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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

This is the third part in a trilogy. If you haven’t read them yet, then I recommend reading “If, Never” and “Jenkins Is The Problem” first…

“What’s this?” Eric asked, looking through the recent photos.

Lusha looked away from her canvas and back at the screen.

“Hmm?” she pondered. “Looks like the building over the road.”

“Not that,” Eric zoomed in, pointing at the screen. “Here.”

In the window, clearly visible now, were a man and a woman kissing.

“Oh yeah,” Lusha giggled. “Didn’t see that when I took it.”

“Knew that SLR was good,” Eric said. “Told you it was, didn’t I? Costs a bit but we’ve never had anyone return one yet.” Read more

Having written last week’s story “If, Never”, I started reading it through for the final proof, and wondered not only why Jenkins was murdered, but how. And so the idea of writing the story again, this time from the view of the murderer, started to take shape in my head.

It was actually easier to write this one than the original story, as I had the outline already written. I came up with most of the major plot points over the week, but during the actual writing on Friday and Saturday, I had to be careful to make sure that the dialogue matched exactly between the two, although the reactions to the same dialogue across the two stories are quite different, which was fun.

My big question was how the trick was achieved, how they deceived Carson enough to be able to use him as a fall guy for their crime. Read more

Jenkins Is The Problem (If, Never part 2)

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/10
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , | 3 Comments

This week’s story is a sort-of sequel to last week’s story – If, Never. You might want to read that first…

Francesca arrives at the office at half past seven. She is, if anything, slightly later than usual; as if she needed a traffic jam, today of all days. She opens the door to the office block using her card. Dolores, the cleaner, was still using the buffer on the faux marble floor of the lobby.

Come on Dolores, she thinks. Get on with it, please!.

“Morning,” she says, breezing past towards the lift. Dolores murmurs something unintelligible. She can feel the tension creeping up her, apprehension starting to bubble up into her consciousness.

What if she looks at my shopping bag, she thinks. What if she sees the bag, and wonders what’s in it?.

She presses the button to call the lift, trying not to fidget during the eternity before the doors open. She keeps hoping for her phone to beep, or for Dolores to say something, or really anything to happen to distract her, even just for a split second. Kevin wouldn’t text, of course. They have a “don’t text” policy, ever since that close call when his wife heard her text come in on his phone. He’d passed it off as work related, but still… Read more

Sorry I’m a little late with this one – things got in the way, as things tend to do…

I came up with the title first. I began writing, and came up with the idea of the main character being a fantasist straight away. I remembered “Billy Liar” about halfway through. I actually did do the book at school, during English lessons – we read the book, watched the film, and read the play. The three versions are mostly the same, only diverging at the end to show three different versions of the Liz character.

Mostly the writing of this one was easy. Once I started, the pieces started falling into place. I was worried that it would need a lot of editing and fixing, but coming back to it, I found that it was fairly solid. Whether I’ll still feel like that after this weekend I don’t know, because the next story is planned as a sequel, of sorts.

The post “Behind The Scenes: If, Never” first appeared on simoncollis.com and is Copyright © Simon Collis 2018. All rights reserved.

If, Never

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/03
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , , | 2 Comments

I caught the bus at quarter to seven, as I normally do.

It’s the usual grey route to work. Grey tower blocks, grey concrete walls, grey gardens, grey weather.

And then we get to the first stop, and on she gets. I think her name is Jennifer: that is, I hope it is. She’s tall, willowy, with wispy golden hair and a laugh that can break a man’s heart. She sits next to me on the bus, and we flirt a little. She giggles, demurely, face partly hidden by one hand as with some kind of old fashioned modesty she has to hide her face, like she’s a heroine in a Victorian novel instead of a mobile phone shop customer service agent in a mini dress.

“Ticket please?”

I shake my head and look at the empty seat beside me. I reach into my pocket, draw out the season ticket and hand it to the inspector. He waves it against a machine that beeps, and he hands me back the card.

I look around again on the bus. There’s a row of seats facing sideways just in front of me, and the first one has a blind man with his dog.

I say blind, but we both know that’s a cover, of course. There’s exquisitely crafted surveillance devices built into his glasses and his dog is highly trained to sniff out explosives. He’s undercover, of course, and we both know it. That’s why he’s there. I’d reveal myself, if I had to, but I only know this because… well, let’s just say I’m involved. A little. Well, maybe more than a little. Read more

The themes of the story, of loss, and death, and love, are universal ones. The genesis of the story really lies with our own cats and dogs, each one of them unique and special personalities. I still miss dogs I haven’t seen for years. I still miss people I haven’t seen or spoken to for years. I guess I’m saying cherish those you’ve got. Nobody can live forever. Read more

How The Moon Sings

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/24
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

“You’re late.”

“I’m sorry,” Helena says. “The Metro…”

Bien. Come in.”

Helena didn’t admit to standing outside the house, nerves jangling, pacing up and down, trying to summon the courage to press on the bell.

She looks around the house. It’s clean, well-kept, neutral colours, open spaces. This is the expensive side of Paris, far away from the cheap hotel she’s booked. The woman leads her into what looks like a living room – pictures of Jean in frames all around the room: on top of the grand piano, the walnut cabinet containing what looks like expensive antique crockery and glassware, hung on the wall. Helena can’t see them well enough to know, but they look like holiday snaps mixed with publicity photos and even newspaper articles. Read more

Grimgreen actually started around the 7th January. Alyssa Evetts – an author in her own right who also has a regular feature interviewing authors (which is always interesting in itself) – posted a quote:

The fact that the real world could have involved dragons, unicorns, magic, time travel and insane adventures but instead has things like taxes is why I read so much

Another classic quote from that great author, “Unknown”. (I must look up some of their other work sometime). Anyway, my reply was that in such a world, surely the fantasy fiction involves accountants. And during my recent spell away from the office, the story took shape in my head. Read more


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/17
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , , | 4 Comments

“Now,” said a voice behind Pluve, “I’m not saying double entry bookkeeping is just witing it down twice. I mean, y’know, it is, in a way, but…”

The gnome took his change and picked up the tray. “Excuse me,” he said, trying to elbow past the centaur, carefully holding the tray in both hands.

“Sorry, dude”, muttered the centaur , moving just enough to one side to allow Pluve past. The elf on the other side shuffled back a little, and murmered an apology when he backed into a troll.

“What I’m sayin’,” the centaur continued, “is that double entry bookkeeping right, it sounds like you just put everything in twice, but s’more complicated than that, right?”

“Uh huh?” responded the elf. Pluve cast a glance back as he put the tray down on the table and noticed that the elf looked even more drunk than the centaur, if such a thing was possible. Read more

Spoiler Alert: read Florence first, if you haven’t already…

This one was quite fun to write, although I suspect it might not be quite as much fun to read as I had writing it. I actually wrote the first draft straight after writing Doctor Fog, knowing that I was going to be away and wanting to try and make sure that I had a story for every week. Read more