Saturday, 11 February 2017


There were lead shot sewn into the hem, to make the robes hang better, enhancing their gravity to enhance the gravitas of the Venerable Primate. Hah! He had never felt less venerable, with the new king openly contemptuous of all outside his imported coterie. No. Gravity, gravitas, would no longer do.

“These robes,” he said to his dresser, “do not meet the moment.”

“Yes, the times are changed,” said the dresser discreetly. “Ex officio, you can wear a military coat, but...”

“Indeed,” replied the Archbishop. “But. And state mourning for the old king is out of the question.” 

“Perhaps something of a more ambassadorial style would suit better, with your insignia of office. The king is technically not your direct superior, so it would be quite proper.”

“An excellent idea,” said the Archbishop. “An ambassador of the people, meeting with the new king in a spirit of constructive accommodation. See to it at once.”

But he feared that he might not long survive the coronation.

A shorter version of this story appeared on Crap Mariner’s 100 word story weekly challenge.
Image credit: Jo Naylor (modified)

Friday, 27 January 2017


“Eli and I are getting married!” the young woman said excitedly. “We’ll always be together.”

“‘Always’ is a long time, Liesl,” her great-grandfather gently chided. “They say that with modern medicine you might reach my age, and have another century still. You can forget a lot in that time.”

“Eli says we should never—”

“He's right,” he said shortly. After a while, he stood and reached down from a high shelf an ornamental wooden box.  He held it for a moment, considering.

“I want you to have this,” he said at last. “It’s glued shut, so it won’t be opened on a whim. But one day, long after I’m gone, you must open it.”

And one day, she did.

In many countries, today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas among the Desert Fathers

Abba Jerome went to visit Abba Macarius. “A young monk has told me of a new custom in the cities,” said Abba Macarius. “They call it ‘Christmas’, but I cannot say how it concerns our Lord.”

“Show me this custom,” said Abba Jerome.

“I shall give you this rock,” said Abba Macarius, “for at Christmas people give things to each other.”

“So shall I give you this rock in return,” said Abba Jerome.

“Then they have a meal together,” said Abba Macarius, and in silence they ate their daily fragment of dry bread dipped in olive oil.

And so they celebrated Christmas.

To appear at Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Story Challenge.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

50 words

Hi there! Don't go!

Please, not just yet. You've only just picked me up.

I know, fifty words isn't much, but still, it's home to me.

Linger a while, won't you?

You can go back and reread, I'd like that.

Well, that's the whole story, see you again sometime?


Thursday, 13 October 2016


Gad, the heat! And the drums, always the drums. The Colonel stood stiffly on the verandah, dressed in full leathers and a pink tutu, because dammit, one had to keep up standards. He rang to summon tea, then remembered that the native servants had all left weeks before, when the rains had not come. He glanced toward the inert computer in the corner, its power supply burnt out. Was the network still running out there, were the others still hanging on? The natives would know. They always knew. If only he knew what the drums were saying, the talking drums.

Image credit: eatswords

Friday, 12 August 2016

The tailor who worked for the Queen of the Fairies

Once upon a time there was a tailor. He was a very good tailor indeed, and aspired to make clothes for the great aristocrats, or even the king himself. But he was of humble birth, and would never come to the attention of such people, unless he bribed their valets and chamberlains for an audience, for which he had neither the money nor the inclination. At last he decided to make the best robe he possibly could, and display it in his shop window, hoping to attract the attention of those he desired to serve.

And so it happened, for the king's tailor saw this robe. He was at once seized with jealousy against a skill he could see was much greater than his own. He conspired with the constables and the judges to claim the robe as his own work, and have the tailor thrown into the palace dungeons as a thief and passer-off.

The tailor despaired in his cell over the injustice of his position, saying, "Why, I could make a robe fit for the Queen of the Fairies herself!" At once the Queen of the Fairies appeared in his cell. "Well, Master Tailor," she said, "you have a fine opinion of yourself. Make me a robe, if you can." There appeared bolts of the finest spider-silk cloth in all manner of shimmering and sparkling colours, caskets of beads, bobbins of thread, and needles, scissors, and other tools of the tailoring trade, of the finest fairy manufacture. "A year from this day, say 'Fairy Queen, Fairy Queen, your robe is done.' I shall return, and if your work pleases me, I shall set you free." 

The tailor worked hard each day by the light of the high windows of his cell, and each night in his dreams planned how to continue the work. A year to the day after the Fairy Queen's visit, the robe was completed. "Fairy Queen, Fairy Queen, your robe is done," he said. The Fairy Queen reappeared and took up the robe. She swirled it about herself in a dazzling rainbow of colour, and then with a blinding flash of light, she vanished.

When the tailor's eyes cleared, he found himself sitting amidst the ruins of the palace. Clambering out of the remains, he saw the city long crumbled to heaps of stone, and at last understood that for every day he had worked for the Fairy Queen, a hundred years had passed in the world.

But what became of him then is another story.

Written today at the Nine Worlds workshop on drabbles. Yes, this isn't 100 words, but it is the length I want it to be.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Coleridge tells of how an epic poem was revealed to him in a dream, and on waking he hastened to write it down; but a person from Porlock visited, and detained him in business for a considerable time, and when at last he was able to return to the poem, it had entirely evaporated, and only the fragment we know as “Kubla Khan” remained.

How the person from Porlock was delayed

“Such a dreadful business! I was on my way from Porlock to pay a visit on my dear friend Mr. Coleridge, when the coach broke a spring, and not another inch might it go without a blacksmith be fetched to mend it, and the thing could not be done in under three hours, and when at last I arrived, I found him dead! dead! of a surfeit of poetical ecstasy, and reams of paper covered as though the Devil himself drove his pen to write thoughts vaster than any mortal might bear! Of course I had the housekeeper burn every page.”