All Stories, General Fiction

Burned Toast by Gil Hoy

By the time Sally died, it was too late for Jack to become a better husband and too late to make amends. Car crashes come suddenly, without any warning, and can be as unforgiving as the wife of a cheating husband who feels no remorse. Jack was alone, five days after the accident, sitting in his kitchen eating breakfast and checking for the fourth time to make sure he’d turned the stove off.  He had overcooked scrambled eggs and the toast he’d made looked more like burned charcoal than anything fit for human consumption, but he’d eaten most of it anyway, spitting out the darkest of the black, crumbling pieces into the sink (after chewing them until the taste was unbearable). Those buttery, black bits were now stuck to the greasy aluminum pots and pans that lined Jack’s sink and would be onerous to get off.  

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

Piece of My Heart by Mitchell Toews

On a still fall day, I walk through the woods near the river. The sun is out and this makes the birch bark shine in white vertical swipes on a background of dun and green. The river is every shade of blue, capped with white horses beneath a sky of mare’s tails.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Camel by Jay Tanji

The cerulean waters of the Mediterranean splashed against the rocks below my table at the bar. I’d secured a seat on the cliff’s edge under the bamboo canopy of Ca’s Patró March, a seaside bar overlooking the popular inlet of Cala Deia. It was still early in the spring and the cove wasn’t yet filled with the typical sunbathers, swimmers, and cliff jumpers of the summer months. The bar was relatively empty with the exception of a German couple discussing the insurance package on their villa over two cañas grandes and a table of three profane teenagers sipping on Coca-Cola. I skimmed over the copy of the Majorca Bulletin strewn out in front of me, reading the garbage my fellow journalists had written for the week.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Bobby’s Shadow by Desmond Kelly

Watching the planes take off and land. It’s possible to observe them through a gap between trees. Little glimpses, a flash of light, a roar of the engine. Gone again, come again. I’ve watched so many, it puts me to sleep. It takes a while to realise those sausage tubes contain real people. Pilots and stewardesses in their perfectly tailored suits. When I turn away, the sound of traffic returns, the commotion on the street. Windows don’t close, except in monsoon season. Even then… Snakes slip between unguarded spaces. The monkeys set up a racket. The creatures lurking in the forest make their presence known. There are no trophy hunters; no men emulating Hemingway. The fish have buried themselves in the deepest deep, the wild game have found a habitat across the border more in keeping with their lifestyle. The forest will flourish until the loggers return. And then there will be mayhem.

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Editor Picks, General Fiction, Latest News, Short Fiction

Week 412: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda; The Week That Remains; Unexpected Genius From Unlikely Sources

The Grammar Check is in the Mail

There is a vast, unplumbed hole in my learning when it comes to vocabulary. For instance, I went many years believing “unplumbed” meant clogged, like a tavern toilet, not unfathomed, nor lacking indoor plumbing (though I was in the same outhouse with the second definition).

I also went a very very long time thinking that “desultory” was a synonym for dismal; and until recently I believed that “penultimate” placed extra emphasis on ultimate; “atypical” did the same for typical–and, worst of all–I had “hirsute” as a fancy word used to elevate a person’s status instead of an adjective that describes someone who likely grows hair on the bottom of his/her feet.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Smoothing Stream by Michael Bloor

After the cremation, I felt I had to get away. I found a Perthshire country house hotel on the internet, situated in one of those mysterious winding glens that end abruptly in a wall of rock. The hotel advertised itself as ‘a mecca for hill-walkers,’ but that clearly only applied outside the shooting season, as was evidenced by the stags’ heads in the hallway, bar and library. More like an abattoir than a country house hotel, it seemed on arrival. Nevertheless, the staff were friendly and the weather was surprisingly dry for April, so I decided to stay on for a second week: I didn’t relish returning home to an empty house – her clothes in the wardrobe, her flowers in their pots on the kitchen window. And it wasn’t really until that second week that I got to know Willie Anderson.

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All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction, Historical, Horror, Humour, Short Fiction

Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)

For my sister Tracy – Happy birthday and I know that your mind will be elsewhere. Hope this cheers you up a wee tad.

Continue reading “Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)”
All Stories, General Fiction

Varda May Atkins by Frederick K Foote

Samson LeBlanc, the Black son of a field worker father and a maid mother, was drunk on the arrogance of perceived acceptance and blinded by the blazing promise of equality.

He raised his cup with the elite rowing crews at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale and bonded with the offspring of billionaires, presidents, statesmen, and celebrities.

His hope for the future was boundless, and his ambition was an endlessly accelerating rocket.

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All Stories, General Fiction

A Give and Take of Crows by David Henson

After what they’d been through — what they were still going through —Oliver had decided to take a week off to spend with Ben before school started again. “What’ll it be for breakfast, Son — pancakes or ice cream?”

“Can’t we have both?” the 10-year-old boy says.

“Pancakes a-la-mode it is, Buddy.”

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Short Fiction

Week 411 – Heavenly Flying Rats, The Gartferry Revelation And No Contraception Isn’t Too Late.

Sometimes when I start these posts I’ll have a look at the number, birthdays, events in history, that sort of thing, to see if it inspires.

I started reading about the year 411 AD and, to be honest, it was very fucking boring. I then found something about the Missing 411 but couldn’t make head nor tail of it as there were more than a thousand, so fuck knows why it was called that. I finally found this doozy – Seemingly if you keep seeing the number 411, it means that you are being taken care of by a divine being from higher realms. Now what that means, I haven’t got a Scooby.

I remember a person who worked with me and was ‘spiritual’ in a very dubious way. They came to me one day and stated, ‘Look, I’m being looked after by an angel’. They had found a white feather where they were sitting. Maybe this could have been an angel??? Who am I to pooh-pooh (I hate that phrase and I haven’t a clue why I used it!) them for believing in this divine protection. Well, I have my reasons. The doors and windows were open and there was a young seagull stuck in the alleyway where our work was. He walked around, screeching and picking at his feathers. I pointed out the seagull…Without mentioning that he may have been the cause (Not sure why I thought he was a he??) and do you know what the daft bastard said…’The young seagull will be fine because my angel is here.’

…I reckon I could have got away with murder that day as a mercy killing!

I began to think on what I believe in – Angels not so much. However…

…Before I relate this event, I do want you to know something. We are a story site and a lot that I write is exaggerated and twisted but not what I am about to tell you. I will even swear on my first love – A litre of Bacardi (Gwen knows and has accepted this for years!) that this is true.

Gwen’s mum died in 1987 a month after Gwen had turned 18. As a lot of folks do, she was looking for answers and went to a few mediums, soothsayers, spiritualists, whatever you want to call them. She did this for a few years. We got married in 1990 and she was still doing this. In 1991 we had the worst year ever. (HAH! Which has now been bombed out by 2022) Our heating blew up. Our window fell out. Our 100 yard boundary wall fell down. And I wrote off the car. Every fucking thing cost us more money than we had.

Anyhow, at this time she went to a spiritualist and a few bits and pieces were said, some right, some wrong and some indifferent.

But when I saw in her eyes that there was something, (Oh – I was in the bar in the hotel where the guy had set up, waiting for her) I asked her.

Seemingly the fellow had said that he didn’t understand why he was looking out from a house and seeing nothing but fields. (Our wall had been pulled down and that was what we were looking at.) Gwen is an old hand at this and she gives nothing away. She even sits on her hands so no-one can see her rings or what type of rings so she just let him speak. He then stated from that house he could see her husband driving and that he was a very safe driver. (Which I am due to my friends three year old kid being killed on a road by a reckless wank!) He then stated that I was in a bad crash…I hadn’t really considered it bad but my tyre blew out, I think the car spun and I ended up in a cow’s field which had an eight foot drop from road to field. The car stayed up ended. But the thing that did make me shiver a wee bit was the roof and the sills either side of the wind-screen. There were barbed wire indents about half an inch deep all around. I honestly don’t know why the car didn’t topple or the barbed wire cut through.

Anyhow my point is, the guy stated that I was being looked after that night because I deserved it. He said that there had been a kill on that road before and that was the guy who was looking out for me.

I must admit, it did put, not so much a shiver through me but a weird feeling. When Gwen told me all this, I got us a drink and raised my glass.

The one thing I know though – I wasn’t saved by a fucking seagull!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, onto this week’s stories.

We have four new writers and one fellow who is now up to story number four.

We welcome all our new writers and another wee nod to Jim Bates, whose tenacity and courtesy we have admired from day one. We are delighted to see him on the site.

As always our initial comments follow.

First up on Monday was Phoebe Mullen whose first story for us was called ‘Beach Walk.’

‘This thing is hell weird!’

‘Active and strange.’

‘Brilliant tension and the weird was good.’

Our next new writer was Spencer Levy with the very descriptively titled, ‘Arm Milk.

‘Unpleasant, gritty but sincere.’

‘Grim and sad.’

‘A very real piece of writing.’

The newbies keep on coming!

R.W. Maxwell’s ‘Skeleton Crew‘ broke the back of the week.

‘Excellent flow and pace.’

‘The spookiness and underlying threat all the way through is well done.’

‘This has the right balance between weird and sense making.’

Peter O’Connor has found a good run lately and I think Revamp is story number four for him.

‘It’s a sort of sarcastic shot at those home improvement shows.’

‘Really funny.’

‘So readable!’

And we finished off with the gentleman that is Jim Bates!

Emil’s Magic‘ completed the week.

‘I like that he can be caught out if not careful.’

‘Overall great tone and pace.’

‘Perfect timing regarding the ending.’

Well, that is the angelic posting 411 completed.

Please keep the comments coming. And if you did before and haven’t for a while and fancy coming back, we’ll be delighted to see you!

Just to finish, well before the obscure / shit / brilliant / all of those, music section:

I don’t watch much TV and over the holidays, I watch even less. But ‘Two Doors Down’ is brilliant and I sought it out. But that wasn’t what I want to share (Although seek it out. Maybe a wee tad too much Scottish ideals but it is stunning!)

I’d like to share a line that I heard throughout the festivities. There is also a wee lesson here as per the genius that is Billy Connolly – Never steal a line, always mention who said it and you will still get a laugh. He quoted the late great Chic Murray so many times (That man is as literal as you get) and always told you when he was doing so.

I give you this belter from Brendon O’ Carroll and his amazing creation ‘Mrs Brown’s Boy’s’

Mrs Brown:

– We thought about not having children.

– (Winnie, her friend) What changed your mind?

– No-one would take them!!!!!

Hugh

Ahh fuck it – It’s New Year and I have a few sentimental memories about this regarding my dad and my wee Great Aunt Georgie!

Image by günter from Pixabay