Sun and Angel Kissed


Things hadn’t been going so well for Lottie. The thing is… Well, to put it bluntly… I mean…

She died.

She isn’t dead, of course; that’s just not her style. Lottie would never lower herself to something as mundane as ceasing to have a spiritual connection to the world. But she did die. Walked right out onto the road without looking left – on holiday, you see – and poof, gone.

But not dead.

Not really gone, either. Her soul is still there, softly fluttering in a plane between Earth and the angels. Most souls simply fly off and away, much like how most candles would be snuffed out by a mid-summer storm. Lottie just had to be different.

So there she is: sitting and patiently pondering her decision. She could come back – exams were over, after all – but then she’d have to pay council tax and clean up the bathroom. Six of one, as they say.

As she sat, pondering patiently, she watched the sun. Its rays fell like wind sneaking through the cracks in old walls, gently brushing her skin and trying their best to remain unnoticed. It was comforting. Suddenly compelled toward twilight, she blinked.

The warm rays no longer cloaked her skin, but held her hands with a grasp that was all-too present and tangible. With smiling eyes and a cheeky wink, the angel cocked her head towards the mortal world.

Resignation must’ve flickered across Lottie’s face, as the angel smiled knowingly, as if at a job well done. Her lips were made of warmth, bright lights and earthly music and lightly brushed Lottie’s brow.

Sun and angel kissed, she lazily wandered back into herself and returned with all the nonchalance of waking from sleep. Disinterested by the drop-jawed wonder of the crowd, she stalked off wearing a gloomy expression: she hated cleaning the bathroom.




Bill was a curious sort. During the rare spells where the sun glanced over England without cloud or heavy winds to obstruct the view, he would grumble and throw on his coat. His house sat aglow during the daytime but released not a flicker of light after the sun had set.

He used earphones in the privacy of his own lounge and a loudspeaker in the library.

I once saw a kindly old lady sit on park bench, just a few inches over from Bill who was frowning in his creased pyjamas. She spoke to him, asking for help with her new phone; she could never quite wrap her head around new technology.

Bill pointedly ignored each of her questions, prompting an irritated “My goodness, isn’t this boy a great help?!” from the old dear. The rhetorical outburst had scarce brushed past her lips when Bill stood, roaring incoherently about the internet and some kind of fruit store. The old lady was stricken and tears welled furiously in Bill’s eyes, but never fell.

You see, Bill had a problem. Whatever logic or decorum presented as normal, Bill’s poor brain would turn on its head. He wore bathing suits in midwinter, shouted in outrage when the hero saved the day in movies and only washed his clean clothes.

But the old lady who spoke to Bill had seen this behaviour before. She spoke to her nephew, whose neighbour was quite a brilliant young doctor. They relived what happened with Bill and set about making a change.

So it was that Bill ended up in hospital, glaringly miserable at being told his condition would soon be reversed. His reaction, it was interpreted, was a positive one.

When he woke again, the doctors were pensive and hesitant. Bill noticed a slight chill in the air, so pulled on his jumper for warmth. Someone murmured that he seemed well, and Bill smiled appreciatively at the comment.

Wanting to verify that he was indeed better, the doctor asked him a question: “What do you want to do today, more than anything else in the world?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Bill answered quietly, as befits a room full of unwell patients:

“Today, I would dearly love to die.”


jake burgess a comfortable moon story

Some stories start out softly. With languid strides they circle around, sharing whispers for your attention. They build slowly, a steady marathon your brain tries to sprint.

Others explode. Out the box instantly: racing, raving lunatics clashing swords with spears, drunk on fear or lust, adrenaline courses through veins as scenes flash, flickering before our eyes.

You want the best stories, and I know the formula.

It’s the Grand Unified Theory of literature and I give it freely away. Whatever the character, give them purpose and flaw; sharpen the tool, cut the readers and addict them to the pain. Step 1.

The rest is plot and setting, dialogue and metaphor. They’re blocks which build faster now as we approach the last. Time for your ending.

Center stage, a resounding crescendo of anticipation, of ifs and buts and how’s. A final smirk or tear, the last reveal seals the deal and pays for all: the secret to your ending, my friends, is

The Sands of Sacrifice


hourglass, time, family, story

In my youth, I crafted a marvellous device…

My father’s middle years were greeted with a gruelling, torturous ailment. To look upon him, he appeared sullen despite a happy family; miserly with a trust fund in the bank. He grew quiet and soon scorned the companionship of his closest friends.

I stirred the nerve one day to ask what was going on. The reply, sad and teeming with loneliness, came that he was in some amount of pain, my boy and that the doctor couldn’t help him. But for his eyes, slowly dimming from teal to a merciless grey, his body retained all the health and supposed-vigour of any man his age. Friends began to speculate on this “pain”: if he wants to hole himself up with whisky and darkness, he can bloody well just say so. A charade they said. A front.

Before long, even I lost belief in the very man who raised me. If a team of doctors couldn’t root out the cause and Dad couldn’t describe a single symptom of this ailment, then there wasn’t one. He pushed us away and we willingly retracted.

For years, my doubts were left to fester: the once-immutable belief in my Father resurfaced and I knew that he, that great man who raised a family from nothing to comfort, would never abandon us. There had to be something more. There had to be a way to understand.

I started working tirelessly. Hours blended to weeks and sleep became a daydream as my toiling stripped our bank accounts bare. Then I had finished. My device was ready.

The man who greeted me from behind that knocked-on door was a shadow, a haggard impersonation of my first words. We talked, reminisced and I even laughed. He nearly smiled.

I left him with a trinket. It resembled a small hourglass filled with carmine vapour, rather than sand. To remind you that time is just a perspective. If you’re not done yet, just turn things around and let the sand fall the other way. He smiled at the idea. I made him promise that whenever the pain seemed insurmountable, and only then, he should flip the hourglass and remember that he’s not done yet.

That night, for one hour, I knew the most profound agony. Each atom blazed like flame, my stomach roiled and rumbled with a malicious virus and it was all I could do to keep breathing. After an eternity it passed, and I sank into fitful sleep.

I woke the next morning to a message. It was from my father. He spoke of the marvellous device that had vanquished his pain. His words sang with pride and gratefulness for the temporary miracle I had wrought. The laughter in his voice was like a solitary candle in a lifetime of darkness.

I never told him the truth but I lived in a constant fear that he might turn to my hourglass. Fear became phobia and led to a dark, lonely world of paranoia. The stress, the intermittent and excruciating agony made me delirious and irritable.

One day I woke to another message. A note, pinned to a parcel. I know what you did, son. You gifted me with a life I’d long sacrificed to pain. Time for you to live your own.

The box was a collection of broken glass, a splintered wooden frame and a single photo of my father, smiling.

I wept, and embraced a crippling sorrow.

Breakfast In Bedlam

dark short story breakfast

[wrote this a couple years ago now, but thought i’d stick it up here to save my blog from utter dormancy while i finish my degree. enjoy!]

She was the apple of Frederick’s eye: a softly pulsating spot at the core of his being where light glowed like fresh coals against a warm grate…Sarah.

From city to city, he had always loved her. Barely a day passed where he found himself more than a laugh’s throw away and photos of his beautiful chérie lined the surface of his bedside table. The night before had been a wild one: Sarah and her colleagues – fellow student nurses on placement at the local hospital – celebrated the end of their pre-reg years with a few bottles of bubbly, finger food and live music at The Sunken Leaves, an ex-brewery turned jazz bar by the riverside.

Holding little renown as a steadfast drinker, Sarah met lights-out early on and was sent off home by the girls, knowing her dutiful husband worked nights and would take care of her hangover come morning. In the event she happened upon Frederick in the street on his way home from work. A drunken “Hello… what’s your name again?” was laughed off as he paid the cabby and led her across the street, inside the crudely painted door and up the stairs where to lay her to rest, firmly tucking her in. He gave her a bitter nightcap to help pass the night soundly.

When he woke, Sarah was busy making her best impression of a log and was sleeping dreamlessly, thank goodness. Bubbling with an absurd giddiness he swept the entire house – polished glasses, hoovered carpets, emptied bins and even brushed Sarah’s soft brown-blonde hair out of tresses and in to smooth, even strands. Next he made her favourite: two poached eggs on gluten-free toast, chamomile tea and a little bowl of sugary cereal on the side of the tray; a little pick-me-up.

When he entered the room, Sarah had already woken. Opening his mouth in pleasant greeting, the screaming cut him short. Sarah split the air and rent apart the morning silence. Her skin burned and roared protest against the rough, unforgiving bonds which tucked her firmly in to the bed, powerless. The whites of her eyes sung of paralysing fear but her noise dampened with another “bitter nightcap” napkin and she settled back down. Frederick, unperturbed, sat by her side and began to re-tie the pleats in her hair, smiling vacantly at her photos on his bedside table; his own scene-mismatched face filling the holes cut beside her own.

Across the street, two detectives spoke in placid tones to a man stricken with grief and streaming tears from his eyes. They sat in his kitchen, poached eggs growing cold in the morning sun.

Area 61 [Part One-Point-Two]


[A little sci-fi story telling – don’t forgot to check out the origin of the crippling Area 61 conspiracy so you don’t get entangled in the very loose narrative thread…]

July 17th 2016 – video entry nine hundred and eleven.

I fear this will be my last entry for quite some time. Maybe ever. I’m flying to Illinois tomorrow for this rally and to be honest, I’m not optimistic. I was born innocent and bullied into a purebred skeptic. And I’m feeling pretty goddam skeptical now. 

I’m going to confront the mayor. The freaking MAYOR of New York, the guy winning the race to The Oval and I’m gonna saunter over, find my way to a mic and call him out on being part of a devious, shapeshifting alien race that’s infested our planet. Brilliant. Bound to go off without a blasted hitch. 

But,  I suppose I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’ve got the fail-safe described in log 910. At least that’ll get the findings out there. Hopefully there’s at least one person who won’t show it complete disdain… But that’s a last resort. These…creatures are obviously smart. Brilliant. If they’ve chosen chess over archery so far, there’s a reason for that and they won’t throw it away attacking the conspiracy nut at the rally. Hopefully. Oh well. It’s nearly 2am and I’m up in 5 freakin’ hou-

“And that’s where the footage cuts,” explained Geoffrey Lacker, chief security consultant to the president.

A few moments passed in terse silence, then “And this fail-safe he mentions – do we know where or even what it is?”

Lacker replied curtly and deferentially, “In short, no. We believe the failsafe to be an electronic cache of documents, video files such as this one and all the proof he claims to have obtained. We expect it will – on some trigger, likely time-based – be uploaded to a range of major file-sharing websites but no trace of this ‘log 910’ has been found.”

The rest went unsaid. If released, this work would be catastrophic to current White House planning. Decades of labor, planning and deception.

“Find him. If we’re going to stop a goddamn war, then find him and bring him here.” A hard light glinted in the President’s eye.

“And he’d better still be alive when you do.”

Area 61 [part one]

 [message interception successful]
[begin decryption…3…2..1…channel opened
….reading data….
-type{unknown} && location{home}

[decryption  successful:
read.message{“if his suspicions lead to awkward lines of enquiry, terminate. pro-vega 3 election successful for peruvian gov. stage C approaching completion. Illinois the final key for 7-18. campaign proceeds as planned.}
end of message]


Rick sat back in his chair with eyes wide and mistrustful. The closed basement allowed no wind and there was an uncanny stillness about the room: a tranquillity away from the humming of computers or the whirring coffee machine in the corner. There was a large bulletin board replete with pictures, clippings, translations of obscure languages into English, conspiracy forum printouts and more, all interlinked and supported by the detective’s greatest allay – yarn and drawing pins.

The soft glow from the monitor cast Rick in a pale, unfavourable light. His piercing green eyes bore into the computer screen and continued to stare, transfixed at the pop-out window on screen. A fully intercepted message. The fruit of an entire adulthood of labours.

A quick search for “Illinois” was enough to find the rally the message spoke of, on July 18th – only four days from today. Ironic really, he thought morosely, a rally. Back where it all began. He booked a flight. The intervening days would be spent decoding the rest of the message and – all going well – uncovering the sender. All that however after a long, well-earned rest.


Some years previous

Holdberry Farm was not a happy place. It had an air of neglect and indifference, like the pile of last year’s Christmas presents gathering dust in the wake of this year’s haul. Weeds, ivies and vines entombed the house and the nigh-abandoned farm was a shadow of the proud, healthy allotments which surrounded it.

Holdberry was just one of many homes to feel the unrequited hostility and brutal apathy of alcoholism. Jerry Martinez was just another bulbous red pimple on the pockmarked face of modern America. In his honest moments he would summon a kindness: a new toy, a double ice-cream and such trifles.

On such a midsummer day he took his family – doting, miserable wife and cautious son – out to the presidential campaign rally in their area. It was an average day filled with cheering, clapping and laughing at all the right moments: to an adult it was the perfect example of political savvy, to a child an indescribable bore.

Jerry’s son wandered off exploring and – quite by chance – made his way into the candidate’s rehearsal room inside. The soft patter of footsteps approached with unsettling quickness and he stuffed himself – with a distinct lack of grace – inside the shuttered wardrobe. What he saw next would mar the next decade of his existence…


Present day

The skin bubbled like simmering water then turned transparent, revealing insides devoid of blood, tissue or organs. It was a myriad of light: all colours, bending, shifting, warping and dancing as its shape – initially human – moulded to become plump and near-formless, like a rotten pear. When it spoke the series of high-pitched whistles and clicks made his hair stand on end. Its eyes…

Rick woke in a blistering sweat, pulse racing. 13 years and still as vivid. Here he was, after all that time and finally he had proof. A scrap of it. A single decoded message. It was enough. He’d make it so. It was time to confront the world. Confront the inescapable truth that the human race was not alone, not even on our own planet. Not even in the very highest offices of the most powerful leaders in the world…

A Totally Original Story

[this is the product of me being on a posting-every-day streak and exhausting my half-decent ideas on another project. enjoy!*]

Once upon a while ago a young lady sat grooming her hair. Her comb was brushed with gold and the mirror beaten of the finest silver in the land. Each knot removed and the flowing earth-brown falls cascading once more down her shoulders she heaved a great sigh.

“Will they never let me be myself? One day and soon I’m going to spread my wings and soar up and out of this castle and be free.” she spoke aloud to her empty chambers.

Unbeknownst to this young woman an astral collidae – the complete alignment of all of the orbiting moons – occurred at the moment she spoke her soft, fatal words. The collidae imbued her words with a dreadful magic and in the dead of night, the peaceful fabric of the palace was rent apart by the blood-freezing scream of inconceivable agony.

Vast leathery wings erupted through from her back, tearing her shift to revealing shreds and spurting blood across the floor. Her transformation complete she turned and walked  with measured steps toward the window. At the site of the cruel, bitter moons she wept. Before any could approach and offer comfort her expression transformed to one of absolute, unyielding pain. She threw herself with violent force through the glass pain and – wings beating furiously – flew up on in to the night.

The queen herself ran through the night, slipping on the cobbles and half-blind to the home of Florian. Florian was the mightiest hero in the land and was engaged to-be-married to our young Princess. Hearing the news he strapped on his sword, took a swig of wine, mounted his snow-white mare and raced off in to the night.

Firedeath Mound. She has to be there. It was a resting place for all forms of evil. He would find her, slay the demon inside and bring her home, ensuring their marriage.


The next morning the bloodied, ruined corpse of Florian was dumped in the middle of the palace grounds by a horrific winged demon. It bent down, gorged itself on his entrails and with a malicious grin at the stricken courtiers and royals she shot off in to the sun, truly unique.

She later returned and ransacked the entire town. No one lived happily ever after.

[*if you didn’t enjoy that, fair enough, but stick around for my next post. it’ll be good. i’ll make extra effort. just for you.]

Chop and Change


“It’s incredible how jealousy can define us. When I killed my first man…you can guess. A woman. Not the woman, but one I knew for a span of days and whose name graced the tracing paper on my left biceps: just below the speared heart and above My Julia, right there.

“I’ve always been the mercurial sort. Yesterday bacon was my favourite breakfast and tomorrow I’ll gut you for saying it ain’t brown toast. Anyway, back to him. My beginning. I never thanked him and it’s sad I never will, him being dead and all, but in ending his life I transcended my own. Continue reading “Chop and Change”

Well Read Histories


“And last but not least, I visited the yellow-skinned zebras,” finished Thomas triumphantly. “Now I get to ask you one. Let’s go a little more personal,” he continued, pondering. “Tell me about your worst ever relationship.”

I took a moment to prepare myself, then it all burst forth in a torrent. “It all started with the Mother. She was abhorrent. A bleary-eyed, clueless drug dealer. Ecstasy and fatty-foods left her a grey-skinned harbinger of indifference. Jaded, her klaxon-laugh and monotonous nattering were overwhelming. But her daughter. Patricia. A queen amongst the riff-raff, a serene light against a tempest of uncultivated minds. A voracious and wise xenographer by trade: young, and zealous.”

Thomas arched his eyebrows knowingly but seemed to decide against asking why this would make a terrible relationship. Instead, he braced himself for the retort.

“The most delicious meal you’ve ever eaten,” I ventured unimaginatively.

“Well,” began Thomas, eyes agleam. “It was in Arkansas: a barbecue chicken dinner with…”

As he rolled out his 26-part meal, I wondered what on earth he would have eaten beginning with x, y and z. The plane hadn’t even left the runway yet – there were many rounds yet left to play.