The Care and Conservation of Unusual Properties (On Spec, April 2019)
Contains library deep-cleaning, inventory marking, dusting, volunteer incentive issues and very large spiders! This collection was once accused of being postmodern, which surprised me, because I thought of it as a reasonably accurate transcription of several monologues someone rather like me was once on the nodding side of.
Well, fairly accurate. I guess no one said anything about a dragon.
“Butterflies and Hurricanes” (The Dark, February 2019)
Demon conjuring in Regency London. The calling cards arrived with the morning milk. Three quarters of an hour later, as told by the clock that discarded eight minutes every day and gained it back with interest when a certain word was spoken, two gentlemen took their seats in the clean brown parlour…
Prima Fuit, Finis Erit (Lackington’s, November 2018)
A little Roman ghost story about poetry and death. This is what I wrote: sunt aliquid manes. There are spirits. Death is not the end.
Psychopomps of Central London (The Dark, October 2018)
A short psychogeographic trip to the threshold of the underworld (but not beyond). Have you drunk from the fountain at the gate before? No? Don’t. There are too many psychopomps ahead of us for you to take shortcuts. As with any journey, where you end up depends on who you met along the way.
The Catacombs of Constitutional History (Monstrosities, March 2018)
A haunted library and a bunch of haunted people. The wichtiger lounged just inside the Library door. It shook its brindled hackles and yawned, showing off every single yellow tooth, then laid its long muzzle down on its paws and closed its yellow eyes. Only a glimmer of well-fed interest showed as I crept by…
The Little Duchess (Kaleidotrope, January 2018)
In which a gentleman called Baldesar di Casatico relives nine years of his life all at once and regrets dealing with a devil of sorts: The headstone was shaking, or he was. “Anna,” he said.
The Elements of the Plague (Syntax & Salt, December 2017)
Is it our malignant star? Is it the baneful air flying out of a foreign quarter of the heavens? No: it is a manifestation. It is a sign.
God Thing (Kaleidotrope, July 2017)
A fetch quest featuring a young man with a goddess in his head searching a ruined city for a body. It was Rob who first caught the ashen flash of the angel’s hair, because the goddess was surveying the soot-streaked walls and rubble and fractured streets in growing outrage. Her anger infused Rob’s stomach with acid.
Delia’s Door (3LBE #28, November 2016)
Music, escapism and inertia. The first time I saw the summer country was when the first fugue of Vivaldi’s Dixit came together, finally, for a single perfect moment one wintry night. The rain beat against the drafty windows and fifty voices sang out together, split into two choirs, which means eight different harmony lines, which is quite hard when you’ve only got six tenors and seven basses to start with, and for once, for once it sounded as if we were really singing what Vivaldi had written…
Tongueless (The Sockdolager #7, October 2016)
A small, nasty story about small, nasty people. There was a white light in the dark where there shouldn’t have been. It lit up the window and glowed around the door, so I said, “Hello? Is someone out there?” and no one replied. I wrestled the bolt back and stepped out into the porch on my bare toes, shivering as the breeze pushed up my cotton nightie.
City of Wolves and Lightning (LampLight vol. 4, issue 4, July 2016)
Afterwards I heard it said that lightning struck the soldiers disembarking at Dyrrachium and wolves came into the City that stayed… Roman weird. You can get the issue in Print – Kindle – Smashwords – Nook – Kobo – iBook.
The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps (Grendelsong #2, April 2016)
Flash fiction about unsatisfactory relationships bearing some relationship to Aqua Vitalis. The first map Isabella found in the Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps was the great golden globe that tracked the overlapping spheres of power and influence exercised in Florens by the great families and guild masters and pontifical councils and of course her new husband the duke himself…
Under Dead Marsh (Lackington’s #9, February 2016)
Epistolary sci-fi for three types of people: people trying to get planning permission; people trying to stop other people getting planning permission; and local councillors. Oh, and Dylan Thomas fans. ON MARS.
The Girl who Talked to the Sea (Unsung Stories, October 2015)
Drowned-town flash: The first storm hit Eccles-on-Sea on Jenny’s fourteenth birthday. She lay curled up counting her cold toes while the wind battered the roof tiles and knocked the bells about in the grey church steeple….
Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood (Unlikely Story, The Journal of Unlikely Academia, October 2015)
This story expresses my sincere conviction that most long-lost-apocalypse-prophecy-fetch-questers have completely the wrong priorities. They may not be the only ones, of course. It includes textual criticism, academic passive-aggression on a grand scale and Latin puns! Could I sink any lower? (Yes. Almost certainly, yes.)
Rites of Passage (Kaleidotrope, September 2015)
A desert adventure featuring amber, dragons and Ann. The night after she met the alžayn, Takaleyel kel Auzheghan heard that a greenland witch had come to Teleleiyya…
Voice and Silence (The Sockdolager, September 2015)
A study of feline psychopathy, featuring kittens, mice and drafty old farmhouses. In the same week the kittens found a family of field mice under the rosemary bush, my mother ripped the voice out of a greeting card that had been interred in the bottom drawer for years. I wished she hadn’t, afterwards…
Durus Amor (Two Words For, July 2015)
A very short piece of Virgiliana. Remember that time Dido met Aeneas in the underworld? Flash.
Unravelling (Lackington’s Issue 5, January 2015)
A dark little fairytale for a dripping night. The witch’s nails were long and white. “Follow your dreams,” she said and flicked her spindle so that the crosspieces blurred. It was a Turkish spindle of the sort that comes apart into wooden fragments. I couldn’t see her eyes, which troubled me. “Yes. That sounds good…”
Drowning in Sky (Women Destroy Fantasy!, October 2014)
I have a kindness for those who shake the earth when they walk, the Sea-Cat said. For am I not the Mother of Earthquakes? Ann, a very bad sailor, sails away from plague-ridden Vitulia and lands in the Ten Cities, where the locals are… welcoming.
The Words of the Maguš to Kūruš, King of Kings (Lightning Cake Lit, September 2014)
Dream interpretation. One day, your life will be itemized and numbered. This is what your dream means: strangers will lay out your clothes and select the best of them to be displayed in glass cases… Flash.
7 Noises Heard While House-Sitting Alone, In The Dark, That Would Be Alarming If I Didn’t Know What They Were (Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi, September 2014)
A slightly Mythos-flavoured glimpse of country life WITH KITTENS. Flash.
Aqua Vitalis (Lakeside Circus, Issue 2, August 2014)
In the last year the winter floods swept the New Bridge down the River Amin, three discoveries were made… A poisonous little fantasy flash fiction in which the dog dies.
Bitter Water (Triangulation: Parch anthology, July 2014)
Sand, bandits, extremely aggrieved merchants, alarming spirit-haunted mountains and some rather unkind practical jokers.
Elephants and Omnibuses (Lackington’s Magazine, Issue 2, May 2014).
Romans, civil war, steampunk. We are accustomed to hearing the Roman army described as a “well-oiled machine.” Of what parts, the interested reader might inquire, of which cogs and carefully calculated gears was that machine constructed…
A bite of darkish fantasy. She came back to the Isles in the spring mist. She was left on a pebble beach by a ship from the south, which sailed off without even stopping to resupply…
Fool’s Gold (Every Day Fiction, May 2013).
Maybe it was the heat. Or the dust. Or the flies. Or all three. The sun hammered down and the dust rose up and hell, that’s just how it was in Sicily. Then we got off the ships and looked around and Africa wasn’t any better, especially since we were camping in a ruined city…
N.B. In some other weird dimension that does not contain dragons, wizards, etc., the reference point for this flash fiction would be Plutarch’s Life of Pompey 11.
Dog Star Rising (Short story, March 2013).
Saba’s been hunting the man who poisoned his cousin for half a year. Now he’s run his prey to ground at a little village in the woods called Holm’s Steading – his prey and a girl called Ann who doesn’t know what “ravishing” means…
Apple Cake & Princess Charming (Scheherezade’s Bequest #13, Cabinet des Fées, May 2011).
A light little fairytale for a dreary day. I was still seeing all the world from new and unsettling angles, and wondering what, if anything, I was meant to do about it, so when the girl stumbled out of a dripping autumn evening while I was taking down my washing, I was hardly thrown at all…