Hot Off the Press!

Well, it’s been three years since To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories was published on Amazon, and following on from the success of that title, plus To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories and Bound in Morocco: A Short Story of Intrigue, (both published in 2017) it is my pleasure to announce the publication of not one, not two, but THREE new titles! This time, I have curated stories on the themes of humour and the supernatural from ‘the best of my blog,’ re-read and revised, plus unpublished stories. 40 stories on each theme have been collected into two volumes; Letters from Reuben and Other Stories: 40 Little Tales of Mirth, and The Window Crack’d and Other Stories: 40 Little Tales of Horror and the Supranatural.

Vigil in the Snow

(1300 words) Our breath misted in the air as our horse Blacklock made his way along the track leading to Billinghay Manor. We’d made good time, under three hours for the fifteen miles, but even with the thick rugs and blankets, the cold wintry weather was beginning to penetrate my bones. “Come on, Blacklock,” called Charles, tugging on the horse’s reins, “afore we catch our deaths of cold.” There was a thin crescent moon, low in the sky, and the stars were largely blotted out by ominous clouds, pregnant with snow. Blacklock’s clip-clop on the track into the village rang out into the hollow night like rifle shots. Apart from the occasional hoot of an owl, which made me jump, there was otherwise no sound in the suffocating darkness. Distant church bells sounded six times as Blacklock pulled us into Billinghay but early as it was that winter evening the place seemed deserted. Save for a handful of candles burning in windows of dark, friendless houses there was no sign of a soul.

Scene in a Tent

(600 words) The tent flap opens, and Trevor comes in. Everyone’s here now. Everyone, that is, except Alan the group leader. He’ll be sorting out logistics with the mule team. Eating with them too. I give Trevor a bright smile from beneath my red baseball cap, holding out my plastic plate to Muhammed as he serves from a huge bowl of lamb and vegetable stew.

What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes

(1150 words) Bed and board taken care of for the night, it was getting on towards six o’clock, so I thought I’d buy myself a beer and go out and sit in a deck chair by the swimming pool to take a little evening sun. I went to the bar and got the beer, carried … Continue reading What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes

Smitten

(800 words) I have collected in my time – to the chagrin of my dear beloved husband, Cyril – snow globes, porcelain cats, and Tommy guns, and perhaps I should explain what happened to these old collections before I proceed to my newest hobby. My Tommy gun collection may be regarded as having been discontinued since I collected only two, the second and final one as long ago as 2003. Not only are they hard to come by and very expensive, but they are also highly illegal.

Tales of Aphrodite

(900 words) “Are you serious? Do you really believe a machine can think?” I got no immediate reply; Maltravers was apparently intent upon the coals in the grate, touching them deftly here and there with the fire-poker till they signified a sense of his attention by a brighter glow. Finally, he settled back into his armchair. “I believe it possible, Hugh. Why not?” “Why not?” I exclaimed. “Well, because … because a machine is just nuts and bolts, or electric circuits, whatever. A machine doesn’t have a mind.” “Ah, but how would you know?” Maltravers took a cigarette from a silver case and tapped the butt on it several times. A singular habit he had developed.

The Magician

(1400 words) In a town in Morocco lived a man named Gilad Hebron. Having no other means of gaining a livelihood, he used to ride every day into the forest to cut wood, which he would then hawk around the streets for sale. One day, upon returning to the town, Gilad encountered a man on a white steed, accompanied by a number of other men, mounted upon fine horses and dressed in jackets of leather and chain mail. “Greetings!” called out the white-horsed man. “What sellest thou?” “Why, sir, I have firewood of the highest quality. ‘Tis true, a little green, but it will burn brightly, once the smoke has diminished.” “My name is Augustus de Casablanca, and my men are knights of the Court of Casablanca. We are headed homewards but it has just come to our attention that the bridge over the Gorge de Mort was damaged recently by a most tremendous storm.” Gilad bowed. “Well, I hope that your way will not be too much disadvantaged, and I wish you ‘bon voyage,’ Sir Augustus.” “Well, my good man, it could be that the gorge is somewhat impassable and some excellent firewood may help to summon assistance from the natives who dwell on its far side. I would therefore desire that you accompany us thus far!” Not really understanding how firewood would help cross a gorge but thinking that he might be rewarded handsomely for his co-operation, Gilad let the men transfer the wood to their horses.

Love Sweet Love

(1000 words) He took a knife and slit the tape that had been holding the cardboard box shut for the last twenty-five years. He poured out a glass of red wine, thick as blood and with an odour of marzipan. Taking out an envelope of photographs, he began to look through them, a quarter of a century collapsing like a house of cards. There she was, in various stages of undress, an inverted ‘V’ of dyed auburn hair framing a smiling brown face. As he looked through them, Rohani on the toilet, naked in the shower, laughing in a university class photo, he realised perhaps why he’d loved her so much. That smile, visible in nearly every photograph, exuded laughter and warmth and, yes, joy. Plain simple joie de vivre. Of course, she’d known how to use that slim brown body and those smiling red lips; she was the best lover he’d ever had. Better not go there. But now, perhaps for the first time, he realised it was more than that. It had been about her presence, just having her with him, having fun together, something that had been sorely missing from his life.

Martha Versus the Giant Earwigs

(1150 words) “Look, Mother, the clock is running backwards!” Tom Coggle pointed to the hands on the pilot room dial. Dr Martha Jane Coggle said, “The crash must have reversed it.” “How could it do that?” “I can’t tell you. I don’t know everything, son.” “Oh!” “Well, don’t look at me so disappointedly. I’m a pathologist, not an electronician.” Tom looked at his mother’s wrinkled face, her greasy white hair and tired eyes, “Time can’t run backwards, for Pete’s sake!” Martha reached up to caress her aged skin. “Oh, if only it could, Tom. I’d be young again!”