Short Stories

Grandfather’s Clock by Eddie Vegas

“Come on, Jack. Where did you hide that horrible looking grandfather clock?”  Janice asks, staring at the spot where it had stood for nearly 30 years in our dusty old house. My grandfather had warned me to wind it every week, otherwise this might happen, but I kinda’ got distracted this week, what with the move and his funeral.

“I didn’t hide it! It just vanished!”  I reply confused, wondering if I left the key in the door of the damn glass cabinet before I followed her calls.

How the hell do you lose a grandfather clock?

“Very funny,” she laughs, “did you hide it while I was downstairs making the twins their supper?” she asks, inspecting the room adjacent to the empty space like we are playing hide and seek with the kids.

“Hide it…how the hell would I be able to move that monstrosity? Did you feel how heavy the thing was?” I sigh. “Besides, how do you think I could get it down the staircase on my own?” If I’m honest, I think I gave the key too many turns. I was rushing the procedure a bit, trying to do it so the kids didn’t see me. I heard the springs twang for sure.

“Well it was there a moment ago, Jack, and I haven’t been up here since the removal van pulled into the drive.” She peers out the window, moving aside the yellowing lace curtains to check whether the two guys are still sitting in their cab, “and they’re still outside.”  

She stops mid-sentence, turning to me with her smile.

“And where are the twins Jack, it’s all very quiet!”

“They’re okay darling, I left them playing hide and seek in the playroom while I came down to see what you were calling about. They’re probably just messing about.”

“Daniel? Victor?” Janice calls out, but she gets no response.

“Well, wherever it is, you need to move it so the men can take it away.”

 I am almost one hundred percent sure I took the key out of the lock before I had left the room, but doubt begins to creep into my thoughts. I don’t think they were watching me as I reset the pendulum swinging in the glass case. I know they get a bit nosey when I’m around the clock, but I did check they weren’t watching…I think.

“Jack, you know I wanted that old thing gone before we moved our furniture inside. Please stop playing games with me. It has to go, sweetheart.” She walks over to me and places a hand on my cheek, smiling softly.

“Look I know he left it to you in his will, but it doesn’t fit with the look of the place anymore. It’s creepy and makes me uncomfortable. I’m not saying it has to go, go. We can put it in storage for now.”

I don’t want to upset her, but I really have no idea where the clock has gone.

“Now go check on the twins for me so I can get them fed and changed for bed, and let’s get that old stuffy clock out of here. I’ll go show the removal men inside.” She blows me a kiss and walks down the stairs again.

The truth is I’m not even sure it is still inside the house anymore. It tends to wander when it’s not being looked after. My grandfather told me that the clock has a mind of its own if it’s neglected. And since his untimely passing last week, I have to be honest, I haven’t wound the time piece up once. That’s why I was giving the springs that extra couple of turns before I went and lost it.

It could be anywhere by now, in any time too.

The playroom door is ajar when I reach for the handle and peer inside, but I see no sign of the twins. They like to hide before suppertime.

“JACK!”  Janice is calling from downstairs.


“I’m coming, what is it dear?”

I quickly descend the stairs to the large lobby and see the two large removal men entering the house, carrying the first piece of furniture between them, Janice holding her hands to her face in horror.

“NO…No No no…It has to go out …not in!” She is getting upset now, but the removal men are insistent it comes in.

“Alright Guv, where do you want this thing then?” the first man says, and I look on dumbfounded. “Upstairs?”

Carried between them, laying on its side, is the old Grandfather clock, back from another trip to who only knows where.

“Eh, yes, first floor please.” I reply staring at the familiar face of the man as he nods. Surely not?

“Okay, Vic. You heard the old man, first floor landing.” He says as he passes me with that all too familiar cheeky grin. “Usual spot?”

“Sure thing, Dan.” Replies the second identical man in the dungarees as Janice faints onto the floor.

“Smells nice. What’s for supper, Dad?”

On Getting Published

By Steve Carr

I can’t tell you how to write your short stories. That you’ll have to learn through all the other means available. But if you write short stories that are written well and have something to say creatively, then I may be able to help you get over the next hurdle of getting your short story published. If you’re not interested in getting published, or you’re one of the fortunate ones who have no problem getting your stories published, then feel free to get back to your writing instead of reading this. (more…)


sand-dunes-1149528_1920Some bitch took a chunk out of Anderson’s throat, and we had to get the fuck out the village before we all ended up dead. Yeah, sure, you could blame the sickness. As if the boils and the puking aren’t bad enough, the fever makes you crazy. But, it wasn’t the sickness.

It was her—the bitch herself.

It’s people, the world over.

You just can’t fucking trust them.

There was nothing we could do for Anderson. It was just a matter of waiting for him to cark it, but he was a tough old bastard and we got a good day’s journey between us and the village before he started going downhill.

So we camped up in the woods for the night, and I made a small fire to take away the chill and ward off anything lurking for a kill.

“Go on without me at sun up,” Anderson said.

Of course, Boo told him, “No—we’re not leaving you. We stay together.” And he cut me a look, and said, “Tell him, Natch. We stay together, right?”

Anderson’s breathing was ragged. The wound on his throat wasn’t going to heal—it was sticky, it smelled, and with every breath it seemed to squeeze out more yellow goop. I put some more wood on the fire and said, “Keep warm. Just don’t get too close to the flames.”

He was fucked, and we all knew it.

“Find the others, and let them find you,” Anderson said.

Boo huffed. “Fuck the others.”

“No, I’m done for, kid,” Anderson told him. “You have to save yourself.”

I curled up in my blanket, pulled my hood low. “We can talk in the morning,” I said. “Let’s not decide anything in the dark.”

And, in the morning, Anderson was dead. Boo wanted to bury him. I kicked dirt over the last few smolders of campfire, ready for moving on. “So bury him,” I said. “You can catch me up.”

“You’re not going to help?”

What was the point? “I’m not digging a grave with my bare hands,” I said.

Boo’s shoulders dropped. “We can’t just leave him here.”

There were some bushes and shrubs nearby. I said, “Okay, we can roll him under there. He’ll be out of sight.”

Boo wasn’t impressed.  “Out of sight. That’s it?”

He had to hear the cold raw truth. “We can spend all day burying him, and an hour after we’re gone, someone or something will have dug him up. He’ll be lunch, or a family meal, or a late night snacks until he goes rancid. You know the way it is. Whether he’s buried  or under a bush or just left here—what the fuck does it matter?”

Boo gave way. He knew I was right.

I wished I wasn’t.

I closed Anderson’s eyes, pulled his hood together over his face, and covered him with his blanket. His smell would draw the scavengers in no time.


Most days, we didn’t talk much while we traveled, and we talked even less that day until the underbellies of the clouds were getting darker. There’d been no sun since the Crack. It was always cloudy. Purple-grey clouds. Sometimes thin and wispy, sometimes—like now—fat and heavy, and in the distance you could see the dirty haze of rain from sky to ground. Now and again, there was a quiet rumble of far-off thunder. The air was thick. The storm wouldn’t be long in reaching us.

“We need to find shelter,” I said. “The sooner the better.”

Boo pointed up the hillside. I’d seen it, as well—a small farmhouse, maybe little more than herdsman’s cottage. There were no herds or flocks, anymore, and maybe there were no herdsman about, either.

At the worst, there were outbuildings, enough to keep the blistering rain at bay, so we turned off the road and headed over the field.

Abandoned houses always look abandoned. This one didn’t. The door was closed, the windows shuttered, and there wasn’t the usual detritus lying around outside.

We avoided the house and settled for what smelled like an old goat barn. But, it was dry, and we didn’t need any more than that.

We huddled together in the corner for warmth, and Boo asked, “What if the others didn’t make it?”

That was a possibility. “We have to keep on going, and make sure we make it,” I said.

Boo lowered his head. “Yeah. For Andy…for Win—we have to,” he said.

Anderson and Winston didn’t count anymore. “For us, we have to,” I said.

It was a hard truth to swallow, and before Boo had chance to chew on it, the door slammed open, and a short, round woman in a heavy yellow cape held a lamp high and pointed a rifle at us.

“Monks?” she said.

People often mistook us for monks. I pulled my hood clear of my face, and told her, “We mean you no harm.”

The scowl on her face softened to something more like shock. No doubt she recognised our broad faces, wide set eyes, and small mouths from the drawings and posters.

“You’re Healers…” she said.

“We’re just staying out the rain,” Boo said, removing his hood.

The woman looked from one to the other of us. “I heard there was four of yous.”

“And now there are two,” I said.

She thought a moment, then lowered the gun. “You eaten?”

Boo looked at me. We both had empty stomachs.

“I have rabbit stew,” the woman said. “Plenty to go round. There’s just me and my girl.”

“Is it your girl with the sickness?” I asked, and the woman nodded, silently.

“We can smell it,” Boo explained. “And we can take it away.”

The woman sighed and shook her head. “I can’t pay you. We have nothing.”

Boo smiled and his eyes brightened. “You have rabbit stew,” he said. “Who needs money when there’s rabbit stew?”

So, hoods up against the rain, we followed her inside. The house smelled of heavy with the sickness, and warm with cooking.

Hearing us, the daughter came from the back of the house asking who was there. She hadn’t been ill long. She had the sores on her mouth. Her lips were swollen and her eyes were crusty, making it difficult to see—but she saw us, and moved closer to her mother, hiding behind her bulk.

“Don’t be afraid,” her mother said. “They’re Healers. They can make you well, again.”

Boo was always good with kids. He focused on the girl. “My name’s Boo,” he said.

“Charmaine,” the girl said.

He held his hands out, and the girl took the invitation to come to him. His hands swamped hers. “I need you to close your eyes, Charmaine,” he said. “Then I’m going to put a hand on your head and you’ll feel warm, and then you’ll feel better.”

She looked up at him, understandably nervous. “Will it hurt?”

Boo smiled. “Not even a teeny bit.”

Charmaine looked up at her mother, who nodded that it was okay, then, trusting Boo, she closed her eyes and Boo let go of her hands.

She didn’t need her eyes closed, to be honest, but she looked young and maybe it was for the best.  Boo unfastened his robe and let it fall to his feet.

Charmaine’s mother put a hand to her mouth. Shocked, yet assessing Boo’s body, checking him out from top to naked bottom, and from the nervous glance she threw me, she approved of what was on display. Which was everything.

Boo rested one hand on Charmaine’s head and held the other in the air.

We glow all over when we take the sickness. It’s a sight to behold, and Charmaine’s mother had her hand on her chest now. “Oh my,” she said softly. Her eyes glistened, her lips trembled.

Boo held his head back as he absorbed the sickness, and he inhaled deep and slow at the nourishment he was drawing in.

Charmaine’s lips lost their bloatedness, the scabs dropped away, and the pale colour of her face flushed with health.

Boo let a long breath, and said, “It’s done.”

Charmaine rubbed the crustiness from her eyelids and giggled at Boo’s nudity. “You got no clothes on,” she said.

“He certainly hasn’t,” her mother said, and I could see the stew wasn’t going to be the only time I thought of rabbits that night.

Soon, we were eating, and the woman hardly took her eyes off Boo. And sure enough, when it came to talk of kipping down for the night, she said there was a bed we could have, but it would be a little tight for two of us…if Boo didn’t mind sharing with her, she had a double bed with plenty of room.

Boo, of course, happily accepted the offer.

I slept alone, glad to be free of the rough fabric of my robes. For a while, I watched the shifting shadows on the ceiling, and tried to ignore the moans and bumps and grunts from Boo and Charmaine’s mother.

Sleeping never comes easily, anyway, and I was still awake when the door to my room opened. Charmaine stood in the glow from the hallway. She was wearing a shin length nightdress, plain and practical. “Are you asleep?” she asked.

“If I were, I couldn’t answer you,” I said. “A better question would be ‘Am I awake?’”

She waited a beat, then asked, “Are you awake?”

“Yes. I’m awake,” I said. “Still.”

Her feet slapped against the bare stone floor, and she came to the side of the bed. “Can I sleep with you?” she asked.

I couldn’t make out her features in the dim light, but from her voice, I imagined the eyes of an abandoned puppy looking back at me. “How old are you?” I asked.



I sighed. “That’s old enough to know you shouldn’t be asking strangers if you can sleep with them.”

“I’m cold,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m cold, I sleep with my mother.”

“That’s different,” I said.

“Mm. It’s even more different tonight because she’s humping with your friend.”

That fact hadn’t gone unnoticed.  “You should be in your own bed,” I suggested.

Charmaine nodded. “I will be, if you let me.”

Touché. So this was her bed.

“I don’t want to hump,” she said.

“Oh, good,” I said.

“You don’t like humping?”

“I didn’t say that.” How could a child get the better of me? “I just don’t want to—and I’m not sure I should even be discussing it with you.”

“Okay,” she said. “But I’m still cold.”

I sighed at the ceiling. I was probably going to regret it, but I pulled the covers back and said, “Okay–get in.”

Charmaine jumped into the bed and pulled the covers up, eagerly, and snuggled close, then she lifted her head from the pillow. “My mother puts her arm out for me to rest on,” she said.

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Well, I’m not your mother.”

She didn’t move. Didn’t speak. She just waited.

Damn it all.

I put my arm across the pillow, and felt her smile as she rested down on it. Her hand rested on my chest. “Everybody said I was going to die,” she said.

“You were,” I told her. “The sickness always kills.”

“But now I won’t die.”


“Will I live forever?”

“It might feel like forever, sometimes,” I said. “But when it comes it’ll probably feel too soon.”

She nodded as if the answer had given her something to think about, then she asked, “Can I lick you?”

“No!” I said. I knew it would come to this. I told her, “I think you should go now.”

“Please. Just once,” she said. Those puppy dog eyes again. “Just your shoulder.”

“No. You need to go.”

She exhaled hard. “I could have done it without asking.”

“You still might,” I said, but she was quick to shake her head.

“Nuh-uh. That wouldn’t be right.”

I wasn’t going to risk it. “You should go.”

She sat up with her face down, and muttered, “Sorry.”

I really think she was. And I would have told her I wasn’t offended, and maybe explained more, but the thumping and banging and moaning from next door turned to Boo’s pained screams and Charmaine’s mother cursing and shrieking.

“No,” I said. “No, no, no—not Boo!” and leapt from the bed, grabbing my robes.

So fucking sweeeet,” the woman was screaming with a manic laugh.

When I got there, Boo was on the bed, head dropped to the side, mouth and dead eyes gaping open. The woman was squatting over his hips, ripping his insides out with her bare hands. Boo was everywhere. The bed, the pillows, the woman’s naked chubby body—all soaking red.

The woman snarled back at me, then laughed again, with Boo’s innards hanging from her mouth.

I retched and stumbled away, in time to stop Charmaine from seeing what had happened.

“Don’t go in there,” I told her, holding her away, but she went to the doorway to see for herself, and put her hand to her mouth in horror.

I couldn’t stay. I grabbed my boots and tunic, and headed for the door.

Charmaine stopped me. “Where are you going?” she asked.

It was dark outside, but what choice was there? “Far away,” I said. “I’m going far, far away.”

She looked back at her mother’s room where another orgasmic cry of sick pleasure wailed out loud. “Take me with you,” she said. “Please.

I shook my head. My kind were always going to be prey. Sooner or later, even Charmaine would turn on me.

Once she’d tasted my flesh, she’d want more.

I slipped into the night to the cry of her pleading.

To survive, I needed to find the pack. I had to find the security of the others.

If they existed.

If they’d survived.

I had to believe they were out there, had to keep faith that I wasn’t the last of my kind, that I wasn’t the only grown up Jelly Baby in this godforsaken, fucked up world.



By Jim Corwell

Battling the Block


Writer’s block.  Every writer has dealt with it at some point (Stephen King claims he hasn’t but I’m calling bull), and it can be a huge deterrent when it comes to expressing yourself and getting your stories out. I will touch on some of the main issues that cause writer’s block, but the focus of this article is to explain how to push past the block and to go over the strategies I’ve personally found to be beneficial to me. (more…)

Casting and Creating Unforgettable Secondary Characters

drawing people

It may be the salty aired beach or a long-ago molten path on a dormant volcano that brings us into the story, and the main characters who introduce themselves and take the reader by the hand for the journey. However, without secondary characters, the story wouldn’t get far. Main characters can’t be everywhere at once, even though they are the main focus in stories. There’s no way for them to gain every tidbit of knowledge they need without the help of their comrades. That’s why writers should never forget the importance of creating and casting unforgettable secondary characters.


Writing with Style

style writer


All writers have experienced the first draft blues. The idea for the story came to us in a flurry of inspiration; the characters sauntered through our door, greeting us with their riveting personalities. Yet, as we sat down to write the story, the sentences stumbled and clanked together in an oafish web of prose. Too many writers have sat and stared at these first drafts thinking themselves too unskilled to give justice to their stories and characters. Yet, with only six simple steps writers everywhere can begin writing with style today. (more…)

A character that bleeds…

pottery wheel

It is a common fallacy that stories are driven by plot. The truth is, the stories that last are the ones driven by character. They’re the ones where we’ve become so attached to the characters over the years, that we simply can’t let them go, rather we continue to re-imagine these characters over and over again. Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, Randle Patrick McMurphy-these characters are unforgettable, their traits carved into the memory of all readers who’ve met them, just as if they had walked through the door and shook the reader’s hand. These characters breathe and bleed upon the pages as the reader follows their stories in anticipation of what will become of them. How did their writers do it? What exactly is the perfect recipe for a character that bleeds? (more…)

When the First Draft Gets Rough


“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my first draft sucked with a capital “S.” Halfway through chapter one, I wanted to take it out back and beat it with a hockey stick for wasting my time. I’d like to say this feeling dissipated as I got further along, that my confidence grew word by word, sentence by sentence. But I’d hate to lie to you. The truth is that I became more sure of the inevitable failure looming ahead of me, blocking my path to success. (more…)

Writing in Color


If you expect everyone to see colors the way you envision them while you’re writing, then you may be disappointed. I may refer to blood as crimson while you think of it more as a ruby red. You may think the sky a soft Carolina blue, while I would paint the sky with a tint of periwinkle. While this may not seem a huge issue, it can complicate how your reader perceives your work. (more…)