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.

The Moon and the Arrow

(400 words) Old man Tatum had been dreaming of his grandchildren, Sonny and Sarah. They’d all been treading dry pine needles in a huge forest, on their way somewhere. He couldn’t remember where. Then he was aware of pressure on his legs. In an eye blink, he realised someone was sitting on the bed. A young woman, skin as pale as the full moon burning through the curtained window. He thought his heart would pound right out of his chest, then she smiled, and suddenly he was calm.

A Triangle Across the Sky

(600 words) Martha Longthorn sat at the reception desk of the Beconsby Chronicle. She opened a desk drawer and took out a black crystal. She lifted her skirt and held the crystal between her legs. Outside, a few passersby went past on their anonymous business. Then she noticed a man on the opposite side of the street, looking across at the Chronicle office. He wore a beanie hat and a long dark-green jacket. A carrier bag dangled from one hand, whilst the other clasped a walking stick. He started to cross the road towards her. She hurriedly replaced the crystal in the drawer.

The Name is Grey

(550 words) “Cloak and dagger man?” asked Clunch. “My name is Grey, Parma Grey,” I replied, “like a mouse’s back, and I have a cloak, incarnadine in hue, but, alas, no dagger.” He gave that queer, lopsided grin of his. “Ah, Mr. Grey, immortalised throughout our fair islands. Do come in.” I followed Clunch into a blue pavilion. The Ministry of Covert Warfare’s idea of keeping a low profile. “Hardly immortalized, I’m supposed to be a secret agent!” Clunch gave a throat-clearing splutter as he pressed a lift button. “Ah, but immortalized amongst we secret people, the cognoscenti of the garotte and poisoned umbrella!” I tried to suppress a smug smile as the lift proceeded downwards.

Christmas Past

(400 words) There’s snow on the steeple, and frost on the ground, Sweets for a penny and crackers for a pound. And a long woollen stocking at the foot of the sheets, Waiting for Santa to fill it with treats. Downstairs, there’s milk and mince pies on the table, For Santa to eat, whenever he’s able. Then sleepy eyes close, an end to resolve, The conundrum of Santa, the mystery to solve.

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.

Above the Volcano

(600 words) Alma stared out at an alien landscape, knobs of black volcanic rock formed into bizarre shapes and covered with moss. Somehow, in places even grass. She heard the roaring engine of her transport in the distance and breathed a sigh of relief, soon spotting the Land Rover driving along the narrow coastal road towards her. Then there was Gunnar, smiling. “Hop in,” he said in perfect English. As the vehicle powered its way to the unimaginable rendezvous, she thought of Hy and his love for Iceland. Perhaps that was why she was here again, she admitted to herself. Hy and his obsession with geology, his disdain for her and Charles in their ‘boring, suburban world,’ the world that had funded his education of course, but no matter, in his view. Then there’d been Vanessa and the crazy accident.

The Five-Year Welcome

(650 words) Orlando Flinton pulled a face. “We must be crazy!” The other Earthman, Ricky Kiyosaki, who had been gazing out of the viewplate at the green and gold alien vista, glanced around at Flinton’s remark. “Huh?” By this time, the spaceship had finished jiggling and now stood firmly on Deiphobus soil, and Flinton was beginning to doubt his sanity. “Look,” he said, “we thought we were special, you know, a big deal being selected for this mission, ten years training for it, and now we’re here, guess what? I don’t feel anything. I could be at home, back on Earth, watching the big game and drinking Coors with Jenny. Instead of risking my life on this crummy planet!”

The Peppermint Angel

(650 words) Helena lifted the angel to her cheek and felt the heavy varnish stick to her skin. She closed her eyes, picturing the peppermint green figure, a crude angel-shape with black stripes that reminded her of a sad humbug. But it brought back memories of the night, THAT night. “Has anyone NOT seen a demonstration of mediumship before?” She’d felt embarrassed, but seeing other hands going up, she’d stuck her arm up in the air, feeling her mother’s bangle sliding on her wrist. Would she be here? Was it even possible? “There’s nothing to worry about. If anything horrible comes along, I’ll be first out the door!” Laughter.

Birthday Boy

(600 words) Long John Silver stepped forward on his crutch. “Ah, Jim lad, why so sad?” “Stop calling me Jim, my name’s Billy.” “Sorry, Jim lad, but it be your birthday tomorro’. Twelve years old thee’ll be, to the day!” Billy sat at his desk, looking at his homework on the screen. “Look, d’you think this’ll have enough thrust?” “Sure to, Jim, it’s a grand rocket motor!” “But the fuel lines, I don’t know if they’re wide enough.” “What do the equations say?” asked Harry Potter. “Oh, they seem OK, but fluid tensors aren’t my strong point, you know that.” Harry brushed the hair back from his forehead to reveal a lightning-shaped scar. “See this scar, Billy. Voldemort gave me this.” Billy put his hands over his eyes. “Shut up! You’ve told me that a thousand times.” “Look, Professor Snape killed Dumbledore. D’you think he’s in league with Voldemort?” “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” The door opened. It was dad. “Billy, what’s all the shouting about?”

Dust to Dust

(600 words) We proceeded into a corridor where the lighting was a garish strip-light, by contrast, but at least we could see the row upon row of dust-covered books that filled shelves from floor to ceiling. Little doubt what our brother had spent his money on over the years. They were nearly all hardbacks, some with streaks in the dust at their feet, where they had presumably been extracted in recent memory. I pulled one such out. A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism by Gareth Knight. It was in four parts, The Lesser Mysteries, The Greater Mysteries, The Supreme Mysteries, and, The Tarot, the latter coming as somewhat of a surprise. It looked complicated. And expensive.