Sunday 27 February 2011

People Pies

“Care for a pie, Inspector?”

Bramley proffered a fist-sized pie. Its glazed pastry was a wonderful, deep brown, guaranteeing a flavour worthy of the tender meat within... only the best for Bramley’s Champion Pies.

There was nothing more suspicious, Inspector Crown thought, than a thin pie-maker. But Bramley was a man who clearly enjoyed his own wares. His apron was draped over an expansive mound of belly, as was proper for a butcher, though he had none of the unnecessary jollity that trade seemed to attract. Anyway, no man had any reason to be jolly all the time unless he had something to hide.

Narrow, dark eyes squinted beadily from Bramley's flabby face. Some people might have called them guilty eyes, the way they were intently watching the Inspector, but Crown knew a baker must rise early and that his taut eyes were merely a symptom of his tiredness.

“Sure,” The Inspector replied.

He took the fine pie and looked at it admiringly. “We’re not supposed to, of course, modern guidelines and all that. One of these keen youngsters would call it a bribe. They’re so scared of anything that isn’t by the book, scared of repercussions and reprimand. It’s a wonder they ever catch a crook. You and me though, Bramley, we’re old school.”

Missing breakfast will do a man’s appetite no favours. The Inspector lifted the pie to his mouth, then stopped as a thought occurred to him. He looked at it and turned it around in his hand, considering.

“People like you and me, Bramley, we understand that you have to take steps to survive in this world. You have to do what has to be done to stay on top. We’re not that different, you know, both at the height of our game, both feeling the snap of modernisation at our heels.”

The butcher-baker nodded in agreement, a faint sheen of sweat beading on his brow. Crown went to take a bite; paused again before he did.

“The modern system supports criminals, you know. They get more rights every year. It’s disgusting. And they play the system, too, looking to get off on technicalities. Well, you have to get up early to put one past me. You know the right people and the street dispenses its own justice, eh, Bramley?”

Inspector Crown looked Bramley straight in the eyes then, his face suddenly very stern, his mood shifting. He tossed the pie across the room, straight into the bin; it flipped the lid and hit the bottom with a heavy thud.

“Now, stop getting creative.” He jabbed a finger at Bramley. “I don’t want to hear of any more missing streetwalkers, got it? I’m the law here, and you’ll stick to what I send you. Or I’ll find me a new pie-man, and you’ll be the one in the pastry coffins.”

Recommended reading: The Star by Stephen Hewitt.

Sunday 20 February 2011


Green skin beats healthily beneath white/fire lamps. Pipes of dull/iron coil heavily beneath each holy cot, supporting them, supplying them. Tube/feeds snake inside, penetrating tough skin, pumping life.

The high/people sleep.

The care/keepers tend.

When the high/people made the sight/within device they discovered what they created in their mind/dreams each night, and what they destroyed each morning.

The high/people/nation each split the fundament as they fell asleep, and brought about apocalypse as they woke.

Galaxies and other/peoples lost, forgotten, forever.

The high/people had never known such despair, such helpless/guilt. So they built the care/keepers, and the hope/sanctuaries that house mile beyond mile of holy cots, and they slept, never to wake again.

Sometimes, tragically, they die.

And worlds die with them.

Recommended Reading: Soul Marbles by Aaron Polson on Every Day Fiction.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Doctor Crow

Doctor Crow was doing something odd but godly when the invasion began. He was making bone halos from wolf carcasses. He thought it might bestow dead men with a sense of pack, a sense of belonging. The main reason he was doing it though, like most things he did, was simply because the idea had occurred to him.

As was usual for him in those days, he had the body of a man and the head of a crow, and he was naked. He clacked his beak and raised his feathered head to the sky. Something was coming.

There was a boom like thunder and a flash like lightning. But the thunder had no rumble, as if someone had taken that mighty sound and compressed it down into a single, quick suddenness; a rushed loudness. And the flash hung suspended in the air, a great bright rift that widened until shadows became apparent within.

Even the gods cowered at the intensity of this happening. The tribesfolk, only human, fell to their knees: screaming, gasping, weeping and dying.

Doctor Crow just watched, curious. Compared to that startling moment of All-Creation, when everything in a rush came into being, this was nothing but a murmur.

Doctor Crow, who was known by the humans as the scavenger god, god of rebirth in new form, was respected amongst the gods as Eldest, for none of them remembered a time when he hadn’t been. He looked at the terrified people. He was far more interested in dead things but he had grown unusually fond of the tribesfolk and their antics these last few centuries; they, like him, crafted new from broken. He clacked his beak irritably.

The invaders were from someplace distant. They brought with them a vast technology so advanced that it was indistinguishable from them; they were all mixed up in their science. They were the future incarnate.

They had long ago ceased thinking of their own gods. They had moved beyond them, surpassed them. On other worlds they had encountered such things, but through their lenses and software those mighty beings were reduced to forms of energy and power, to simple creatures. And no creature had stood before the invaders that they could not defeat.

Doctor Crow stood before them now.

Had they looked on him with their original eyes, they would have seen a naked man with the head of a crow. Had they been able to remove themselves from their machines without dying, they might have been able to perceive him. But their devices had no way of detecting him, of understanding what he was. He was not made of the stuff of this universe, he was made of Outside.

Doctor Crow looked on the invaders and to him they were just so much material, barely living at all. He cawed happily and began to take them apart. He could make much from what they had brought him.

Recommended reading: Lutrinae (or 'How Brashness Brought about the Betrayal') by Ben Gosling

My new blog: Will Write Flash Fiction For Food

Sunday 6 February 2011


Have I been here months, or years, or merely days?

It becomes so hard to tell when the only measure of time is the steady pulsing of the machines that pump nutrients through my body. I am in darkness – absolute, utter black. Maybe they burnt out my visual nerves, or maybe I am in a room with no windows, or in a box. Regardless, I see nothing; hear nothing but the pulsing fluids; have nothing by which to judge my position, my surroundings. I only know that I am away from my Brumathick and the war, and that I am needed; if the war has not already been lost.

I do not brag or exaggerate. Bruma and I are that important.

I feel that familiar crawling along the back of my neck sometimes, that feeling of dimensions sliding by, of reality shells brushing against my spine. I make myself believe that Brumathick has found me, that my partner has come for me, that he has been scouring the allverse and has finally come upon whatever dark corner they have thrust me into. Then the feeling is gone and I feel dampness trace its way down my face, twin paths of lost hope. I used to be stronger than that.

I cannot speak, there is something in my mouth, in my throat; I can make noises though. Hearing myself makes me feel more alive. The need for such a crutch shames me.

How much time has been lost?

I know this much: I have never been apart from Bruma for so long. I feel that in my aching chest, I feel it with every beat. I feel it and I use that feeling, I push outwards with each beat, believing in my old strength, being the beacon he needs. I am alive because they need him distracted, searching for me, kept away from the war. So he must know I am alive, he must feel me, he must be coming for me.

I must believe that.

I do believe that, why would I be alive otherwise?

Why would I feel that creeping tingle, that caressing touch of energy blown by something surfing a dimensional breach, if it wasn’t Bruma searching for me, coming close? I will be strong for him, for my Brumathick, and he will find me and free me and we will be vengeful.

I do not even remember how we were parted. It does not matter, all will be clear when we are together; everything makes sense when we are together.

The prickling passes. I cannot countenance the possibility that it might just be in my imagination; I thrust such thoughts to the back of my mind because Bruma needs me to be strong. I need my belief to stay firm, to power the beacon of my thoughts.

The feeling returns, a pressure in my thoughts, an itch within my scalp. He noticed, he is nearby!

My heart soars and I plough all that I am into the beacon. I am here! I cry silently into the void between universes. Find me!

There is more than just dimensional wash now, I can feel presence, I can feel Brumathick. I can hear him again, for the first time in forever. His roar is triumphant, exultant, terrible and beautiful, and just for me. Whatever contains me, whatever blinds me, I can feel him around me; I know I am in his hold, he surrounds me and we are moving again, punching through dimensions. He is full of love and ferocity. I hear one word again and again, his only word, such an incredible achievement among his kind.


It holds everything I am feeling.

Brumathick, I reply, again and again.

Symbiosis re-establishes itself with our proximity. My mind floods with knowledge, with sensory input, timescales and dimensional blueprints, positions, battles, battle fleets, enemies and allies. It has been longer than I thought. But it has not been too long.

We are together, and there will be a time for sentimentality, but time is what they stole. We have work to do.

We have vengeance to deal, we have a war to win. We have each other, again.

Recommended Reading: The End of Love by Valerie Geary on

Managing the Basics: a Flash Fiction Primer by John Xero