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...

Friday, 1 July 2011

#FridayFlash...well, kinda...

Just a quick note to let you all know that our skiing correspondent, aka my darling daughter (DD), has decided to have a bash at writing a FridayFlash, which can be found here if you wouldn't mind stopping by her blog for a quick read.

DD is dyslexic and this is the very first thing she has ever written (all by herself with no help from yours truly, despite me having offered), so she'd appreciate a little feedback. Thanks.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

#FridayFlash: Driftwood

This is a tale of the Dark Ages set somewhere along the north Northumberland coast. Driftwood concerns two children, Islaeg and his younger sister Aeggith, who make a grim discovery after their mother sends them down to the beach to gather driftwood the morning after a fierce storm.

Beadnell Bay from The Snook
Photo © Lisa Jarvis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


‘Is he dead?’

The little girl shivered in the icy on-shore wind, clutched her bundle of driftwood tighter to her chest.

‘I don’t know Aeggith,’ Islaeg said, poking the body with the end of his staff, trying to show more bravado than he felt, ‘He looks dead.’

‘You’d better fetch Ma.’

Aeggith watched the gangly youth sprint out of sight among the dunes.

Overhead, wispy white clouds tacked across a washed out sky, gulls wheeling and diving in the blustery air, their plaintive mewling melting in and out of the song of waves crashing on the shore.

The wind was playful today, tugging at Aeggith’s clothes, slicing through her threadbare smock like a knife to raise goose bumps on her arms. It whipped the hair across her face, stirred up small clouds of coarse grains to sting and bite at her legs. Last night it had been a howling dark beast, madly driving a torrent of rain and roaring spume-topped breakers relentlessly onto the shoreline. It was the reason their mother had sent Aeggith and her brother down to the beach that morning - driftwood for the fire was always plentiful after such a storm.

Aeggith looked down at the man’s body lying half in, half out of the lapping waves. He had a look of her uncle about him, her uncle the Huscarl, with his clothes of fine wool and linen, boots of hard, tooled leather, gold and silver at his neck and arms. The sword at his hip was like her uncle’s too, plain, unornamented, a workman’s sword - a blood-drinker, a soul-taker.

She knelt by him then, her eyes drawn to the serpent-inscribed ring of silver, one of several about his arm. A single arm-ring like that would keep her whole family for a year or more, and anyway, she thought, he had others, not that he was likely to have need of them now. Slowly, tentatively, she reached out a trembling hand, grasped the cold metal with fingers still gritted from beachcombing, and tugged.

Aeggith screamed as he grabbed her wrist, the rings on his fingers biting savagely into her flesh. She fell backwards, kicking and scratching desperately at him, her feet scrabbling against the wet sand, but he held her fast.

His eyes flashed open, fixing her with a piercing emerald gaze, spasms of coughing wracking his chest.

‘Lëorith? Have you found Lëorith?’

When she shook her head he slumped back onto the sand, shuddered, then lay still. Slipping her hand from his, Aeggith sucked her wrist where his ring had cut her skin, salt sea tang mingling with the metallic taste of her blood.

She was standing a little way off still watching him, the driftwood bundle clutched to her chest, when Islaeg returned with their mother and Father Nistian. None of them noticed the glint of silver deep within Aeggith’s armful of kindling, nor any sign of the blood-spattered rock hastily hidden in the sand at her feet.

‘Is he dead?’ she said.


One from the vaults for you this week, I hope you enjoyed it. Driftwood was originally published as an entry in Laurita Miller's Seaside Fiction contest over at Calling Shotgun last year, where it won an Honourable Mention.

Driftwood is one of the stories I mentioned in my recent interview by EP Marcellin, which, if you missed it, can be found here.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Author Interview over at Pen Dragon

The lovely Elizabeth Marcellin is interviewing me today over at her place, Pen Dragon. I'd love it if you could spare me a few minutes to stop by and see what I have to say for myself here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Book Launches: 100 Stories for Queensland and Nothing But Flowers

Today's the day folks! Two paperback book launches with a story of mine in each are happening right now, and both in support of very worthy charitable causes. If that in itself is not enough to convince you to rush off and buy both books right this instant, it's OK, I'll wait...

*insert Countdown theme music here*'re back? Great!

Now, as I was saying, please allow me to tell you a little more about each book in turn.

First, 100 Stories for Queensland...

As you may remember from the media coverage at the time and from my post here, back in January (2011) the Australian state of Queensland was devastated by flooding. Very shortly thereafter, Jodi Cleghorn of eMergent Publishing and herself a resident of Queensland, and Trevor Belshaw, a fellow UK writer proposed an anthology project in support of those affected by the floods and 100 Stories for Queensland was born. An international team of authors, editors, beta readers (too many wonderful people to name individually here) gave freely of their time and writing to bring the project to fruition, you can find out more about them here.

So, just what is 100 Stories for Queensland? Well, dear reader, I'll tell you.

100 Stories for Queensland is a charity anthology of flash fiction, that is, short stories of under 1000 words, in aid of the survivors of the worst flooding in history in the Australian state of Queensland. 100 Stories DOES NOT contain real life accounts of the floods. Everything between the covers is fiction.

There is something for everyone, with stories in a number of genres, including literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, romance, fantasy, humour, paranormal and slice of life. Includes my story, Kittens!

The stories were penned by an international contingent of writers. A quarter of the stories came from Australia, a third from the UK and the rest from across the globe including the USA, Spain, France, Austria, Malaysia, Israel, Greece and Canada.

Money from the sale of the book goes to The Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Fund. 100% of the sale price of the eBook is donated and, 100% of the wholesale price (less printing costs) of the paperback is donated.

100 Stories for Queensland is available in ebook format here, and in paperback format from and, and should be available to order from your favourite local bookshop in about a week or so, but please don't wait, buy it today and help contribute to the 100 Stories for Queensland Amazon Chart Rush of today, 17th May, 2011.

You can also download the foreward and first eleven stories as a free sample in PDF and ePub formats.

The ebook retails for A$4.99, and the paperback for £9.99.

Nothing But Flowers is an anthology of twenty-five short stories, including my story, Daisy's Café, centred around the premise of love in a post-apocalyptic world. I wrote a blog post about the project, which you can find here.

Here's the blurb...

In a devastated world, a voice calls out through the darkness of space, a young woman embraces Darwin, a man lays flowers in a shattered doorway, a two-dimensional wedding feast awaits guests, a Dodge Challenger roars down the deserted highway …and that’s just the beginning.

Inspired by the Talking Heads’ song of the same name, Nothing but Flowers explores the complexities and challenges of love in a post-apocalyptic landscape; from a take-away coffee mug to a gun to the head, a fortune cookie to a guitar, the open road and beyond.

Poignant, funny, horrifying and sensual, this collection of short fiction leaves an indelible mark on ideas of what it means to love and be loved.

All profits from the sale of this anthology go to The Grantham Flood Support Fund. Grantham is a town in Queensland that was devastated by flooding in January 2011.

Nothing But Flowers is available in ebook format here, and on and, and should be available to order from your favourite local bookshop in about a week or so.

The ebook retails for A$4.99, and the paperback for £5.99

Go on, buy them both, you know you want to...

By the way, this happens to be the 150th post here at Future; Nostalgic and I for one can't think of a better subject to celebrate such a milestone. Now go buy the books, okay?


Thursday, 12 May 2011

#FridayFlash: Northern Vampire Tales – The Female Of The Species...Part 2

This story is part 10 in the Northern Vampire series. It follows directly on from part 1 of the story, which I posted last week and which can be found here. I also have a blog page here that lists all my vampire stories in chronological order.


We join our hero, tied to a chair in a disused warehouse by the Tyne, being lectured by Charlene Benson. He is fairly sure a good kicking, or worse is in the offing...


Well bugger me, Geordie Benson has a big sister! I bet there's no younger siblings though, one look at Geordie as a baby would be enough to put anyone off from breeding again.

'I divvent normally get involved in stuff like this, like,' Charlene says, ' but you've cost me money, Mr Wheeler.' She lets that sink in for a bit. 'I can't say I'm too keen on that.'

It's not topping my list either.

'So what's going to happen in a minute is that Dave and Sean here are going to extract from your hide what you cost me in cold, hard cash, bonny lad.'

She seems to have got a grip on herself now. Looks like it's all business from here on in.

'And when they're finished, Mr Wheeler, I'm going to blow your knackers off,' she indicates the gun with a flourish, 'for what you did to poor Geordie over there.'

'What did I do, exactly?' I feign ignorance.

It was Marek and Piotr's bomb as I recall.

'What did you do? What did you do?!' she asks, her voice rising. 'If poor Geordie hadn't been in the bog when your bomb went off he'd be dead.' There's an edge to her voice now. 'The blast blew him into the bath and that saved his life, like, but not before it'd blown most of his face off.' She's shaking again now as she backs off a few steps.

She nods to Dave and Sean and they take a step forward.

Time to go.

I flex my wrists and ankles and the cable ties holding me to the chair snap like liquorice laces.

Ah, so that's what they were, cable ties.

I duck out of the chain and stand, just in time for the heavy to my right, Dave is it, to swing his baseball bat at my midriff. Dancing backwards over the chair at the last moment, I flick the end of the bat away as it passes. Dave is off-balance and over-extends himself in rotation, stumbling as I step in behind him and shove him forward at the same time as Sean lunges with the knife.

Sean's knife slips in under Dave's ribs with hardly a sound, just a surprised grunt from Dave as he keels over, ricochetting into his mate. Sean has his hands full of Dave and is still trying to focus on the hilt sticking out of his mate's chest as I snap out my fist and crush the cartilage in his throat. He claws at his neck and goes down gurgling, all tangled up with Dave.

I can move quite quickly when I have to.

The air parts and I feel something hot graze my cheek before the percussive shock wave and the boom of the shot reach me. In a heartbeat I'm behind Charlene, one hand on her wrist and the other wrapped tight about her neck. Behind me I can hear gurgling and quick breaths being taken.

'Didn't Geordie tell you?' I whisper, my fangs sliding into place as I relieve Charlene of the gun. Charlene goes rigid, her eyes like saucers as she cranes her neck to catch a glimpse of my face.

God, she smells good. O+ I think.

I swing her round and lob her down the factory where she lands in a winded heap a few yards away.

'Now then, Geordie, lad.' I advance on the wheelchair. 'Christ, mate, you're a bit of a sight.'

Geordie's nose is gone, and most of his eyelids too. The combination of burnt flesh and ointment is almost enough to make me gag. I mean, he was an ugly bugger to start with, but now...

'Typical of you,' I continue, 'lurking in the loo when there's work to be done. I wouldn't be surprised if you were hiding in there, cracking one off?' I poke the end of the pistol's barrel into his crotch and he whimpers.

'Shut up, Geordie.'

He tries to claw the oxygen mask from his face with hands encased in pressure dressings. The bits of his fingers I can see are livid with new scar tissue. Realising he's never going to be able to get the mask off, Geordie slumps in the chair.

'That looks sore,' I venture, then, glancing over my shoulder at Charlene who's managed to get herself into a sitting position and is gasping in great gulps of air, 'does she have to wipe your arse for you an' all, Geordie?'

I see him stiffen.

'Now then, bonny lad,' I mimic Geordie's accent for the last bit, 'I don't take too kindly to being dragged away from my evening constitutional without so much as a by-your-leave. It makes me, irritable. And when I get irritable--'

Geordie screams as I force the gun into his hand and curl his ruined fingers round the grip. He jumps when I help him pull the trigger, then lapses into soft mewling as he sees the bullet take Charlene full in the chest, crimson blossoming out over her white blouse. She grunts and slumps over.

'Canny shot!' I say by way of encouragement.

My ears are still ringing as I manoeuvre the wheelchair slowly over to the open loading dock on the eastern side of the building. Geordie's snivelling and I'm sure he thinks I'm going to tip him out of the chair into the Tyne.

'Didn't the hospital give you a pair of those dark glasses, seeing as how you can't close your eyes now?' I chuckle at the thought of Geordie all done up like Roy Orbisson. I bet he's got a crap singing voice. Geordie sobs softly and scrabbles for the top pocket of his jacket.

'Here, let me.' I reach into his pocket and pull out the glasses, theatrically fumbling them out of my grip off the edge of the loading dock. 'Oops. Butter fingers.'

I look at my watch. 'I'd better be off now,' I whisper in Geordie's ear. 'I reckon you've got an hour before the sun comes up, a couple more before it gets really painful. You might want to call someone while you can still see to dial--'

A dark stain spreads out from Geordie's lap. He understands the implication.

'Aw, Geordie, man. Have a little class, will you?'


Thursday, 5 May 2011

#FridayFlash: Northern Vampire Tales – The Female Of The Species...Part 1

This story is part 9 in the Northern Vampire series. I have a blog page here that lists all my vampire stories in chronological order.


The following takes place about four months after Lucien's new club opens. Everything has been quiet since the events of Northern Vampire Part 8 until...

What's that? I'm a bit disorientated when I come to in the dark, sitting down and tied to a chair. The last thing I remember is stepping out of the private entrance behind the club after closing time and then...nothing. It does go to show that, whatever anyone may tell you, vampires can be rendered unconscious. While you're dwelling on that little nugget, let me get back to the story.

Under the circumstances, I reckon not showing any outward signs of being awake may be the way to go here, at least until I can work out where “here” is and what I'm up against. My senses are working overtime. There's a breeze in my face and it's cold in here. I haven't burst into flames yet so either it's still night time or I'm inside.

There's a pigeon in here. It's somewhere up and to my left, I can hear its claws skittering across metal, a girder perhaps? There are also chains rattling gently in the breeze that's blowing in my face. The breeze brings a low rumble of traffic in the distance and closer, the put-put-put of a diesel engine, marine I think, not a large one; a work boat, launch or something about that size. Without moving my head its hard to pinpoint, but I think it's ahead of me somewhere and moving diagonally to my left.

There's a smell of dust, brick dust I think, and decay about the place, I'm also getting dampness and a hint of mould. There's a whiff of oil and something else metallic that I can't quite place, then in the background the tang of salt and ozone, but no sound of waves on the shore so that rules out the coast. Rotting fish, diesel fumes and a hint of something unmentionable – a river. Tidal. The Tyne?

I feel the rough ground through the soles of my rather expensive shoes. It idly occurs to me that if my shoes are ruined there'll be hell to pay.

My ankles are tied to the legs of the chair, I presume its a chair, with something narrow. I can feel it biting into the skin even through my socks; not a rope then. My arms have been similarly treated, only they're pulled back and tied to the chair back. There's something heavy and cold against my neck that comes over both shoulders, draping in a diagonal cross over my chest then onto the floor. It feels like a chain against my skin.

Okay, enough is enough. I raise my head slightly and open my eyes. There's the scuff of a shoe on the broken ground to my right, quite close, and a sharp intake of breath. I think I just gave somebody a fright.

'Err...he's awake, like.'

I recognise that voice. Last time I heard it, it ended up in hospital with several fractured ribs.

'Glad you could join us, Mr Wheeler.' This voice is different, more of a whispered croak really, not a voice at all.

I focus on where the voice is coming from, taking in the two big lads in my peripheral vision, one standing each side of me about six feet distant. A few yards ahead is a wheelchair, the occupant of which looks familiar silhouetted in the moonlight streaming in through the old warehouse's open loading dock.

'As I live and breathe,' both lies but I force some levity into my tone, 'Geordie bloody Benson! Fancy seeing you here. I thought you were dead?'

'As you can see, Mr Wheeler,' Geordie whispers, 'Reports of my demise have been--'

'Greatly exaggerated?'



That earns me a crack on the skull from “Ribs” to my left.

'Leave him,' Geordie tries to shout as you would at a recalcitrant dog, instead he dissolves into a fit of coughing and needs help with the oxygen mask from the person who up until now I haven't noticed standing behind the wheelchair.

'It's alright, pet,' she croons softly, 'Take a few belts of this and you'll be champion, like.'

That's a turn-up for the books. I didn't think Geordie had a girlfriend.

'Hey, Geordie,' I call over, 'One of those slappers from the club providing personal services for you now?' Geordie had a nice little sideline in prostitution the last time I saw him.

More coughing and spluttering.

'I'm nee slapper, you cheeky bastard,' she barks, stepping forward. 'He's me kid brother, like.'

I'm still reeling from this revelation when “Ribs” smacks me in the side of the head so hard the chair tips over.

'Divent dee that, man,' she bellows while the two heavies turn me back the right way up. 'He's mine.' Geordie gurgles in the background.

I focus on her again. Where did that gun come from? The pistol looks huge in her small hand but I'll worry about that later, right now I'm more concerned with the fact that she's pointing it at me. I may have to do something about that. You see, Geordie I knew...I know. Evil he may be, but he likes a good speech before the tire irons start flying. This one I don't know, but I can see she's wound tighter than a watch spring, her knuckles white against the pistol's grip, and that's what makes her dangerous, not the gun.

She's shaking as she walks slowly towards me, and I don't think it's because of the cold. Nor do I think she's scared. She nearly turns an ankle on the rubble underfoot and I start praying the gun isn't going to go off.

'My name, Mr Wheeler, is Charlene Benson. Geordie works for me.'

With her accent, it comes out as “Mista.” So, this is the power behind the throne.


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.

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