“Can you tell me the way to the castle?”

The man behind the bar scratched at his moustache and looked at the customer doubtfully.

“Why do you want to go there?” the bartender asked. “He’s a crazy old man.”

“I’m a journalist,” the man said. “Paul Rossi. I’ve been asked to interview him.”

The bartender laughed.

“Another,” Rossi sighed, pushing over his empty glass.

“I’m sorry,” the barman replied, putting the glass under the pump and filling it with cold beer. “It’s just I can’t imagine that man agreeing to anything.”

He handed the beer to Rossi, who sipped. It was just as cold and delightful as the first. It was strong, too. He could feel the effects already.

“He’s already said yes,” Rossi explained, putting down the glass.

The barman raised an eyebrow.

Continue reading “Warrington”

Behind The Scenes: Marooned

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the story “Marooned“. Please feel free to read that first, if you want to avoid spoilers…

This is the first story of the second half, and I wanted to open with something a bit different. I’d had the idea for this story in my head for a couple of days before I wrote it, and I’d originally thought of the name “Aliens”, but that didn’t really work for me. Plus, I didn’t really want to repeat myself by just running through the alphabet again, so…

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Behind The Scenes: Your Death, Foretold / Zero Nine

I wasn’t well last week, and I really didn’t manage to get a lot done on Wednesday other than running a high fever and feeling sorry for myself. So this is a kind of “roundup” of the two. Click the links to read the original stories, if you haven’t already.

Your Death, Foretold

I wanted to write something here that was a bit different from normal, and I came up with the idea quite late on in the week. Again, this was something inspired more by the title than by anything else. The idea of having someone reading more into the prediction than they otherwise would do, and thereby making it a self-fulfilling one, was interesting. As for where the prediction came from, I deliberately left that question up to the reader.

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Zero Nine

The clouds lifted a little, and the sun peeped out. Henry and Harriet, snuggling together on the sofa, didn’t notice. Moira continued her knitting. Graeme put down his book and looked up.

“It seems to have finally got sunny out there,” he said. “Shall we take those dogs of yours out now?”

“All right,” Moira said. She came to the end of the row, then folded the knitting safely away. The dogs, realising what was about to happen, got off the sofa and began dancing around, tails wagging.

“How’s that new girlfriend of yours?” Moira asked.

Graeme winced a little. “I wouldn’t really call her that,” he replied. “She’s a colleague, at least, at present, is all.”

“Mmm-hm,” Moira put a lead on Henry’s collar and passed the end of it to Graeme. She took Harriet’s lead for herself.

Continue reading “Zero Nine”

Your Death, Foretold

Michael put the knife and fork down on his plate and looked over the table. Sally was already on her phone, texting.

“Is she coming?” he asked.

“Yep,” she replied. “Going to be late, though.”

“Well, so long as you know where you’re going to meet her.”

He stood up, took the plates and placed them in the dishwasher.

“Udo not around?” she asked, looking up from the phone.

“Don’t know where he’s got to recently,” Michael shook his head. “Not really speaking to him much.”

“Oh dear.”

“Yep,” he nodded. “Thinking I may need to find another flatmate. He owes me three months of his half of the rent already.”

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Behind The Scenes: Xenon

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the short story “Xenon”. To avoid spoilers, please read the original story first.

Of course the name came first. I’ve been doing them in alphabetical order all year, so naturally the name came first.

Instead of the idea coming to me through inspiration, it came to me through ignorance. I’m not really that good at cubic metres compared to litres, although I should be – one of the earliest lessons I remember from school was to show how a litre fitted into a ten centimetre cube. Because that’s how arithmetic works, obviously. But when I looked at Alibaba to see how much xenon is worth (spoiler: not that much), I came up with the idea of a scam – one of the characters knowing about as much about xenon and how cubic metres worked as I’d done before I looked it up, getting duped, and then being made an unwitting stooge for counterfeit money.

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“You put our money into what?”

“Xenon,” John replied, grinning, wiping his hand on his paint stained overalls.

“What, exactly is xenon? Don’t they make photocopiers?”

“It’s a gas,” John said. “Not a photocopier maker.”

Shannon sighed, turned round and took off her coat. It was enough to deal with having to try to make ends meet with John working only now and then as it was, but this was absurd.

“How much?” she asked, hanging her coat on the back of the door.

“Not too much,” he said. “Just a bit.”

Continue reading “Xenon”

Behind The Scenes: The Woman In The Water

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for “The Woman In The Water“. Please read the original story first to avoid spoilers.

This story was the first idea that I had and tried to write for this year of short stories. For some reason, it wouldn’t come then, and it wouldn’t come a few weeks ago either when I tried it again.

My initial plan this time was for there to be an actual ghost, and for the whole thing to leave Eric alone and bemused on the pedalo. About halfway through, when I was writing very slowly and getting distracted every few minutes, I realised this wouldn’t really work. So I decided to change things around and came up with the ending we have here. Once I thought of it, I couldn’t wait to get there.

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The Woman In The Water

“It’s hot today,” Megan said.

“Hmm,” Eric managed to say, the melting ice cream occupying most of his attention. “It’s quite nice, really.”

“You only like hot weather,” she replied. “I’m sure you were a lizard in a former life.”

He took his attention away from the ice cream and flicked his tongue at Megan, who giggled.

“Besides,” she said. “You’ve got a sun hat.”

“You could have had one too,” he countered. “They weren’t expensive.”

“They were too small, though,” she replied, stretching an arm over the back of the bench. “It would have blown away by now.”

Eric crunched down the last pyramid point of the ice-cream cone and nodded.

“How about a boat ride?” he asked, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his hands.

Continue reading “The Woman In The Water”