The Revolution

“Lizard people, once a far fetched political conspiracy theory, has been confirmed to have a startling element of truth after thousands of people across the nation woke up this morning to find friends and family members gone, and numerous sightings of large lizard-like beings on the run. Mrs Cartwright was coming home from a night shift when she encountered three humanoid reptilians. Diane is with her now-”
I turned down the television and pulled my worn book from in between the sofa cushions. It was hard not to get distracted by the news, no matter how many times I’d heard it. We were warned to stay in our homes, keep our loved ones close and report any disappearances to the police. I was reading The Great Gatsby. A timeless classic, but not my favourite book. I used to claim, with a whimsical, hubris air, that the description of the party at the start of chapter three was one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. It was half a lie – I was an English literature student who couldn’t name her favourite book and was desperate to find some footing in the forced conversations within the first term of university.
The reason I was truly reading it was to comfort myself because when I said that – spouted that bullshit in some ridiculous, long winded way – another student had lit up.
“I love that book! Don’t you just fall in love with Gatsby?”.
Ella. I sat next to her in the lectures we had together, shared hangovers over steaming lattes, read poems out to her whilst we laid out on her bed, and loved her, entirely. Our deep and incredibly personal friendship had blossomed over this precious little novel, and I dared not forget that.

That morning she had disappeared. Her and her husband were due to catch an 8am flight but when had he woken, she was gone with her phone still plugged in on her bedside cabinet and her belongings untouched. People were unsure, at the time, whether people were becoming these reptilian creatures or being killed or eaten or taken by them. I don’t know which would have been worse. 

“Your wife doesn’t love you,” says Gatsby. “She’s never loved you. She loves me.”

Realising I was reading the same line over and over, I gave up.
“Mark?” I called, shuffling my feet into his slippers and standing up.
I was met with silence.
A soft rustling came from the kitchen.
“Uhhh, Mark?” I tried again, my sense of reason dissipating as the news reports echoed in my head. Trying to be soundless, I peered round the door. My husband, not half reptile, was right there in his long, creased apron taste testing from the large pot on the stove, moving his hips and shoulders jauntily in some ridiculous attempt at dancing to the music from the headphones in his ears. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, laughter creeping in at the stupid, lovely sight of him. Finally he noticed me stood there and pulled his headphones out, offering me a soft smile.
“Hello Darling.”


“Any news about Ella?” he tried, his face hopeful. 

I shook my head, trying not to think too hard about it. It was hopeless. We all presumed the worst.

“You don’t think she’s…?” my voice faltered. 

He considered it for a moment, and then shrugged, “I wish I could say no, Darling.” 

But your best friend is, in all likelihood, a giant lizard. Cool. 

I slumped into a seat at the dining table, the weight of the situation settling upon my tired shoulders. It didn’t seem possible. Every heartfelt moment we’d spent together couldn’t have been a lie. 

“Come on now.” Mark tried, bringing the wooden spoon over to my face with a coy grin, “Try this.” 

I couldn’t sleep that night. Gently, I placed my hand against Mark’s warm chest, and felt it rise and fall evenly. He was so calm. Did he dream? Was his mind totally undisturbed by the dramatic events happening across the globe, by the fear and grief apparent in every face he passed in the street? He still seemed so cheerful, despite it all. I mean, he knew Ella. He liked Ella.
Suddenly, a shadow darted past the open crack of our bedroom door. I jumped, recoiling my hand and pulling the cover up around my shoulders.
You’re overthinking. The stress is getting to you. It’s nothing. 

My heart beat heavy against my ribs, and nervousness rose like bile in my throat. 

Just go out there and check. Put your mind at ease. 

Yes. Clever. Face your fears. Gently, I pulled the cover away and stood up, avoiding the creaky floorboard that I had mastered locating after years of waking up earlier than Mark for work. 

I crept around the bed, watching my husband intently for any signs of waking. I reached the door and, composing myself, yanked it open fiercely, ready to confront my empty corridor. I went to scream as I found myself staring at a pale, wide eyed face, but their hand clamped securely over my mouth and suddenly I was being forcibly pinned against the wall. They closed the bedroom door with a swift movement and glared at me from beneath a thick hood. 

“Would you shut up!?” the intruder whispered sharply, and my nerves melted away as I focused on familiar eyes and that soft, caramel voice I knew well. It was Ella. 

She stepped away from me, sighing with agitation, “It’s just me.”

“Where have you been?” I questioned, trying to make my tone sharp but breaking into relieved laughter at the sight of her. She pressed her finger to her lips, indicating silence and gestured towards the bedroom door. 

“We mustn’t wake him, but we have to go. I know people who can help us escape before it’s too late. There’s an underground network-”

“What? What do you mean, escape?!”. 

“You can’t trust anyone anymore. I mean, Mark shows all the obvious signs of being one of them-”

“Mark!? Not a chance.” I argued. 

Ella took my hands in hers, running her thumbs across my palms gently, her eyes pleading with me. 

“I wish I could prove it to you. We’re not safe. He isn’t, well… who he says he is. Most people aren’t. They’ve been taking over for a while now. Has he seemed happy still, unworried, calm?” 

I thought back to the kitchen, the way he danced, as if it were a normal Tuesday evening and all was right. I felt the weight of the silence in the air, and knew he was still sound asleep despite it all.

I leaned gently against the door, torn. 

“And why do you trust me?” I whispered, “How do you know I’m not one of them?” 

“Well, I don’t.” she replied, shaking her head at how ridiculous it seemed, “But you seem true. You seem real. And I’d rather risk it all then leave without you. You’re like… my soulmate.” 

“Soulmate?” I repeated, my conscience swaying. 

She nodded, and the air seemed to thicken around us. Surely I would be crazy to run off, to run away from my own husband, because of one conversation? Then again, could anything truly be deemed crazy in a time of lizard revolution?

It felt absurd, too fantastical to be true. But I trusted her. I let her guide me down the stairs, out the front door, and into the depths of an uncertain fate. I sat nervously in the passenger seat of her car, and watched her lean over me into the glove box. It fell open onto my knees and within, amongst cables and old food wrappers was a well read book, the corners folded upwards and weak with touch.

The Great Gatsby. 

Of course.
I liked the word she’d used.
Soulmates, with their fates resting in each other’s palms, escaping absurdity, beating on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


You’ve Got Time


His voice is low, gravelly, secretive. It’s something like the voice he uses in bed, beneath the sheets, pressed skin to skin, but it’s more tense. It’s further away. His breath isn’t against my ear, hot and ragged. I don’t have time to think about such things. 

“Hey you.” 

I try to sound rosy. It doesn’t work, my voice cracks. I hear him take a short breath down the phone, deliberating over what to say for. He never struggles to talk normally. When he hasn’t seen me for a few days, I can’t shut him up. He catches me in his arms and tells me all about those missing hours. It’s been five weeks. God knows what his days are like now. 

“I’ve not got much time.” he says. 

“Okay, how are you doing, are you sleeping any better? How’s the food?”. 

Too many questions at once. Not enough time for any of them. 

“The food is fine Lovely. I’m allowed more time outside in the courtyard for good behaviour. Good to get out my room.” 

His room. His cell. His calmness overwhelms me. I can’t help myself. 

“Tell me you didn’t do it.” I blurt. 

“Now Claire.” he warns. 

His tone frustrates me. I distance myself. 

I remember us pressed up against the wall, his hands skimming underneath my blouse, feathering over my waist. I can recall perfectly the feeling of his lips kissing behind my ear and down my neck. I remember the front page headlines, that girl, face down in the marshy woodlands ten minutes from our house. Perverted, they’d called the killer, a monster.

“Please.” I whisper. 

He sighs. There’s a pause and every news report that I had sat and watched with hunched shoulders, sobbing into my own hands, plays on the cruel reel in my head. 

“The electric carving knife.” he mutters. 

“What!?” I laugh nervously, confused, and then it hits me. 

“I’m out of time, goodbye Claire”.

The electric carving knife. I’d been rooting through the drawers to find it to cut the beef with for our Sunday roast with my parents. 

“It wasn’t working, I had to chuck it. Don’t worry, I’ll get you a new one.” he’d said to me, hand on the small of my back, “Mmm, dinner smells delicious Darling.” 

That was the missing link. The mysterious blunt muder weapon used to slit her throat.


He hangs up. The receiver clicks and the call ends.

An Unfortunate Afternoon

Based upon the writing of Lemony Snicket in ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. A copy of the first book is available here to help you get an idea of what I’m being inspired by;

Click to access the_bad_beginning.pdf

An Unfortunate Afternoon

If you are interested in happy endings, I truly suggest you close this book immediately, and place it back on the shelf. This story has no happy ending, or middle, or start, because this is a story about Riley Stevens. Riley was an intelligent and charming girl, with bright eyes and sharp features, and although perfectly pleasant to be around, she had terrible luck. It had been this way for years, and at twenty-four, she was getting pretty used to it. 

This particular day’s misfortune had started stood at the door to her unimpressive two bed apartment, in a tired and rather dire – the word ‘dire’, as you probably know, means “dreadful” or of very poor quality – apartment block on the border of central London. It had been a grey, miserable day, which didn’t bother Riley one bit, but she had left a bag of shopping on the train and she was getting rather agitated. It had been a long, tiring day working behind a boring desk, but she had managed to find an olive loaf going out of date at Aldi for only 20p. That poor loaf was now lonesome on the train, sad and uneaten. 

“Oh well.” Riley muttered, “I wouldn’t have eaten it anyway.” 

Frustrated, she knocked politely twice on the door. The cat made a noise like a disgruntled baby behind it, but her lazy fucking roommate did not appear. 

“Isabel?” she called, looking at the window by the stairs and watching the heavy drops of rain run down the glass. Sure enough, soft footsteps could be heard behind the door. 

“I know you’re in there.” Riley shouted again. 

The lock clicked and Riley could hear the chain slide across. Isabel’s nervous face appeared in the crack as she pulled open the door. She was a year older than Riley, but looked a lot younger, with blonde hair and a youthful face. Their friends had playfully nicknamed her “Baby-face”, though Riley simply called her ‘Isabelle’ or ‘Is’. She seemed tense. 

“For fucks sake!” Riley thought. 

“Don’t freak out, okay?” Isabelle begged, slowly pulling the door open all the way. As I’m sure you know, being told not to ‘freak out’, or panic, can often cause one to do so, believing there to be something wrong. So Riley did not take this well. 

“Let me in!” She ordered, “Let me in right now!.”

She pushed through the door and froze as her shoes squelched against the carpet. You see, her old trainers had worn a hole through the bottom, so she’d finally invested – the word “invested” meaning in this context to gain or buy – in a pair of brand new ones, and it is never good to be threatened with the ruining of new shoes. Sure enough, when she looked down, she saw blood. Lots of blood. Pooling in patches at random places and trailing round the sofa, across the tiles in the kitchen and off into Isabelle’s room.
“No no no no no no!” Riley cried, panicking and removing her shoes, only causing her to stain her socks as well, “What the fuck Isabel, you know the rules!”

And she did. Stuck to the fridge with a magnet that said “I keep losing weight but it keeps finding me” was a crumpled piece of paper that read a roommate agreement they had made together when moving in. 


Rule 3: Do not murder in or around the flat. Keep bodies out of the apartment. 


The huge amount of blood currently ruining their already unattractive flat was highly suggestive that Isabelle had broken this rule. The two had met as highly trained, highly paid assassins, but after a video of them dancing on the table in a pub to Madonna had been sent to the work group chat, their boss had decided they weren’t quite subtle enough for the job, and they now functioned as work from home serial killers with awful office jobs in marketing positions that paid the rent. As you know, murdering other people, no matter how despicable they are, is illegal, and they therefore had to work hard to keep this a secret. Covering the apartment in blood did not feel that secretive to Riley.

“I told you not to freak out!” Isabelle said accusingly, “You’re freaking out!” 

Riley ignored her, following the tell-tale trail of blood through the Isabel’s bedroom. On the floor, gasping with a weak hand pressed to a gash in his neck, was a man that had been on the news a few days ago in a bank scandal. His white shirt was stained a deep red, and Riley couldn’t help but think what a waste of a perfectly good article of clothing it was, and wish that Isabel wasn’t so reckless.
“I’m putting an end to this!” she announced, moving to her own room and pulling open the bottom drawer of her untidy cabinet. Laying amongst her faded old pyjama shirts was a revolver, winking at her in the dim light of the room. She lifted it carefully, feeling it’s weight in her hand before finding the silencer within the drawer and screwing it onto the front. The cool metal was comforting against her skin and she took a deep breath, preparing herself like an athlete before a big race. Composed, she walked back into Isabel’s room and, ignoring her flatmate’s protest, she turned the dying man onto his back with a sharp jab to his shoulder with her heel and pointed her gun at his sweating forehead.
“I want to do it! I brought him here!” Isabel whined, throwing her hands in the air in frustration. 

“It’s against the rules, you don’t get to have fun if you put us in danger like this.” Riley explained, watching the man try to form words, choking on his blood. Without further ado, she extended her arm, stepped back, and shot him.
“Clear this up, I’m gonna go sort the carpet.” Riley ordered.

Now this seemed to be the end of it, and Riley did not hear from her sulking roommate for the rest of the night. She had quickly retired to her room with a bowl of cornflakes and was only disturbed the following morning. Isabel, fresh back from a run – for she was always working towards a ‘summer body’, which seemed a strange thing to call it when she worried about it all year round – came into her room clutching her phone and looking very out of breath.
“Look, they think… “ she paused, leaning over and clutching her waist, clearly recovering from having been so active, “They think we’re working together.”

Riley rubbed her eyes, trying to clear her head, “What?”. 

Isabel passed over the phone and she read over a ‘breaking news’ article.
“New Murder Suggests London’s Notorious Killers Working Together”
“Oh no,” she thought, “I don’t want this. Not with messy, careless, hopeless Isabel.” 

Like I said, Riley Stevens had bad luck.


Plot Twist

“You want to call the story ‘Plot Twist’?” I questioned, looking up from the television and tilting my head at her.
She looked over her laptop at me, suddenly smirking at the sight of my face, “Oh no. Absolutely fuck off, I can feel the judgement from here!”.
“Well… it ruins it a bit, doesn’t it? The reader will know it’s coming! Like, surely, if you read a collection of stories… let’s say… for a competition, and the theme was ‘plot twists’, you wouldn’t be impressed. You’d just be waiting for the twist to come.”
“Fuck off… you are absolutely right”
I laughed out loud as she hid her face behind her hands, grinning, embarrassed. It’s a smile that had never failed to make me melt, that made every romantic cliche reasonable, one that made Valentines Day like Christmas. Her two front teeth had this small gap between them and she hated it, but she was something stunning to me. And her writing was excellent, even when she fell short with the title. She wrote about adventure and danger and amazing, intricate worlds. She created these incredible characters full of heartache and passion and I know I love them because each of them, in some way, are crafted from parts of her. She took her own pain and made poem out of story. And even though she wasn’t a princess fighting a dragon to save her kingdom, or a demigod taking on every deity in the Heavens, like the heroines of her stories, she’s was as strong as every one of them too. Even sat there in her pajamas and fluffy socks on my sofa, where she’d been all day.
I don’t know why it’s that memory that always returns to me, fragmented and rose tinted and wonderful, but it is.

Sometimes, I sit there with her most recent book on my lap. Open to the third page.


Dedicated to Nadia, my best friend and loyal sidekick. You inspire me.


The book was a bestseller for weeks. Thousand of copies across the globe bought, thousands of eyes scanning over that little dedication. To me. For me.


The princess dies in this one. Plot twist!

Oh God, I should have seen it coming.
It was so obvious. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe I could have been there.

I should have seen it coming.



Happiness – Rex Orange County

My skin is a palimpsest of memories. The smell of inexpensive perfume and the blue, clean scent of the washing powder from our clothes lingers in the crook of my neck. Muscle memory of our rising and falling skin, pink with effort, makes my cheeks flush. Those fleeting moments of gentle urgency, of kissing in a secreted darkness, are fading slightly but still there. I have forgotten some things, but not that. No, I remember that.

In a soft edged memory, one that has found its way onto the front of our mantelpiece in gold edged frames, I smell roses from a garden erupted into beautiful powdered pastels and brilliant whites. The velvet lined ring box felt so heavy within the inside pocket of my coat, for I had repeated the nightmarish idea that she might say ‘no’ over and over in my head, letting it dance a trail of doubt into my shaking voice.

She said yes.

The curtain closed on the excitement and chaos of a white wedding just as quickly as it had opened. The whole thing remains dulled and blurred by many glasses of champagne, held politely between two fingers and raised in a toast to the blushing bride. We welcomed the silence that followed, those explosive and huge days deflating like balloons and settling us into a wonderful, comfortable everyday.

I began to worry she’d bore of me, fixing one of the same three ties for me before I left for work, five days a week for God knows how long. At the start I’d play the guitar, sing gentle love songs that sounded like they were written for only the two of us, but eventually she’d heard them all and the novelty grew old. She remained something striking to me, and I vividly recall those date nights with the off the shoulder dresses and matching lipsticks that made her look all brand new in the yellow light of our kitchen, spinning around to some breezy song on the radio before we left for the evening. It remained the two of us, and I felt the loneliness, the emptiness in her face as her friends’ stomachs would swell with the joy of a new arrival. I couldn’t offer her a child, and I don’t know how she ever found it within herself to forgive me. But she did. Consequently, the spare room was never painted a baby blue and never became the nursery she’d always planned it to be. Now everything in there is covered with a fine layer of dust. She doesn’t go in there.

She still said she was proud, with a confident and unwavering smile on her face. Nieces and nephews from her side of the family came to visit us, their children wrapping chubby arms around our necks and telling us nothings with great enthusiasm. They baked, she’d pull out little stools for them to stand on and let them lick the spoons afterwards. The ache for something like family was dwindling then, she became comfortable. She wasn’t lonely. I thank God for that.

She’s stood at the window now, looking out into our overgrown garden. She’s wearing a red dress, slightly longer than the ones she used to wear, settling just below her knees, full and bright against her skin. We are both different. We give into age gracefully nowadays, her face soft and creased like fine leather. Her eyes are cloudier, sharp shots of green giving into something dull. But her smile is the same.
“Happy anniversary” I say, gentle as not to make her jump.
“I love you, Darling.” she hums, turning to face me.
“I know.”

It has been our fiftieth anniversary tens of times. We have been married a lot longer, but she doesn’t remember that. I remember it for the both of us. Memories of the children after they started to grow, of their achievements and tribulations, successes and milestones, fail to stay with her. She looks at them with a struggling curiosity now, for they hold some resemblance of her beautiful great nieces and nephews, but are too old, too mature; they are not who she remembers.

The nurse stands out in the corridor and I can feel her listening to us. It overwhelms and suffocates me. I lean on the windowsill. I don’t know how to tell her. I am old now. I cannot care for her any longer. A care home is what’s best. That’s what I tell myself. A care home is what’s best.
Still, it feels like betrayal. I want to tell her it’s gonna be alright. But she’s finding it hard to be herself, to find herself between the hazy gaps in her mind.

It’s what is best. 


My dear Nova,

When your father was involved in the accident I was at home repainting our bathroom. He always called me on the way back from work and when I picked up the phone I expected to hear that deep, calming voice I have long forgotten. I instead found myself on the phone with a softly spoken female paramedic. I acted in a sheer panic, pulling a coat over my paint splattered dungarees and tripping over the door mat on my way out. It was only much later, in a stark, white hospital bathroom, that I would realise I had a huge streak of white paint across my cheek. That really would have made him laugh.

I arrived at the hospital and was very quickly ushered through to a nurse. I will never forget that face as long as I live. She had this high brown ponytail and clever, bright eyes and I remember how cold her hands felt when she gently enveloped them with mine.
“Do you have faith?”.
That was it. That was the first thing she said to me. It was followed by this hollow, conflicted silence as I tried to work out what I was meant to say. Faith in what
She meant faith in a higher power. She was telling me to pray. And in that hopeless barren moment, surrounded by the chemical smell of illness and death, I genuinely tried to pull something from within me, some salvation from a brilliant God.
I didn’t find that.
But I found the stars.

When we were seventeen, your Dad lived in his parents’ converted loft. The windows, built into the slanted roof, opened up to the sky. We laid curled up close to each other in his single bed one evening, looking out into a beautiful clear night. He grabbed my hand and used it to point out Ursa Major. Your father told me, in all seriousness, “I have always had faith in the stars, and I believe they brought me you.”

So, desperate, I ran outside. I stood, tears streaming down my cheeks, face tilted up into the night. The sky was cloaked in miserable cloud and I could find only one damn star amongst the dim winter weather and I begged to that lonely little star not to let me lose him, not to leave me alone in this world.

While I was out there, your father died in surgery. His injuries were too extensive, he was never going to make it.

I felt cheated.

Peeing over a stick in my half painted bathroom a week later, I discovered you. Honestly, I didn’t welcome the news at first for I was still wrapped mournfully in the suffocating darkness of death, still learning to accept that I was, by any standard, a widow.
You were quietly present throughout everything that followed, an aching reminder of what I had lost, of things he would never get to know or experience. You made it hard to sleep and I hated you for having me see the night time, to be reminded of the stars that didn’t listen, the ones that took him away from me. I felt utterly alone.
But then you were born. And I held your tiny body in my arms, an oh-so delicate being who knew nothing of the grief or sadness that had erupted briefly before her presence. You looked at me with big, curious eyes and in your face I saw your father. Ten months on from losing him, and there he was, within you. 

I was right to have faith in the stars, after all.
My little Supernova.

I brought you up as gently and kindly as I could and we completed each other in a wonderful way. When you first laughed I remember bursting into tears at the pure, angelic sound of it. You were happiness when there was none.
As you started to grow and I had to let you go a little, you still always seemed to be there when I needed you most. On the fifth anniversary of the funeral, you came home with a carefully crafted card you’d made for me at school. It had a picture of ‘Daddy’ on it, who you’d drawn with orange hair and a very large beard, a very different image than that of the dark haired, clean shaven man I’d fallen in love with. That night I showed you pictures of him, and although you were young and confused by the events that had led to the absence on the right side of my bed, you sat there very quietly, absorbed in every new photo. It felt like, in some strange way, you knew him.  

The nights the bed felt huge would be the ones when you’d get scared of the creaking and groaning of the aging house or the shadows in your room, and clamber under the duvet next to me to hold me close and keep me company in the long hours of missing him. I was completely and utterly in love with you. You were a lifeline. 

Now you’ve found love yourself. The way your face lights up when you talk about her makes my heart sing. Suddenly, I am seventeen and wickedly head over heels with the smiley boy from my English class all over again. Loving is the easiest thing in the world, as I am sure you are finding out.
Cherish it my Angel. You have been my happiness for nineteen years and you deserve this. Have faith in the stars, they have given you something beautiful.

I love you. More than I have loved any other being in this universe.


Mum xx


May’s shoe box flat was icy on that February morning and she simply could not stand the idea of pulling the duvet back. The steely ring of the alarm on her phone blared on for a minute or so before she let out an almighty, defeated groan and reached her hand out from the warmth to turn it off.
May hated Mondays. She was an ‘aspiring’ writer, which meant she wrote all the fucking time but just never got any bloody recognition for it, which further went on to mean she had to work five days a week at a dingy little coffee shop that had been choked up on the corner of the market a block from her flat. She enjoyed writing about sunsets and parties and wonderful colourful worlds. The grey mix of customers that would appear in the store, losing the camouflage of the dirty grey pavement for a moment to stare right through her and buy overpriced, bitter coffee never inspired her, funnily enough. 

Ginny, in contrast, was up early, flinging open the door to her wardrobe and collecting her long black jacket with bright enthusiasm. By now, she thought, May would be getting ready too, pulling on that ghastly bright yellow raincoat she had seen in the picture supplied in the case file. She was a pretty thing, this May, with a head of curls and a scattering of forget-me-not freckles. Ginny was excited to meet her.

When Gin arrived at the coffee shop, May was running down the road with her yellow coat billowing behind her, late for her shift. Smirking, Gin took to patiently reading the menu, stood outside the window and glancing across the range of drinks with a detached interest. 

“I definitely recommend the chai latte Ma-am, today only it gets you two stamps on your loyalty card.” May sang, out of breath as she fiddled with the key in the lock and let herself into the cafe. Ginny jumped, her gut lurching at the sound of May’s voice, undoubtedly aimed at her.
“What?” she whispered, turning around as if on a wire, mouth forming a perfectly shocked ‘o’ as she raced to follow the young girl into the store. She felt her cheeks burn red as the young barista stopped to look directly at her face.
“Uhhh. the chai latte. It’s.. it’s good.”

Suddenly, the coffee machine exploded, as May’s case file had said it would, at 8.36am. The explosion rang out as the the plastic casing shattered in a brilliant, fiery blast.

A huge shard of sharp plastic came straight for May’s lovely, lovely face.

Gin was staring, watching it all happen, a lifetime seeming to rest itself in those few precious seconds. She just couldn’t help it. Within a moment she had tackled the poor girl to the floor and out of harm’s way.

“Oh, fuck.” she hummed, rolling off of her immediately and stumbling to her feet, “I’m so sorry. I should not have done that.”
“You saved my life” May breathed, trying to collect her breath in loud rasps, “You just saved my life”.
“Oh shit, I did, didn’t I? Oh that’s shit, oh fuck, so much fucking paperwork.”

You see, no one usually spoke to the Grim Reapers unless they were, well, dead. Which May would have been at roughly 8.38am, if the Grim Reaper assigned to collect her hadn’t intervened. She was meant to die almost immediately due to a bleed on the brain created by harsh damage to her frontal lobe.
Gin wasn’t meant to get involved.

That was the punishment. No one ever became a Grim Reaper by being good. She didn’t remember even a fraction of her past life but whatever she had done, she was now paying for it with an eternity of solitude. No one ever saw Grim Reapers until death and the only conversation Ginny had received for hundreds of years were the dribbles of conversation she had grasped at in accompanying souls to their next life.
And then there was May.
Ginny had heard the rumours in the spaces between life and death, fragmented whispers passed from other Grims. The cliche of the one true love breaking the ‘spell’. The fairy-tale love story. There’s one person that can see a Reaper and give them a shot at normality and love.
She’d laughed it off.

And then there was May.

She was picking herself up off the floor now, her pink lips split and swollen. Her blonde curls were all in disarray, curling upwards in little funfair loops. 
Gin instinctively reached out her hand and helped her up.
“Are-are you okay?” she mumbled, still gripping onto the other’s slim fingers.
May remained silent, her eyes scanning gently across Gin’s startled face.
“You aren’t hurt at all.”
Grim Reapers sit at the doorstep of death everyday – acquiring injuries at every small explosion just wouldn’t be ideal. Gin smiled and shook her head dismissively, “You’re bleeding, you know.” 
“Funnily enough, I’ve never felt more alive.”
Gin laughed in disbelief, “I know what you mean.”


All dead, all dead,

All the dreams we had,

And I wonder why I still live on.

He remembers it vividly. Kids born in the ‘wrong generation’ have nothing on him – he who states with heavy disappointment that he was simply born ten years too late.

On July 13th, 1985, his Dad, my Grandad, had a cricket match on the green opposite the house and my Dad, then a young, fresh faced boy, had spent the day running back and forth, throwing himself down in front of the bulky television and catching glimpses of Sting, Phil Collins, U2 and a world of popular music, and running off again without so much as a savouring moment. My Nan had strict instructions – to come running, screaming and hollering if Queen were announced while he was still outside. I can imagine her, legs tucked up underneath her on the sofa, age not yet settling into her softly amused, pretty face.
Still too young to have yet made the journey into London to see his beloved band play live, the twenty minute Live-Aid slot was
everything to my Dad.

He tells me this on the way home from coffee, and I’m still all caught up trying not to cry over the grand masterpiece we’d just seen on the big screen. No matter how many times he states ‘it certainly isn’t a biopic, the timeline is all messed up’, my Father clearly can’t deny the magic of Bohemian Rhapsody either, because I’d gently teased him for crying about it all the way to the coffee shop afterwards. He knows all there is to know about them, and I was now feeling just slightly guilty for stealing all his old Queen t-shirts to wear to college. Not that he needs them, honestly, the expanse of Queen themed tattoos down his right arm are merchandise enough, truth be told.  

Over the next few days, I have some time to reflect on why I personally loved the film so much, and why I’m suddenly listening the soundtrack on repeat. Spotify notes, with a teasing tone, that the songs are all in ‘heavy rotation’, considering I fail to listen to anything else at all. This is the same kind of reflection I took after saving over forty pictures of 1970s Tim Curry to my phone and reading article after article named something like ‘Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About The Rocky Horror Picture Show!”. Undoubtedly, I’d lovingly latched onto the fact that Freddie Mercury was a queer icon in a time where it wasn’t so fun to be a queer icon. For that I loved him dearly. Frank n Furter, with his shimmering garters and string of pearls, has been making space for an 80s Rock God in full lycra.

I begin to listen with absolute dedication and can’t help but notice the dog growing bored of being the one-canine audience to my intense afternoon dance sessions. That said, I think she rather enjoys that I dedicate Love of My Life to her every single time.

My Dad talks about live concerts and appearances with such longing, and when I ask him to send me some more obscure song recommendations, he sends me two long paragraphs worth, and then songs from each band member’s solo career the next day. I find my favourite song and it’s only when I’ve been rattling on about it to him for five minutes that I realise I must have the same dreamy, far off tone he often adopts. And it makes him smile a smile that reaches right up to his eyes, making them shine.

The Dad, with a face giving into the tracks and traces of age, is a young boy again, running across the green to catch his favourite band on television.

It’s something like a second chance, like brushing the dust from the record collection in the loft, and turning the handle of the music box lying still in his chest. 

But please you must forgive me,

I am old but still a child,

All dead, all dead,

But I should not grieve.



A Life Sentence

life sentence
  1. A punishment of life imprisonment or of imprisonment for a specified long period.
    Seemingly the thing at the top of Isabel Clark’s bucket list.


“Alright.. When I let you in don’t freak out or nothing, alright?”.

I stopped banging at the door to my own apartment, her strange words resonating for a moment. It was never going to be good news coming home to find that Isabel, my ever obnoxious roommate, had deadlocked and bolted shut the door to stop me getting in.

“What!? Let me in.” I hissed, “Let me in right NOW!”.

After a moment of muted cursing, she pulled open the door and gave me a less than convincing smile.

We stood face to face, me seething with anger (I’d had a one-sided argument with the chip and pin machine at the supermarket and left a bag of shopping on the train.) and her flashing me a darling little grin in a weak attempt to stop me going ape shit.

I pushed past her and froze as my boots made a sickening squelching sound against the carpet. Preparing myself for a brief moment, I looked down.

Blood. Lots of blood. All smeared in a trail leading from the door, round the sofa, puddling on the kitchen tiles and curling off into Isabel’s room.

Everything that had happened that day, my latest murder being called ‘lazy’ and ‘messy’ by the local newspaper, the cat pissing on my bloody bed sheets, the bloody chip and pin machine not accepting my bloody card and now this, Isabel letting her victim bleed on my beautiful, fluffy white carpet, all piled up to create the worst day ever.

“I’ll clean it-” she started, but I’d had enough. Silently plotting to brutally murder her dumb ass and wrap the body up in my now ruined, once perfect carpet, I stormed off down the hallway and turned into her room.

He lay there on the floor, face down and moaning incoherent words. It was the man who had wolf whistled at us in the coffee shop on Tuesday, weedy and not at all a worthy kill for the high-profile killer my roommate had become.

“Never have I once bought a victim home.” I muttered with exasperation, watching the blood seep from a deep wound in his neck.
Suddenly, he reached out and grabbed at my leg, gasping for air, “Help me, please.”.

“No! Stop bleeding on my carpet.” I retaliated, crossing my arms in a strop. This really had crossed a line. This was the second time she’d brought a victim home (Although she said the first time didn’t count because she’d only bought his arms and legs, pffft.) and it was breaking the first and most important rule on our roommate agreement stuck to the fridge.

Rule #1; Murders must be kept discreet, separate to our personal lives and out of the apartment.

At the bottom of the agreement, under another nine rules I’d set when she’d asked to move in, clear as day, she had scrawled out her signature. She had promised.

I should have listened to Ezra, my bartender who’s side job as an assassin had got him five stars on

“Don’t live with another killer.” He’d said, “You’re killing methods are going to clash and it’ll only end badly.”.

Oh how I wished I’d listened back then.

Isabel peeked her head round the door frame, eyes wide and apologetic as I glared at her.

“Do you know the Daily Echo called my latest kill messy and disorganised this morning!?” I nearly cried, feeling defeated as I realised I’d left crimson footprints through the hall, “And you go and break the roommate agreement and drag blood through the house, making a god awful mess and they still call your murders ‘intelligent’ and ‘pure evil’.” .

“Oh, come on, I-I’ll let you slit his throat!?” she tried, rushing over to her bedside cabinet and picking up her knife with a small smile.

“You crazy cow, you’re not killing him on my carpet!”.

I turned on my heels and headed straight for my own room. It was quite the opposite Isabel’s pink little princess fort, the walls a dark purple colour and the four-poster bed swallowed in heavy black curtains and a huge, thick duvet. I swallowed up as much of the calm air as I could, breathing in and out and directing my mind away from the blood stains and the murder and my awful fucking excuse for a flat-mate. Satisfied I wouldn’t end up losing my temper and killing her, I dropped to my knees and dragged a worn shoe box out from the under the bed, quickly pouring the contents onto the floor. My revolver lay amongst a few covered knives and golden ammunition. It was a beautiful thing, well-kept and shiny enough that I could see my brown eyes blinking back at me in the reflection of the barrel. I pushed a single bullet into the cylinder and clicked the hammer.
My jaw locked, I walked back down the hall, swinging my weapon of choice between my fingers. When I turned back into Isabel’s room, I found the dying man turned onto his side with a cloth pressed to his neck, obviously Isabel’s futile attempt to stop anymore blood getting on the floor.

“Oh please don’t!” She whined at the sight of the gun, “It took me ages to get him here without anyone seeing, at least let me have a little fun!”.

Blah blah blah. Smirking, I pushed the miserable runt of a man onto his front with a sharp kick to the shoulder. His eyes went wide as he stared at the muzzle of my gun and he began muttering in a panic, begging for forgiveness and offering me everything from his chihuahua to his car and one bedroom flat.

I pouted at him, “I’m sure your chihuahua will find a very loving home.”.

With that, I pulled the trigger. A satisfying bang resonated around the room as his body relaxed and his eyes rolled upwards in his what was left of his bloodied skull; dead. Easy peasy pumpkin pie.

Isabel slumped back against her bed, which was fittingly adorned with a baby pink duvet to fit her princess attitude. Her bottom lip jutted out as she wiped her blonde hair from her eyes and pulled a cigarette from the Louis Vuitton bag on her bed. (Which she definitely stole from a victim, she could never afford one herself.) I pulled my boots off and set them in the corner, grimacing at the blood that dripped from them.

“Come on then, clean this up.” I sighed, realising Isabel was still sat there. She rolled her eyes, a fag hanging lazily from her plump lips, “Alright Your Majesty.”.
I laughed bitterly, “Your majesty wouldn’t be so forgiving, now I’d hurry up before it stains. I’m going out now, so don’t wait up”.

The next morning, heavy with the ugly effects of straight vodka, I woke up to a rolled newspaper being thrown at my temple.

“Wake up Moron, the press are absolutely loving us!”.
Isabel had pulled the bed curtain aside and light from the window burnt bright against my tired morning eyesight. She thrust the newspaper into my hands and I groaned, trying to make sense of the blurry headline.

“The Shadow Killer and Angel Maker become partners.”

I blinked repeatedly and read it again to make sure.

Me and Isabel? Partners?

“The Angel Maker, a notorious killer known for leaving the bodies of their victims outside police stations and tourist locations, has left yet another victim outside West End Central Police Station late last night. The 26-year-old man was seen less than 12 hours earlier at the fast food joint he worked at a mere twenty minutes from his home. Upon closer inspection, police at the scene found the man was killed with a single bullet to the head, leading them to believe this was the work of the Shadow Killer. Reports suggest the two high-profile killers are working together. Full story on page 5.”


I looked up, stunned.

“This is brilliant.” She grinned, “We just went up in the world, the police are going to be going bloody daffy trying to track us down now! That’s gotta be like… a life sentence and a half each!”.

She flopped onto my bed with a content sigh. She was right – we had just become Most Wanted.

After a moment of overwhelmed silence, we burst into happy giggles.

I affectionately thought back to how it had all began, when we were struggling, fresh-faced students just escaping the education system. Five short years prior, she’d come into my room in the dead of night, covered in blood and wielding the butter knife from our kitchen, utterly out of breath.
“How many men do you think I’d have to kill before they give someone as adorable as me a life sentence?”.

Taxidermy; Do it Yourself!

Amelia stood in the middle of her Grandma’s bedroom, her worn leather boots soaking in the blood that had splattered onto the floorboards. She’d been avoiding looking at the damn lumberjack in the doorway, but she finally turned to him, trying to soften her hard expression
“Take my Grandma to the village immediately. She needs help.”
With a soft kiss to her Grandma’s grey curled locks, matted thick with blood, Amelia helped her to her feet and the man rushed to take her side.  
“I can’t leave you here, you must accompany us.” he spoke with deep confidence, and Amelia smirked as she realised he was trying to sound stern. She crossed the room wordlessly, opening the door for them both.
“Go now, take her straight to the doctor”.
With a sigh, the man nodded and Amelia offered her Nan one last warm, comforting smile, “I’ll clean up here Gran, you’ll be back in your own bed before the day is out”.
Finally alone as the lumberjack helped her Grandma down the front porch, Amelia heaved a huge, shaking sigh, disbelief running her thoughts astray and sending them rushing wildly through the events of the last twenty minutes.

Miss Amelia Hood was lightheartedly named ‘Red Riding Hood’ for the crimson riding coat she wore while hunting. It was often commented that no sane hunter would ever consider wearing something so vibrant, but those comments were quickly shot down with the reminder that Red was the best any of them had ever met, and she always came back successful regardless of the bold colour of her overcoat.
That day Amelia was not hunting, but bringing food to her Grandma. She did so every Thursday to ensure her only living Grandparent stayed well fed and with some company in her old age.

However, earlier that day, upon getting close to the snug little cottage on the outskirts of the forest, she had heard a blood curdling scream, and panic flooded her body when she saw the quaint wooden door of the little home torn open, hanging loosely off its hinges. The grocery bags fell from Red’s arms, forgotten about immediately, and she raced forward, pulling her hunting bow off her back and pushing an arrow into place. The wolf had left a trail of destruction through the small kitchen and Red followed it quickly, leading her to the bedroom where her frail Grandma was crying out, the wolf prowling the length of the space, both of them bloody as the poor, frail old woman had fought the beast off with bare arms.
“Oi!” Red shouted, anger refining her senses, the aim of her arrow precisely pointing to a fatal spot on the huge animal’s neck. It turned at the sound, a monster with coarse black fur and wide, rabid eyes. Prepared, Red pulled back the bow and – suddenly – a large object whooshed past her ear. She faltered, losing her balance for just a moment and sending the arrow shooting off into the ceiling as she fell hard on her ass. The object, a large axe with an aged wooden handle, lodged itself into the wolf’s skull and after a hysterical howl of pain it collapsed, its head falling heavily into the shocked hunter’s lap. Red scrambled to her feet and through the doorway, straight into the muscular chest of a breathless stranger. She screamed out, her heart beating desperately fast and her usual calm composure abandoned.
“You nearly killed me with that axe!”. 
The man, adjusting his plaid shirt with broad arms, examined the dying wolf on the carpet, “I’d actually say I saved your life. I heard screaming and came as quickly as I could.”
“Oh goodness me, how could I ever repay you!?” Red fawned dramatically, hands pressed over her heart. She shot him a hard glare and rushed to her Grandma’s side, “I had it under control. I hunt, and I don’t go throwing axes at people’s heads.”
“It wasn’t thrown at your head, it was thrown at his!” he sighed, gesturing with exasperation at the wolf.
And that was when Red stopped listening to the lumberjack, and started worrying about how to clean the place up and get him out of the way, taking us back to where we found her, stood blood stained in her Grandmother’s bedroom.

Red looked down at the wolf then, long dead, and her panic towards the situation quickly faded, being replaced with a dull irritation. First things first, she whipped the already blood stained sheets from her Grandma’s lonely single bed and threw them under the wolf’s head to prevent any more blood getting onto the carpet, and then set about looking for cleaning equipment. She was rummaging around in the cupboards under the sink looking for some kind of carpet cleaner when her eyes fell upon a dusty, colourful cardboard box. She laughed in disbelief at a rather distant memory of her Grandma showing her a handmade, oddly proportioned stuffed mouse. Brushing the fine layer of grime from the lid, her suspicions were confirmed; she had in her hands a Taxidermy; Do it Yourself! Kit that her Grandma’s late friend had gotten her a few birthdays back. Red wondered where on Earth her Grandma had found that poor dead mouse, and then it hit her – the most brilliant, sick and twisted idea she’d ever had.

It took ages, considering it was her very first time and the instructions were entirely in Swedish. Red was determined to make it utterly perfect. She cleaned the cottage and got to work immediately, and was labouring through the night. The finishing touch was taking one of her Grandma’s white linen night caps and pulling it over the wolf’s head, down past the face forever fashioned into a hilarious yet equally unsettling smile and tied in a neat little bow under the chin. Red really had a knack for taxidermy, it turned out, and the wolf sold for a very considerable amount within hours of its completion, advertised as “a fashionable one off piece for an eccentric with a flair for the dramatic”. Despite the Lumberjack, Paul, trying to take credit for taming the wild beast, no one really cared, for it was Red who had forever humiliated and emasculated the creature, making it nothing more than fancy furniture for the rest of time. Being such a successful hunter, she now had a brand new hobby that meant none of her catch would ever have to go to waste.

Now her business card proudly reads “Miss Amelia Hood, Hunter and Taxidermist”. If there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it would be never to cross her.