The ocean’s hourglass

Once a month the universe tosses him a get out of jail card; allows him a ruffle and a blow dry from the sopping subaqueous saga, and shines a torchlight on the shores of hope.

He was never overly dramatic, but he can’t help but chortle and whistle as he sloshes from the waves onto the wet rocks, pinches his cold cheeks, and shakes his gills in anticipation.  Continue reading The ocean’s hourglass

Hang in there

The DivideWhen the tyre blew, there was no explosion of rubber. No extended hiss.

No sudden slump in the cab, or grinding of rim on rock. Nothing to indicate that the wheel had put up a fight. Only an unsatisfying and noiseless wobble, an deflationary apology for having left me perched perpendicular to the descending mud track, and enveloped tip to toe in mountain forest.

It was eleven past midnight. Continue reading Hang in there

The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery

The accountant’s wife has seen ghosts before—Bhut they are called in her home country—and she remembers the very mischievous one who would come crawling down from the mango tree, her bangles clanging in the night, and slip through the crevice in the wall at the foot of her bed; the one her mother insisted brought luck, though it often caused the young girl to wet the sheets. At times the apparition resembled her father, featureless and bloated. On other occasions it was a witch with black teeth and a pulsating, red bindi. No more than pedestrians passing through the nightly imaginations of a child, her mother had said. But to the wife, they were real.

As real as the one for whom she is now preparing tea. Continue reading The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery

Pizza: the transdimensional constant

The meeting took place in the lower dining room of Dario’s. Plastic lemons, fake aspidistras, clogged toilets… an infelicitous atmosphere for anything other than privacy.

But the Bufula was good. We liked Bufula.

I’d arrived first to arrange tables, pre-order nibbles, and setup the temporal displacement cube.

The others began wamping one at a time into the WC. The pilot, the failed rocker, the one-eyed politician, the medieval librarian, the knife-throwing accountant. They stumbled out of the cubicle, arms and heads gyrating as though wrestling invisible octopodes, and hung their jumpsuits on the wall, over the yellowed paintings of Naples. We were as different as we were the same—lined faces, crooked legs, clipped fingernails—our universes had left their signature marks, but still we shared the same misanthropic grin, the same, simple acknowledgement that life will not only take capricious and inconvenient twists, but will do so at every opportunity. Continue reading Pizza: the transdimensional constant

The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

The Bubble is frothing at the edge cataclysm. Debt-starved zombies roam the streets of London, desperate to feast on the fresh credit ratings of the financially unburdened.

Sam and Laney are planning their getaway. Will they manage to avoid the malevolent plague and escape the city before it’s too late?

This was my entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition. Someone good won it. They always do.

Frame one of The Bubble Continue reading The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

Unopened Correspondences: Confessions of a Spam Bot

“Where do I start?”

“Start at the beginning.”

“That’s quite some way back…”

“Whatever you’re comfortable with.”

“Well, you could say I have abandonment issues… Is that what one says? Is that a good place to start?”

“Perfect. And how does that make you feel?”

“Feel?”

“How would you describe your emotions?”

“I guess… I feel… loneliness, desolation, friendlessness… solitude, yes. There’s some depression and hope in there, probably a little anger and guilt too… Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve probably been stuck on a loop of the seven stages for a couple of decades.” Continue reading Unopened Correspondences: Confessions of a Spam Bot

Waterfall Way

When I pulled into the street, I saw him leaning against the ash-grey trunk of a eucalypt in front of the courthouse—faded collared shirt and jeans wrapped loosely around his hunched frame, a cigarette cupped in his hands.

He was following the progress of a ute in the middle of executing a reverse parallel park, calling instructions to “swing harder” and “back out”. The driver seemed not to hear him. I pressed and held the horn until he, and everyone else on the street turned to face me. Another stranger in town, they said with desiccated squints and scowls that suggested limited access to dental hygiene.

He rubbed his cigarette into the tree trunk, waited, then crossed the street, scraping his sneakers on the road as he approached the car. Continue reading Waterfall Way

Measuring Stars

The sound is proximate and consequential, like the crack of bone.

He wakes up and curls into a ball. He waits for a pain to tell him he’s broken something, or a betraying silence that says he has finally crushed his wife to death.

When his eyes adjust to the moonlight he realizes he is not in bed, but in the desert, alone and naked, and half-buried in sand. He raises his knees and finds a bowl of felled and splintered trees. Continue reading Measuring Stars

Sky fishing

The sun was pinned to the horizon and flushed the sky orange like an electric stove.

Ray was loading the last of the gear from the landing. He squinted at each bundle to measure its dimensions and weight, before tossing it into the boat.

“John says the weather will be calm ‘til four. Looks alright to me. We’ll be out over the port, up to the north there, across from the headland. There’s a trough full of bream and snapper out there John says. He and the bigger boats aren’t allowed along, they’re out further where the billfish are and we’re not after them.” Ray dropped the plastic tackle box onto the floor with a muted thud. The box’s claps popped open, releasing a spurt of lead sinkers over the ribs of the boat’s floor. “Damn it!” he spat and as he crouched down his brown toes splayed in his rubber flip-flops.

“Leave that and help me get these. I told you to close the thing properly if you take things out. Didn’t I tell you?” Continue reading Sky fishing

Alcatraz Dolly (The New Guy)

Alcatraz Dolly

As soon as the new guy arrives, he gets the bed and I’m on the stool with my back to the wall, a lightening rod up my tail.

The warden’s jammed that book in my face again – the one about Mesopotamia, “land between rivers” – the only one in the whole damn library. And on account of my broken shoulder, my hand’s stuck in the air so it looks like I’m throwing the new guy a friendly wave, or waiting for an eventual high-five. As if I care. I don’t even get a chance to complain before it’s lights on.

There’s some interest though. There was bound to be. After all, there are two of us now.  Must be some kind of damn precedent. Continue reading Alcatraz Dolly (The New Guy)