Sunday, 22 July 2018


“Sharper on table 4,” said my colleague. He showed me a replay. “You can't see anything,” he said, “but something’s off, I can smell it.”

The cameras run at 200 frames per second, and I had to single-step to see it. Dealing from the bottom, under the top, peeking at the corners, faster than the eye could see.

Faster than human fingers could move.

“Android or just bioenhanced, we’ll need a SWAT team to handle this one if he doesn’t leave quietly,” I said.

Sometimes I think we should give up and let anything sit at a poker table. They did that in sports years ago.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Le Morte d’Arthur

There was a knight of Arthur’s band
Who did great deeds by strength of hand
But no wise would he be content
Till Guinevere lay in his tent.

Disloyalty was his downfall
Without which he had had else all.
“If only I had Guinevere”
Quoth he, “There’s nought else I hold dear.”
But all men know how that turned out
In Caxton’s book of Arthur’s Morte.

If Lancelot had not been false
Then things had not come to this pass.
But even in the courts of kings
Man’s fatal defect evil brings
And that’s why we can’t have nice things.

This story also appears in Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Weekly Challenge.

Thursday, 28 December 2017


It has been told how when the gods were young, they created the Universe, and the Multiverse, and Man, and how they amused themselves with their creation.

Man came and passed, and his existence was as the briefest, tiniest spark of light in the vastness of his Multiverse, which was but a single grain of sand amongst the things that the gods would create, each vaster and more magnificent than what came before, things whose name alone would take a thousand years to say.

But at last, the gods themselves grew old.

“All that we can do, we have done,” lamented one.

“All that can be, has been,” said another.

But the god who in the beginning had studied what was, before the gods, remained silent.

And so they came to an end.

*   *   *

“Look, how pretty!” said the little girl. She pointed at a jewel that had grown overnight on the tree.

“Yes,” said the Gardener. “It is perfect.”

A shorter version of this story will appear, or has appeared,

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Story of the Desert Fathers

Abba Jerome’s only companion in the desert was a ferret that would come and lie in the shade of his cave.

One night, he walked meditating among the hills. Hearing a sudden noise underfoot, he saw how the ferret had caught a desert rat, ripping its belly open. In compassion, Abba Jerome laid his hand on the rat, which was miraculously healed, and scampered away.

But God spoke out of the night, saying, “Knowest thou the ways of God? The rat’s death was the ferret’s life.”

Abba Jerome admitted his sin, but thereafter, the ferret would never enter his cave.

This story first appeared at Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Story Challenge.
A Saying of the Desert Fathers

Abba Jerome left his cave to visit his neighbour Abba Genarius, thirty miles away. He confessed ashamedly, “I have written a book.”

“If it concern our Lord,” said Abba Genarius, “that is a praiseworthy thing.”

Abba Jerome sighed. “It began so, but to quicken the reader’s heart I invented stories of the people around Him. Now His life is hardly mentioned, while the stories breed and multiply of themselves. Surely some demon afflicts me.”

Prophecy came upon Abba Genarius. “In time to come, it will be called ‘airport fiction’,” he said, “but do not ask me what that means, for it makes my head hurt.”

This story first appeared at Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Story Challenge.

Monday, 11 December 2017

When you’re my age

When I was five, the universe scared me. The big encyclopedia talked about billions of years, billions of billions of miles. When I worked out what a billion was, I was terrified. “But what’s it all for?” I wailed. “Wait till you're my age,” said my mother.

When I was thirty-three, I asked her again, “So, what’s it all about, remember?” But she just said, “wait till you’re my age”.

She died at seventy-six, and now here I am, seventy-six myself, her age at last. And I still don’t know what it’s all for.

I guess that’s what she meant.

Monday, 27 November 2017


“I know you said to get off at Leyton and not Leytonstone, or was it the other way round, but anyway, I must have got off at the wrong one and then somehow I couldn’t work out which train to get to the right one, and before I knew it I was in Epping but a darling man helped me find the right train back to Leyton, or was it Leytonstone, but I must have nodded off on the train and then I panicked when I woke and dashed off and I’d only walked a short way when I realised I had no idea where I was and I couldn’t find the station again and I’d lost your address and then a policeman asked if I needed any help, well, I thought he looked rather young for a policeman, of course I didn’t say that, but I’m afraid I broke down a bit and cried and somehow he found your address in my handbag and drove me here in his police car and was it a good party?“

“Yes, mother,” I said. “Glad you could make it.”