Family Photo

The father stood at the front of the family photo with his chest out and beamed a huge smile. The kids were seated in front of the father on little stools.  His wife Deborah was at his side, and he had his arm around her, tightly gripping her waist.  The camera was an automatic one that the father had set before quickly running to get in the frame.  Click. Big smiles.  The father walked over to the camera.  Just one more.  Click. Big smiles.  It was done. A perfect family portrait. Get this mocked up in a frame and he can take it with him wherever he goes.  The father put the kids to bed and then put his wife in front of the TV. It was Desperate Housewives re-runs. Her favourite.  The father could hear Gabi laying into her husband on the TV. It made the father smile.  Don’t worry dear, I’ll do the dishes. I’ll load the washing. You just watch TV.  The father was a perfect husband. He did everything he said he would. A real whizz around the house.   The house was sparkling by the time h

The Missing Waiter

Detective Taylor sat in the back of the restaurant eating his shish kebab. Each bite was delicious, nourishing, tender and moist. The meat swirled around in his mouth in sumptuous bites.  Riz was the restaurant owner. He brought the food out for the detective and said immediately:  ‘For the police, no charge,’  Detective Taylor and Detective Paulson were there on business. But what would it hurt with a spot of lunch?  Just a bit of shish and then back to business.  ‘From what I understand, the missing party Brad Mayson worked here,’  They clarified with Riz.  ‘Yes, yes. Such a shame. He go missing. We all miss him. Such a shame,’ Riz answered in broken English. Between each bite, the police scribbled in their notebooks and then washed the kebab down with a cold beer.  ‘Such a young man. Good worker.’  Riz was empathetic, convincing and sincere. Taylor was impressed by Riz. He had come to this country as an immigrant, barely spoke the language and now he owned the finest Turkish restaur

The Tea Party

  Crystal’s favourite time of the day was her tea parties with Rodney and Patrick. Crystal would get the little plastic cups out. The tea was imaginary and they’d all sip the tea with their pinky fingers up in the air. Rodney was happy to play along, it didn’t bother him, it was only an hour of his day - and he got to go upstairs and out of the basement for a time. The basement was damp and dark. Patrick hated the tea parties. Patrick was a stubborn sort that did everything through gritted teeth. But he held on, not wanting to upset a little girl like Crystal, nor upset himself too much. The tea parties weren’t going to last forever. Crystal might get bored of Patrick and ask somebody else to do it or she’d simply outgrow them, like all good girls… Well, the tea parties did come to an end on that wet Wednesday evening, for Patrick. They were on their crossed legs and sat around the miniature tables with their miniature cups in their hands, pretending to sip from the empty plastic. Rodn

Mother of the Year

MOTHER OF THE YEAR When Rachel Gregory was born, her mother felt herself drowning in hatred towards the baby. The father had just done a runner, upped and left like the coward Iris Gregory knew him to be.  Iris would look at Rachel and see the dad, then the hatred would fill her up like a newly pulled pint and she’d suffocate right up to her throat.  The dad was Brian.  She didn’t know where he went or why he went. Well, the why was obvious. Iris called herself headstrong (what she meant was high-strung).  Iris was bitter. Iris felt anger towards everything and everyone. And Brian couldn’t hack it anymore.  Iris went around to Brian’s mum the week he left, held the baby in her arms, and looked her ex-mother-in-law straight in the face: ‘Look what your waster son has left me with,’ Iris said with spit coming out her lips.  He joined the French Foreign Legion.  Apparently.  That’s what she told people anyway.  She didn’t know what that meant when Brian’s mother said it, but it sounded be

The Break Up

“Listen.” Kim said.  Kim was in the car, parked on the bank of the lake. She was speaking to Troy.  Troy never listened.  This was why they were where they are now.  Troy just never listened.  “Ok. Look.” Kim said.  He had nothing to say. Just that dumb look on his face. It frustrated her to no end.  “I owe you an explanation.” Kim said.  Again, Troy sat silently. Surely he knew this was the end. The big fight they had. The volatile torment their relationship had endured in recent months. It would be an insult if he didn’t know this was actually the end.  “It’s not you, it’s me.” Kim said.  Really? Are you going with that? Did you just watch a 90s sitcom or a poorly written Rom-Com?  It’s not you - it’s me.  What’s next?  ‘I’m in a weird place right now.’  “Ok. Forget that.” Kim said.  Kim looked down at Troy’s chipped and cracked finger nails. She looked at his tatty jeans. She looked at his unkempt hair. She remembered her father’s words when he first met Troy.  That boy is going now

The Empty Car

The Empty Car  Toni came out to the car and found it empty.  Rupert was just in the passenger side mere minutes before, and then she went into the store and then round the back to the bathroom - she got a coke and went for a piss.  He was just sitting there reading a book.  He had his headphones in and he was barely acknowledging her or the scenery around them and it started to grate on her.  Then she went into the store.  And then she came back and faced an empty car.  Completely empty.  Toni leaned through the window into the back seat and saw that there was nothing but the cheap upholstery of the 90s Audi. it stunk of leather and carpet.  She opened the boot. It seemed ludicrous that he’d even be in there and yet, she felt a crushing disappointment when the inevitability of an empty boot faced her.  She walked around the entire car four times. There were no footprints or any evidence that he was anywhere. That he’d even been there.  Even his book and headphones were gone.  She looke

Delighted to feature on Chilling Tales For Dark Nights once again