The jagged edges of the corrugated roof snagged a plastic bag that had blown against the bus shelter. It flapped like an enraged bird. George knew what it meant to be enraged. He gripped the tiny box in his pocket with clenched fingers.
The pane that backed the shelter had shattered, scattering shards that scrunched underfoot as he paced. The local Council had wedged a plastered panel where the glass had once been and someone had sprayed Loooser in blurred letters across it.… (read more)
Rain patters on the flagstones that pave the square. Rivulets of water converge forming ever growing puddles, till the place resembles an immense lagoon bordered by a forest of pillars curving upwards, arching protective over tables huddled like bedraggled lambs.
A poster clings to a pillar flapping like a trapped bird in the wind. In a moment’s respite, a sketch of an umbrella unfurls, beneath which is scrawled in childish script: Derided by our fellows, cast out by our parents, hounded by the police, we protest by exhibiting our beautiful bodies, so abhorred by those who fear that which is not like them.… (read more)
Time to crack open my eyes, to yawn and yawn again, to stretch, to scratch, then pounce on the ball of wool sending it shooting under the bed. And I’m off, skidding on the carpet, slithering past the ball, almost colliding with the wall. Arching my back, I spring again, digging my claws into the woolly prey. It clings to me and we struggle. I roll on my back, splaying my legs, and wool tumbles over my belly.… (read more)
Please don’t tell me I’m hearing voices. That’s what happened to mum. Although she was much younger than I am now. She claimed a soldier came to her every night, it was a secret she said, he talked to her about the great war, how they got buried in the trenches, stumbling in the dark amid the stink and smoke, and them clawing at the mud trying to free the wounded, moaning and praying to God, without the least medical help and all the while shells showering them in sods of earth and broken bones, threatening to bury them amongst the dead…
The latch clicks shut as I pull the porch door closed and feel my way in the dark. A faint hint of incense hangs in the air, vying with distant memories of flowers. I catch sight of the stone font in the gloom and run my hand round its worn rim then, tracing the curve down and across its depths, I encounter water. Drawing back, I glance around, but no one is there to see.… (read more)
The sun’s rays burst through the clouds and skim the ruffled waters of the lake. At the sight of a large villa, they prize their way between the half drawn curtains and splash light across a table set for two.
Eyes downcast, an old man ruminates, his boney fingers smoothing creases from the cloth. The roast lamb and potato gratin have hardly been touched. He picks up his glass, swills the red wine, sniffs it, then replaces it with a sigh.… (read more)
The whir of colour wheels settled and a familiar sinking announced the return to gravity. Ahead the docking station took shape. AT381. Home. He let out a deep shuddery breath. He was almost there. Out of habit, he glanced at the screens. No one was following.
Docked, he was about to undo the airlock when a second craft drifted into the next bay. His hands froze on the crossbar. Cast off you fool, get out of there.… (read more)
“No. I insist. They hide under flowerpots,” she says, draining most of her cup, turning it upside down and placing it dripping over a solitary sugar lump.
“What are you talking about, my dear?” She can have such wild ideas at times that I find it hard to keep up. And if I can’t keep up, whoever else could? Somebody has to accompany her in her wanderings. She might get lost forever.… (read more)
Something went wrong, dreadfully wrong, once upon a time.
Von stood alone on a broad open plain, hills of pink dust rolling away in every direction. The sun blazed high in the sky causing waves of heat to ripple over the desert making it look as if it throbbed. No folk were in sight, but danger hung in the air, he could sense it in the pit of his stomach. He wished there were something he could do, but intuition told him that nothing would change this tale.… (read more)
There are now over fifty of Alan McCluskey’s short stories published here. To find your way around, you can use the new Story Index. There’s also a link to the index in the menu to the left of every page.… (read more)