Wednesday 30 December 2015


Ephraim Smethewicke’s will left everything “to his family”. But although Ephraim was well known and loved in the town, a ready companion and support to young and old, high and low, rich and poor, he had never made mention of wife nor children, nor even brothers, or cousins. An industrious life and modest living in old age had left a substantial estate, which his executors considered too large to merely drop in the poorbox as an intestacy.

At last, they decided to found a bank, for the assistance of business in that town, devoting the profits to charitable works. And so Ephraim’s will was fulfilled.

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

Saturday 26 December 2015


I remember that night. Place was packed, so I let them doss down in a shed. Then the portents start. New stars, angels, sorcerors wanting in on the action. Something to tell my grandkids, I thought.

Later, though, I hear stories. Imagine having a two-year-old God in your village! He killed people on a whim, no-one could touch him, he'd just do worse. And the pranks, by Mithras! So, he grows up, gets some sense but not enough, then it seems the juju’s going away. Didn’t take long to get him nailed up then.

I just hope he stays dead.

And if you’d like to know more about what it’s like to have a two-year-old God in your village, look up the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. It’s 2nd century New Testament horror fanfiction, and very popular in the Middle Ages.

I do wonder if Jerome Bixby’s classic SF story “It’s a good life” was inspired by it.
Merry Christmas, anyway.

This story first appeared on Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Story Weekly Challenge.
Image credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO.

Tuesday 22 December 2015


Oh will you be my wife, my love
Oh will you be my wife?

Build me a castle fit for a queen
Oh then I'll be your wife.

Here is a castle fit for a queen
Oh will you be my wife?

Make a garden as far as the eye can see
Oh then I'll be your wife.

Here's the finest garden in all the land
With arbours and fountains on every hand
Oh will you be my wife?

When the stars go out and the sun grows cold
And moths have eaten all your gold
Oh then I'll be your wife.

Monday 21 December 2015

Waiting for Santa Claus

A play in one act.

A living room. Night. A Christmas tree. Two small children.

Tina (the older one): Scott.

Scott (the other one): What?

T: Did you ever read the nativity story?

S: (He reflects.) I read the pictures.

T: What's "myrrh"? Everyone says they brought gold, somethingsomething, and "myrrh".

S: (examining his foot) Maybe it's what they make mirrors from.

T: Santa Claus might know.

S: Will he come?

T: We sent word...

(Long pause.)

T: (getting up) Let's go to bed.

S: We can't.

T: Why not?

S: We're waiting for Santa Claus.

(T sits down.)

(Long pause.)

S: Let's go.

T: Let's.

(They do not move.)

Saturday 19 December 2015

@God Bored... #peaceandquiet

@God Let there be light! #creation

@God Water! Land! Grass! Trees! The moving creature that hath life! #creation

@God Isn't this great? Hello... No-one here, must fix that #creation

@Adam @God What's all this? #gardenofeden

@Eve @Adam 'Oo are you? #gardenofeden

@God @Adam @Eve Whaddya think? Follow @God and you'll live here forever #gardenofeden

@Serpent @Eve Trust me, unfollow that guy. Have an apple #tempttempt

@Eve *scream* we're nekkid!!!! #gardenofeden

@Adam @Eve A talking snake told you? Were you born yesterday? Oh... #gardenofeden

@God @Adam @Eve Out! #gotcha

@God @Fiery_Angel And don't let them back! #peaceandquiet

Lucas van Leyden, “The Expulsion from Paradise”, 1529. Found via artbible.

This story first appeared at Crap Mariner's 100 Word Challenge in 2014.

Friday 18 December 2015

The horizon’s just crossing up over the sun when they show. Two people. Look like men, but that don’t mean much out here.

“We have come far, and are weary,” says one. Weary? They’re not even breaking a sweat. Must be packing some mighty fine implants to be just strolling across the badlands like that. They’ve no stuff with them, not even guns. If they don’t need guns out here, I don’t need any trouble with them.

“This shack ain’t no hotel,” I say. “But plenty of rocks to lay on. Be my guest.”

Well, there’s no fire from heaven coming down. Guess I passed God’s secret customer test. I didn’t let on, but the wings really give them away.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

A Christmas Wish

On a Sunday it is pleasant to wander the Flohmarkt, especially now the Christmas lights are out.  I picked up a faded daguerrotype.  It was of the old Meyerplatz, from before the War.  A bright spring morning, draymen loading their horse-drawn carts, and in the middle, a young man striding assuredly across the square, a bundle under his arm.

“What do you wish, sir?” asked the stallholder.

The carts rattled and jingled; one of the new trams slowly drew into the square.  And in the fresh spring air, I strode briskly on to my bachelor lodgings, with bread fresh from the baker’s.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Abba Jerome visited Abba Genarius on the day of Our Lord’s birth, and gave him a box of Egyptian sweetmeats.

A year later, Abba Genarius visited Abba Jerome, and gave him that same box, still full, saying, “Thank you for this opportunity to resist the weakness of my body.”

A year later, Abba Jerome visited Abba Genarius, giving him that same box again, saying, “The virtue of abnegation cannot be contained.”

A year later, Abba Genarius gave the box to Abba Jerome, saying, “I cannot open this while my brother stands in want.”

Then they laughed and ate them together.

Rock dwellings, Cappadocia, Turkey

This story first appeared on Crap Mariner's 100 Word Story Weekly Challenge. It was inspired by the prompt word, “box”, and a book of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Sunday 16 August 2015

I saw the Devil

I went out to the woods one night
No goblins or bogeys can me affright
I looked for my cronies by the hollow oak tree
Then I saw the Devil and the Devil saw me.

“Yer mates have fled home and bolted the door”
says the Devil, “they’ll never have sleep no more”
So I spits in his eye and I says to he,
“You can scare off my mates but you won’t scare me.”

He showed me his demons on a darkling plain
And the souls of the damned in eternal flame
Then I showed him my business that I came out to do
And the Devil ran off and his little imps too.

When I go out to the woods of a night
The Devil himself can’t me affright
For the Devil looked within me and saw worse than he
When I saw the Devil and the Devil saw me.


This is a longer version of my contribution this week to Crap Mariner's weekly challenge. Poetic necessity overflowed the bound of 100 words.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

There was once a country where the craft of building was in a sorry state. In that country lived a man who had already perceived this in his youth, and thought it a great folly. He had therefore busied himself with travelling to many other countries and observing how they made buildings there. He thought long and hard, and made experimental trial, of why some methods made sound buildings of all sorts: houses, fortifications, bridges, dams, and other constructions also; but others could scarcely build a hut that would withstand the procession of a single year’s seasons.