Stories 

My short fiction has appeared in all kinds of publications including ezines, professional and small press magazines, genre publications, podcasts and competition anthologies. Having been asked several times where readers can find my short stories, I've put together a collection, titled Artists & Liars, which is available from Smashwords and Amazon. Here's a list of where others have appeared with links to those that should still be available (For the full bibliography click here.) Scroll down to read 'Hot Orange'.


Alien Dreams                                    Third Flatiron anthology Hyperpowers

Bare Earth                                         Focus on Fiction competition anthology, Alfie Dog Fiction

Between Lives                                  Winner - Tees Valley Writer, Alfie Dog Fiction

The Bitter Harvest                            Winner - The Jo Cowell Award, Alfie Dog Fiction

Blind Alleys                                     Yeovil Prize 2012-2013 anthology.

The Cup that Refreshes                  Scribble, The Pages, Alfie Dog Fiction

The Enchantress's Pets                 Third-Library of Avalon competition, Writing Tomorrow                                    Spring 2013

The Face at the Window                 Dark Tales, Written Word Online 2014

Follow That Car!                           Third - Shrewsbury Readers and Writers Competition, Alfie Dog Fiction

The Girl Who Wasn't There           Third - Swanage Festival, Write 05 BBC

Graffiti                                             Eva Wiggins competition, Pseudopod

Haze                                             Telescoping Time Earlyworks Press Science Fiction Challenge 2012 anthology                                                      Fantasy Scroll Magazine #8

Healthy Eating                               New Myths Issue 10, March 1, 2010; Beam Me Up podcast 21/1/13

Heavy Air                                       Otherwhere and Elsewhen anthology-Bridge House Publishing, January 2013

Horse Sense                                  Highly Commended - Hay-net & Lavender Equestrian Short Story Competition 2014

Job Satisfaction                             Third Deddington Writing competition, Plasma Frequency Magazine 3

The Journey of Life                        New Myths

The Night Hag                                Winner - Dark Tales

No Good Deed                               Dark Tales, Spinetinglers

Ossie's Circus                               Earlyworks Recognition anthology

Panteknikon 14                             Real Writers anthology, Artists and Liars

Patterns in the Sand                      First - storytellers.co.uk, Lyrica, Alfie Dog Fiction

The Pitch                                       From the Asylum, Emerald Tales, Beam Me Up podcast, Writing Short Fiction.

Salvage                                        Daily Science Fiction December 2012, Beam Me Up podcast episode 359

A Solitary Sentence                      Time for Bedlam anthology, Legendary Anthology

Travelling Hopefully                       Earlyworks Rogue Symphonies anthology

 

HOT ORANGE 


It was the same nightmare. Last night I dreamed I was a little girl again.

I roamed about the garden while Dad dug the vegetable patch. The sun cast crisp shadows, impossible to tread on, and turned me pink. Later, when Mum got me ready for bed, she would find a clear outline where my T-shirt and shorts had been.

The day went on forever. At first I watched Dad, examining the things he turned up along with the earth. Bits of old china, woodpigs, worms: each had to be inspected. I felt no distaste at picking up the worms, and only surprise when Dad warned me not to eat them. Why should anyone want to? I supposed it was my question about whether you could eat earth that prompted him. A blackbird was not so tender. The still wriggling severed portion worried me. What did it feel?

Tiring of Dad's strange harvest, I wandered off to inspect the flowers. Tulips grew and became complete worlds. I gazed into one, slid down the smooth red velvet to its secret black depths. A home for fairies and trapped insects, humming contentment, unaware yet that the blazing walls, afire with sunshine, allowed no escape. The petals' sheen invited touch. Hesitantly, not wanting to mar the fragile beauty. The merest pinch on an outward tip left a bruise.  It blackened, then dried and faded, wrinkled. A small death prophesying the larger one to follow. I was four and small, but not small enough to join the insects, pollen-laden and drunk on nectar. It was a disappointment, I wanted to feel the world within the flower. To pulse with the blood-red light, hide in soot-black stamens, vibrate with beating insect wings. Each bloom was a separate world to be explored, and I the great adventurer, leaping chasms, climbing mountains, catching butterflies whose ripple wings disintegrated between my fingers before I could find a jam jar.

The hot air was heavy on my back. Petals, hot orange, charcoal black. Inside, the blooms were cool, shaded, with sweet nectar to quench the thirst–enough to bathe in if you were small enough. There were other flowers with names that made sense: Granny's Bonnets, Foxgloves, Snapdragons. Who knew their secrets? This world that fat insects with hairy bodies and spindly legs could enter at will. Beauty invaded by ugliness. What was their magic?  Impatient for answers, I opened buds not yet ready, destroying that which I sought to know. A true scientist.

An angry shout from Dad. Shame. Then I woke up.

#

Late, I hurried down to the kitchen. Cereal would have to do for the children this morning. I avoided the window. We live in a terraced house, one of the solidly built mounds of bricks Victorian factory owners used to raise for their workers, with a yard outside for a few vegetables or flowers for the fanciful. The orange clouds of dawn floated around the chemical plant which stretches fingers of menace behind the streets. Each morning when I look it is closer. Soon it will have moved up to the back fence. It is not imagination, I know it swallows things.

Outside, where once there was a lavatory, there now stands a hut, a shanty for the homeless. The people there wear tattered clothes the colour of ashes. Their children are wizened, their limbs brittle. When the fits of coughing rack them, thin trails of spittle lace their chins unheeded. Even the weeds choke, the enclosed world each flower holds colourless, dry. Only the manufactured death from the factory gives colour. Cool greens and burning reds to pay for stunted lives. How can they float when they are so heavy?

#

Then I do wake up. Rachel is coughing, a dry hack which comes on with her hayfever. Time to face another day. I pause before calling them. Their plump faces are those of babies in sleep. Roused, they go about their morning business, chattering and unconcerned. The dread recedes. These are my flowers, my separate worlds which I will always wish to enter, which will always be magical and mysterious.

Off to school. Take care, teacher what you put into those heads. A cough from the receding Rachel, and the factory, bacteria-like, replicates itself on the playing fields. My father shouts, angry. For a moment the world turns hot orange.

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