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Latest Stories

January 01, 2020
Romance Stories P.D. Ravel

What I Always Dreamed

I can feel you through my skin. You are the one who dictates my feelings, the one who knows all my fears, and the one who makes me recognize that I like this man next to me. But what you don’t quite understand is that in this reality you are not the only one…
January 01, 2020
Fantasy Stories Tom Sheehan

Work of Ages, Work of Comets

The tip of the shovel had talked to him with a dull thud, not just through his ears, but totally. It came into his hands and up the stiffness of his arms, through the quick riot of nerves on red alert, through all passageways of recognition. It was wood! At…
December 29, 2019
Mystery Stories Christian Mc Culloch

The Changing Tide

The bell on the tramp steamer called out into the thick fog. A single bell from the buoy off to starboard replied. Somewhere there were stars beyond the grey blanket. The ship nosed forward. The bells spoke to each other. Mor'thn Weeds pulled the collar of…
December 29, 2019
General Stories Alan Peat

The Belated Present

I know he’s here somewhere on what I call my Restitution List. E, F, ah here we go the G’s. Glockner, Gobomo, Gomez, Greengrass. Gerald Greengrass. Present wrapped all ready for transit. Special delivery. Job almost done. Maybe I should explain what my…
December 29, 2019
Mystery Stories Bruce Stirling

Ashtown

Wyoming, 1905 Sam built up the fire, then hit the blanket. He was drifting off when he heard a low rumbling off in the distance. He grabbed his Winchester and scrambled up to the top of a low ridge. From there, with the sun sinking low, he took in the…
December 29, 2019
General Stories Jason Reed

On Love and Death

Part 1 At ninety-five George's knees supplied defiant resistance whenever he went upstairs. This morning was no different but here he was at the top landing - surveying the hall and doorways for a clue as to why he was up there. "Glasses!" He said with a snap…
December 29, 2019
General Stories W. Giersbach

Working Woman's Wife

I couldn’t get rid of the vendor on line 1, there was a call hanging on line 2, I was ten minutes late for a conference call from Tokyo, and the Senior VP of Finance was tapping his foot in my doorway. Worse, I had just spilled a four dollar latte on my white…
December 29, 2019
Flash Fiction André Goiuyneau

The Sock

Dear Madam, Further to your advertisement, and having myself lost a sock one day, I can reveal all the consequences of this loss to you. I searched for the lost one, its sister in my hand, until weary of the battle I sat down, thoughtful. Why did I not just…
July 10, 2019
Romance Stories John L.Yelavich

Saccharine Smiles and Sandpaper Personalities

What is the most powerful force in the universe? Is it atomic fusion, military might, volcanoes, tsunamis or any other natural disaster? No, they are not. None of them can create havoc and paranoia in man any more than love can. Yes, love is the force that is…
July 10, 2019
Crime Stories J.B.Stevens

A Good Man

Jimmy hated feeling the delicate orbital bones splinter, but he didn’t have a choice. He needed to be free. It was unfortunate. Just the wrong place, wrong time. If he was out he could send money to Sarah. That’s what all this was all about, helping his…
July 10, 2019
Fantasy Stories Roger Ley

Turing Test

Mr Riley liked to start his day in the library. It was a short walk from his house and conveniently situated at the top of the main street in the Suffolk market town that he and his wife had retired to. When they’d first arrived, he’d joined the local writing…
July 10, 2019
Romance Stories Patric Quinn

Where or When

The front doorbell sounded its gentle Westminster Chimes and the thumping on the door started before Hazel even put her pen down on the papers she was working on intently. More curious than annoyed, she stopped writing, shrugged and started for the door.…

 

 

It wasn't like he'd meant to kick her as he came round the corner. Anyway, it wasn't really a kick, more like a bit of a bump. No, a nudge, that's what it was, just a nudge. After all, sitting on the pavement like that, it's her own fault really if people end up nudging her. She'd sat there as long as he could remember – way back into his childhood – the same short grey hair, wrinkled face, shapeless clothes, sitting cross-legged on that grimy old blanket just outside the station. Blind eyes closed – well, he assumed she was blind, he'd certainly never seen her open her eyes. But come to that he'd never seen her stand or move either, and surely she must get up sometime and go somewhere. She couldn't stay sitting there all the time with that weird old banjo,could she? Snakeskin – he'd never seen another one anything like it. She didn't really play it, even, just plucked the strings in a desultory sort of fashion – and he'd never seen anyone throw her money for her efforts. Made him wonder why she sat there day after day. He'd apologized when he knocked her over – well, he'd meant to, but he was in such a rush that maybe he hadn't. She'd have been fine anyway – it was only a nudge after all, just a little nudge.

They used to make up stories about her back at school. She used to be a great beauty, but she was blinded by a jealous rival. Or maybe it was all an act – she was working for Them (whoever They were), keeping a watch on things, not really blind at all. Or she'd sold her soul to some devil or other, but got tricked (as tends to be the case with devils) and ended up with just a strange banjo and sightless eyes. He'd added his own – she wasn't human at all, the snakeskin was the giveaway. Didn't everyone know that snakes didn't need eyes to sense – they could feel vibrations, sense the heat of your body? She sat there waiting for prey and when night fell slipped away in serpent form through the drains, fangs dripping with venom so potent that it etched the stones it dripped upon. Now he came to think of it, they pretty much gave up on the stories after that one – they all just gave her a wide berth.

He was well down Nathan Road by now, crowd-weaving along through the usual masses of Hong Kong humanity, ducking past the tailors and the fake Rolex sellers as they lurked in the side streets like trap door spiders waiting for their tourist prey. He shuddered for no reason that he could put his finger on. The word 'prey' in his thoughts just seemed to flick a chill up his spine and his steps faltered for just a second or two. He shook it off and plunged into the human sea, crowd-swimming onwards to work.

It wasn't until work was over, standing waiting for the ferry, that he thought of her again. It might have been the setting sun colour-matching the neon as the light faded that brought her back to mind, thoughts of a snake in the darkness. But he stood packed into a press of people, safe in their midst, and the thought was only fleeting. As the scrum pored onto the ferry he made his way to his usual spot at the front where there was a slight breeze off the water cutting through the humidity. The lights of Kowloon ahead grew steadily closer and brighter, when he noticed the movement in the water. Parallel to the boat something kept pace with it, something long and narrow left a slight wake, caused ripples to wash against the side of the ferry. There was something there. Something long, thin, greenish in colour. His breathing speeded  as he craned his neck, trying to see more clearly, but the ripples and reflections thwarted him. The ferry bumped against the Kowloon jetty and he struggled to move as the rippling form drew closer and closer, but the crowd held him in place. It filled his vision, the sinuous form moving towards him. He became aware that he was holding his breath, gripping the railing so hard that his fingers hurt. Closer and closer it came, swaying side-to-side. Then out of the water it came, pulled hand-over-hand by a crewman – a green, sodden rope being hauled in, wound up, placed back on the deck where it belonged. He breathed again in a shuddering gasp and staggered off with the flow of the crowd.

The lights of Nathan Road glared as garish as ever, but somehow it seemed darker than usual tonight, the shadows between the streetlamps deeper and blacker. He scuttled from lamp-post to lamp-post. Why did nobody else seem to see it? They all seemed to be behaving as normal, even when a neon sign not ten yards from him flickered and went out; when the lamp he was under visibly dimmed, crackled and hummed. He walked faster, then faster still. What was that noise he just heard? It sounded like... a sort of slithering sound. His nerve snapped and he broke into a run, pushing people aside, until he nearly slipped over something at his feet, something that made a slithering sound as his foot struck it. He stared down wide-eyed and found himself looking at a dried squid. One of many. From an overturned crate at the side of the road where two men shouted at each other. He stopped, took a deep breath, willed himself to be calm. All in his head, all in his head. His pulse slowed, his breathing eased. He walked onward at a more normal pace.

Nearly home now, he looked over at the corner where he'd nudged the old woman this morning. Nobody there. She'd gone home of course – where else would she be at this time. He rounded the corner, opened his front door, stepped inside. Flicked the light on, closed the door behind him. Flung his jacket onto a chair, flung himself into another. Then all the lights went out – not just the lights in his flat, but the lights outside shining in through the windows. And somewhere in the darkness there was the smallest of sounds. It sounded like a banjo being softly plucked.

 

 

BIO: Originally a Londoner, now living in Devon, an intermittant writer for as long as I can remember, now finally making the effort to put fingers to keyboard on a more regular basis. An avid reader and appalling hoarder of books of many types.

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