Posts Tagged ‘Short fiction’

Herakles & Theseus look on

In a quiet lane, between Dowell’s and Haworth’s I reckoned, not far from home, my old friend Martin Foy stood before me with his head in his hands.
“Martin? Why are ye weepin’?”
He gave no reply. A little bird standing out on top of a naked bush caught my eye. A little orange, black and white stonechat. It gave a little whistle followed by three tapping noises and flew off in a little burr of blurring wings. It wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with our affairs, offered no hint that it even noticed our presence. Why was Martin ignoring me?
“Look at me, will ye. I’ve not seen ye this past… and you standin’ aloof there.”
He dropped his hands to his sides and looked at me with tears dripping from his eyes. I had never seen him like this before.
“Ah, Harley! Yer like me own brother, ye know that. And yer mine still, for all yer misery.”
“What? What misery? What are ye talkin’ about? Why are ye crying, Martin?”
I tried to stretch out my arm to grip his shoulder but found that my hands were tied with a cord through an iron ring in the wall near where I stood. What was this then? (more…)


For more than a month that horizontal plane, the cold, hard iron blade of the sea, has scythed around this lonely spite-filled ship, the Meeuwtje, the Seagull. Our only constant: that unwavering edge. If only we would come to it and tumble off into the void.
I am consumed with the vilest thoughts; acidic loathing, a derision that stoops my shoulders. This sinful, wind-blown bastard-mongrel pack with whom I share this stinking pile of creaking timber, rope and sailcloth!
There is little conversation. Whispers and mutterings as the men go about their labour. Occasional commands bellowed by the Captain; more an attempt at maintaining a semblance of normality than through necessity. I am spared his half-hearted wrath. As a paying passenger, a guest of the V.O.C., I was never expected to assist in the physical aspects of sailing, only to stay out of the way. He also knows I think he should be thrown overboard with the rest, with stones tied to his feet. (more…)

Red & orange radiance

A red and orange radiance danced about with silhouettes and shadow, trembling and blinking against walls and lighting the frost-bleached skeletons of the naked trees towering over the nearby buildings. Filled with such a rapturous joy and surrounded by the sounds of uproar and emergency, I was down on my hands and knees and had begun to cry. Tears and snot were soon raining down through the clouds of steam I huffed out, wheezing and weeping with silent sobs and laughter at the cold mossy stones and frozen mud under my blackened mitts. (more…)

This story first appeared on Literally Stories.

Bush paddock

Toothpick balanced on his lip, just so. Hair slicked down with practiced precision. But despite the evil eye and air of menace he fancied he gave off, Rachel Duccini couldn’t help but smile. Gerard Marron, for all his sneering attempts at brooding ominousness, reminded her a hell of a lot of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. The way he squinted, the pant legs too short to cover his ankles, and the way he had his hands in his pockets, thumbs out pointing at each other across his groin. (more…)

The Great Unknown - cover

The Great Unknown is a collection of 19 short stories by Australian writers. According to Angela Meyer, the editor, “it was while watching the original series of The Twilight Zone that the book… was born.” “The strange, the absurd, the macabre, the speculative and the fantastical” nature of these stories, saw them chosen and compiled as examples of the kind of influence American television programmes like The Twilight Zone has had on contemporary Australian writers. (more…)


Stories is a collection of twenty-seven short fiction pieces, penned by separate contemporary mainstream writers. These are works of fantasy, but not fantasy in the traditional mainstream sense. Neither elf nor dwarf nor wizard makes an appearance. There are no dragons, no castles, and no kings in this book. There are a couple of vampires, some gods, a ghost, and an alien or two, that is true. But this is fantasy fiction that, for the most part, defies the traditional, stereotypical norm, each piece selected by Gaimann and Sarrantonio based on the fact they were difficult to nail to a particular genre; imaginative fiction, encompassing a broad range of subjects, intended to leave the reader asking “What happens next?”
And in this sense the book is a success. Stories gets you hooked and leaves you hanging for the next page’s fix. (more…)


Vacant, unblinking stare. Brown eyes, lit by a cold white sun. The light is more grey than white through the black slats of the blind. Brown eyes gaze down the length of a soft forest of shadows cast by the raised thread-trees of a faded, laurel-green terrycloth zig-zag-patterned bed-cover. A bed-cover-plain. In the distance, over the bed-cover-horizon, an ill-proportioned composition of cool-grey carpet, beige wall and window form a bed-sky. And in that sky a single speck of dust catches the grey sunlight as it floats toward the floor. It could be a flake of skin. Her skin. Part of her being. Or it could be insect excreta, or cigarette ash, sentient life en route to the bed-planet perhaps. Whatever its origin, it is agonisingly slow in its angled trajectory, its movement determined by some immeasurably small draft or other. Brown eyes stare at that speck of dust until their vision blurs and the smudge of beige carpet, louvered by the cold, slatted sunshine, and the wall and window become one great grey mess.

Alone in the land of others
An outside visitor I am to them,
Whenever a festival arrives
I miss you all the more.
From afar I know you brother
Climbing up the mountains,
The zhuyu plant is worn by all
Except for the one absent.

On the Double Ninth Festival: Thinking of My Brothers in Shandong

By Wang Wei
(Translated by Zong-qui Cai)

I sensed some kind of trouble, but nothing I could clearly define; a feeling akin to the time of menses, but as much in the head as in the hollow of my gut. A kind of tearing — a pressure in my ears of rising blood and whispered screams. Deep basal thuds I feel in my chest, coming through space as though something were being bludgeoned from my soul. I could not fathom it, but knew it to be central to my being. I thought of my twin brother. (more…)

Bladder & Trident

I shall never forget that feeling. His slimy, rigid skin moving under the grip of my shivering hands. Royalist or revolutionary it was impossible to tell, but I could feel his waterlogged flesh move, far too much of it, over his mortified bones and tendons. His body was coming apart and the tissue of his hands and forearms felt like it could come away in a solid sheet at any moment. I thank the Almighty it did not and will curse the Devil forevermore for contriving to place me into such a heinous undertaking. (more…)

Grey beach detail

Were my memory a book, the first page of the chapter that was the night I first met Georges Servan Aballaird would begin, “Here begins a new life.”
I felt no panic or fear. I embraced him tenderly, cradled his brow as he stared into the vast darkness below, gently took his hand, and as we floated away from that hellfire and toward the shore I heard a voice softly singing, “They do not know you anymore.”
The sea had become a shining blanket of reflected stars and Georges and I were flying, falling through them, arms outstretched, into eternal darkness, into fire and ice. (more…)