Monday 29 September 2014



Gethin Morgan

Earl Grey

The crowd was cheering as he was led up on stage.

‘Go, Mr Crumb,’ one employee shouted.

He smiled, grimaced, and plodded his way centre-stage.

‘Now,’ said the magician, ‘I’m going to make everything you’ve worked for … disappear.’

The crowd tittered, too loudly. Individually, they were all afraid of him. Here, that fear was gone.

‘Time to retire, Dad,’ Brent would say. ‘You’re not getting any younger,’ Mavis would say. He intended to outlive them all.

He clambered into the box, heard laughter.

Drum-roll, then silence.

He climbed out into an empty auditorium, wondering where everyone had gone.

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Tuesday 9 September 2014

Apart at the Seams

Apart at the Seams

M J Francis

A shot of Moonshine

Maria, my poppet,
            I knew about your papa’s death. Every life falls apart someday. Ain’t nothing gonna bring him back from that. Keep this doll I made of him to remind you.
My papa was a doll maker. Maybe I told you this. I learned my craft from him. When he was a child, boys found them in his school bag and teased him. My papa told me them children was always playing tricks. Dunking his head in toilets, stuffing firecrackers down papa’s shirt. You know what them boys called my papa? Sissy. They come talking that trash for them dolls he make. One time my papa came back from showering and his clothes was gone from the locker room. Wasn’t nobody around so he walked naked till he found a teacher. Every child laughed at him. Like he was a joke. But my papa wasn’t no joke and there came a time when them boys couldn’t laugh no more.
Your papa didn’t like me none. I never told you what he did one time, but I tell you now. Remember that day he sent for me to play dominoes in City Park? You was happy he wanted to make a truce. But there wasn’t no truce, poppet. There wasn’t no game. There was three men waiting. Them beat me blue and red. Broke my bones. Wasn’t no car hit me. I lied. For that I’m sorry.
Did you know this about your papa? Do you see him different now?
You need to remember the good times, poppet. Before all these bad. Recall that day we met on Bourbon Street, them days when I played in the Hot Sauce Jazz Club band. You was dancing, wearing that blue dress and them white deck shoes. You sang and danced and saw me playing there, and I know you saw yourself reflected in my eyes, caged there like a bird and happy. And when that song was done I said come see me play at Mardi Gras. Remember that day. Our first kiss. Your lips burning red (ain’t no one never burned me like you). And remember your promise by the Mississippi, when we was listening to the Natchez steam calliope whistling like drunk Blues musicians. How you promised you gonna love me always. How we made vows. Till death us do part, you said. The spirit Papa Legba heard us and blessed us. Bound us.
So don’t you worry none, poppet. Loneliness won’t never claim you. Come back home and don’t you mourn your papa long.
I made us a doll. Two dolls joined as one. A man, a woman. Her hair brown like yours and his hair black like mine. Them dolls hands is stitched together, holding each other always.
Now imagine I get scissors and snip. The thread that binds them hands falls loose. What good is one without the other? Together they form a shape – the letter M – your and my initial, poppet. Ain’t no coincidence. We was meant to be. So imagine I separate them. Snip. The stitches cut. Them dolls let go their hands.
And if I keep on cutting – cutting the doll with the brown hair – cutting along the thread holding its sides, its arms, its legs, its head together. Imagine this.
Say you won’t never leave me. Till death us do part, poppet. Remember.


Mathias Lafayette

About the Author
Find out everything you need to know about M J Francis on his website

Thursday 4 September 2014



Laura Kayne

Sea Breeze Cocktail

The May bank holiday dawns bright and sunny. Marianne opens the kitchen window, feeling a slight breeze.
‘Isn't it a perfect day for the sea-side?’ she comments to Harold.
 Harold stifles a sigh. He's been here too many times before. The sea-side meant Brighton, an hour's drive away, for fish and chips and possibly a ride on the old wooden carousel on the pier. And always followed by spending time staring at the waves. Just the waves, going back and forth, back and forth. Marianne never asked to go to Brighton, just suggested, in such a way that it felt like a demand. He didn’t have any choice. He didn't much care for the sea, himself, but had to admit that he would rather go and survive staring at the waves, than see Marianne upset. However, given the choice he’d much rather stay at home. Especially on a bank holiday, when almost everyone would also be travelling to the coast. There were too many greedy seagulls at the coast, too many screaming kiddies and sand getting in your food and clothes. At least Brighton didn't have a sandy beach.
‘Can't we just relax in the garden? Brighton will be so crowded,’ Harold replies. He has to try, doesn’t he? But Marianne's face falls.
‘But it's bank holiday. We can sit in the garden any time. Can't we go to the sea, just for a little while?’ She says the same thing every time. It had only been a month since their last trip to Brighton.
‘We only went a few weeks ago, dear.’
‘It feels like much longer,’ Marianne murmurs, staring out of the window. Harold does sigh this time.
‘Okay’, he tells her, not wanting a repeat of the time six months ago, on a crisp, cold but bright October morning. He had been tired, and it had been cold, and he really, really hadn't wanted to go to the sea-side. It had taken two hours for Marianne to stop gazing sadly out of the window, tears slowly sliding down her face.

Thirty minutes later they are on their way to the coast. Marianne watches the road ahead, fingers tapping on her knee as if counting down the seconds until they reach their destination. Despite how much he doesn't want to be doing this, Harold can't help but smile at her. He still loves her, he thinks; he just doesn't understand her anymore.

Finally they reach the south coast. Brighton is packed; Harold isn't surprised. There's a light in Marianne's eyes now, and she grabs his hand as they exit the car park and head down the main street towards the sea-front. The smell of doughnuts wafts over to them as they reach the entrance to the pier, where Marianne pushes her way through the crowds of tourists queuing at the food stands. She has a plan, and Harold is helpless to do anything but follow her. Wincing at the bells and whistles of the amusement games and rides, Harold makes his excuses through the crowd and finds his wife standing near the end of the pier, feet balanced on the metal railings, smiling down at the waves gently rolling beneath them. She turns her head at his approach and beckons him over. It's at times like this that Harold can't bear to deny her these trips.
‘Listen to them, Harold. It's beautiful.’
‘To whom? The seagulls? The people on the rides?’
‘No, silly. The waves, the fish, the sea itself. Can't you hear it?’
But of course Harold can't, and he tries to tell Marianne this. She just laughs, shaking her head at him. She lets go of her loose hold at the railings and swings her arms up and out in front of her.
‘I wish you could hear them. They're singing, Harold.’
‘I don't think the waves can actually sing…’ Harold remarks, but he knows she's not listening. He peers over the railings, wondering exactly what his wife is looking at down there. It's a calm day, so the waves are gentle, the tide is out and there are small foam horses playing around the substructure. The water is a greeny-blue, fairly clear, but Harold can't see any fish even if he squints.

They stand there for what seems like hours to Harold. He glances at his watch. It's been fifteen minutes.
‘So, what would you like to do?’
‘What? Oh, you go ahead, Harold. I'm fine here.’
‘Are you even listening?’ But Harold knows he's lost her. It's the same every time, although, he has to admit, the singing waves and fish are new.
‘Well, I'm going to get a drink. You just… stay here,’ he says, wandering off, knowing Marianne isn't listening.

The inside of the pub is actually fairly empty, everyone choosing to take up every little space outside, so ordering a drink is quick and easy. Harold savours his half-pint of beer. All too soon, though, his glass is empty and he can't stay away any longer.
He wanders back to the railings, a smile tagging reluctantly at his mouth as he pictures Marianne still chattering away with her fishy friends. But she’s no longer there. At first he thinks he must have the wrong spot, and rushes up and down the edges of the pier looking for her. There wasn’t enough time for her to go too far, and she wouldn’t just leave him there, surely. But he ends up back where he started, overlooking the under-structure of the pier, knowing deep down that it is the right place.
His shouts are caught in the breeze and the noise of clatter and squeals from the amusements. He's shouting in every direction, but already knows that she's gone from the pier. He just doesn't know where. He leans against the railings for strength, feeling lost. And that's when he sees it. He doesn't know if he's imagining it but it looks like a large fish tail, the tip just flicking out of the sea. He stares and the tail dips down beneath the surface. And then Marianne's face appears. He tries to call out, telling her to hold on, and starts looking around for someone to help. Aren't there lifeguards here somewhere? But all he can see are crowds of laughing, happy tourists. He pulls his shoes off, ready to leap in himself.
And then the tail flicks out of the water again, and suddenly he sees that Marianne's smiling, not struggling. It's her tail, finally free from land-locked confinement. He can see it now. He stops, and just stares at her, somehow not the least bit surprised, and manages to wave a final goodbye to his wife, the mermaid.

About the Author
Laura Kayne is a poet, short story writer, and book reviewer based in Brighton. She has had a number of poems, articles and reviews published both on-line and in print, including in Aesthetica magazine, The New Writer magazine, Pighog Press's Ice anthology, The Pygmy Giant, Sentinal Literary Quarterly,, Message In A Bottle, and The Recusant. She blogs at  

Monday 1 September 2014

100 Worder Hammer Horror

100 Worder
Angela Haffenden
Hammer Horror
Blood orange juice

The man holds the hammer tightly and flexes his muscles. He is strong and menacing, powerful and angry.  A sharp hair cut, deep brown eyes, eyes that hide violent urges. He stands in the nursery, staring in the mirror, he senses the mirror is mocking him and his anger escalates. In the reflection, he sees bears balloons, a cot, soft woollen blankets. It is quiet, peaceful, a haven.  Soon it will become a place of chaos, bedlam, a murder scene. He can never go back.

No one can help him now.

That flat packed furniture is going to get it.

About the Author

Angela Haffenden is a mother of four children. She is also responsible for a husband, a dog and an ageing father. She writes mainly to stay sane. She lives by the sea and writes in a cabin in the garden.