All stories

When death closes a door, life opens a freezer

by Lewis

“The thing about zombies is...I find them very arousing. I don't know if it's the groans, or the shuffling movement, or maybe just the blank stares. But it really gets me going.” Jessica T Horningdon amounnced this to her enraptured audience with a wry smile and a wicked glint in her eye.

The book reading had been another roaring success with queues down the street. The chapter reading had been, well fine. After the first few mimosas to calm her nerves. The reading big was not her forte. She shined during the questions with her natural charm and wit that made her so engaging.

“And what inspired you to write this story?” An excited voice asked from the crowd. Not unexpected or imaginative but it set her up perfectly.

“It was a funeral actually. A friend of the family we had grown up with. He was a friend of my father's, but. Well, more recently we had become very close.”

She paused for impact. A look of sadness crossing her face.

“So at the funeral as the rosary was being said, with each touch off the beads I thought of a moment we had shared. His strong arms. His grizzled face. I prayed I wouldn't forget him.”

She had them now.

“Then later at the wake, there was an open casket. I couldn't bring myself to look. My father was crying softly in the corner. A playlist of his favourite music played softly in the background. I steeled myself. I knew I had to say goodbye. That moment, when I looked at his face, it hit me... I would still fuck this guy.”

A wave of laughter rippled across the room.

“From there it was a natural progression to Erotic Dawn: 27 candles later.” Jessica glanced across to her assistant who swiftly sprinted over to refill her glass.

“You know i’d plotted most of the first book by the time I got to the Samosas at the buffet. Sweet potato I think.”

I mean it's not so silly really. Ever since we were young, fear and sex have gone hand in hand. The tense thrill of discovery, the gross mess of it all. It is such a natural mix.” As she sipped from her Mimosa her face disappeared behind the wide glass, briefly distorting her smile into a wide flash of teeth.

“And the franchise was born.”

She finished the drink and smiled to the audience. It had been an overnight success. Sex. Romance. Zombies. Almost too easy.

Later, alone she stared out the full length window of her penthouse apartment. It was quiet except for the electric murder of a large freezer that sat in the middle of the room. She sighed and finished her drink.

“What a day. The fans, as adoring as they are, can be somewhat tiresome.”

She walked over and opened the lid.

“But they do love that story. Anyway, how was your day darling?”

Wayward Uncle Brendan

by Dan

“We’d better invite him!” said Ma, “It’ll be the right thing to do. I mean he won’t be grateful, but.”

“Uncle Brendan! Whoop!” That’s the kid me talking now! Excited that something, anything was going to happen on Christmas that wasn’t my parents and God and Charity.

Amazingly, despite Da’s severe reservations he only fecking came! Turning up on the doorstep looking uncharacteristically sheepish and grateful. He continued to disappoint me at Christmas Eve dinner.

I was heartbroken. Who was this sober clean shaven man I’d been ejected from my room for? Not the Wayward Uncle Brendan of legend, who had conned Father Murphy out of the church candlesticks and blown the money on 3.30 from Lingfield.

He hadn’t seemed to mind drinking nothing but juice, saying grace, eating with table manners, or letting Da have the toffee Quality Streets. Ma meanwhile had been in a surprisingly good mood throughout as the two of them told their stories of childhood in the old country. For once, it was myself and Da who allied in boredom having not been around when cousin Ernie swallowed a brown tiddlywink thinking it was a chocolate button.

“God be praised. He has totally behaved himself!” trilled Mum on Christmas morning “Like a proper gentleman. I do believe we’re seeing the benefits of Christian charity. It’s a little miracle!” As she talked, she danced round the kitchen clutching her Rosary beads and finishing the half-drunk orange juice slops from the night before

I was aghast at the spineless descent of my former co-conspirator.

I’d been told not to visit my room while he was there but felt the need to prove that this sad shell of a rogue still contained my hero, I could always say I was getting some presents out.

I needn’t have worried for the real Uncle Brendan was sitting on my bed covered with mars bar wrappers, service-station samosa crumbs and empty strongbow cans. He was wanking over my Pamela Anderson poster. “Sure Pammie you’re the girl for me.” He blurted as a sticky stain burst through the clutch of toilet paper in his right hand.

“Hello there sunny Jim” he cried out merrily. “Now help me get cleaned up.”

And when he was only slightly cleaner, we played scalextrix on my floor and he gave me his Christmas Present, a copy of Viz! Then he let me smoke some of his Christmas stash out of the window.

“What did you give Ma?” I asked, pleased that he was back to himself but struggling to align their differing tastes. “Oh just a couple of Mimosas” he said. Despite my suspicion that he might have stolen them from a garden centre I knew how much Ma liked trees. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” concluded Uncle Brendan quizzically.

It was years later, after Uncle Brendan had gone off to cause trouble in hell, that I first heard of the Mimosa cocktail, made from Champagne and Orange Juice. I thought back to exactly how much juice Ma had knocked back that Christmas. And how few trees had ever been planted in our garden. And how on that day, Ma and Wayward Uncle Brendan had laughed like a proper brother and sister while he demonstrated to me the different ways of cat-skinning.


by Russ

‘Why’s everybody suddenly calling them mimosas?’ Eddie mumbled at the nursing home Christmas menu. ‘It were Bucks Fizz in our ‘ouse!’

‘Shut up,’ Hilda whispered, quiet as a gale. ‘You’ll wake up Nurse Ratched!’

It was 5 am. Eddie and Hilda had got up early to claim the prime spots at the recreation room’s viewing window. They called it the recreation room, but it was also the TV room, the dining room, and the medicine room. It was basically a one-room affair at the Elmtree Retirement Village. The floor-to-ceiling window gave the best option of big-screen entertainment for anyone sick of staring at the TV in their room. The security light flashed outside, illuminating the pre-dawn garden and exposing a pair of breasts flattened against the double glazing. A half-trousered man stood behind the owner of the glass-pressed glands, rutting away to his own reflection in the window’s privacy coating. A half-eaten samosa rested on the woman’s back.

Hilda ran her rosary through her fingers.

‘Told you it’d be a shaggers morning!’ Eddie barked in triumph. He held out his hand to Hilda. ‘Hand it over!’

Hilda rummaged through her purse and passed Eddie a screwed up fiver. She hated losing a bet, especially before breakfast.

‘That’s trouble with today,’ Eddie continued, not removing his eyes from the show. ‘It’s all so immediate, there’s no… what’s the word? Eroticism.’

‘Five syllables? Calm down Eddie, you’ll have an embolism.’

‘Funny,’ Eddie tried to suppress a grin. ‘You know what I mean though.’

‘Eddie Wade, you wouldn’t know eroticism if it smacked you in your weathered old face.’

‘I’ll smack y…’

Hilda coughed sharply,

‘When we were young it weren’t like that,’ Eddie persisted. ‘Slapping away at each other on way ‘ome from wherever. It were more subtle. Y’know. I bet you’ve dropped your pencil more than once, given a cheeky view of your thingamajiggers.’

‘My thingamajiggers...’

‘Aye, and I reckon you were a right one for brushing your hoo-ha up against someone’s leg at the bar.’

‘Do you?’

‘That’s what it were all about. The thrill of it. Those split skirts! Swishing about so you felt like you were just a sharp breeze away from an eye full of whatchamacallit. Jesus, there was this girl worked at butchers…’

‘Is that what erotic is then, Eddie?’ The couple outside scuttled away as the sun lifted over the horizon. Hilda searched through her handbag.

‘I bloody would, yeah!’ Eddie confirmed, adding a little sniff ‘What would you say it is?

Hilda smiled and pulled out an age-tinted envelope. She handed it to Eddie, who opened it carefully and removed the sheets inside.

‘1964,’ Hilda said. ‘My boyfriend’s first polaroid camera, he asked me to model.’

Eddie’s pupils had dilated so wide he was temporality dazed when the recreation room’s main lights went on above them. He was coughing and thumping at his chest when the morning nurse called over.

‘You two are up early, everything OK?’

‘I’m gonna need me ‘eart pills,’ Eddie wheezed.

Hilda smiled to herself.

‘I’d kill for a cigarette,’ she spoke under her breath.

The Martyrdom of Sally Jenkins

by Jenny

Sally clasped the rosary to her breast and stared hard into the distance summoning every last vestige of belief she could muster. The hot, bright light blazed through the stained glass and across her pale cheek and she felt the beads of sweat begin to gather on her upper lip.

Suffering, she thought. Yes, I can suffer.

Cramp began in the back of her knees as she stood stock still, staring, embracing the discomfort, picturing those great martyrs who had suffered before her: Joan of Arc, Saint Catherine of the wheel, and all those others who had endured agonising death rather than deny their true calling.

Sally pictured how she must look to the onlookers, the gawpers, as she waited, sweating.


She was brave, stoical. She pressed her face into an expression of infinite patience and piety. Perhaps this really could be a fresh start for her. She had never really considered religion before, but she was doing so well at this endurance stuff that maybe it was worth a go after all.

The taste of last night was sticky behind her teeth, the evening returned in flashes; first the tall elegant glasses of mimosa in the apartment, then bright flashing lights, high heels, a chalky white pill in a filthy bathroom and, finally, a greasy samosa from chippy lane on the way home, then nothing. Nothing until she had been hauled out of her bed and dragged to stand here, a spectacle before these leering sinners.

Well, Sally could show them. All that was behind her now, she was born again. She felt the light of salvation burning inside her; the hangover was nothing more than a crown of thorns to garland her pain. No more mimosas, no more dodgy drugs in dirty club toilets. No more horrible Indian food before bed. No, Sally Jenkins was a pale, young vestal virgin. She would dedicate her life to helping the poor and needy, she would be remembered for her generosity and, of course, her innocence…

“Ok everyone, that’s Erotic Dawn take six, from the top, people. And...action,” boomed a voice from the crowd.

And Sally turned letting the sheet drop from her chest, exposing her bare breasts to the camera, the rosary clutched theatrically between them. The sweetness and purity that had brushed her face slipped into a wicked and mischievous grin as Danny the Dong approached her, weapon in hand.

“Good sir knight - you would not despoil a Sister of our Lord here in a house of God, would you?” cried Sally, opening her knees and looking very much like a rampant despoiling would do her the world of good.

Well, she thought, as Danny yanked off her habit and slid between her knees with a meaty grin, this was certainly no place for an innocent waif. That would have to go. She cast off her martyrdom and tried on ‘opportunistic seductress’ instead. Far more suitable.

And perhaps there’d be time for a small mimosa before the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet for the cast and crew that evening?