson, stood in her kitchen with his tool bag and his repairman’s clothes, smelling slightly of stale alcohol. He must drink at night before bed, Erin thought.
            “Cooking dinner?” he asked, eyeing the raw chicken next to the cutting board. An onion and two carrots lay next to it. 
            “Yes,” she said.
            “Well don’t let me get in your way. Just tell me to move. I’m easy as a summer breeze.”
            He turned and bent down in front of the dishwasher. She had a sudden urge to kick him. But then, from the sound of the baby monitor, Erin heard her sleeping daughter move.
            “Let’s see…” he said.
            Erin walked to the far counter and withdrew the long knife from the holder. The knives were new and sharp. She returned to the cutting board and began to chop the carrots which had been peeled earlier. She went down hard, making little dents in the wooden board. Her daughter moved again but Erin continued cutting.
            “This is an easy fix,” the man muttered.
            Erin picked up the onion, hacked off the sides, and ripped off the outer layer. Within seconds, she was chopping it to pieces.
            “Now don’t cry,” she heard him say.
   She stopped cutting. He was standing behind her.
   “Onions,” he said.
             Her bones rattled.
             “I gotta get something in the truck.”
             Erin said nothing.
             When he was gone, she looked up and stared through the kitchen window. The backyard trees rocked in a gentle wind. The memory returned: she was fourteen, locked in a room with Bill Vinson, a twenty-year-old, still hanging out at high school parties. She’d told her mother that she had gone to her friend Jamie’s house and Jamie had told her parents they were going to the movies. There was liquor and Bill was cute and he was talking to her about the band Molly Hatchet and soon they were in a room, her shirt undone. Then it went bad. She was too small to fight it off. She cried and asked him to stop but her head was spinning from the booze. To make things even more horrid, when he was done, someone popped out of the closet and snapped pictures of her on the bed. She never did figure out who took the photos for the room was dark and the flash popped three times, brightening the walls for each wretched moment, Bill and the mystery guy snickering. They left her there in tears. She managed to get out and get home, her mother finding out days later when Erin confessed she was worried about pregnancy. It turned out she was lucky.
            Now Bill was whistling. Erin lifted the plate with the raw chicken and slid it onto the wooden board. She began slashing through the meat, piece after piece. Her daughter moved again and let out a brief whimper. Erin looked at Bill, crouched like a gopher, fiddling with the dishwasher. She returned her focus to the chicken and began to hack at the meat. Years of pain. Embarrassment. Kids had found out, had seen the photos, and she’d been teased and labeled a whore. “It’s nothing new,” her mother had said sadly when Erin cried to her. “It has always happened to young women.” Life had been thrown off, as if she were kicked off the paved road, thrown to the side. She suffered.
            Now she could slice his throat. Stand behind him and take her knife and cut straight through. Blood would spurt against the open dishwasher, gush to the tiled floor. His body would droop, slip down, die.
            How she had been shamed and had lived with it. He deserved this death, she thought, standing behind him, the knife in her hand. He deserved it.
            Bill scratched the back of his head. Muttered to himself.
  She stepped closer. How she had wished for this moment. How she had sat with her tears, her fury, all those years ago. I want him dead. Dead.
            She moved closer. The hair thin on his skull.
            Her daughter moved.
            Erin licked her lips, gripped the knife’s handle.
            There was a little murmur from the monitor, a little cry.
            Then Bill Vinson slowly turned his head and saw Erin holding the knife. His big body fell back against the counter and he sat cornered, his hands up. “Whoa, whatever I did…”
            His eyes flickered and she knew he recognized her.
            And that was good enough.
            She put the knife down.

            Her daughter’s wail bellowed through the monitor. 

Jen Conley's stories have appeared in Thuglit, Needle, Beat to a Pulp, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, Grand Central Noir, Big Pulp, Literary Orphans, All Due Respect, Protectors, Plots With Guns, Yellow Mama, All Due Respect and others. An editor at Shotgun Honey, she’s been nominated for a Best of the Web Spinetingler Award and shortlisted for Best American Mystery Stories 2012. She lives with her son in Brick, New Jersey. Follow her on twitter @jenconley45

Sunday 9 March 2014


With a very heavy heart, and with AJ's wife's blessing, we hand you over to his close friend, Richard Godwin...

"AJ Hayes, exceptional crime writer, poet, and endless supporter of other writers, sadly passed away at 3 AM West Coast time on Saturday 8th March. He was battling lung cancer with the kind of courage that is an example to us all. He was an omnivorous reader, a man who deeply understood literature in its many forms, and who always had time for other writers. His kind words, and wise encouragements were widely appreciated. He will be sadly missed."

Tributes from the Editors...

From Col Bury:
"I'm so proud to call AJ (Bill) a friend. He was a selfless gent with boundless wisdom and great wit, and was one helluva writer to boot. His classic short, DARK GENESIS gleaned the most comments (and most 'wows') on this site in 2012. He was always on hand with unwavering encouragement and pertinent advice. I'll always cherish meeting him and his lovely wife, Thury, down in London (sincere condolences to you and your family, Thury). The writing community will ensure that AJ Hayes lives forever. R.I.P. mate."

From Matt Hilton:
"Sadly I never had the pleasure of meeting AJ Hayes in life, but I did have the opportunity of discovering his incredibly atmospheric, poetic skill as a writer through the pages of Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers, where I recall his "Dark Genesis" tale evoked a buzz for its incredible and sheer poetic inventiveness. Not only was AJ a real talent when it came to writing, but he was incredibly open and supportive of his fellow authors, regularly offering feedback at the site that was thoughtful and meaningful, and I'm certain his advice went a long way in making better writers of us all. His sage words and advice are a legacy many of his friends and peers will remember AJ for."

From Lily Childs:

"An outstanding writer in the Noir and crime genres, it was my absolute pleasure to publish AJ Hayes, ‘Bill’ on Thrillers Killers ‘n’ Chillers. Not only was Bill a unique voice in the genre, he also spent his valuable time supporting and promoting the writers he believed in. To say he will be missed is an understatement. I wish his family and friends peace and send them my sincere condolences."

From David Barber:

"AJ was a gent in the truest meaning of the word, always there to give advice and inspiration. He was a true professional when it came to the writing game and was also a fine editor in his own right, having taken the time to edit and enhance a couple of stories and a poem of mine recently. The man in the fedora will be greatly missed, not only by his family and friends but also by the online community who he helped and inspired over the years. R.I.P. Bill Hayes."

From Absolutely Kate:
"The 'Fedora Fella' was, IS and ever shall be the razz-a-ma-tazz and every bit of the smoothest, smokiest jazz to how I write and think and love and laugh, and even wear my own fedora. We share authors saluting all the good stuff in authors, the grittiest crime tales crunching delight outta our keyboards and the most gloriest music heard between all the right lines. AJ ~ Bill ~ and 'Clyde' in good 1940's lingo to me is an extra part of why my heart grows. Here's my Tribute reveal: In ANGEL TOUGH, from Matt Hilton's 'ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales', I created the ongoing character Doc Aloysious Jeremiah Nelson to honour our friend and authorly colleague. Angel said she'd just call him Doc because all those other AJ names were too much a mouthful to say quickly, but she'd know his essence for all of time itself. As I type this - "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" is playing now. I know the Guardian Angel under the fedora... just made it so. Love you, man, with all that swing."

Read AJ Hayes' classic short story, DARK GENESIS here.

And please feel free to leave your own tributes in the comments.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

TKnC is Dead...Long live TKnC!


"It ain't over 'til it's over."

When the idea for Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers first came to me back in late 2008, it sounded like a great one to me. My brainchild was to offer a platform where authors could share their work with like-minded individuals, to have their work showcased, to read the work of others and to offer constructive feedback and support. In short it was a way for authors to form a network of friends and colleagues, build their platform and make industry contacts, all while enjoying reading some terrific short fiction in the various genres of crime, thriller and horror.

Well, I was wrong. It wasn't a good idea.

It was a f****ing AMAZING idea.

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers gained huge accolades and kudos over the next few years, won awards, and helped springboard some of its authors' careers. It put some authors in touch with agents. It helped establish credibility for authors when setting out on their own careers. Not only did it attract aspiring or fledgling authors, but some established names also submitted and showcased their work in TKnCs hallowed halls.

But with its amazing success it brought with it an unwieldiness I was unable to control. Luckily I was able to call on the help of some incredibly talented and enthusiastic individuals who not only helped but grew TKnC to even greater heights. Col Bury, our resident crime editor, came onboard very early on, and I must share credit for TKnCs early success with Col - without his input TKnC would have floundered a long time ago. Under our dual efforts TKnC only got bigger and better. To a point that we had to call on horror-supremo Lee Hughes to join our editorial team. TKnC grew again. The call for assistance was this time heard loud and clear by Mistress of the Macabre, Lily Childs, who added new dimensions to TKnC, and latterly by David Barber, whose enthusiasm for the site knows no bounds. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank Col, Lee, Lily and David, for their friendship, support and enthusiasm - I couldn't have done it on my own and am indebted to you all.

TKnC had become a byword for quality, edgy fiction, and was attracting readers in its multiple-thousands. It was attracting numerous submissions weekly.

But therein lay the rub.

It had grown too big to be contained.

We'd created a monster and it was consuming us.

That's the literal way of explaining that TKnC had grown so large that it was beginning to impact on our personal commitments, our day jobs and our own writing careers. We couldn't devote the attention to the site as we'd have wished or that it deserved, and that wasn't ideal. It was a sad decision, but after much hand wringing and regret we all understood it was time to call it a day.

Yes, you just read that right.

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers is closing its doors.

But there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the capable hands of editor David Barber, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers' little brother has just been born and is about to come of age. It will be the new home of quality, edgy fiction.

So please say hello to 'THRILLS, KILLS 'N' CHAOS' by following this link: 

Submission details are up now, and the site will go live within a very short time. 

In the meantime, the stories that appear here at the original site will remain in situ, so maybe now would be a good time to take a trip back through the archives to read some terrific fiction you might have missed, or to reacquaint yourself with some old favourites. 

To all those of you who have supported us all these years, I thank you heartily and wish you great things and continued success. Now nip on over and support the new TKnC why don't ya? I'll see you there.

TKnC is Dead...Long Live TKnC!

Matt Hilton
9th April 2013

Monday 4 March 2013


TK'n'C stalwart and our former in-house Horror Editor Lee Hughes is in the mood for a party. What could possibly go wrong...?

Lee Hughes

They knew there would've been a big 'Welcome Home Heroes!' party for them, though one pint had turned to two, which turned to six so they'd missed it. They stood on the platform of the village station. The village street lay ahead, shouldered by the heights of the valley. The houses, some, but not all showed lights in the windows; their kin having lost hope and returned home.

Charlie noticed it first. He'd expected bunting hanging from the eaves of the train station. Yet none drifted in the night breeze in lapsed revelry. He broke the strained silence. “Surely if we weren't on the six-thirty they’d have returned for this one to greet us?”

Jack shrugged. “Maybe they got tired of waiting, it wouldn't have taken them long to realise we'd gone drinking.” He couldn't remember the name of where they'd been drinking and it annoyed him somewhat, like he needed a place to blame. Without word they started on that singular vein of road which coursed through the arrested pulmonary that was the village.

Charlie frowned; there was a new butchers. He hadn't been expecting changes. Though, admittedly he hadn't really put any thought into it, the only thoughts of home he'd had were just of getting back there in one piece.

“Me mam never mentioned nowt about old feller Dickinson selling up.”

The butcher had always crowed on about how he was looking forward to his shop becoming 'Dickinson and son.' When Arthur came back home. They shared a look. Neither had heard anything about Arthur Dickinson getting dead in the trenches; that didn't mean it hadn't happened. The folks who were sat writing letters at home didn't want to send out bad news.

At the threshold of the street they saw a small boy wandering down the cobbled centre. Charlie recognised him. It was John Derby's lad, William. Charlie had gone away at the start of the war and little William had been about five years old then, that was seven long years ago and the lad still looked the same age.

He shouted: “William.”

The boy continued walking towards them. The feeble light from the lamps did little other than give him more shadow than his small stature deserved or warranted. He looked at them with puzzlement.

Jack noticed the marks on the boy's neck before Charlie. “What happened to your neck, William?”

The boy, wearing muddy shorts and a slackened woollen jumper didn't smile, didn't frown, just answered with. “Mr. Jones, he did it.”

They knew who Mr. Jones was. He was the head-teacher at the village school. They both knew him to be a hard task master, and a bit of a brute to boot, both of them having been thrashed by him for little to no reason when they'd been under his tutelage. But the marks about the lad's throat were savage. Jack knelt down before the lad and asked. “What the bleeding hell did you do to get him to go so hard on you?”

William shrugged. “He found me.”



Both Charlie and Jack exchanged a puzzled glance. Charlie spoke up. “Come on, William, let's get you home.”

The boy's eyes hardened. “No.”

“Why not?” asked Charlie.

“I don't want to go there.”

Jack took a go and asked. “Why's that?”

“I just don't.” The boy turned on his heels and ran back the way he'd come until the shadows took him in their snuggle.

Charlie watched the darkened end of the street. “The war's done damage to all of us.”

Jack nodded. “I'm in enough trouble with the missus, I'm gonna head on home. Catch up with you in the morning, Charlie-boy.”

“Aye, I'll get an ear-full of it from me mam too, you know how she gets.”

Charlie walked through the hallway, smiling, seeing the pictures still hanging on the walls. His late father in his uniform, a picture of himself looking proud within the threads of his own. Inside he felt awkward, even though he’d failed to get on the earlier train it wasn't like his mother not to have come to meet him no matter how chagrined she was with him, under her stern words and charcoal stare burned love. He wandered past the door to the parlour, which was only used for Christmases and funerals. At the door to the back-sit he could hear the crackle of the fire through the timber of the door. He took a deep breath and entered. There she was, looking older than the last time he'd seen her, she'd been on the turn to grey then, now her hair was tarnished silver. She didn't move as he entered, sitting holding a photograph in her lap.

“Mam,” he ventured.

She ignored him.

He groaned inwardly, perhaps this time her wrath was for real. He took a step deeper into the room, feeling like a trespasser whose feet were too clumsy and whose shoes were too noisy. “I'm sorry I missed the train, there...” He left it hanging, knowing she could tell a lie long before it was even dry from leaving his lips. The fire had been banked high as she was wont to do when she planned to snooze away the night in front of it. Charlie lowered himself so he was on his haunches. He was about to reach out to take her hands and show her that he was sorry when he saw his cigarette case on her lap, peeking out from beneath the photograph. That was his cigarette case, had been his father's before him and it was in his pocket. He checked to re-assure himself, dipping his hand into his pocket and finding only emptiness.

“Where's that from?” he asked.

She remained muted in the company of her tears, rubbing a thumb over a black and white portrait of him as a boy.

“Mam, I really am sorry.” He looked to her face, it was not so much lined as creased like a bed-sheet left to dry in a heap. She got up and moved past him to the mantelpiece, replaced the picture in exactly the same spot - Charlie could tell by the dust around the shape. “Mam?” Something was knotting in his mind as well as his stomach. His mam had never permitted dust to settle, let alone make itself at home. She'd always been on the move cleaning every surface and beating every rug to within an inch of its weave unravelling. Charlie took in the rest of the room, noticing everything was in disarray or dirty. Everything bar the pictures of him. He watched as his mam sat herself back down and closed her eyes.

Her lips moved, lips so dry Charlie thought they would rip. He heard her words, though he didn't need to.

His mother said, “Good Lord, look after my boy.” And the knot that had begun to tighten within his being constricted whip-quick and started to throttle him. He screamed, reached for her, to shake her, but she couldn't feel his hands, as a gale doesn't feel a breeze. Charlie reached again, this time he was sure he felt the slight hairs on the skin of her arms, positive he'd brushed them. She stirred, still not too deep into sleep. Charlie went for the grab again. Skin, this time, he was sure of it, it felt like paper, but it felt, that was what was important. He watched in hope as his mother's eyes opened. The lids rose slowly as though reluctant to open up for business. Her lips joined her eyes in rising. Then both crashed down, the eyes opened for a second glance. “Charlie!” There was no tone of ecstasy, it had the trappings of terror.

“Mam, it's me.”

“No, no, no, it's the Devil is what it is!” She pushed back, trying to reverse her whole body into her chair, sickened by the monster before her. She raised a bony hand and pointed. She was pointing towards his face. He gathered himself upright and turned towards the mirror. That wasn't his reflection, that wasn't a portrait of him done in silver-backed glass. His lower jaw was errant and he bore witness to his vocal-chords. He let free a holler and watched as the chords went taut, vibrated and spat everything out in a tone of bedlam. He swept an arm across the mantelpiece, his hand passed through the first two photographs before becoming more present and sending the remaining ones to all corners of the room.


Jack could hear movement from the bedroom. That was good - he wanted her bad. It'd been months since he'd been with a woman, he grimaced at that memory, he'd had to dip his todger in vinegar after that whore. He entered, his wife was there, standing before the bed in her night-dress. She let one strap slip free from her left shoulder then the other. And none of it was for his benefit.

“What the fuck.” He moved around her to see who was shagging his wife. He didn't recognise the bloke but it didn't matter. “Oi!” Still they seemed impervious. His wife's nighty went all the way south for the summer. Jack had never, ever raised a hand to his wife, hadn't had a chance to seeing as they'd only been married for five months before he'd gone to war, and this is what he got to come home to?

He moved through her like a wave of goodbye. He spun, confused. He saw the man on the bed, already erect and his wife straddling and guiding it in. The man grabbed her hips and rolled over, taking her with him until he was on top and began to thrust. Jack punched at the man's head, his fists flailed through. He had to see Maureen's face. He climbed forward, passing through the rutting beast. He looked down at her face, could see her eyes closed as she enjoyed herself. Jack felt dizzy, sick and a hundred and one other emotions, all mixing together to keep him off guard. He had memories of seeing her face like this. Him atop of her, hilt deep, bringing her the pleasure she was garnering now. Jack didn't realise he was moving to the tidal motion of his wife, playing let's pretend at making love. He soon forgot all about the real deliverer of cock as his brain made him believe it was himself. He watched as she bit down on her lower lip enough to make the flesh spread with whiteness. It went on for, he wasn't quite sure until he heard a grunt that came from neither of them. From the corner of his eye a sweaty naked man rolled away to lie flat on his back. Jack turned back to Maureen, her eyes opened, the pupils wide and a smile raised as though on wings. She stared straight through Jack. Her voice came with laboured breathing. “Tommy, it feels like you're still inside me.”

“Knew you'd enjoy it.” Tommy's voice sounded half asleep.

She blinked, the pupils constricting. She blinked again, eyes and mouth widening in unison before she screamed. Tommy rolled over to see what the fuck was the matter, he was trying to sleep, had work in the morning. Jack lashed out at the man with his good hand. The man fell backwards, blood and teeth dripping from his mouth, the jaw askew. Maureen fought beneath him. He backhanded her, crushing an eye-socket, climbed off and went to finish the cowering man.

Charlie ran into the street. Lights were coming on in all of the houses now. Charlie had heard screams, a man and a woman's that had pierced the calm of the night. People peered out of their windows and joined in the chorus of screams at the sight that played out before them. Jack staggered out of the door from his house, drenched in blood. To Charlie that wasn't the shocking part. He saw that Jack's left arm ended in a ragged mess just below the shoulder joint, his guts draped down, the longer lengths dragging on the ground behind. Charlie turned as he heard a low moan from behind him. He saw Arthur Dickinson crawling along the ground, devoid of legs. Others were coming from behind the train station, from the direction of the graveyard; some nearly transparent but slowly coming to ruined flesh. A song joined the cacophony. Charlie looked back over his shoulder and saw young William dragging the severed head of Mr. Jones along on a length of string.


BIO: You can read more of Lee's stuff at

Wednesday 13 February 2013

SIMMONS' CHOICE by Aidan Thorn.

Here's another new writer making his debut at Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers.  Aidan Thorne is a Southampton based scribe hoping to make something out of this crazy writing world.  Let's show him some support as he gives us.....

Aidan Thorn

I had to do what was best for my boy, any father would right? Not that my son could see that, oh no, he disagreed with my plan from the start – But what choice did I have?  No son of mine could go to prison, especially Larkford Prison - he’d be lucky to get through the first week alive. 

When the call had come in that Ian had been arrested for the murder of a known dealer my first thought wasn’t of disbelief, it was that I had to keep him from going to Larkford.  I could just imagine what would happen if the other inmates found out that he was my boy, the son of Detective Alan Simmons.  It would be all of their Christmases rolled into one.  I was responsible for putting a lot of people behind those bars. It wouldn’t take long for them to make the connection between Ian’s last name and the family resemblance.  No, he wouldn’t last a week.

My sons struggle with drugs has been with us since he hit his mid-teens. When I realised he had a problem and confronted him about it of course it was my entire fault.  Apparently because of who I am he was bullied, he went to a tough school, coppers kids were just below the fat kids and the gingers in the social structure.  He started to rebel against anything that had a whiff of authority about it all with the aim of making his peers laugh and fitting in.  Sadly his plan worked and Ian fell in with a crowd that could only be described as wrong. 

Before long Ian was a barely walking, barely talking cliché.  He moved through drug classes with far greater ease than he had ever coped with school classes.  And I found myself doing everything I could to try and get him off that shite, of course my interference only pushed him further in. He picked up a few arrests over the years and every time I managed to get him off with a slapped arse, but this time it was different – They don’t dish out slapped arses for murder do they.

The only way I could see to keep him safe this time was to have him declared insane, have the little shite sectioned.  Better he sees out his sentence on a mental ward than getting sent to Larkford to become one of my collar’s play things or end up with a shank in his neck and that’s what I told him, when I went in to see him after his arrest.  

‘No fuck that, I’m not rotting in some room with a bunch of spaced out nutters for the rest of my days.’ Ian had protested as I’d outlined my plan.  He seemed oblivious to the irony that it was because he’d spent nearly half of his life as a ‘spaced out nutter’ that he was now facing a future behind secure walls.

‘If you don’t go for an insanity plea I can’t protect you. It’s not going to take long for the inmates at Larkford to connect your name to mine.’ I said. ‘I don’t care how gaunt and broken you look and how chubby I’ve become there’s no denying that we look alike. Some of the people I’ve put away are never coming out, there’s nothing stopping them taking out a little revenge on me through you.’

‘So get me sent to another prison then. I’m not being locked up with the loons.’

‘Prisoners do re-offend when they’re released. There’s nothing to say that you won’t come across someone I put away in the past that’s now doing time somewhere else. You won’t be safe in prison.’

I looked sideways to Ian’s brief for support.  I’d hired David Shipton, one of the best in the business.  I’d seen some of my best collars slip through the system to freedom when Shipton had defended them.  I’d paid through the nose to get him and agreed that I’d owe him a favour in future if a key piece of evidence needed to go missing for one of his clients – despite everything, I’d sell my soul for my boy.  There was no way Shipton was ever going to get Ian off but getting him sent down as insane was going to be a tough job and so I needed the best.

‘Your old man’s right Ian, the best we can do for you is plead insanity, have a couple of doctors testify that you’re not all there and get you sectioned whilst I try to find ways of appealing this thing,’ Shipton said. ‘I’ll to be honest with you though, it’s going to be tough. There are three witnesses that saw you stabbing the victim in broad daylight and you were arrested covered in his blood. Now I can use this to our advantage, as only a mad man would viciously murder a person in public in the middle of the day…’

‘He’d stolen my money and not given me my fix,’ Ian interrupted, anger flashing across the back of his eyes.  Sweat beads had formed lines across my son’s grey and furrowed brow.  He shook with uncontrollable rage as he screamed out his words.  In Ian’s drug addled mind the dealers crimes were worthy of a death sentence, perhaps convincing a judge and jury that he was insane was not going to be as tough as first thought.  I looked at Shipton and the slight grin on his face suggested he’d just had a similar eureka moment.


I’d pulled a few strings and managed to have Ian placed in solitary whilst he was awaiting trial.  Shipton had asked that my boy be bailed to my custody but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. 

As the trial approached we had a number of concerns.  Shipton was concerned that regardless of any doctor’s testimony,  it was going to be tough to convince a jury that Ian was insane.  He didn’t have to remind me, but did, that drug addicts aren’t society’s favourite people and addict muderers are at least a step or two further down that list.  I had to remind Shipton that I’d employed the best lawyer for my boy because I was more than aware that the situation was a fucking mess. 

What was more worrying was that we were having problems with both the doctors Shipton had roped in to testify that Ian was a nutjob.  One of the doctors got cold feet when he found out I was a copper.  I think he thought it was some sort of elaborate sting.  I managed to convince him that this was a genuine case by showing him a full audit trail of my bank account from which his five grand sweetener had come, proving that the funds were mine and had been in my saving account for the past decade. 

The second doctor got greedy the week before the trial and decided that five grand wasn’t enough, he wanted ten times that.   Shipton pointed out there was no way of replacing him at this stage.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that little prick had put the doctor up to asking for the extra cash and was getting a commission from him.  I got a loan that would basically wipe out the lump sum I was going to be getting on my pension in a few months’ time and paid the bribe.

And of course the judge had to be given a little convincer too, but that was nothing new.  I’d done it a few times in the past from the other side of the fence when we’d gotten the wrong person, or more accurately couldn’t find the right person and the bad PR involved in that getting out would be too damaging to the force.  We’d stitch up a fall guy, I’m not talking about a family man with a steady job and bills to pay, no someone that had slipped through the net in the past - someone who deserved it. 

It was a great relief when the trial came to an end and Ian was ordered by the judge to be detained at the Moorfield Centre under the Mental Health Act.  My boy would be safe from the violent scum that walked the prison corridors.


Visiting time at Moorfield was hard for me.  Ian refused to see me but still I turned up diligently every week hoping to see the son who, in spite of his thoughts on the matter, I had saved from a certain death, bankrupting myself in the process.  As I walked away at the end of visiting time each week, having sat for two hours alone, I noticed the looks of sympathy on the faces of the staff.  I was undeterred and still turned up every week.

As I signed in at Moorfield this morning, almost six months after Ian had been sent here, again a sympathetic face looked back at me and spoke.  ‘Hello, Detective Simmons. Can you go into the waiting room behind me? Doctor Lamb would like to speak with you.’

I was expecting this day to come.  Patients are not kept within the care of mental health institutions indefinitely and Ian’s time was coming to an end. He would have to be reassessed and, if it was decided that he was no longer playing ball, he could find himself out of the hospital and in prison within the month.

Doctor Lamb entered the waiting room and I stood to shake his hand.  He motioned me back to my seat and spoke. ‘I’m afraid there has been an incident. One of the patients went on a frenzied rampage during breakfast this morning. He was sat next to Ian when the incident began. He attacked your son and before anyone could stop him he had slashed his throat with a piece of glass. We're not sure where the glass came from. I'm sorry, Detective Simmons, but Ian bled to death as hospital staff tried to help him.’

I felt my shoulders shake; tears filled my eyes and ran down my face.  I saw Doctor Lamb’s lips continue to move but I heard nothing of what he was saying.

Bio - Aidan Thorn is a 33 year old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titantic left from before sinking.  It's Aidan's ambition to put Southampton on the map for something other than bad R N' B music and sinking ships.  Since having his first short story published in Radgepacket Vol. 6 in 2012 he has written a couple more but spent the first half of 2012 completing his first novel 'When the Music's Over.'  More information on Aidan's writing can be found on his website