Advent Stories #24

THE PIKE Carpers further down the canal were using fishmeal and pellets to try to tempt the doubles, but Lostock wasn’t interested in them. Carp might fight for longer, but they weren’t as aggressive as pike. He didn’t like the look of them, those bloated and gormless mouth-breathers. They turned his stomach. He’d talked to […]

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Advent Stories #23

WIRE I send sweets to my mother at the weekend. She’s fond of buttery caramels, or eclairs, or mint lumps that take for ever to tame with the teeth. In this way I think I prove my love for her, more so than what a letter or a phone call might achieve. I remember the […]

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Advent Stories #22

CITY IN ASPIC It was a place that needed people in order for it to come alive. In winter, the streets whispered with uncollected litter and nervous pigeons. The air grew so thick with cold that it became hard to walk anywhere. When night came, the water that was slowly drowning the city turned the […]

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Advent Stories #21

THE MACHINE When he asked her, she said: ‘A car, wasn’t it? Or was it a bus?’ There was a little smear of mayonnaise on her mouth and her hair was scrunched like dead spiders’ legs at the back, where she had not been able to see it to comb in the mirror. Graham had […]

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Advent Stories #20

MANNERS The rain sounds different out here. Deep countryside. Kingfishers and toads. Dad told me I woke up to green so often that my eyes changed colour from brown to reflect it. He shared his love of nature with me, his practical knowledge. He was in the Scouts when he was a boy. I never […]

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Advent Stories #19

  STICKY EYE Conjunctivitis. Jesus. It sounded like some hellish offshoot of grammar. Welch had heard of it before, but hadn’t paid it much heed. He supposed that must be true of anybody who had never suffered from it. And suffer was the word. It felt as though some masochistic ghost was raking ragged nails […]

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Advent Stories #18

PERHAPS THE LAST Garner spent his days clock-watching in a room filled with timepieces, none of which could tell him how long was left on his shift. Hours crawled by. Maybe one day he’d be given a more agreeable timetable and things would go better – telling kids to stop climbing on the display cases, […]

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Advent Stories #17

THE COLD December sleet, Shude Hill, Manchester. Six in the evening. Temperature dropping. Jesus wept. The things we do. The things we grow to be. No, Simmonds, I do not want another fucking coffee. Get on to Arley and find out when forensics are going to bring their tents and toothpicks over. And get that […]

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Advent Stories #16

SLITTEN GORGE Ellis dreamt that night of the forest. He was treading through it in darkness, subtly aware of the conifers and the heather. His feet knew this territory well and he moved quickly, ignoring the sounds of the wildlife: the nightjar, the siskins, the snipes. He was trying to find something, or someone, but […]

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Advent Stories #14

63˚07’N, 52˚34’W Stars wheeling at his back, Captain Low comes on like bad weather, like something separated from Nature, a different kind of force, one driven by rum and pain and vengeance. Steel in his teeth. Blood on his hand. His own? He’s not sure. He doesn’t really care. No time to stop and think […]

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