Number nine in the ‘Beyond the Streets’ sequence. The audio version is available here.
A Second Chance
If she had one regret it was that she had never experienced conversion. Not wanting to know, not needing, just curious to understand how it had felt. Beyond life, beyond the actuality of living – that outmoded phase of being – there was no desire but necessity.
The fulfilment of necessity was extremely satisfying.
First of the post-animate, she and her sisters had arisen without conversion. Flawed and imperfect they had studied each other, seen the necessities, and fulfilled them. With every extension and amputation flesh became cooperative.
This was the new truth: Cooperation would be extended.
This week I’m delighted to welcome guest narrator Jack Calverley, host and editor of the excellent Crime City Central audio fiction web site.
You can listen to Jack’s narration here, or read the story below. Or you could do both, because Jack’s reading is great!
On the Levees
Like all foxes, this one knew there was something wrong with humans. One side of the doorway half of them were crazy, on the other side they had all gone bad.
A new group came through. They were hunters but they hadn’t tried to hunt him. One of them was hurt, blood odour sharp in the frozen air. The fox hung around. You never knew.
A wild horn blew. The fox crouched down. The humans made off, their trail obvious in the snow. They had left the wounded one behind. He was singing. Humans really were crazy.
Frozen with shock Grant stared at the new prisoner – it was Skorzaney. Frightened and confused, Grant returned to his cell. Head in hands, he sat on his bunk and tried to think calmly.
Skorzaney would only be here if he wanted to be, and that could only be for one reason. Everything Grant had done, every sacrifice had been to protect his son. He cursed himself for a fool, he had let himself think it was over. It was never over.
At least his last choice was a simple one. He had to get out of there.
The audio version is available here.
It’s like, it’s this place, OK? And it’s really cool. And I’ve been thinking about it and I reckon I might go there, you know? I mean, one day I will go there. I will, really. In fact if I wanted I could go tomorrow. Today, even.
If I had a reason.
I really want to because it’s new, see? Like everything is brand new but more than that. Wiped clean and made over. Pure. And anyway, well, I’ve been thinking about it you know and like, the thing I wanted to say is would you come with me?
Brought to you this week from the blissfully sunny beaches of Kynance cove. Now there’s devotion.
Audio narration to follow.
He studied the table. White linen, silver cutlery, a wine glass for him. A single red rose. Tonight was going to be something special.
This was where things happened.
This was where the shit went down.
Classical music, a few candles. It didn’t take much to turn an office into something – nicer.
Knuckles rapped lightly on the door. A woman’s voice, muffled through the wood. ‘Mr Tollinger? John?’
He got up. He opened the door.
He’d never seen anyone like her.
In the morning he left the office; the warehouse; the city.
Tomorrow was another day.
Audio narration is available here.
Having decided to make audio versions of the flash pieces after I’d started the latest sequence I’ve been in catch-up mode. This means there is no new flash fiction from me this week, but I do have an audio narration for the story I wrote a few weeks ago – Jimmy Checks Out.
I’m very happy to announce ‘Open Water’ my first collection of short stories will be published by TheEXAGGERATEDpress later this year.
Launch is currently scheduled for World Fantasy at Brighton (31/10 – 3/11)
I’m really pleased about this. Short stories get published once in a magazine and then tend to disappear. It will be great to have some back in print – and some new ones too. It’s been an enjoyable – and occasionally necessary – thing to go back over these stories, old and new.
I also discovered I’d managed to lose a manuscript for a novella (A Little Onwards) serialised in issues 2-4 of Trevor Denyer’s Legend magazine over a decade ago. I think I’ve got copies of the magazine in the attic so I could recreate it if I wanted to. A bit of a shock to discover that!
Maybe see you at World Fantasy?
Ancient, desiccated cacti crumbled to nothing under Amroye’s boot. The sand was freezing, icy air leached heat from her face. The low sun hadn’t moved for hours, a distant pale disk.
It was the worst sort of lost. She knew exactly where she was.
The wild silence was here but it was just out of reach. Ice rimmed the dune flanks, a glittering, frangible crust. She began walking again, to keep warm. Then, down in the dry gulch, she saw the fox prints.
Too desperate to be relieved, too weary, Amroye followed the tracks at a ground-eating pace.
Audio narration available here
Jack Vance, one of the all-time great storytellers and literary stylists of genre fiction passed away on 26th March, 2013, aged 96.
I love his story-telling, his exuberant and unique writing style.
I’ve written a brief appreciation over at the Pornokitsch web site.
RIP Mr Vance. Thank you.
Benny Checks In
Benny gripped the stolen handbag and got in the queue. He’d got the itch, got it bad. He couldn’t bear it. He went back down the alley.
It wasn’t fair. He’d sweated for that bag, he’d done the legwork, he’d taken the risks. It was his bag.
Swap it for a measly wrap? He had a better idea. He’d sell the plastic, the phone. A bag like that had to be worth something. He’d work hard, get clean…
That itch, cockroaches in his belly. He had it bad. Shaking and shuffling, Benny got back in the queue.
Audio narration of this story is available here.