Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

#FridayFlash: The Vampire Rabbit of Dean Street

The following is inspired by Icy Sedgwick's Photo Prompt 29 - Vampire Rabbit.

The story takes place first thing on a Monday morning in Newcastle and, owing to the location in which the story is set, includes a few words in the local dialect and idiom of the area. The building in question, and the rabbit statue really do exist, the characters on the other hand, are fictional.

Geordie and Jack are having a quick mug of tea before starting work on the facade of the building they are employed to rennovate...

Photo courtesy Icy Sedgwick. © Icy Sedgwick 2007 - 2011. All Rights Reserved.


'Geordie, will you look at that?!' Jack pointed up to the front of the building they'd been working on.

'What, man?' Geordie put down his copy of the Daily Mirror swivelled round and glanced in the direction Jack pointed.

'Some bugger's nicked the rabbit, like.'

Geordie's gaze zeroed in on the plinth above the building's main entrance.

'Aw, shite! We'll be right in the clarts when Jamieson sees this.' Geordie tipped the rest of his tea onto the pavement and stood. 'Give us a hand then.'

'What with, like?'

'That, Jackie man, that.' Geordie indicated the hydraulic platform they'd been sitting on for their tea break. 'One of us is going to have to gan up and have a shufty.'

Jack did not reply, instead he busied himself with the platform's controls, manoeuvring it into place in front of the doorway. Geordie climbed onto the platform's deck and thumbed the switch to raise himself up level with the portico.

'Jackie man, this is a bit bloody weird, like' he called down as he surveyed the rabbit's plinth.

'Why?' Jack was more concerned about finding and replacing the statue before Jamieson, their foreman, discovered it was missing. Jamieson's temper was legendary and Jack had been the one responsible for locking off the platform the previous Friday night. It had been his daughter's birthday and he'd wanted to get away early, though as he thought about it, he was sure he had locked the platform's controls. Hadn't he unlocked them just now? If he hadn't locked them on Friday, that meant the platform had been left accessible all weekend.

'There's nee sign of any fixings, like,' replied Geordie as he reached out to run his fingertips over the smooth stone of the plinth. 'Not a bloody bolt hole nor nowt. It's like the rabbit was never here.'

'That's queer.'

'Queer? It's bloody odd is what it is, Jackie, man. There's not even a weather mark for where the statue's been neither.'

Geordie's eyes lit upon something he hadn't noticed at first.

'What it is?' called Jack.

'I divent narr, bonny lad. I know what it looks like, but,' Geordie paused, 'It can't be.'

'Can't be what, like?'

'Claw marks. On the front of the plinth. It's like summat was up here, flexing its fingers--'



'Paws. Rabbits haven't got fingers.'

'Listen, clever shite, whether whatever it is has fingers, paws or whatever is the least of our worries. A better question is where the hell's it gone, like?'

Jack shrugged.

'Fat lot of help you are,' Geordie fumed as he lowered the platform back to ground level, wondering what sort of excuse they could come up with that Jamieson might go for. 'There's nowt for it, bonny lad. We'll have to tell him before he finds out, like.'

'But what are we going to tell him?' Jack ran a hand through his salt and pepper hair.

'I'm buggered if I know, but if he finds out second hand we'll both be collecting our cards.'

With weary hearts, Geordie and Jack headed for the site office.

'You did lock off the platform on Friday, Jackie, didn't you?'

* * *

A large black rabbit, about the size of a spaniel, crouched in the shadows of an industrial sized bin washing the last of the blood off its face with both paws. Thankfully the street was still deserted this early in the morning and, as soon as the two men passed, the rabbit broke cover and raced towards the building.

Its muscular back legs pumping, the rabbit hurtled towards the hydraulic platform. At the last second, when collision seemed inevitable, the rabbit leapt, describing a perfect arc through the clear morning air to land, with what appeared a well-practiced move, right in the middle of the plinth above the doors.

As the rabbit settled quickly into a crouched position, a roar of anger echoed from the nearby tin hut, followed closely by the sight of three men, a larger red-faced man preceding two others, running towards the building.

Three pairs of eyes raised skywards to meet the re-painted ones of the crouching rabbit statue above the building's entrance.

'So, it's gone, has it?' The red-faced man rounded on the other two, who quailed under his gaze. 'I don't know what you pair of silly bastards are trying to pull, but any more practical jokes and I'll sack the bloody pair of you.'

With that Jamieson spun on his heel and marched off toward the tin hut.

Geordie and Jack exchanged bewildered glances before Geordie shrugged and went to buy tea from a nearby café.

Jack, shielding his eyes against the morning sun, squinted up at the rabbit atop its plinth. His stomach turned to ice as he could have sworn the rabbit winked at him.

By the time Geordie returned with the tea, Jack had resolved to pack his job in and change careers. He wasn't sure what to exactly, but he figured he should be fine so long as it had nothing to do with rabbits.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

#FridayFlash: Northern Vamp Tales Part 8

aka a Story, a Boo and a Question.

This story is part 8 in the Northern Vampire series. It follows on directly from my story Answers Part 3, which can be found here. I have a blog page here that lists all my vampire stories in chronological order.


I'm in Newcastle, for my sins, sorting out the refurb of Lucien's new club. It's in a back lane off the Bigg Market, a bit of a dive, used to be a solicitor's offices.

Lucien's got this team of Polish builders in, and I don't understand a word they say but they're a canny bunch of lads. At least the foreman, Marek, speaks a bit of English. They seem to like me too, which might have something to do with me sorting out that traffic warden who came sniffing around the first night they were here. They're dossing down on site, see, and their van's on the double yellows out front.

I was in the office when it happened – I heard raised voices and a lot of Polish so I went down to see what was up and there's this little parking vulture tapping away at his computer. He was going to give them a ticket and Marek was doing his nut, so I called the warden over, showed him my fangs and told the specky little twat to piss off. God, I hate traffic wardens.

What do you mean, worried about drawing attention to myself? Bollocks! We're fireproof we are, well, you know what I mean. Friends in all the right places.

We've had no trouble since, and the van's been there a month now; funny, that.

I'm not enjoying sleeping on the office floor mind, it's not what I'm used to, too much like being back on the streets. Marek said yesterday he was surprised they didn't wake me during the renovations.

'We make early start, every day. Finish late,' he says, 'hammering, banging, all the time.'

They've been taking a wall down.

'But we not see you. You not disturb by our work?'

I shake my head.

He shakes his, 'You must sleep sleep of dead, no?' then jabbers something in Polish at Stanislav who's just put a nail through his hand, the silly sod.

He doesn't see me smile as I excuse myself. I tell him the sight of blood makes me nauseous and he laughs. It doesn't of course, it makes me hungry and it wouldn't do to eat the staff.

They also like me 'cos I can drink them under the table, which is no mean feat if you've seen how much Polish vodka these lads can put away; 95% proof it is and you could probably run your car on it. It's an interesting fact though, that I can still drink, but no matter how much alcohol I pour down my neck I never get pissed. Impresses Marek no end, that does.

You remember that woman in the back of my white van? Yeah, that's the one. Turns out she was a “goodwill gesture” from Lucien to the head lad up here, something about sealing the deal in blood, Lucien says. Aye that's right, we're everywhere if you'd only look, not too hard though, you might not like what you find.

In the end I swapped vans in an industrial estate in Gateshead a night late, but I reckon we must have got away with it because I haven't heard anything about the late delivery since.

The deeds to the club and a bundle of used fifties were in the glove box as arranged, which is handy 'cos Marek's very obliging for cash.

The only bother we've had so far is with the knuckle-dragging arseholes who owned the club further up the street. They reckon they're hard lads, Geordie Benson and the Bigg Market Boys they call themselves. Bunch of wankers. Anyway, two of them caught Tomas having a fag out the back by the bins the other night and gave him a right good going over. Broke all his fingers, which is a bit of a bastard, him being a chippy.

Piotr found him, he's Marek's gas fitter. He comes in all full of hell, the veins on his neck in danger of bursting. I had to look away. When I found out what had occurred I was all for calling the emergency number Lucien gave me, but Marek's all, 'Is no problem. We take care of this.'

He looks at me with this half smile and an expression that'd chill you to the bone. He scares the fuck out of me when he's like that, and I'm a vampire. I wouldn't want to have to take him on. He'd lose, but still.

'I was not always builder,' is all he says and I believe him.

Next morning's gas explosion, that's what plod says it is and who am I to argue, completely levels Geordie's place, taking him and most of his crew with it. We knew they were still in there 'cos Tomas had been casing the place from our front window. Poor sod couldn't do much else, his fingers splinted like that, just watch, drink vodka and curse.

I met Geordie the first day I arrived. He couldn't wait to pop over and “introduce” himself. I put two of his lads in hospital that time. Fat, greasy bastard is, was, Geordie. Forehead like a set of stepped balconies and beady eyes like a rat, but you could see the menace behind them. Smoked like a chimney too and didn't give a fuck about rules and regulations. I'm pretty sure the anti-smoking law didn't extend as far as Geordie's office in the club, I just neglected to appraise Marek of that fact.

Turns out Piotr was over there the night before after closing time, doctoring the booze in Geordie's office so they were all sound asleep when it blew. I never did find out how he got in, probably best not to ask, know what I mean?

I think Marek and Piotr only planned to gas Geordie and his lads but hey, two birds with one stone and all that. Lucien's club should do quite nicely now the competition's out of the picture.

Anyhow, I'd better get on. We open tomorrow night and there's still a million and one things need doing. I've got pole dancers to interview for one thing, and the very thought is making me peckish.


And now, as Monthy Python would say, for something completely different...

Having been “encouraged” for months I have finally, and with much trepidation, taken the plunge and recorded the above story as an AudioBoo. If you could spare me a couple of minutes, four minutes and fifty-five seconds to be precise, to have a listen and to hear the world-famous voice that has been described as a cat gargling with spanners for the first time, please hit Play below; I'd appreciate it. I have the perfect voice for print, so don't say I didn't warn you!


And finally, the question, well, three questions really: how does listening to the story as opposed to reading it change your perception of my character and story? Would you care to hazard a guess at the number of spanners the cat is gargling with? And, should I do it again?

If you'd like to read my thoughts on AudioBoo as a concept, last year I was kindly invited to write a guest post for Tony Noland's Landless blog.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

#FridayFlash: Answers Part 3

This story is part 3 in the Northern Vampire: Answers series. The previous instalment can be found here, and if you'd like to read it from the beginning, please go here.


So there I am, propped up in Lucien's armchair, feeling like shite while he regales me with more of his story. I'm not really sure I'm up to this, it feels like my brain's in danger of dribbling out of my ears. As I was to learn later, much later, there's no stopping Lucien once he's got a bee in his bonnet about something, of course I'd don't know this yet, for now it's like having to sit through your Auntie's holiday snaps in a single sitting, all of them.

Anyway, Lucien's still speaking, banging on about his Conversion... brain finishes the thought for me with, “...on the road to Damascus” and I nearly get the giggles. Thankfully Lucien doesn't seem to notice, so wrapped up is he in his memories.

'I lay in cellar for two days and nights while the Purge was upon me, and was close to immolation when, on the third day I attempted to leave my sanctuary during daylight. It was not until darkness fell that I gathered my courage and left that accursed cellar. I fervently prayed--'

He laughs.

'Prayed I would not be discovered by the Infidel, and I was not. I know now that I had some power over their minds even in my weakened state, though at the time I concluded luck, and God must be on my side.'

Lucien pauses and sips his drink.

Is that red wine?

'Passing through the enemy lines proved a more simple task than I had imagined. My senses tingled, I was alert to everything. I presumed this was because of my fear of being discovered, of being captured, I know now it was my body's natural reaction to my new state of being.'

I don't think that is red wine, you know. And it ain't fecking Ribena either.

I'm having trouble following this. Feels like someone is blowing a high-pitched whistle right in my ears. I lean over and puke my guts up into the bucket.

'A crippling weakness came upon me suddenly as I neared the camp of my Order, and had the shepherd's hut not presented itself I fear I may have died lying in the desert when the sun rose.'

Lucien pauses again, staring over my shoulder with a glazed look in his eyes.

Is that a tear rolling down his cheek?

'What I did to Marzuq and his family that night...I regret to this day, especially to little Basim. A lovely boy, he seemed to have no fear of us despite our sickness, he often assisted me with the care of Mistral--'

He gestures at the horse in the glass case.

'That I should repay that kindness with death has haunted me to this day.'

'You killed...all of them?' I croak.

Lucien takes a moment before replying. 'I did not wish to, but once the urge to feed comes upon us, only a supreme effort of will prevents us from feeding at the first opportunity. You have yet to face the Urge,' he says with a wry smile and my guts turn to ice.

'When I stumbled into camp, my fellows took my being covered in blood to mean I had been attacked and carried me to my tent where I lay in a stupor for what seemed like days, unable to rise or to speak.'

Lucien wanders over to the French doors, slides them closed, staring out through the smoked glass for a while. I concentrate on trying to stay upright in the chair.

'Most of the camp was sure I had been struck down with the plague and would come nowhere near my tent, though after two days with neither food nor water two of my brother knights ventured to see if I still lived. As they approached the pallet on which I lay I was seized by the Urge once more--'

He's a bloody maniac! How many people has he killed?

Lucien glares at me. 'I know not what was different, but suffice to say my two brother knights and I left our camp under cover of darkness three days later and made for home.'

I fumble through the maths on my fingers.

That means there's...

'Three of us. Yes, you are correct, though only two of us still live.'

Lucien looks genuinely sad and for the first time I feel a sense of pity for him.

'Do not pity me, boy,' he roars and I nearly jump clean out of the chair. He's next to me in a heartbeat, his face inches from my nose.

'Never pity me,' he hisses. I make a mental note never to pity him.

'Enough!' he says, 'You need to rest. We will talk again once you have regained your strength.'

Lucien produces a blanket from somewhere, chucks it over me and stalks off into the hall. I just sit there, dribbling.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Emma Newman on Tour

As I sit here listening to the heavy rain bouncing off my windowsill, my mind is drawn back to the splendid sunshine of yesterday and to the lovely couple of hours I spent in the company of Emma Newman at her book signing event in Sunderland.

Emma recently released her anthology of short stories, From Dark Places, and as part of her book launch and tour she kindly agreed to make the trek up to the north east for a signing.

Emma Newman looking suitably enigmatic behind the cover
of her anthology of short stories, From Dark Places.

Over the next few weeks, Emma will be appearing at events in London and the southwest, if you can spare her a couple of hours of your time you won't be disappointed.

As part of the event, we were treated to a reading of The Letter, one of the From Dark Places stories, and a personal favourite of mine.

Emma reading "The Letter," one of the From Dark Places stories
at her Sunderland book signing.

From Dark Places is an eclectic mix of twenty-five wonderfully dark stories, some shot through with humour, and all told in Emma's inimitable style. What makes them all the more special is the stories were inspired by prompts given by members of Emma's Short Story Club; if you haven't signed up yet, you really should. I'll wait, it'll only take you a moment...

...You're back? Good. Here's the rear cover blurb:

Abby finds a creative solution to her father’s problems. Ben makes a pact with the Devil for a new Mum. Katie is pursued by unrelenting voices. John just found his colleague’s hand in a strange girl’s lap. Jarvis is falling apart on his wedding day. Rosalind comes face-to-face with her number one fan. And that is just the beginning.

E.J. Newman’s debut anthology is a dark and twisting journey across the urban landscape, mining the rich seam of human frailties with insight and humour. The stories traverse the magical and the mundane, where supernatural beings are indistinguishable from their mortal counterparts in their complexity and complicity.

Edited by Jodi Cleghorn, writer, managing editor of Chinese Whisperings and joint owner of eMergent Publishing along with UK writer Paul Anderson, From Dark Places is published by eMergent Publishing in the UK and Australia and is available in both ebook and print formats from Emma's website.

Emma Newman signing books at the Sunderland event.

From Dark Places gives an excellent introduction to Emma's work ahead of the publication in July of her debut novel, 20 Years Later. Published by Dystopia Press, 20 Years Later is a Young Adult tale of life in a post-apocalyptic future London, and can be pre-ordered now from and


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

#5MinuteFiction: And...We Have A Winner!

Afternoon all! Well, the poll is now closed and the results are in. We've had 31 votes cast since yesterday, so a huge thank you to everyone who took part and voted.

And now, with out further pontificating on my part, I am pleased to announce...

...pauses to build the tension like on TV talent shows...

...not yet...

...nearly time for the announcement...

Drum roll please! And the winner is...

Corinne O’Flynn (@CorinneOFlynn on Twitter) with a whopping 18 votes. Here's her entry:

The police detective stood over the body that was sprawled on the floor at his feet. There was blood everywhere, so much blood. And the way her body'd been flayed open like that was clearly the work of the same guy. No doubt about it.

"You wanna call it?" The police officer asked.

"Yeah, no question. It's the work of the same guy." The detective said. "We've got to catch him soon, or the chief's gonna have us for breakfast."

This was the fourth body to be found in as many days. Usually a serial killer took a break in between kills. Not this guy. If you counted the hours he was actually ramping up. Not good. Not good at all.

The two detectives stood on the edge of the room, careful to touch nothing and stand still on the small patch of dry wood floor available amidst the blood. The forensics team was still five minutes away.

There was a creaking sound above them. The two officers looked up and stared, the brains not comprehending what their eyes were clearly seeing.

The creature crouched on the ceiling like a fly. It was looking down at them with a curious look on its leathery purple-skinned face. It was covered in orange fur that seemed to sparkle in the harsh light from the single bulb in the corner of the room.

There was a snick as it opened its blade-like claws, a single drop of blood dripped to the floor. Its face spread wide in a grisly smile. The two detectives had nowhere to go, the door behind them was shut and opened inward.

The creature had them trapped.

Congratulations, Corinne!

Even if you missed the contest, you can still read the entries here, and find out what our guest judge, Julie Morrigan, thought about the finalists here.

Thanks again to everyone who took part in this week's #5MinuteFiction. Catch you later!


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

#5MinuteFiction Blog Tour: The Finalists

Evening all, Sam here again!

Thanks to everyone who took part in #5MinuteFiction this week. Julie has given me her picks and the poll is up in the sidebar to your left. Yes, yes, I know I said it was going to be in the previous post, but I guy can change his mind, right? Especially when he can't work out the HTML code to put the poll into the previous post. *ahem*

Anyway, without further ado, here are Julie's thoughts on the contest, her first experience of #5MinuteFiction. Over to you, Julie...

First of all, I want to say that I am full of admiration for everyone who wrote something for the challenge. See a prompt, come up with an idea, write it in five minutes, post it. For an inveterate word-tinkerer like myself, that is a scary prospect. It can take me longer than that to compose an off-the-cuff email. So, well-deserved respect and props to all concerned. You rock!

Now, to the final five. I have to say that my approach to this was the same as the one taken by a lot of the ezines and magazines I like (and sometimes submit to): there were no rejections, just acceptances. From a read through of everything submitted, I got three that stood out for me straight off. Then I had the pleasure of reading through everything again and picking two more favourites. And it was a pleasure, make no mistake. Hanging out with creative and talented people could never be anything else.

So, the five, in the order they appear in the comments:

1) D. Paul - I love how this opens a window onto what is clearly a much bigger conflict, how it takes a small part of the whole and distils it into personal danger, courage and sacrifice. For me, that’s how big issues are understood: by looking at how they affect the individual. Nice work!

2) S.P. Bowers - this is such a lovely snapshot of a dysfunctional relationship, of the destructive games people play. The characters are beautifully drawn and one cannot help but wonder how many sets of drawn curtains in suburbia shield us from this kind of nightmare.

3) Corinne O’Flynn - just brilliant. It was horrific enough to think a serial killer was on the loose, but the locked door and the monster on the ceiling? And that single drop of blood was chilling.

4) Rebecca T - I felt like I had been caught in an avalanche when I read this. So nicely written - and yet absolutely suffocating.

5) That Neil Guy - I love this, the set-up, the pay off. I laughed out loud. This is truly a cautionary tale for anyone tempted to nick a woman’s beer. Be warned!

Thanks again to everyone who took part, and to Sam for giving me the chance to get involved. Great fun, I absolutely loved it!

So, there you have it. Thanks so much for judging, Julie.

To read the entries, please go here:

Now, go and vote, people!


#5MinuteFiction Blog Tour

Hello #5MinuteFictionistas! Are you ready for this?

First of all, welcome to Future; Nostalgic and many thanks to Leah Petersen for inviting me to be part of the #5MinuteFiction blog tour, I'm thrilled.

For anyone who hasn't participated before, I'd just like to run through the rules, and then I'll introduce our guest judge for this week. First, the rules...

The Rules

The contest starts at 6:30pm GMT (1:30pm EST) and I'll ammend this post at that point to include this week's prompt. You will then have five minutes (hence the name #5MinuteFiction. Good, eh?) to write a piece of prose in any style or genre. Your piece must reference this week's prompt.

Post your piece in the comments on this post by 6:45pm GMT (1:45pm EST); the extra time is to take account of the vagaries of the internet. I'll round out the contest with a comment at the end then hand the judging over to our guest judge for the week, more about them later. Our guest judge will nominate five finalists and I'll add a poll to this post at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST) and you can all vote. You do not need to have taken part in the contest to vote.

The poll will run until just before 2:00pm GMT (9:00am EST) on Wednesday, 6th April, when I'll close the poll and announce the winner here at Future;Nostalgic.

This week's prompt is: Trap

(Note: The prompt is the word. The picture is for inspiration.
Thanks to Future; Nostalgic's Skiing Correspondent for the photo.)

Our guest judge this week is my good friend and fellow northern writer, Julie Lewthwaite, who writes as Julie Morrigan. Julie has recently published her first e-book, a short story anthology entitled Gone Bad, which is available on,, and over at Smashwords. Gone Bad is an excellent collection of dark tales of human nature, here's the Smashwords description:

Tales about bad people doing bad things. This short story collection features a rare cast of characters: flawed, foul-mouthed, misguided and downtrodden, all of whom might be said to have, in one way or another, ‘gone bad’. This is strong stuff, no holds barred and no punches pulled. You wouldn’t want to be sharing the last bus home with these people!

I must confess to not having published a review of Gone Bad yet as I'm reading it through laced fingers from behind a cushion! It really is a great anthology, and I heartily recommend it.

Right then, just a couple of things before I sign off...

In the interests of ease, it's probably better to just type your submission directly into the comments box at the end of this post. Don't forget to save a copy before you hit Send, just in case Blogger eats your entry. Any problems, drop me a line through my Contact Me page and I'll do my best to assist.

Don't forget to add your Twitter handle to your entry if you have one, and a link to your blog if you'd like to.

And finally, there is no prize for this contest, so just do it for fun and enjoy yourself!

Right then, see you back here at 6:30pm GMT (1:30pm EST) for the fun and games!

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