All stories

The Deluge

by Russ

Jasper scanned the moonlit world below him from his rooftop perch in the Nocturnal Security Office. Nothing of concern to be seen so far: a fox nosing at the bins outside the George & Dragon, a couple of kids on dirt bikes rushing up the canal in the distance, a few streaks of cloud across the sky like shadows of ivy over a conservatory roof.

In the empty yard of the chip shop, Ruddlestone and Patch were looming hopefully behind the furry frame of Mags as she toyed with the half murdered victim which squeaked between her claws. Jasper rolled his eyes, as if either of those mollycoddled muppets would ever get near Queen Mags.

Yawning and stretching out his paws, Jasper spotted a lone bat making its way back into the church roof and wondered about going over to tease the flying goth once his shift was over.

It was then all hell broke loose.

What had been tendrils of clouds was now an uninterrupted blanket, and it had burst. A flash cracked open the night and, across the town, Jasper saw it reflected in two dozen pairs of panicked eyes. How had he missed this?

Futilely, he shrieked the warning sound only to have it engulfed in thunder. He let out the sound again and again, knowing all he was achieving was to add insult to injury. The cats were already wet, he had failed to see the storm coming and he had failed to warn them. Tomorrow’s town hall was going to be an uncomfortable one for Jasper, but that was a problem for then. There was no more he could do now to help the others, they would need to find their own way to shelter just as he would. He turned to the window behind him just in time to hear it click shut in a gust of wind. Somewhere below, a stricken furball scratched and screamed at a closed door. Ruddleston and Patch pounced on Mags, not for pleasure but in chivalry. Jasper heard their chorus of pain as the damsel who had not needed saving wrenched a set of claws across each of their bellies and scurried into the gap under the potato shed door. Recovered, Patch looked at Ruddleston to suggest they might follow. Mags saw their intention from her place of safety and unleashed an unearthly wail to make clear that such an action would not be well met.

Then silence.

For a dozen heartbeats, there was nothing. No creature moved. Nothing living took a breath. Even that which would normally sway in the breeze found itself fixed in space as the world adjusted to the change.

Tentatively, Jasper raised his gaze to the sky.

It was empty, just the gradual fade of soft white moonlight into hard black nothing. No clouds. Not a residual drop of rain to be seen. Only the glut of cold damp which clung to Jasper’s fur served as evidence of the deluge which had just occurred.

Jasper took one more look across the sky, cleared his throat, and purred the all-clear.

In the dark streets below, body by body, the felines retook control.


by James

The place where we huddled was dark, and that was about all you could say. Night brought a little relief. The temperature dropped from baking oven to merely stifling. Lay still, that was the key, because once you moved, back it all came, the bright spark feel of dry lips cracking, the soreness of muscles bruised by the crash and kept for too long resting on our hard rock beds.

Ben’s voice croaked in the darkness.

‘I thought of something else I’m going to do.’


‘Gonna get me a duck pond. You know the kind? Bottom of the garden. Home to newts and frogs, and those big spider things that walk on the water.’

‘I never had you down as a nature type.’

‘Hell no. Fuck that shit.’

‘So why not, oh, I dunno – something wet, like a swimming pool?’

Ben began to wheeze. A week ago and it had worried me, till I realised that the sound was him laughing as best he could with a throat was screaming dry for water. After that, I did my best to copy it.

Ben’s voice croaked again. ‘Jesus? How can I afford a swimming pool? I’m spending all my compo money on hookers and booze.’

‘And wasting the rest on a pond?’


‘I thought of something wetter than your pond,’ I said. ‘This guy in school. Ryan. The wettest thing in the world. The clammiest palms, he had, always sweating. You click your fingers he’d fall off his chair in surprise. But guess what this dude did. Took a job in a nocturnal security office, you believe that?’

‘What’s one of them?’

‘You know, watching buildings at night. Looking out for tweakers and crims.’

‘You mean a night watchman.’

‘Nocturnal security officer. Come on man, company guidelines. Gender neutral terms only.’

Ben’s laugh wheezed again. ‘You can report me when they rescue us.’

I joined him in wheezing, and then we both lay a while in silence. Ten minutes? An hour? It could have been ten.

‘Time for your morning drink,’ I said. That made Ben wheeze again. Drink? It was five drops of brackish water from the solar still I had cobbled together.

Ben’s hand on my arm was almost feather like. ‘You’re drinking too, aren’t you?’

I lied. I told him I was, and then I told him I was going to check on the still before the dawn brought the teasing hint of morning dew.

I crept from the darkness of our cave out into the near dark of the desert night. The only way to move was to flop and gently use all four limbs as paddles in the sand. It took me a quarter hour to reach the dark shape that was our shattered sand spider. How had I ever managed to drag Ben, with his two broken legs?

I fought open the cabin door and wriggled myself inside. I took a drink from the emergency ration, nothing more than a few drops, my voice had to sound the part, after all.

Night watch

by Jenny

The scariest thing that ever happened to me has to be when I was working as a night security guard in this huge old office block. I’d work eleven at night till six in the morning. I had a comfy swivel chair, some monitors to watch and only myself to please for seven hours.

That night I had my book and a flask of coffee to keep me awake and I settled in for the shift.

So far, so normal.

Then, just after eleven, someone called the lift from one of the floors above. Now I was meant to be the only person there, but it was an old building; sometimes electrics played up. I wasn’t panicking.

Eventually it came to a halt on floor 12. I frowned, made a note of it to let my supervisor know, then I checked the monitor that covered that floor, just to be sure.

Strangely, as I looked, that screen flickered and conked out, which made me wonder. If someone had broken in somehow and had made it up to floor 12 then disabled the camera it was my job to stop them.

But why call the lift? It didn’t make sense.

I hauled myself to my feet, grabbed my flashlight and set off up the stairs. By floor 12 I was sweating. The strip lights in the corridor were all still on and I shone my flashlight cursorily into the dark rooms along it.

When I reached the lift things started to get weird.

The lift doors had been propped open with an office chair and the inside of it was completely drenched, like someone had emptied a bucket of water into it.

Wet footprints tracked away from the lift and up the corridor, away from the direction I’d come.

Clearly I wasn't alone.I knew I should go back to my desk and call for support, but I was intrigued.

I followed the footprints.

In the middle of the corridor they just stopped, as though the person had disappeared into thin air. I stopped too and looked around. At the edge of my awareness I heard an infinitesimal click, as though a nearby door had just been closed quietly.

Then, behind me, I heard the lift start up again.

I sprinted back towards it - how could it move? The doors had been wedged open…

I threw myself down the stairs and back to my desk to call for support. This was too weird. The lift was still making its clanking, whirring noises when I reached the ground floor.

But when I reached the foyer, I saw wet footprints tracking their way towards my swivel chair and the monitor for floor 12 flickering to life.

On the screen the door to the lift was opening.

I didn’t wait around to see what came out. I left the building, called for support on my mobile and never went back in.

No-on was ever found in the building. By the time support arrived the footprints had dried and everyone assumed I’d gotten over excited.

They did find an office chair in the middle of a corridor on floor 12 though.

After that I stuck to daytime jobs.


by Lewis

Drip. Such a simple sound and a simple action. But it is repeated over and over. The room cries endlessly. There is nowhere for him to avoid the drops. At times he feels like he is in a box at the bottom of the sea. Surely eventually it will burst and then wash him away. But it doesn’t.

Time left long ago. Night was locked up in a security office, day was buried in the back yard. He no longer checks his empty wrist for his watch. Habit had been dragged out screaming with Time. The dim bulb overhead was constant. Timeless. Endless. On.

When he can focus long enough he wonders why he is still here. Why the water hasn’t risen. Or just seeped through. Why he hasn’t just been killed. Sometimes he remembers being taken underground but with so much water coming in, he chooses to reject this. It doesn’t make sense. He prefers to think he is under the sea.

He doesn’t know when food comes or how. But when he wakes from his sleep, it is there. He doesn’t dream. He’s glad. Dreams offer him, something that isn’t this. He fights the idea there is anything else. How can there be when there isTime. When habit died, Hope followed soon after.

There is no water offered other than that of his physical home. The inch high carpet he wades in. The tears endlessly falling. He wonders why it is not salty. He does not thirst.

There is no window. Why bother when there isn’t even a door. A door would let the ocean it. Or something else, which scared him just as much. Just square stone wall. Sound is dull, unoriginal, repetitive. Drip, drop. Nothing else. A splash maybe if he moves quick enough. He doesn’t speak. No other sound. Once he shouted but it stole so quickly into the walls he was scared his voice would never come back.

And then.

Click. A soft sound.

He didn’t hear it he thinks. But he did.

The gentle noise shakes through his skull echoing a hundred times. Click. And then he sees it. A thin crack in the wall. He can barely see it but it’s there. No. It’s nothing.

He can’t see it.


Time passes.

Then he realises that time has passed. The thought shocks him. How much time? He checks his wrist but there is nothing there. He looks at the wall. Is there a crack?

He tries a foot tentively in the water. He doesn’t like to leave his ledge. The water is expectedly cold. A gentle swirl of water ripples across the room. Like a thought once begun, impossible to stop. He places his other foot in the wet. Slowly he wades to the wall.

He runs his hand across it. Nothing. It is nothing. He pauses. Closes his eyes. Feels the water brushing his ankles, feels the drip of salt less tears drumming against his body. The same things he always feels. And then. Air. Fresh. Different. He places his hand on the wall again. His eyes still closed. It is there. Running down the wall. A thin crack of air.

“No” he says before he can worry about the words. His voice echoes. His fingers scrabble at the crack. Something shimmers in the water. a thin strio of metal. It must have been from his bed. Something flickers in his heart. It hurts. He hates it. He cannot believe it. But it is hope. He bends down and picks up the metal.