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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

If, Never

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/03
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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

How The Moon Sings

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/24
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“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

“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


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/10
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At the age of seventy-three, Florence felt she understood death. She didn’t really know very much about it, but she had heard the word. She had lost people. So she had some memory of it, some vague notion of yearning for souls lost.

There was no sunlight in this barn. No clear road. She felt age take her over. The air seeped from her tyres. Rust started to nibble the corner of her bodywork. Mice found ways in and shredded the stuffing of her red leather seats, once so shiny and proud, now home to a family of mice.

So this, she thought, was death. Not a sudden bang for her, just a slow fading. Read more

Doctor Fog

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/27
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WARNING: the following story contains subjects that some readers may find distressing.

“Do you remember, Kenneth?” they would ask. Therapists, police. “Do you remember what happened that night?”

I remember.

I was six. Six years old. How, at six years old, do you say that you remember so clearly – as clearly as if I could see it play in front of my eyes now – but that they wouldn’t believe me?

I had seen the monster before that night. He used to stand in my wardrobe, waiting. I assumed that it was he, and not her, in the way that you make these assumptions at the age of six, on little more than guesswork. I assumed also that the wide smile he gave me, revealing long, sharp teeth, was not a pleasant one.

I knew little of monsters then, and what monsters are. I know better now, of course. Read more


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/20
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The noise of the club made it difficult to hear. Johnny tapped Rex on the shoulder, and shouted in his ear. “You got everything?”

Rex took off his glasses, checked the plastic film on the back of the lenses, pointed to them, then replaced them on his face, and nodded.

“You seem nervous,” Rex shouted back in Johnny’s ear.

“Yeah,” he replied, leaning over. “Just a bit.”

“Come on,” Rex said, beckoning. “Now’s not the time.”

The walked the usual route to the back of the club, and stood waiting at the entrance of the VIP bar. The security guard was busy dealing with a drunken businessman in a smart suit. They stood there, waiting.

“Eight months planning,” Rex whispered to Johnny. “We can’t back out now.”

“Yeah but…” Johnny’s mouth went dry. “Now it’s, y’know, tonight’s the night. And de Luca’s here.”

“So what?” Rex replied. “If he’s here it’s our best chance, we agreed that.”

“But you know… what happened to Frankie.”

“Yes, he’s had men killed for less,” Rex said. “That’s about the third or fourth time you’ve said that tonight.” Read more


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/13
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Bernice sprinted out of the glass doors and pounded across the parking lot. She allowed herself the luxury of a glance at the glass-walled walkway between the two halves of the shopping mall, nodded, and started off again, running towards the crossing.

Officer Bostaph came out a few seconds later, following her trail carefully. As he ran, he watched her, concentrating on following where she went so as not to lose sight of her behind the bushes as she headed away from the mall.

What on earth is she doing going this way? he thought. What does she think she can gain from this?

And it occurred to him that he already had his answer in the shoes that she was wearing. Read more

Another Stack

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/06
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So here’s the first in my year of short stories. It’s not as polished as I’d like, but I’ve set myself Saturday as a deadline, and so I had to do it. Here goes. Be gentle with me 🙂


I’m going to call him Doctor X. Not for any legal reasons, or because I’m trying to shield someone’s identity here – his real name is Julius Green, and you can look that up if you like, if you can work out how. No, the reason that I am calling him Doctor X is that it’s the name by which you’d be most likely to know him, if you’d heard of him at all.

I first heard of him after my uncle died of cancer a few years ago. Some time in the early seventies they played together in a progressive rock band called Chimney. My uncle never told me anything about them. In fact, I didn’t know they existed until I found the one vinyl LP among all this things. Read more