Category Archives: Short Stories

Lockdown Fiction: Stone and Herring, INc.

This was written for the prompt at Clan Destine Press.

Bill Stone is built like an undernourished ferret. His associate, Gaz Herring (known as Red to his mates and the police) is built like an over-nourished four year old, all round, short softness and guileless eyes.

Do not, under any circumstances, let that fool you.

Red and Bill are a lot brighter than they look: bright enough to encourage people to think them stupid. Bright enough to see a gap in the market and to develop a skill set to fill it. (Red learned about this sort of thing when he did his economics degree; Bill learned it from his Uncle Stew, a small time drug dealer who is doing ten years for drug trafficking, consecutive with 10 for manslaughter: he didn’t know the gun was loaded.)

Together, these men fix problems of the human type. When someone is in the way, they remove the blockage. They don’t even care if the pay is meagre. You see, Stone and Herring have a business model inspired by rock and roll. Dirty tricks aren’t so much done dirt cheap as for a laugh.

And they have an awful sense of humour.

Lockdown Fiction: Queen of Cats

This is a tiny something I wrote in response to the latest Improbable Press prompt word list: foolish human, pixelate, melting, on the carpet

If you want to read the other stores prompted by these words, or take part in the prompts yourself, visit Improbable Press’s blog.

Queen of Cats

This foolish human heart of mine has melted. Look at you, Miss Fuzzy Drawers, Kitty LaRue, the Feline Queen of All She Surveys, squirming on the carpet with your paws in the air and a coquettish tilt to your whiskers. What price dignity now, puss?

I’ll take a picture for posterity – My Cat Empress, in playful mood.

I know it’s a trap. You know that I know it’s a trap.

I’m going in anyway, to rub your white belly, hairs as soft as silk (claws like needles, teeth like pins). No blood is drawn – you’re a merciful tyrant.

And I’ll post that photo, the Monarch Reclining at Home, but I’ll pixelate your face to protect your identity and maintain your mystery.

Lockdown Fiction: Ink Black

During this time of social isolation, I’m going to try writing a few extra stories to share. This one is actually a response to a writing prompt posted on Improbable Press using the words black water, buzz buzz, Martian and boardwalk, and it’s on that page with some other great responses.

Future lockdown stories will be posted first on my Patreon and then be made public a few days later – but I’m sharing this first one here too!

Ink Black

Sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, my feet dangle over black water: ink and crow feather black; shadow black; mourning black.

The surface of this black lake, flat as a mirror, reflects no stars. When I peer hard I can discern the distant line of the bio dome reflected in the mirror. Beyond the dome, the Earth circles between me and the Sun. I am not certain, this Martian equinox, where in its path it is, but knowing it waltzes out there, spinning and yet blue, gives comfort to my homesick heart.

(One day, perhaps soon, my Earth will be grey. She spins and dies so far away from me.)

At my back, on the red soil shore, stands the Mars Terraform Project’s water extraction plant. Squeezing the moisture from waste matter and the sweat from our clothes. The precious fluids of the living things that died. The little white mice from the lab. And not only mice. Channelling it into the lake. 

And from the ink black, sorrow black lake, comes the soft whispering buzz buzz of all those dehydrated souls. Not haunting; promising.

One day – not soon but one day – you and we and all will quench the thirst of alien soil and make it fertile. We will grow the new world and nourish our successors. 

My darling Li Xiu Ling’s whisper buzzes to my ear, reminding me that, to her, black is the colour of prosperity, of health.

One day (not soon but one day) I will be not on but of the lake. I will give everything to the prosperity and health of the future. One day, humankind will survive, because of us. Because of me.

In our lake, black as ink, as elegance, as infinity, Li Xiu Ling and I are the grandmothers, the goddesses, of this brave new world.

Award Nomination for Scar Tissue and Other Stories

Not long after I posted that Scar Tissue and Other Stories is currently free to download at Clan Destine Press, I received some lovely news:

Scar Tissue and Other Stories has been shortlisted in the “Best Collection” category for the Aurealis Awards!

I’m delighted that it’s in such wonderful company and I urge you all to check out the nominees and support Australian authors and publishers in these difficult times by picking up a book or two!