20 Seconds…

20 seconds.

20 seconds is all it takes for the body to slip into unconsciousness, after that my death will be easy.


“The Court is all in agreement! Martha Carrier has been found guilty of Sorcery and Witch craft in the city of Salem! Her punishment will be suited to the crime she has committed! Death by hanging!” cried Salems most acclaimed Witch Hunter.

I stood, hands tied, stripped to nothing, soaked from the lakes water, where they tried to make the shallow waters my grave.

I failed the test. I floated. I am now sentenced for the crime of inheritance. Pitiful.

Giving man power to take a life, that’s the real crime.

I stood, shivering. My hands clenched in fists to stop the shock from hitting my body. I heard those words, those 3 final words and in that moment, I ignored the ferocious shouts of the bigot witch slaying men and prepared myself for those dreaded 20 seconds.

Two brawny warm hands grab my shoulders, their heat flooding down my back. As they began to tug me to the righteous standing tree which stood behind me. Every step was exhausting. My knees rattled and the thud of my feet hitting the ground sent my spine stiff.

The shouting hateful voices began to blur, as I allowed a prayer to be quietly said from my purple trembling lips.

They turned me around, so I was faced with the burning torches and the face of those condemning me to death, and then as if to take away my last shred of dignity those men, those foul smelling, small minded animals began to spit at me as the noose was placed over my head.

In this moment I heard my mother. Standing in the same place where her life was unjustly taken, her voice her whispers kept me strong.

“Do not waste a tear my darling. Do not hold hatred in your heart, not to these men and not towards your children.”

I lifted my head to look at each man in the eye.

“Do not wish death upon these men, show forgiveness, for their blind sighted eyes have made them this way.” She whispered in my ear. “Believe that God will show mercy to you and soon you be with me. 20 seconds my darling Martha.”

I took one last breath of the fresh air and my last seconds begun.



I was pulled up quickly my final breath didn’t get a chance to reach my lungs before the rope grabbed onto my throat forcing the air out of me. Instinctively my legs began to kick trying to find ground, trying to find safety. I let out a squeak, wanting to call out, wanting help.

My body was stiff, shock consuming it and fighting to stay alive.



I am still kicking but every effort became slower, weaker. Taking bursts of breath was growing more painful by the second, the rope just got tighter and tighter. The rope just got tighter and tighter, as if it was a Boa Constrictors preparing for it’s feast.

I forced my mind to think not of the crushing feeling around my neck, not to think of the lingering burn that I began to feel in my chest, but of my husband; Thomas.

My beautiful husband, who I never got the chance to say goodbye too. I love him…

I thought of his eyes and the way his cheeks dimpled as he smiled. I thought of his soothing voice, telling me things will be okay, that we would get out of this mess. Look at me now Thomas I am a branded and murderous witch.

I hope you still love me too.



A pain shot through my spine and my body began to say it’s goodbye. My kicks and struggles were now helpless twitches. I couldn’t even feel my feet any more. The numbing began to spread up my body.

The scrutinising burning in my chest started to become too much to bare. I tried to cry out, but it was hopeless. I felt a tear sting my cheek as it rolled down my face. I feel so cold.

I will be the first women in Andover to die for this crime, but I won’t be the last. That brought no comfort.



My last few seconds were of my children. It wasn’t there fault. They were vulnerable and naïve. I thought of each one of my beautiful babies, my lasting memory of them will be their joy’s laughter as they chased each other around the garden. I remembered the warmth their bodies gave me as they ran in for an evening hug after dinner.

Josie, Brandon and Mary.

I love you all.

They bring me slight comfort as I began to feel my body going limp, and my eyes slowly began to close.

I want to try one more breath but I stop myself, this feeling… this feeling of my body finally resting was all I needed to feel. The pain had stopped, the burnning had stopped. The fould shouting from those bastard men, stopped. I was beginning to find peace.



In my last second, I feel my body lay on the ground. My body grows colder, but I feel warm… I feel at peace.

I force a small smile just enough to show them that their hatred will not be beaten.



This story was based upon the life of Martha Carrier.
Martha Carrier, aged 33, lived in Andover and was the wife of Thomas Carrier. Carrier was also the niece of outspoken opponent of the Salem Witch Trials, Reverend Francis Dane of Andover, and the sister of accused witch Mary Toothaker of Billerica.

Carrier was the first person in Andover accused during the Salem Witch Trials. She was accused by her neighbour Benjamin Abbot after the two had a dispute over land and Abbot immediately fell ill.

Her children were also accused and were coerced into testifying against her. Carrier was brought to trial on August 5 and executed on August 19, 1692.


Year Zero

Wrrrhh tchk.

“It’s Year Zero, Day errr Seven.

“Yes, that’s about right. Seven days since we got here, not seven days after it happened. That was umm ten days ago? My memory’s a bit vague, after it hit, there was a lot of chaos, a hell of a lot of fire. Christ, there was so much fire, everywhere I turned…”

There’s a pause, the quiet sigh of a steadying breath.

“I- I don’t know how to start this, I’m not even sure how long I can do this for. I found this recorder in the back, and there’s only so many batteries. But someone has to. Record how it all went down, how the human race fell, how we ended, and how a new world begins. So, here we go.

“We think it was a bomb, a huge huge one- or lots of them. It was so quick. One moment, May and I were walking the dog, the next, one big explosion. I hit my head, so it’s all a bit of a blur. I remember walls of fire, a muddy ditch. I remember getting back to the village afterwards. Just black and ash as far as you could see. Anyway, we managed to find a group, far far out where the countryside wasn’t touched – turns out doomsday preppers aren’t just a US thing – and now a new start. There’s no signal, nothing over the radios. At this moment, there is quite possibly nothing out there, only us.

“So, this is what I am recording, the beginning of a new human civilisation. A chance to build anew. God knows we needed to.”


Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Eight.

“Sorry for the abrupt end to the last log, I didn’t know what to say anymore. I’m sure you can imagine how… upsetting it has been. So I think I shall keep it simple for this one, and just tell you where we are.“Well, I can’t actually tell you where we are. As I said, things got a bit confusing. But I am mostly certain we’re about a three day walk from the village of Ash-Easton. Not that it’s of any help now I think about it. I suppose one scorched wasteland looks like any other scorched wasteland.”

Strained laughing.

“We’re in still in Somerset, I think. Pretty sure we didn’t cross any county lines. Anyway, where ever we are, it’s in an old RAF bunker, you know, the ones with sod for a roof. It’s actually pretty spacious, and a lot more privacy than I would ha-”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Nine.

“I’ve made sure to put in fresh batteries this time.

“We’ve still not heard anything, and, frankly, I am not that upset. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t begin to explain how we’re all feeling, about what has happened. But, this feels like a clean slate. I mean, before the- the Cataclysm – yeah, that works, it was all going to shit. Brexit, Russia, the US. Then this happens. It’s like we’ve been handed a great flood, and we can rebuild the world in our right image.”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Ten.

“This log isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us here at Prometheus Base. Jane, do you want to introduce yourself?”

“Err what?”

“Introduce yourself, how you want to be remembered by the coming generations.”

“What exactly are you recording? It’s 2018. And who let you call us Prometheus Base? That’s a fucking stupid name.”

“I am recording the first and best primary source for the Cataclysm and the new beginning of the human race. This could shape the development of coming generations.”

“Right, OK. One, we thought you were just doing a little journal to keep your mind off this all. Which I get, and support, I really do. But you’re acting like this is the apocalypse or something.”

“Well, it is, isn’t it?”

“I know what’s happened has been… fucking awful, but it really isn’t. Jenner’s saw a plane the other day, we will be OK. We are OK.”


“How do you know? We’ve heard nothing since the Cataclysm, and the coming generations-”

“Oh my god. Two, never, ever say the phrase ‘coming generations’ again. That’s gross. And three, I’m taking this recorder and speaking to your wife, I think this is just making you worse.”

Sounds of a brief scuffle occur.

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Twelve.

“They are absolutely convinced that this is not the Cataclysm. You should see them, so attached to the dead world that they think I’m the one who’s mad. It’s sad really. They keep their phones charged up with this solar panel thing, just in case. In case of what!

“Oh yeah, that reminds me, they’ve been going outside because there has been some activity on the radios. As if that makes it safe. I’m sure there are plenty of survivors in need alright. However. There are those who are looking for a nice cosy setup, just waiting to lure us out. And I highly doubt they’ll want to keep us around after they do.”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Thirteen.

“Prometheus Base has been in an uproar for the last hour. Someone finally got through to us on the radio, and now they are coming over. What happened to being careful, safe? God knows what we’ve invited into a midst. I may not be able to record much over the coming days, but I’ve made sure I am prepared.”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“It’s still Day Thirteen. They’ve arrived, and, ugh, there is so much laughing and crying. May is looking for me, but don’t worry. I will not fail the coming generations”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day Fourteen.

“I’ve got to be quiet, they don’t know I still have this. I won’t stop just because… Shit-”

There is a scratching, rattling sound. The voices are muffled.

“Jesus, Brian.”

“I did what I had to, May. To keep us safe.”

“By stabbing someone who came to help!?”

“Of course, they are murderers! One moment of stupidity and we are all dead. And- and there will be no more hope!”

“Do you hear yourself, Brian?

“This is not the end of the world, this is not year zero. We are not alone! Christ, I know it’s been terrible, hellish even. We’re all struggling, but we’ve also been pulling together. These new people, they’re no different. In fact, they’ve been traveling around, finding us all.”

“The man I stabbed…”

“He’s fine. Luckily, it was shallow and he’s understanding.”


“You’ve spooked the others, but I think I can talk them out of turning you over to the police or military, or whoever when they come. But I need- I need you to pull it together. No more Cataclysm. No more new beginnings. Just back to how it used to be. Me and you.”


“No. No more.”

A metal door clangs.

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Year Zero, Day.. whatever.

“I don’t know how long I’ve been stuck in here for, they won’t let me out. May visits, but all she talks about how more people are coming, how the government is going to save us all. As if there’s an actual government. If Ash-Easton, the ass end of nowhere, was reduced to ash, then there’s a bastard crater where Westminster was.

“I tried to tell her it’s all lies, that we finally have a chance to make something better and worth while. But she leaves when I try. She’s my wife, and she won’t listen.

“Maybe we ended in the Cataclysm, maybe I’ve been trying to hold on to the old world too.”

Wrrrhh tchk.

“Oh god, I did it, I’m out. I don’t have long though, they’ll find May soon.Oh god, May. May. I’m sorry, I had no other choice. You were going to drag me down with you. And I can’t. I can’t have that, not when so much depends on me.”

Brian is panting, almost sobbing. Shouting can be heard from the distance. There is a dull thud.

Wrrrhh tchk.

Recording Ends.

More Time

The hush of the door
The pad of a foot
The stifled giggles of untameable excitement

I brace myself for what I know is to come.

I hold my eyes tight shut, burying my face into the duvet and savour the last brief moments of sleep, shadows of dreams still dancing across my eyelids.  A ball of knees and elbows hits me square in the back and my breath leaves me despite the anticipation. The whirling dervish throws herself this way and that, and any frustration quickly melts as Kaylah throws her arms around me, the laughter coming out in squeals.

“I got you Mummy!”
“Yes, you did, little bear,” I say as she dives under the duvet, snuggling into the crook of my arm.  “Did you sleep well?”
She nods in that way she does that ripples through her whole body and another knot loosens in my stomach.
“I dreamed that there were dinosaurs,” she exclaims, her hands flailing in front of her, painting the picture of the huge creatures. “We had a pet one called Rufus, and we played games and he ate a lot.”
“Did he?” I ask in the sing-song voice of all very interested parents.
“Yes, his favourite was pizza and milkshake, just like me, that’s why he was our pet, because we like the same things.”
“Of course,” I pull her closer, breathing her in, the fluff of her hair tickling my nose.  “Well maybe today we could go and see some real dinosaurs.”
Her eyes widen and her lips crease before spreading into a toothy grin.
“We can?!  For real?!”
I nod, “For real.”
Another elbow to the gut as she throws off the covers and bounds out of the room, but this time I don’t mind quite so much.  It’s always worth it for that smile.


We spend the afternoon wandering the rooms of the museum, weaving between statues and marvelling at paintings.  I purposely save the best for last.  Her charging and dancing slows to a stop as she gazes up at the reconstructed diplodocus looming over her. She leans, arching her back to get a full view, eyes wide, mouth gaping.

“Mummy look!” she gasps, pointing, and I join her, crouching down to take in the magnitude of what she is seeing.
“This,” I explain, following the line of her arm, “is what a real dinosaur looked like when they were alive millions of years ago.”
She wrenches her eyes away and tilts her quizzically, “Why did the dinosaurs all die?”
“Well,” I lead her to the sign at the foot of the towering creature, “we don’t know for sure, but most people think that it was because a large meteorite, a big rock, that it hit the Earth.”
“Not how Mummy, I mean why?” Her deep brown eyes swim with questions.
I draw her close and whisper, “I don’t know the answer to that sweetheart, I wish I did.”
I see the cogs turning behind her furrowed brow.  “But if they are all gone then where is Rufus?”
I chuckle, the crux of her woes revealed.
“I think I know, come on little bear.”
I take her hand and we exit through the giftshop.


The early evening light is still warm so we pick a table outside and enjoy our pizza and milkshakes, making sure to share a slice with Rufus.  She babbles on, as much to the toy as to me, and I just drink her in; my bright, energetic, beautiful girl.  I think of all the milestones still to come, each one flashing before my eyes like a photo album yet to be made: her first day at big school, her exam stress, her graduation, her first job, her first love, her first heart break…

She slurps at the dregs of her milkshake and I resist the urge to snap at her; it’s been a good day, there’s no need.  Instead I sigh deeply and pick up my bag, slipping a few notes under the edge of my plate, before slinging the strap over my shoulder.

“Come on then little bear, time to head home.”
She hops up from the table and skips a little way down the street, chattering away to herself.  She reaches the corner and she stops, spinning around, a look of gravity on her young face.
“Mummy, Rufus says he would like to play some more before going to bed, and I need to give him a tour of the house.”
I let the smallest hint of a smile crack as I nod towards her.  She turns back to the corner, a silhouette against the setting sun and I turn away.

I hold myself straight, eyes fixed ahead.
Just breathe.

Horn blares
Breaks squeal

After follows the void; a silence that screams with how full it is.  I hold my eyes tight shut, tears tugging at the corners, until the screams come.  I turn and walk, robot-like, and carefully scoop up the crumpled body of my daughter, dinosaur still clutched firmly.

The journey home is a blur of streets and cars, trees and lamplight, my wet eyes leaving my vision swimming.  I drop the keys on the counter and force the door closed with my back, pushing my way through the house.  Her room is a sea of purple, a torment, like the rising bruises belong.  I place her limp form gently on the bed and tease the toy from her grasp, pulling the cover up to her chin.  Aside for a small graze on her cheek I could convince myself she’s sleeping.

I place my lips gently on her forehead, breathing her in, before I back out of the room I have tried to repaint time and time again.  I look down at the bloodied Rufus in my hands, his big eyes and toothy grin too close for comfort.  I open the cupboard on the landing and place him between the crooked doll and the torn teddy, a flake of dried blood floating out like confetti.  The cupboard is nearing full, each carrying a little piece of her.  I’ll have to think of somewhere else to keep them soon.

I close my bedroom door behind me and slip between the sheets, clutching at the thick duvet like a lifeline.  I have given up on trying to save her, she’s always taken in the end.  No matter where we go or what we do death finds her.  Yet every night I hear myself crying out my unanswered prayer, “please let tomorrow be different.”  When I begged for more time, I never thought it would be like this.


Seventy-eight years. When he was twenty-seven they met on the bus, and he went six miles past his stop just to keep talking to her. She was the last thing he saw. Fifty-one years together ended with a view of her smiling face, her hand pressing his gently as he drifted slowly into darkness.


He opened his eyes, blinking lazily. Light slowly filled the room, warm but neutral. As it grew brighter, so his surroundings grew more familiar. This was his room. Plain, as they all were, but definitely his. Slowly Hunter sat up in bed. The memory of aching, aged joints was fading, and he stretched a younger body that was growing more familiar by the second. He looked about as he did so, noticing the white notebook and pen sitting on the small table beside the bed.


Twelve years. Polio took him early, but there was something in the eyes of one of the nurses. It was a look that was utterly familiar, though he was too young to understand…


“Thank you, Gideon.” Hunter murmured. He reached for the notebook and opened it to the first blank page, noting that he was over halfway through now. As he thought for a moment, wondering what to write about his last life, his gaze fell on the shelf on the wall opposite him. A row of similar notebooks was lined along the shelf, each one already full. Then inspiration hit, and Hunter pressed his pen against the blank page and began to write.


Fifty years. They passed once in the street when he was thirty years old. She looked at him, smiled… Then turned her eyes to the man whose hand she was holding, and walked on… Those eyes haunted him for the rest of his life, even as the heart attack hit him years later and he slumped to the floor, clutching his chest…


“Hunter! Over here!”
Arcady and Eleanor were waving to him from across the canteen. He grinned and nodded, making his way over to them. As he did so, he looked searchingly at the faces of the other diners, but did not find what he was looking for, as usual. Finally he reached his friends and sat, but before he’d settled on the chair Arcady spoke.
“So? How did you do?”
Hunter sighed.
“Do we have to compare notes immediately? Can’t I eat first?”
“Come on, spill.”
Hunter looked at Eleanor, who just rolled her eyes and shrugged. Relenting, Hunter began to tell them about his latest life.


Twenty-five years. He was a soldier, she was the childhood sweetheart he’d had to leave behind. As the bullets tore through his torso and knocked him to the ground, his hand fumbled for the photo of her he’d kept by his side every day since they parted…


Hunter took a bite of toast and looked about the Canteen, searching each face. He noticed Eleanor and Arcady were watching him, and raised an eyebrow.
“Looking for someone?” Eleanor asked. Hunter gave her a small smile and shrugged.
Arcady frowned.
“You’re sure it was her again?” Hunter nodded, and his friend shook his head. “Hunter, I keep telling you, you must be making a mistake. It’s just not possible. I mean, statistically if nothing else.”
Hunter shrugged.
“It’s her. It’s always her.”


Sixty-eight years. They’d met via an online dating website, a measure which neither of them thought would work, but then spent thirty happy years side by side. Then, in his sleep and unaware, he drifted slowly away from her…


Three lifetimes later the trio walked through the Park after eating, taking Eleanor’s favourite path, the one that wound down to and then around the lake. Arcady chatted on about his latest life, but Eleanor and Hunter said little. Hunter would have wondered at Eleanor’s silence, which was unusual, if he hadn’t been caught up in his own thoughts. Finally Arcady fell silent too, looking at both of them.
“Well you two are being cheerful today.”
Ignoring Arcady, Eleanor caught Hunter’s eye.
“Hunter, supposing it is the same person each time…”
“It is.”
“Well… Shouldn’t she be here, then?” Hunter gave her a lopsided smile.
“Who do you think I’m always looking for?”


Forty-five years. They’d met in school, and his heart had been hers ever since. But she’d never wanted it, never felt more than friendship for him. They had remained close, and he had kept his silence, and given her the best friendship he could. Then one day as they crossed a road towards a coffee shop a lorry could not stop in time, and so he pushed her out of its path…


“She’s here somewhere. I just have to find her.”
“And how do you propose to do that?”
Hunter had no answer, and Arcady grinned. Smiling sympathetically, Eleanor spoke quietly.
“You’re sure it’s always the same person?”
“It’s her. Every time, it’s her.”
“Then… Well , even if you don’t find her here, at least you have each other when you’re there. That’s something, right?”
“It’s something,” Hunter said, quietly. “But it’s not enough.”


Thirty-six years. They’d met through friends, and over a few years their friendship had grown, blossoming into a love that they’d each never dared hope for. Then, on the return train from a magical day in a beautiful city, weather and disrepair combined to end it. Time seemed to slow as the carriage shuddered and twisted and rocked, the shattering of glass and grinding of metal made no sound; he heard only the beating of his heart as he reached for her hand one last time…


A few lifetimes later they sat once more in the Canteen, and Hunter was searching each face for a familiar gaze.
“You’ll never find her, Hunter. Stop doing this to yourself.”
“I find her there, every time. Why not here?”
“Well, here’s different, I guess. It’s not meant to be, here.”
“No,” Hunter said. “No.”
And before either of his friends could speak, he stood and walk out of the Canteen, his food untouched.


Eighty-one years. He’d missed her terribly when she passed, leaving him alone. For seven years he’d carried on as before, but his heart wasn’t in it. Even if every step is the same as those you’ve taken before, the path changes when you walk it alone. Then, sixty-three years after she’d stolen his heart, seven after she’d taken it away with her, he sighed one last time and slipped into darkness…


Hunter stayed away from his friends for a few lifetimes. He kept himself to himself; he wrote notes on his lives, he ate, walked in the Park, sometimes laying on the grass and gazing up at the birds gliding high overhead. And he vainly searched every face for the gaze he’d seen over and over, across a thousand lives and more.


Sixty-two years. They’d met at university, fallen so deeply, so immediately for each other that they both knew it had to be something more than just the freedom and exploration of youth. Then one day they’d been crossing the road when an oncoming car could not stop. She had cried out, shoving him as hard as she could. The car had crushed his foot, and though it eventually healed, he had a limp for the rest of his days. But she had taken the full force of the impact, and he was assured she’d been gone before she hit the ground. In time he had found another love, married, had children, lived a happy life. But the young woman who had saved his life never truly left his heart, even as he fell into his final slumber…


Hunter lay on the grass, his eyes closed. He heard the faint whisper of footsteps on grass, then the sounds of two people laying down beside him. Finally Hunter spoke.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Yeah. Me too,” Eleanor said.
“And me,” added Arcady.
“We know you want to find her. We just worry about you.”
“I know.”
The three friends lay together on the grass, reunited.


Seventy years. Their time came together, which their children thought was typical of them. Fifty years side by side, hand in hand, and then they slipped into the dark one night, lying in each other’s arms…


He sat in the Canteen, the memory of his last life slow to leave him, when a voice spoke beside him.
“Do you mind if I sit here?”
“Of course not,” Hunter murmured. “I’m sorry, I was just…”
But his voice trailed off as he looked up at the speaker, and his gaze was met by a pair of eyes he’d seen countless times before, though never in this place.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m Ariadne.”

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 OffYourEx.com.

“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?”.

Welcome to the Machine

“A time machine, seriously?” Natalie looked at Thomas with a mix of scepticism and exasperation as they stood in the middle of his garage, next to a refrigerator adorned with wires and magnets. Cables ran to the device from each corner of the garage, which was lit by a single work lamp hanging on the wall beside a work bench. 

“What else should I call it? It makes things travel through time.” 

“I just mean, it sounds like science fiction.“ 

“So would an iPhone, if you talked to someone in the 60’s.” 

“How does it work?” 

“Really well.” Thomas smirked. 

“Don’t be a dick.” Natalie shot back, instantly. 

“It creates a miniature wormhole whilst balancing the gravity well by reversing the polarity on the magnets on the outside.” 

She walked around the machine, curious. 

“Do you know what any of that means?” She said, teasing him the way friends do. 

“Not really, no.” He grinned. “I mean, I only have the two PhDs…” 

“Tom… If this works, it’s incredible.“ 

“Thank you.“ 

“Do you realise how much this is worth?” 

“More money than God.” 

“How much money do you imagine God has? Or needs?” 

Tom took a deep breath in and out, which Natalie recognised immediately. 

“A sigh that big is never the start of something good.” She offered, accurately. “This is me, Tom, I’m not other people. What’s going on?” 

“I want you to come with me to 2015.” 

“You’re crazy.” 

“That’s never bothered you before.” 

“Have you any idea what will happen if we use this thing?” 

“I’ve tested it Nat, come on, I wouldn’t ask you to do something dangerous. I mean, except that one time in Paris, but that was for a good cause.” 

“Impressing a girl does not count as a good cause Tom.” 

Tom grinned, and thought to himself that not only was it fact a very good cause (and on that occasion worked out very well), but come to think of it, was pretty much the only reason he did anything. 

“Okay, listen, the way it works is this…” he said as he walked to a white board and started drawing on it, remembering the scene from Back To The Future where Doc explains the timeline to Marty. 

“I sent my watch backwards and forwards to see what would happen. When I sent my watch forward, it arrived at the point in the future I sent it to without any time passing for it, but it also left a copy of itself in place. I just had to remove the first watch before the second arrived in the same space.” 

“And when you sent it backwards?” 

“All I could see from my point of view was the copy of the watch that stayed in the machine, but it stands to reason that the copy went backwards and that strand of time was so altered that we would be unaware of it.” 

“That’s a pretty big leap.” 

“Not really, the machine works sending an object forwards, that proves that my theory of how time works is accurate, it’s basically a function of gravity, and time is compressed with gravity’s pull. With time a constant moving through from a to b, the future is being created constantly, like we’re sitting on a beam of light and all in front of us is black, until we get there. It exists in a state of flux and doesn’t solidify until we observe it. We can send things to the future and have them appear for us because what’s actually happening is that we’re just delaying the arrival from the present, into the future of this bunch of atoms and energy. When we send something to the past, we’re accelerating it backwards and then when it arrives in the past, it’s writing a new timeline from that point, essentially creating a multiverse. I mean, it’s possible that the multiverse already exists and we’re moving things between the multiverses. I haven’t entirely figured that part out yet.” 

Natalie stood looking at the whiteboard, now adorned with dots, lines and arrows. She sighed. 

“You haven’t entirely figured it out yet?” 

“Yeah. But it’ll be an adventure.” Tom replied with as much enthusiasm and charm as he could muster. 

“An adventure…” Natalie repeated, thoughts swirling in her mind. “Tom this is totally crazy, we have lives here. I have Chris, you have a job you love, we have friends, they’d miss us…” 

“Actually from their point of view nothing would have happened. The amount of energy in the universe has to be constant, that’s why the watch didn’t disappear when I sent it either direction through time. We’d be copying ourselves, effectively. We’d keep living our lives here, and we’d also be living our lives, y’know, somewhere else… Sometime else.”

“Why 2015?”

“Because 2016 onwards was awful, and we might be able to do something about that. At the very least we know the result of the EU referendum and the US Presidential election, so we can make more than enough money on those to never need to work ever again.” 

“What about the grandfather paradox?” 

“Once we go back it’s not our universe anymore, so the existing timeline is maintained.” 

Natalie widened her eyes and sighed, trying to buy a moment to collect her thoughts and focus on the most pressing and practical questions. “Why do you want me to go with you? Surely if you’re only going back a short time, you’d just find me again and it’d be like nothing had happened…” 

“I can’t be in the same place as my copy, it’d be too complicated. I’d have to go somewhere else, live a separate life, none of the same friends, none of the same places. What would be the point in that? And what right would I have to disrupt my existing life like that, and do what, split our time half an half? Alternate the times we saw my friends?”

“But why me too?”

“You’re my best friend. You’re the one person I really couldn’t live without.” 

“Tom, this machine might kill us.” 

“It won’t.” 

“How do you know?” 

“I know.” 

“That’s a child’s answer… It’s too big a risk… Surely you see that… I finally have a life I love and I can’t take a risk like that anymore. If you go back and change things can you even be sure you’ll be happy? Where does the meddling end? How can you be sure you’d change anything significantly? How can you tell what the consequences of your actions will be at all?” 

“I can’t promise anything except this; Maybe we can’t change the world. I think we can, but maybe we can’t. We could be entirely different people if we wanted to be – a truly fresh start. How many people get that chance?” 

“Tom… If this works, it’s incredible. But I don’t need a fresh start. And I didn’t think you did either. You don’t need a time machine to go and make a fresh start to make yourself happy, you can be happy here.” 

“You keep saying ‘if it works’, as if doesn’t. It works, I promise you.”

“That isn’t even the point Tom, I’m saying you’re asking me to do something monumentally huge, and it’s a lot to process. We’ve known each other for a long time, but I did not see this coming.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

“I usually am.”

“Yeah, all the time.”

“Look, I have to get back home. Let’s have lunch in a couple of days and we’ll both have had a chance to think about it. There’s no rush right. You quite literally have all the time in the world.”


“And I’m serious. If you’re that unhappy, please talk to me about it, I can help.” 


Natalie walked over to Tom and gave him a hug. “I’ll text you.”

She walked out and Tom stood still until he heard her car pull away. He turned to the door and his other self walked in. Tom2, from the future, noticeably older than Tom.  

“What did she say?” Tom2 asked. 

“She’s not coming.” Tom replied. 

“You knew it was a long shot… Did you tell her about my jump? What we said to each other?” 

“What would be the point?” 

“You shouldn’t lie to your friends.” 

“Even if the truth would make us both miserable?” 

The question hung in the air, neither version of the man able to provide a satisfactory answer. Tom2 tried to offer a sympathetic coda.

“It’s just bad timing. Ironically. Should have asked her when you were both young and still had nothing to lose.”

“I can go back in time, but I can’t make myself any younger. Maybe I’ll work on that next.” Tom joked as he walked to the machine and opened the door, revealing the iPad control panel inside. He set the destination time for 2015 and looked back at Tom2. 

“Does it hurt?” 

“You get over it. In time.” 

Tom closed the door, took a deep breath and engaged the machine. 

Scarborough Fair

The last swirls of colour hung steadfast in the sky, grasping at the bottoms of the clouds and fighting the encroaching dark of the night. Between us, we gave them a nod and whispered appreciation for their fading beauty, before we surrendered our attention to the coming assault on the senses, and stepped over the makeshift threshold of sheet metal and concrete.

Wood smoke, hot oil, sugar and starch. Floodlights and flashing bulbs. Chattering, screaming, whoop and holler above the thud-thud-thud and growling hum of music and machine.

We made careful steps through the crowds – the many rivers of people with their contrarian currents, criss-crossing paths and sudden stops to bark commands at however many of the several children bobbing and weaving their own ways through the throng – to find our targets.

To stopper the grumble of stomachs, we splashed out on food (the classics, the gentrified, and the straight-up outlandish) scraping at the Styrofoam whilst lurking in the second-hand warmth of the serving hatches and trailer doorways.

To defy the odds, we surrendered our newly acquired coppers to the will of rubber ducks, coconuts and the grip of the claws. The eventual plush trophy most likely paid for twice over.

And to tempt fate, we took on the machines, to be spun and shook and launched. Hands finding hands, heads resting on shoulders. Laughter, screams, whispers.

And in between the spiralling chaos of the waltzer, we marvelled at the raven-haired girls who stepped on and off the walkways and arms with an effortless grace. Sirens that harmonised as they walked against the tide, to spin the cars. An old folk song. Their calling card.

Spun-drunk and enchanted, we stepped off the wrong way, and found ourselves elsewhere. Lost in amongst tent-backs, bins, and generators. Backstage to the theatre of the fair, with all the noise and light curtained off from us.

Alone in a sea of people.

Eyes lost in eyes.

Devious smiles.

Arms wrapping around each other, squeezing at the padding of layers in winter.

A stolen kiss.

Cold-numbed lips warming against each other. The rub of stubble. A crystal of Caster.

The already quietened world fading to a whisper. Only the siren-song to fill our heads.

An eternity, with no end in sight.

A sudden yell, and we broke apart.

Two tents down, a young man dove forward, bent double, unleashing a belly full of cider and chips, emptied onto Mike Ashley’s finest.

We were gone before we could be seen. Out amongst the throng, back in formation and hyper-aware, with blood pounding in our ears.

And as the adrenaline died away, the warmth sparked up inside of us, again.

The taste on each others lips.

The brush of fingers as we walked.

And on the air, distant but clear.

The sirens of the waltzer, singing of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…

The Morning After the Night Before.

I know I said I was going to draw all these but this picture was perfect and I couldn’t do it justice with my useless clown fingers.

This is a continuation of one of my stories from last year which you can find here: FEAR IS MOSTLY IN YOUR HEAD. MOSTLY. 

‘Time is on my side, yes it is’

Jamie started awake to a blackness so deep that it took him several seconds to realise he had his eyes open. It pressed in on every side. He felt it crawling down his throat with each shallow, panicked breath. It was forcing out the air, smothering him, he was drowning in darkness.

‘Time is on my side, yes it is’

The sweet, soulful voice of Irma Thomas came again, a lifeline in the all-consuming black. Jaime struggled to sit up his head swivelling from side to side trying to locate the source of the music. He felt weak as a day-old kitten, his arms and legs heavy and his thoughts muddied and slow. The music was muffled like it was playing in the next room.

‘Now you all were saying that you want to be free’

Carefully Jamie reached out with his hands he felt rough cloth underneath him, damp in places, soft and springy to the touch; some kind of bed? He turned slowly to his right and dangled a leg off the side and felt the cold stone floor under his bare foot. After a few moments when he felt his strength begin to return Jamie got up off the bed and shuffled forward waving his hands around in front of him. After a few steps, he met a wall of undressed stone.

‘But you’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would baby)’

Jamie wasn’t sure if his hearing was getting sharper to make up for his lack of sight, but the music sounded closer. His breath came in short gasps, and it took all of his will to not let the claustrophobia overwhelm him as he felt his way to the left along the wall. After a few feet, Jamie found another wall, and he followed it until it vanished leaving him standing in an open doorway.

‘You’ll come runnin’ back (like I told you so many times before)’

The sound was coming from somewhere to his right. Jamie cautiously stepped out of the doorway and turned in that direction. As soon as he turned the corner, the smell hit him like a tidal wave of filth. It was the choking stench of death and shit overlaid with the burning chemical smell of bleach. Jamie wavered for a second. He really didn’t want to go into the room but what choice did he have? He needed to get out.

‘You’ll come runnin’ back to me, yeah’

After a long minute building his courage Jamie started forward one hand out in front waving from side to side, one arm bent masking his face in the crook of his arm. The oily darkness pressed in on all sides leaving a film of filth on every inch of him, but he pressed on regardless. Jamie was a dozen shuffling paces into the room when his shin crashed painfully into something hard. He tipped forwards reaching for his bruised shin, spots dancing before his eyes, but his hands stopped short pressing down on something soft, spongy and wet.

‘Time is on my side, yes it is’

It was a bed like the one he’d woken up on, all rough, cloth and protruding springs, only something was different there was something soft and wet. He ran his fingers over the bed trying to puzzle out what it was he was feeling. Soft but with an undercurrent of firmness, then something hard and metallic, a loop then… With a yell, he snatched his hand back like he’d thrust it into a fire the bile rising in his throat. Beneath the loop of steel was the cold, wet foot of a decomposing corpse.

‘Time is on my side, yes it is’

Jamie’ heart pounded, and he heard his blood rushing in his ears. He lowered himself to a crouch and feeling his way around the bed, careful not to touch its gory contents, he crept further into the room. He encountered three more beds but kept low and moved around them quickly. For the first time, he was glad of the darkness because judging by the smell those beds too were occupied. When his hands eventually hit upon the rough stone of the far wall he collapsed in a heap, curling up in a ball and sobbing like a child.

‘You’re searching for good times but just wait and see
You’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would darling)
You’ll come runnin back (spend the rest of life with ya baby)
You’ll come runnin’ back to me’

As the chorus wound down Jaime’s sobs became less frequent and wiping his face on his sleeve, he forced himself back to his feet. “You can do this Jamie,” he whispered into the darkness. “You got in here so there must be a way out. Just take it one step at a time, one step at a time.”

‘Go ahead baby, go ahead, go ahead and light up the town’

Jamie reached out and found the wall, he moved to his right his soft hands bloodied by a myriad of cuts from the rough stone. He came across no way out before he hit the corner of the room. With increasing urgency he retraced his steps moving back left using both hands now sliding up and down. “There has to be something there has to…” He stopped dead as his hand his something long and hard. Hope flared in his chest and he explored the anomaly with both hands it was tall and made of wood covered in flaking paint. It was his salvation, a way out of this hell-hole, a door. He tugged on the handle, but the door remained closed. It was locked.

‘And baby, do anything your heart desires’

Jamie tugged uselessly a the handle but it stubbornly refused to budge. He ran his hands over the door again hoping for a window or any way through but he found nothing. Frustrated Jamie took a step back then slammed his shoulder hard into the wood only to bounce back, clattering into the bed behind him which let out a deafening screech as the steel legs scratched across the stone floor.

‘Remember, I’ll always be around’

Jamie reached out to lever himself up using the frame of the bed but as he did the welding gave way and the pole hit the ground with a sharp crack. Jamie spun groping for the pole and when his hands closed on it he braced his feet against the side of the bed and pulled. The bed screeched like a stepped on cat and the pole came loose. Rod in hand Jamie leapt to his feet and jammed it into the frame of the door where it stuck with a crack of splintering wood. Leaning into the makeshift lever Jamie pushed with all his strength and with a groan of protest the door popped open, the lock snapping through the frame.

‘And I know, I know like I told you so many times before’

Jamie felt a rush of air from in front of him and tears of relief sprang into his eyes. He could hear the distant whoosh of traffic and the steady patter of rain on rooftops. He was free. On unsteady legs, he ran towards the sounds only to pull up short only a couple of steps out of the door. His vision flashed white and he was falling as he heard an almighty snap as the jagged teeth of the bear trap sank into his leg so deep they buried themselves in the bone.

‘You’re gonna come back’

Jamie flung his head back to scream but before any sound came out he felt a gloved hand clamp over his mouth and the sharp sting of the needle sliding into his neck.  “Where are you going Jamie?” came the familiar voice, a ghost brushing his cheek. “You’re time isn’t up.”

‘Yeah you’re going to come back baby’

Jamie slumped to the floor the darkness rushing into the hole left by the syringe, filling him, smothering his consciousness. “Why?” He managed to force out the question but the darkness swallowed him before he got an answer.

‘Knockin’, yeah knockin’ right on my door, yeah’

Jamie started awake to complete darkness. He felt familiar rough cloth underneath him, damp in places, soft and springy to the touch. He was back in his bed. He reached out to rub his eyes, but his hand stopped short. He felt the bite of the steel handcuff cutting into his wrist. He screamed, but his voice was smothered by the soulful voice of Irma Thomas.

‘Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is, I said’
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is, I said
Time, time, time is on my side’

A Construct of Human Perception…

Well that’s month one down and by Jove, have they knocked it out the park this time! Given a few hours to play with the voting page, you’ll be able to vote for your favourites and talk about your enemies and whatever arty people do…

Onto this month’s writing challenge! I was discussing with a dear confident that there’s not enough time to do things and how time waits for no man, before eagerly waiting for time to pass so I could go for a weekend away with the lovely one, at some point I started looking into the idea of a class for DnD that plays with time.


The writers have one simple yet large stimulus for this month’s writing challenge. Time. Discuss it, slag it off, let it wile away whilst you think of an idea. Whatever you do, just don’t run out of it!

As always, your example piece.


Time After Time

She closed her eyes, took him by the hand, and they walked away forever.

The final words felt like an eternity as she typed the ending sentence of the novel and closed the document. Glancing at the violently red digital clock slicing through the darkness on the edge of her desk, she could see it was 04:32am and that she had broken another promise. She closed the laptop and padded gently to the kitchen to grab a glass of milk before ascending the creaky staircase to the bedroom where she could already hear him in deep sleep; the broken promise didn’t feel so bad knowing that she would have to kick him to stop the snoring…

The Writer gently pushed the door open, though forgot about the small dog and it’s ability to find the most inconvenient of sleeping spaces and the silence was broken by a sharp yelp as the poor Westie was awoken from his dream of finding the biggest bone a dog had ever seen; but that’s a story for another time.

“Barchimedes, sic ‘em.” The bass heavy half asleep voice gently called from the other side of the room. The pint sized patrolman jumped up from behind the door and excitedly slalomed between The Writer’s legs as she tried not to stand on him. The Musician, no longer testing the patience of the sleeping world, sat up rubbing his eyes.

They were an unexpected pairing. She was slim and beautiful, with an air of grace to her that covered her immaturity only briefly. He was rounded and clumsy but had a heart that meant well, though covered with a half pretence of menace. Barchimedes was just adorable.

“Did you finish it?” He asked in the darkness. She didn’t need the light to see the half sloping grin on his face as he looked her way, it was there every time; without fail.

“You’re meant to be asleep,” she chided, though with a smile backlit by the hallway lamp so he didn’t panic.

“I was, until some nefarious ne’er-do-well tried to break in and steal the family heirlooms.” He lay back down and waited for her to join him, waiting for the sarky comment.

3 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 1…

“They’re not family heirlooms until they’re past down, y’eedjit.” She seemingly glided across the room and slid under the duvet and remembered on of the reasons she kept him around; the furnace heat was luxurious in comparison to the autumn chill in the study. And so she slept…

Their fingers intertwined, like the teeth of two cogs running side by side in the old pocket watch.

The Musician sat on the end of the bed, Barchimedes sat vigilantly by his side with as pride as a short Westie Terrier could. The only noise in the room, other than the gentle thrum of the heating was the tick of pocket watch he held in his hand.

“She’ll be in a minute, boy. Stop fretting, it’s going to be okay. We’ve prepared for this. Will you straighten your tie! Oh I know you’re a dog, quit reminding me.”

The door latch echoed up the stairwell and the two took their positions.

“You in?” She called from downstairs.

“We’re upstairs! Got a surprise for you.” He called back, brushing his shirt and hair into some sort of tamed affair.

A few seconds pasted and the bedroom door opened. She stood in her usual work clothes, the ones she liked herself in but wouldn’t say she looked anything special by, yet the smile on his face and the bouncy dog at his side contradicted the thought entirely. He held out the pocket watch and dropped to one knee.

“So erm, want to run away with me and never look back?”

She could see in his face he was trying his upmost hardest to pull off the John Belushi puppy dog eyes. She saw the flowers surrounding the walls, all whites and yellows; her favourite colour. She could see the ring missing in his hand…

“Aren’t you meant to offer a girl a ring?” She said, placing her hand on her hip and looking mock offended.

“Okay, hear me out before you turn and leave,” the puppy dog eyes had widened to fox in the headlights. “A ring is great and all, and you can hand that down to your kids when they’re older…”

“Oh we’re having kids now?” The foot gently starting to tap in mock frustration.

“Just shut up and listen will you? You can give a ring to your kids when they’re older but then you’ve got to stop wearing it or be dead so they get it afterwards. It’s all a little complicated so I spent some time thinking about it and this is what I got.”

He clicked open the pocket watch to reveal the inscription ‘With every second, the heart grows fonder’ had been engraved on the inside of the door and the ornate golden numbers around the face had actually been painstakingly forged to look like her handwriting. Sat on the middle of the timepiece, thin and beautiful, sat a silver ring with blue gem.

“So I’ll ask again, will you run away with me and never look back?”

Time stood still, allowing the two to pass as welcome friends.

The final words felt like an eternity as she listened to the doctor before he closed the document. Glancing at the violently red digital clock slicing through the darkness on the edge of his bed, she could see it was 04:32am and that he had broken another promise. She closed her eyes and listened to the doctor padding gently to the kitchen to grab a glass of milk for her before ascending the clinical staircase to the waiting room where she could already hear him explaining to the now grown up kids that their father had passed. The broken promise didn’t feel so bad knowing that he had spent his last moments with her and her alone.

She closed her eyes, took him by the hand, and they walked away forever.