All Stories, General Fiction

Country Living by Frederick K Foote


Country living, living in nature’s bountiful bosoms, being a country girl, pastoral delights and splendid nights with stars shining bright.

Don’t, just don’t shovel that hot, rancid, fly infested, maggot breeding horseshit in my direction. I been there and done that. I sat on that milk stool. I swam in that polluted pool. I slept on the straw mattress with the rats and fleas. I churned butter, collected eggs, slopped the hogs, fed the chickens, shoveled the shit, planted the garden, weeded the rows, gathered the crops, canned, and sewed.

And, I cooked, cleaned, snapped beans, made beds and did the laundry in my spare time.

My country, the country that I lived in, was more than a place in space and time it was an evil disposition of heart and mind.

Continue reading “Country Living by Frederick K Foote”

All Stories, General Fiction

Out in the Turkey Pen By Leila Allison

Reader Advisory:

The Union of Pennames, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters (UPIFFC) now requires the anonymous employer of an associate penname to give the latter a yearly performance review. This event usually occurs in the sort of establishment where the wait staff all have the personalities of unpurged butter clams. As it goes with PR’s throughout the observable universe, the employer typically leads off with the employee’s strong points as a method of Trojan-horsing in darker observations. Sadly, for the employer, the penname has access to each and every of the former’s thoughts while the employer remains as clueless about the penname’s wicked ways as ever. To put it plainly, the whole thing goes to hell from the get go, and the only thing that I as Leila Allison’s employer get from our conversation is a tingling headache and bewilderment over the fact that my alias has the social graces of an irked thirteen-year-old child.

However, I may have gained something useful from this year’s face-to-face. I now present the missive that my penname scrawled on a stack of cocktail napkins not long after she dropped the pretense of pretending to listen to me—But I’ll give her this much: she writes awfully damn fast. Unfortunately, my headache has prevented me from reading it; and it may also be true that I only wish for it to be known that I have had nothing to do with its construction, just in case it too goes to hell from the get go.


Ms. Allison’s Employer

Continue reading “Out in the Turkey Pen By Leila Allison”

All Stories, Latest News

Week 108 – Pride, Pot Noodles And Jellyfish

I’ve decided this week to write about pride.

Not ‘In the Name of Love’ even though that is a cracking song. Not as in the film about the Gay Pride / Miner Strike match up even though that was a cracking film. And not as in loads of big pussies, even though they are braw beasties!

Pride commeth before a fall. That’s a phrase about a disappointed lady called ‘A Fall’ and the problems she had with her husband Pride.

Yep more nonsense before I get to a point.

I’m a very proud person but in a shit sort of way. Not asking for help, cutting my nose off to spite my face and stubbornness are the realistic terms for my pride!

For example I’ll never ask for assistance when I need it, I would rather say ‘This is pish’ and give up. Writing is a bit different as I have other folks to state that…So, so many!!

To explain my stupidity I would like to share this. I had the best time of my life in 2000 when we were in Toronto, I tip my hat to Canada, I loved the place. We tried so many different things. The Swiss restaurant was excellent. I thought it would have been three courses of Toblerone, nougat and almonds but I had a lovely fruity and mildly spiced chicken type dish.

One night we ended up in a traditional Chinese Restaurant. I am a rather adventurous person when it comes to food so when I saw ‘chilled chicken wings with shredded jellyfish’ I wanted to give it a go. I probably should have twigged when the waiter asked me:

“You handle this?”

My pride (stupidity) kicked in!

“Of course I can handle this! I’ve ate Pot Noodles and Crispy Pancakes which just goes to prove that God doesn’t think we should bother with anything tasty…I’m fine…Go for it auld stockin’!”

So the waiter brought my food and he was sniggering…I should’ve sussed.

So I began to eat. I turned green. Ironically this was the same colour as the jellyfish. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be that colour but it didn’t matter whether it was fresh or on the turn…It couldn’t have tasted any worse. But did I leave it? Nope, although at one point, I did think I would spew. I chewed and swallowed, heaved and retched but I finished it.

When the waiter returned I saw his face fall. I puffed out my chest and my greenness changed to a more acceptable yellow.

He asked,

“Did you enjoy?”

“Well I could have done with a little more jellyfish.”

“You want more?”

“Sorry auld champion but your establishment had its chance to impress…Just bring us a bog standard Chow Mein and we’ll say no more about it!”

The point to this is Pride!! And swallowing it!

The reason that I am mentioning this is due to feedback we gave to a writer. They took it, didn’t go in the cream puff and decided whether or not our comments helped. That is the thing, don’t spit out the dummy if anyone says that something is wrong. Look at it and THINK!

I’ve mentioned before when I have a story in mind, it’s so strong in my head, I can’t understand how anyone doesn’t get it. (My story this week was an example of this. )

But when it is pointed out, don’t be like me and eat the fecking jellyfish, consider changing it to something more palatable.

I am shit at metaphors but hope you all get the point!

OK on to this weeks stories!

As always our initial comments follow.

We had two new folks this week, (I’ll need to ask our resident statistician exactly how many authors we have.) one third timer, an old campaigner and me.

Our first new person began the week. We extend the usual welcome and plea for more stories!

Ellen Kibbe had her wonderfully titled short ‘A Cosmopolitan Epiphany Regarding a Certain Cecil ‘ published on Monday.

‘What a weird wee piece, I liked it.’

‘I enjoyed the ride and found the ending quite sad.’

‘This had a charm to it.’

An old hand graced Tuesday. The talented and quirky Mr Adam Kluger had his story, ‘High And Low‘ next up.

‘A longer story than Adam normally sends us but he skilfully kept the pace and the points relevant.’

‘Strange but quite compelling.’

‘Some great lines and interesting characters.’

We had a third time published author on Wednesday. Julie Howard was our key-stone of the week with ‘Hunger

‘The flow was good and the prose most enjoyable.’

‘Concise and well put together.’

‘A good self-help / self discovery type story.’

Tabitha Sterling was our last new author of the week. The same welcome applies to Tabitha, we hope both these writers have a lot of fun with the site. On Thursday her short story ‘Plague Song‘ was showcased.

‘The back story fuelled the understandable bitterness between them.’

‘Excellent writing with an interesting choice of main characters.’

‘You are left with a tiny doubt at the end about whether or not the murder was due to the ‘illness’ or their strengthening resentment.’

And on Friday, well I put together my usual happy little tale. ‘In Five Years Time‘.

This was first shown to the other editors the middle of last year and it had been refused due to the ending. It took me around eight months to work through the issues that they had raised. I thank them all as always for making me a better writer and not being so focused in what I know compared to what I have written!

So week 108 is done and dusted.

I am going to access some jellyfish and completely ignore it.

…Pot Noodles and Crispy Pancakes, they are a different matter!


Banner Image: jellyfish Salad – By Bình Giang (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller, General Fiction

In Five Years Time by Hugh Cron – Warning: Very Strong Adult Content.

Steven opened the door to the two men.

“We spoke on the phone Mr Clark. I’m Eddie Freeman and this is my photographer Charlie.”

“Come in. Sit down.”

Eddie pointed over to the ashtray.

“Do you mind?”

Steven shook his head.

“I’ve been chain smoking since all this came out…Bastard! He started me smoking again.”

“I will ask you once again Mr Clark…”

“Steven, call me Steven.”

“…Okay Steven, are you sure that you want to do this?”

Read more…

“I have to. We’ll be fucked if we don’t because of that sick little bastard.”

“What about your wife, lawyers, police?”

“As the case is by, I can speak to you. They’ve all advised against it. But we have to. It is the only way that we’ll get any peace. Linda will not participate. I would ask though, can I see the draft before it goes out?”

“…Sorry but it’s out of my hands when I pass it on to the editor.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t be censoring. I will tell you everything and answer anything that you ask. I just want to see how it reads.”

“I can’t promise but we’ll see.”

The door opened and Linda brought in coffee.

“Are you sure Mrs Clark that you don’t want to say anything?”

Her eyes filled up, she shook her head and hurried away.

“She can’t handle it. But she agrees with me doing this.”

“Right Steven, I’ll switch on the recorder. I’ll ask you to tell me your story in your own words and if I have any questions or anything I need clarified I’ll ask as we go along. But I’ll try not to interrupt too much as you speak. If you need a break just hold up your hand and we will switch it off. Okay?”

Steven nodded.

“In your own time.”

“…We thought he was a good boy. There were no…Signs? Nothing! He was a normal kid and a moody teenager, so we thought that was normal too. But…Fuck! It all began when we took Sandra in, that was Linda’s mum. She was diagnosed with dementia at sixty. By sixty five, she was in her own world. I mean, you could still have a conversation with her but hell knows where that would take you…Is it okay if I add in what we know now, from what the police have found out?”

Eddie nodded, “Is this from before or after Ian’s conviction?”

Steven shuddered at the mention of his son’s name.

“Both, what they know and what they have found out since.”

“Sure, please go on.”

“I haven’t spoken to him. Not since we were told that there was no doubt.”

Eddie held up his hand, “Try and put it in as much of the order that it happened as you can.”

Steven nodded and took a drink of his coffee. He stubbed out the cigarette and lit another.

“Everything seemed fine. He had always been fond of his gran. Fuck! That’s an understatement! He helped us, he sat with her when we were at work. We had carers coming in to help out and give us a break but he was happy to take his turn. No fucking wonder! It must’ve started from there. How it started and any details, I don’t fucking want to know! The police have got recordings and the duvet can be seen. That was Sandra’s own duvet, we brought it from her house. They took it away and well, there were signs that he had been there. We never saw anything, they had to test it. That fucker was also cleaning up his own mess while we were out.”

Steven laughed and wiped a tear.

“I didn’t even think he could do laundry. No wanking into a sock for our boy! Oh no, he had his gran and the use of a washing machine!”

Eddie switched off the recorder.

“Give yourself a moment. Trust me, the sympathies will be with you.”

“Do you think? We’ve had a few phone-calls and paint thrown over my car already. This is why we need to do this. We need to distance ourselves from that freak.”

He nodded and Eddie switched it back on.

“I know this is difficult Steven but you will need to tell us exactly what he was doing.”

“…The thing that was my son was having sex with his gran and putting it on the internet. The old lady didn’t know what she was doing.”

“Surely there was no issue with it being consensual?”

“Well that is where his lawyer was a total star. That was why it was so difficult on all of us. They tried to say that it was consensual and she should have had to answer to an incest charge as he was fifteen at the time.”

Steven shook his head and began to sob.

“Go on Steven, this is important.”

“…Consensual, that’s a fucking joke! The poor old soul didn’t know what planet she was on. She was living her life of thirty years back when she did have sex, I don’t know, she maybe recognised Robert in him. Sorry, Robert was her husband, his grandfather and he was using that fucking memory to get a blow-job off his gran!”


“Oh it gets worse. You think of the most intimate things that you can do with your wife or partner…And yep!! That’s my boy!!”

“We’ll come back to the court case but first tell us how he got caught.”

Steven sighed, “I am not clued up on how the internet works but basically he was posting these images on…’The Dark Web’…There’s a fucking thing I now know of!! Then the entrepreneurial side of him kicked in and he decided to go live as it were. But that wasn’t what got him. The police caught him, either whilst he was trying to set-up a payment system or actually when he had, as I say, I don’t know how it works. I heard it all in court. Oh…if you need any permission to access the transcripts or proceedings or whatever they are called, I’ll do that for you if I can. All I know is he was unlucky…There’s a fucking laugh!! Unlucky!! You see, The Police have a few officers who work on sting operations to catch all types of illegal pornography and he just happened to get on their radar. The little cunt thinks he is so clever but he wasn’t clever enough to go unnoticed.”

“Tell us about the arrests.”

“That was the worse day of our lives. There was a chap at the door at around six am. Weirdly it was all very calm. Isn’t it strange what you notice. I saw the patient transport outside and that was what confused. I actually thought they had came to the wrong house, I stared at the warrant as Linda screamed. Social Services bundled her mother into the patient transport. That confused me even more. I began to wonder if one of the carers were in trouble. Then their ‘Charges’ began to sink in.”

Steven leaned back, “Do you know the one thing that I was grateful for and that was at least she was out of it. There was enough history and records that there was no-way anyone believed that she was participating voluntary, that was for the lawyer bastards to come up with later on!”

“I read that Ian wasn’t arrested immediately?”

“Well, yes but no. Another car turned up and it was more Social Services, they wanted to take Ian away. Fuck knows how that had come about! There was one CID Officer who simply shook his head and said, that he was going with them. They cuffed him and he was taken away in a different car from me and Linda.”

“How did The Police treat you?”

Steven smiled, “Actually not too bad. But I know why, well now I do. They’d already been investigating us and they knew about our work, the carers and they had that bastard’s time lines on the internet. When they checked, we were always at work, nothing tied into any time that we were there. One of the officers told me later on that they had suspected from day one that it was all about him.”

“Ian also stated that you and Linda knew nothing, didn’t he?”

“Oh yes!! We should be so grateful!!!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean that to sound as if you owed him anything, please continue about your time with The Police.”

“They called it right. We knew fuck all and basically, we were there as witnesses for the P.F. And do you know what, looking back, it was the best twelve or so hours that I have spent as he was finally held accountable for what he did.”

“And Linda?”

He lit another cigarette and swapped it for the one in his mouth.

“…What do you think? She was in pieces, sedated, now on medication for depression. She will never get over it, never! Please don’t ask me for any other specifics, can we just leave it at that?”

Eddie nodded, “Of course.”

“Thanks. I worry about her enough.”

“I don’t want to spend too much time on this as it has been well documented, but what are your thoughts on the case?”

“Lawyers are cunts! That bastard gave himself up to the cops. He admitted that it was all about him and then the lawyers started whispering in his ear and that was where the consent question arose and if that was the way they went, then it could’ve been Sandra who had to answer. It was all bullshit, but the fuckers were for playing that hand. I suppose there is a God as Sandra died before all that shite could be played out. There would’ve had to be an independent competency hearing and fuck knows what else.”

“That never came out so how do you know?”

Steven laughed, “I doubt if any law firm would sue me after what has happened, but you are the media and they might go after you! So I’ll tell you and you can do with as you wish.”

Eddie leaned forward and switched off the recorder.

“I may ask you to repeat this.”

Steven nodded.

“I am reading between the lines from what I heard…Oh and I am not telling you the source. But seemingly the leak came from his lawyers office. Someone close to the case was so disgusted that they passed it on to the person who told me. I know that is clear as mud, but it is all I am willing to say.”

Eddie smiled.

“I’ll leave that for now. I’ll talk to my editor. But I can quote you that you heard it second hand?”

“Be my guest.”

“Okay, back to the court.”

“Well after Sandra died I take it that there was no point in them dragging it out. We had all the Social Work involvement etc to say that she was incompetent and she wasn’t here for them to TRY and prove otherwise, so they coped out for a deal.”

“…And the sentence, how do you feel about the sentence?”

“Fucking sick and disgusted. Five years and most of that will be in a secure residential unit for boys. I doubt if the fucker will ever see the inside of a prison.”

“What would you say to Ian?”

“I have nothing to say to him!”

“What would you say to anyone who will be reading this?”

“If I’d known what he would become, I would have drowned him at birth.”

“What about your wife?”

Steven looked over his shoulder.

“…Same! Leave it at that.”

Eddie nodded slowly.

“Just before Charlie takes your picture, are you sure that you want your photo published?

Steven shrugged and held his hands out, “I can’t fucking hide, so I need to be obvious.”

“I understand and I think you are right, but a couple of last questions…These are the hardest for me to ask.”

“Go on.”

What now? And what in five years time?”

Steven took the last cigarette from his packet.

“Now? Clichés! I will do everything I can to help Linda get better. And I will involve myself in working with families who are victims, like us, I have to. I can’t be disgusted with what others do anymore and think that the families were involved. Let’s be truthful, that crosses all our minds. So I want to help with that.”

“…And the future?”

“…Well in five years time I’ll be the man who takes my son into my local pub to build some bridges. I will lock the door behind us and shout at the top of my voice, ‘That is Ian Clark, he rapes old ladies! And much later, if he turns up, I will console my wife”

Eddie leaned forward and switched off the recorder.

“…But you have just given us a potential confession.”

“I don’t give a fuck. Let me ask you something. Have you seen the images?”

“…Well…Yes…They were…”

“We all know what they were. They were a beginning.”

“It’s horrific. I can’t begin to imagine what you have been through.”

“You don’t have to…

But do what you think is right…

As will I.”

Hugh Cron

All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Plague Song by Tabatha Stirling

The Eastern sky lit up for hours this time.  Smoke billowing out of whatever building had been bottle-bombed and the stench of charred meat reaching for the wind.  Cajoling it to carry the warning to every survivor still making their way towards a pre-recorded radio message or following hopeful, dusty signs carved into tree trunks and telephone poles.

Continue reading “Plague Song by Tabatha Stirling”

All Stories, General Fiction

Hunger by Julie Howard

Her fingers dripped with sticky syrup. A warm breeze blew in from her kitchen windows and she closed her eyes for a moment. One perfect moment. Opening her eyes, she sucked one finger after another, savoring the tart sweetness, then dipped one finger in the pot for one more taste. The plum jam was perfect, as she knew it would be.

Continue reading “Hunger by Julie Howard”

All Stories, General Fiction

High & Low by Adam Kluger

The croissant had just the right crispness to it.

” Yes, they brought the towels and thank you for doing that, but I need soap for the sink.”

The views from the 22nd floor were stunning. From the East you could see the Silver Cup Studios sign and from the other side of the atrium you could see the Empire State Building already lit up red and green for the holidays,  vibrating amidst a vast New York Cityscape.

Continue reading “High & Low by Adam Kluger”

All Stories, General Fiction

A Cosmopolitan Epiphany Regarding a Certain Cecil by E.K.

I wanted to be cosmopolitan, so I redecorated my veranda using a sea green, vinyl bus seat, and I hung a Chinese lantern as my muse. I drank only the bitterest coffee sent directly from Jamaica through a friend of a friend’s ex.

I felt no different.

Continue reading “A Cosmopolitan Epiphany Regarding a Certain Cecil by E.K.”

All Stories, General Fiction

What Grows in the Garden by Kathryn Lord


The tiny clearing off to the side was cooler than the obscenely voluminous garden with its organized cacophony of colors – massed vermilions and oranges alongside indigos, violets, and fuchsias, eye-popping yellows and the occasional calm of white or cream.  Cedars bent over an exquisite pool, granite lined, with water more crystalline than glass.  Almost lost between moss-padded banks that nearly met, a miniscule stream fed the pool, dribbling over mammoth slate slabs stacked like pricey leather-bound books resting on deep emerald velvet.

Continue reading “What Grows in the Garden by Kathryn Lord”