Posted: October 28, 2013 in Flash, Stories


Written for the Aphelion-Webzine August 2013 Flash Challenge. Space and pirates – what could go wrong?


The problem with dealing in illegal tech was that the clientele were both undesirable and untrustworthy. William Pearce reflected on this sourly as he waited near the berth of Captain Goodwin’s ship, the aptly named Reaper.

Get through this, he thought, and you can go home to Lara, to Earth, and never have to see this hell hole again.

Clovelly was a frontier system, right out on the edge. The edge of known space, the edge of civilisation, the edge of humanity itself. It was out on this edge that Will reckoned a man could make his fortune, if he had the nerve for it.

“Change of plan, Mr Pearce”, said Captain Goodwin by way of greeting as his men manhandled the goods from Will’s truck into the Reaper’s cargo bay. “I’ll be needing your technical services for this voyage. You’ll be rightly recompensed for your trouble.”

“Why can’t Gao handle it?” Will asked, remembering the Reaper’s chief engineer, the man who had methodically examined the device when this deal had first been struck.

“He had an ethical disagreement with Sawad”, said the Captain, nodding at his first mate. Sawad smiled like a shark, white teeth and hideous intent. Gao was dead, that was a certainty.

“My payment?” Will asked.

“In full when we return to port, plus a bonus. I give you my word”, replied the Captain with a carnivorous grin.

Under Sawad’s menacing glare Will had no choice but to followed the Captain’s men into the Cargo bay.


Will stared out at the scattered rocks of the Stroma asteroid belt through the flight deck windows and shivered. Never ask why they want it and never get involved. Too late for that now. It was not hard to guess what Goodwin and his men wanted with a superluminal navigation beacon.

The Captain glanced his way and winked. “Not long now, Mr Pearce. Once our man at Launceston sends word, we’ll be seeing action. The waiting is always the worst part.”

The atmosphere was certainly tense. Goodwin’s men were anxious and ill humoured, suited up and ready for egress down below. Will ran a system check on the beacon from the console, for the umpteenth time, and fidgeted.

The Captain stiffened, the blue light of his ear bud indicating an incoming communication. “Mr Pearce”, he said, “power up the beacon if you please. Sawad, prepare the men.”

In contrast to the frenetic bustle around him, Will activated the beacon with the merest touch of his fingers on the console in front of him. It began blasting out its navigation signal into the superluminal ether, drowning out the real beacon at the Launceston space port and sending false information to any ship bearing down on the Clovelly system.

It was over so fast, the eye could barely comprehend it. The wormhole opened five kilometres to port, inside the edge of the asteroid field. The ship transitioned into real space in a blink and collided with the icy rocks spinning out eternity there. The impact was massive. Will watched in horror as the fiery blooms burst across the ship’s hull.

Captain Godwin grinned as he broadcast the doomed craft’s SOS over the ship’s intercom.

“Mayday! Mayday! This is the Napoli. We have lost propulsion and life support. Require immediate assistance.”

“Napoli, this is the Reaper, we are on our way to assist. How many crew and passengers. Over.”

The relief in the man’s voice was palpable. “Twenty-two crew and fourteen passengers. Over.”

“Get everyone to your aft airlock”, replied the Captain, “I’m sending crew over to assist. Prepare for docking and transfer. Over and out.”

The clang of the Reaper’s own airlock rang throughout ship as the Captain’s men exited the Reaper. Will sat impotently and watched as they jetted towards the torn hull of the Napoli. The Captain put the view from Sawad’s helmet camera up on a screen, and they watched in silence as the Napoli’s airlock drew closer.

“Napoli, open the outer door”, Sawad said over the radio.

The door cracked and brief burst of atmosphere vented into space before it slid smoothly into the hull. Rather than enter, as Will had expected, Sawad threw a satchel into the airlock and then quickly manoeuvred to one side. Will saw the camera shake and then gasped in disbelief as atmosphere, debris and human bodies burst out or the Napoli’s airlock. Sawad had blown the inner door.

“Law of salvage, Mr Pearce,” the Captain said as Will watched the crew and passengers of the Napoli writhe, then slowly becoming still as they floated away into the void. “No claim while an officer or passenger aboard lives.”


The sound of a gunshot catapulted Captain Goodwin from his sleep. By the time he got to the cabin it had come from, Sawad was already there, his white teeth flashed their shark like smile but there was a hint of disappointment in his cold eyes. William Pearce lay dead upon his bunk, his brains sprayed across the bulkhead, the gun still clutched in his hand.

“Damn fool could have pierced the hull”, the Captain grunted, checking the bulkhead for damage.

Something on the cabin’s comm terminal caught Sawad’s eye. He poked at it, bringing up the last message. A pretty girl’s face filled the screen.

“William, I can’t wait any longer”, she said into the camera lens, “I miss you so much and I couldn’t keep this surprise until you got back.” The camera shifted clumsily in her hand as she swivelled it to show the swelling bump of her belly then back to her face. “I’ve booked passage on the cargo ship Napoli. I hope you get this message before I arrive. Love you. See you soon!”

“Dump the body out the airlock”, the Captain said, nodding at the corpse and yawning. “And keep this between ourselves, unless you want to split his share with the others.”



Continuing my adventures with self-publishing, I finally pulled my finger out and put my short story ‘Less Of Her’ on goodreads. If you’re not familiar with the site, it is a social media site (yes, another one) focused around, you guessed it, reading books. You can record all the books you’ve read, rate them and review them. On the social side, you can connect to friends, compare your libraries, get involved in forums and discussions. As an author, the site also lets you connect with your readers, set competitions, announce events and so forth.

Adding a new book listing to goodreads is child’s play, simply search for any book title and you can find links to either import books or manually add a book in the right hand corner. I chose the latter and merely filled in the details, including the ISBN generated when I originally published ‘Less Of Her’ on Smashwords.

This will create the page and listing for your ebook. Then next step is to join the goodreads author program. This is a very painless process but if you haven’t already set up a goodreads account and profile, you will need one. It took less than a day to get my author dashboard which enabled to claim ‘Less Of Her’ as my work.

Now people can read and rate your work, follow you and shower praises upon you. Nice!

But wait, there’s more. As an author you can use the special author’s dashboard to upload a copy of your work to the goodreads site. It has to be in the ePub reader format (compatible with Kindle and most other readers). Once that has been uploaded you can allow people to download it or even read it on the goodreads site in their dedicated reader. You can set how much of a preview can be read as a percentage – up to 100% if, like me, you’re doing for the adoration not the money.

There is also a goodreads widget that you can add to your own website or blog, but I haven’t played with that yet.

That’s it. Off you go, don’t forget to give me 5-stars.


Since I saw the r/FreeEBOOKS subreddit had made it to the frontpage on Reddit and wanted to jump on that bandwagon ASAP, I thought I’d add  a blog post on all the different ways that my short story ‘Less Of Her’ can be read online or downloaded for FREE!


Blurb: For Claudia, Lumi is an exciting new obsession; extroverted, exotic and equally fascinated with Claudia. They have much in common but their secrets will tear them apart. (Science Fiction)

Tags: Science-Fiction, Short-Story, Cybernetics, Body-Modification

Available to read online at:



Or in ebook formats to download from:

iTunes – for Apple Devices.

Barnes & Noble – for the Nook

WHSmiths / Kobo

Smashwords – in Epub or Kindle format

I love feedback and comments, please give generously.

Scorpion Nature

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Flash, Stories


Written for the Another-Realm April Thru May flash competition.

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”


Marcus walked the centre line of the dark desert highway and tried to think of something other than the Eagles’ lyrics looping around inside his skull. He tried to guess the odds he’d get a ride before daylight instead, and ignored the aching pulse of hunger in the pit of his stomach. L.A. was a bust, Vegas had to be better.

Headlights caught the back of his boots, pushed his shadow out, reaching into the night before him. He turned and waited for the vehicle, its lights blinding, washing out the starlight that had lit his way.

An old school bus pulled up next to him, the door hissed open and framed him with electric illumination.

“You need a lift, hon?”

She was whip thin, late thirties. Her forehead was smooth but there were hard lines around her mouth. Marcus could see the tendons in her arms and hands as she gripped the steering-wheel.

“Heading to Vegas?”

“Sure, get in.”

Marcus didn’t see the prayer beads hanging from the mirror until he nearly brushed against them. He flinched way too hard.

“Make yourself at home, hon.”

Inside, the bus was full on boho hippy crap, tie-dye and beads a major theme. Marcus sat on the seat up in front, across from her. The door hissed shut again and the bus groaned into motion, the engine straining.

Marcus caught her scent beneath the cloying incense that permeated the bus. She smelled of lavender, musk and desperation. His stomach flipped hard and his hunger made itself known to him again. Her makeshift bed, a rumpled mess of sheets, was behind him. He turned his head and took a deep breath; More of her, the men that had been there with her, and something else, something familiar, something darker.

She was watching him over her shoulder. “You’re not the first, you know that right?”


“The way you flinched. It’s almost laughable.”

Marcus shrugged, pretended he didn’t understand.

“I waited my whole life, and then two of you come along, one after another.” She shook her head.

Marcus let the silence stretch. The road hummed beneath the wheels, a steady drone, hypnotic.

“I’m pretty beat. You want to drive for a while?”

Her voice jolted Marcus from his daze. He shook his head. “Can’t, never learned.”

She looked at him, puzzled. “Yeah, I guess under all that road dust you’re kind of young.”

Marcus said nothing.

“I’m going to have to pull over then, grab a little shut-eye.” The brakes whined as the bus slowed. When she shut off the engine, the silence that followed was a void between them.

She stood up from behind the wheel. Marcus got to see how thin she really was, bone thin, painful thin. Only the sharpness of her hips and her long brown hair marked her as a woman.

She stepped up close to him.

“The one before you was much, much older,” she said and reached out to stroke his cheek. Her warm fingers felt good against his cool skin.

“I asked him to turn me but wouldn’t do it,” she said.

She undid the buttons of her blouse, her eyes on his, and then pulled it aside to reveal a livid scar; Brutal and ugly, the tissue raised and angry, crossing her ribs where her breast had been. She took his hand and placed it there. Her scar burned into his palm, hot and pulsing.

“Cancer,” she said, matter of fact. “Took them both.”

Marcus reached up beneath her blouse with his other hand and found the mirror scar, felt the same heat and, beneath it, the steady beating of her heart.

“I’ve been good all my life, never stepped out of line, never made waves. Took nearly dying to realise I’ve never lived. Now it’s too late, the cancer’s in my bones.”

She pulled him onto the tangled sheets of her bed, her lips hard against his.

“Make me,” she whispered in his ear. “Make me like you.”

“I can’t. I’m not old enough, it won’t work.” The hunger was reaching up through his throat, making his tongue thick, his control weak.

“Then take me,” she said staring deep into his eyes, her breath sweet on his face. “Take away the pain.”

“I can’t.” Marcus pushed the words through clenched teeth, fighting the urge to bite, to tear, to suck her wasted body dry. He’d never killed before, still too new, too human.

“Make me or take me, I don’t care.”

Her lips found his again. She pushed her tongue between them and into his mouth, running it across the clenched cage of his teeth. Marcus’ jaw ached with the strain of keeping it shut.

She pushed herself against him, hard and insistent. His hand found one of the jagged, pulsing scars again. Every detail, every ridge, burning into the palm of his cold hand. It was the final straw. He growled as he tore his mouth from hers, opened his jaws wide and plunged his teeth deep into her throat. Salt and copper flooded his mouth. His stomach spasmed painfully and then accepted the bounty. She moaned, low and sensual like a lover, and clung to him.

Marcus could taste it; The corruption, the cancer, in her bones and in her blood, a bitter after-taste. The hunger didn’t care. Only the sweet agony of each mouthful he could suck down mattered. The thick flow ebbed too soon. She started to convulse. Still, he sucked at the wound, drawing every sickening, delicious drop until he felt her heartbeat fade, stutter and finally stop.

His hunger sated, he lay there tangled in her bed, her cooling body beside him. If he’d been older, if he’d been stronger, if he’d fed before he left L.A. It was too late, it didn’t matter. The horizon already burned crimson across the desert sand, the sun was rising in the East.


How did I do that?

Posted: July 3, 2013 in Mutterings, Stories

Occasionally, I like to googlewhack myself or stories I have published. Now, googlewhacking is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone does it when in the privacy of their own home, when they are bored or can’t sleep. Some people do it more often than others. So, I was googwhacking my short story, Less Of Her, which I used in my adventures in self-publishing (Part 1 – Wattpad, Part 2 – Smashwords) and I got hits for the story on iTunes and WHSmiths (UK Newsagents/franchise).

How did I do that?

I didn’t but I am not complaining, as I have previously stated, I am an attention whore.


Less Of Her at iTunes

 Less Of Her on iTunes.


Less Of Her at WHSmith

I am slightly concerned that the iTunes link seems to offer a preview with a view to purchase. Not allowing anything fruity on my hardware and barely owning any products from Apple, I am in no position to investigate.  So, I hope it is free there. I would hate to think someone else was making money off it when I give it away for free. On the WHSmith site, it is free – so I am quite happy with that.

After a brief investigation, I discovered this is down to my eBook achieving premium status on smashwords. A book carefully formatted to meet the criteria will automatically be distributed to a number Major Retailers. I did not know this because I did not read the small print. Colour you surprised.

So, that’s nice.  I’m off to spam all my social media contacts about this happy news.

The Last Communion

Posted: May 29, 2013 in Flash, Published, Stories


Written for the Santarium Magazine  weekly 500-word flash competition on Google+, which it won by a tie-breaking vote!. The only prompt for the competition was the word ‘Moon’. This flash fiction is also available to read on Wattpad.

He marvels at the moonlight, cold, blue-silver, as it washes over the congregation below him. The Reverend sways drunkenly, leaning out to look down upon his flock as they swarm around the cathedral’s mighty buttress. The half-full bottle of wine he grasps, clinks loudly against the stonework, drawing a groan of unearthly longing from below. A vile stink pushes him back from the edge. Instead, he sits on the lead roof and stares at the moon, so dead, so barren and yet so beautiful.


The cathedral had never been so full, his congregation swelled as fear of the contagion spread. When medicine and science failed to explain, when the authorities, police and army had failed to stop the spread, the people turned to faith, to him. The irony was, this apocalypse had caused him to lose his own.

Revelations, that’s all they wanted to hear. Now he finally had the audience he had yearned for, how could he refuse?

“The sea gave up the dead who were in it,” his voice echoed over those below him, the pews filled to overflowing, “and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.”

Shouts broke through his words, a commotion near the back. At first, from his elevated position in the pulpit, he thought the old lady was having a seizure or fit. Then he saw her rise up, those unfortunate to be nearby reeling back in horror. He saw the blood running down her chin, her face locked in a lunatic grimace and her hands hooked into claws as she reached for those around her. The plague had found them, even in the house of the Lord, it had found them.

His flock, fled. Pews fell, bodies tumbled, many were crushed in the stampede.

In their time of need, he abandoned them and escaped through the vestry door. It’s heavy oak planks and iron bolts would hold back an invasion but they couldn’t stop the screams, the fists banging with urgency and desperation.

As the screams intensified, the knocking faltered and stopped.


He’d watched the city die from the cathedral roof. At first the riots and sirens, then the fires, conflagrations that spread and polluted the sky with black smoke, bringing ash rain and blotting out the sun. A vision of hell.

As days passed, his congregation returned. The dead raised their faces up to him with longing as he delivered sermons of hellfire and damnation. They were beyond that.


The moon; so barren, so beautiful, so dead. Was that such a terrible thing?

The wine bottle is empty, he casts it away, over the edge, and hears it shatter, probably on the upturned face of one of his flock below.

He moves to the edge, vertigo turns the wine in his belly to vinegar. A sigh moves through his congregation, a low growl of hunger and need. How can he deny them?

He steps forward. It feels like flying.

The End

The Cinderella Deception

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Published, Stories

Cinderella-Deception-Cover-SmallI’ve read a bit of Steampunk but I’ve never had a crack at writing any before.

As part of my adventures on Wattpad, I am taking part in the Science Fiction Smack Down (SFSD 6.0). Round 1 requires a 2000 to 5000 word Steampunk fairy tale.

I plumped for Cinderella (obviously) and, I have to say, I am quite pleased with the result.

It should of been a simple shakedown but when Charming’s thugs trashed the Carnival and destroyed Cinders’ beloved carousel she swore revenge. But what’s a girl to do? With only the help of her Godmother and her ugly stepsisters, Cinderella will have to rely on her wits, her engineering skills and her assets

The Cinderella Deception