Tag Archives: Short story

A new publication credit

This week I was pleasantly surprised to have a story published by the Every Day Fiction magazine/website. What makes it interesting is that I can read the comments of readers that are rating the story. The first critique was a bit of a slap in the face, but the comments after have been both encouraging and helpful. (As always, setting is my weakness. Sigh.)

I’ve supplied the link above if your interested … it’s a five minute read. Not Steampunk, but still Speculative Fiction.

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Filed under Australian Author, Flash Fiction, Short Story, The Writing Life

Writing Horror

It always seems to surprise people that I write horror stories – particularly my family. I am seen as having a ‘sunny’ personality with little in the way of darkness. This is because I save all my darkness for my horror stories.

As a child, I was haunted by my monster under the bed. (On a tangential note, why do so many people fear the things under their beds.) When I was eight, I convinced myself that the monster had gone to live under my sister’s bed. I never told her about the monster, and she slept in blissful ignorance of its presence. It was a brilliant move on behalf of my imagination, because I was able to sleep without worrying that some paw was going to grab me and drag me under the bed.

By the bye, ‘Poltergeist’ gave me nightmares for years.

Part of my problem is that I have no night vision … a side effect of having excellent colour vision. I can eat carrots until I turn orange, and I will still have very little ability to see my way around in the dark. What you can’t see is scarier when you have a vivid imagination that can fill the shadows with tentacles and teeth.

I’ve found that writing out my night terrors turns them into something I can cope with. It’s hard to be scared of a monster when you can edit out its teeth and slime and stuff. Instead, I can scare other people! Better to be the monster than be the victim…

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Filed under Horror, Horror genre, Short Story, The Writing Life

New story for Daily SF


I should have put this up sooner – it’s a link to my latest story published by Daily Science Fiction.

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Filed under DailySF, Science Fiction, Short Story

The newest anthology by my Writing group.


I am very proud of my story in this anthology, and it is edited by Aiki Flinthart.

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Filed under Anthology, Springfield Writers Group

My most recent publication!





Steampunk, and proud of it!

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Short Story, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Steampunk Writer, The Writing Life, Writing Career

Update on my ‘Interesting’ year so far.

Well, it’s been an exciting few months. What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

Bad news? Well, since January, my mum broke her hip, I’ve had a skin cancer cut out of my ankle and it is taking a long time to heal (it is still a scab and hurts), and my computer back-ups died and I thought I’d lost ALL MY WRITING. I’ve been crying a bit more than usual.

Good News! The company Computer Fixperts were able to recover 99% of my writing. The skin cancer was completely removed and I don’t need radiation treatment or chemotherapy. My mum had a clean break, they pinned it, and she is back at home and recovering well.

More good news: I have had FIVE acceptances since January. And a publisher is interested in my turning a short story into a book. Below is a link to one of my newly published stories!



Filed under Short Story, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Career

Happy News

My retelling of Cinderella, ‘Ashley’, will appear in volume 4 of the Clarion Call.


Filed under Anthology, Fairy Tales, Short Story, The Writing Life

The Timelime Cocktail

Image result for lime clock

“The captain has requested a cocktail with her dinner this evening,” the first mate told the new cook.

“Did she ask for anything specific?” The cook was straight out of training; this was his first position. He was excited at being on starship and getting to see the galaxy, even on an old tub like the Esmerelda Weatherwax. He was keen to impress.

“Nope. If you have a specialty, make that. She enjoys a drink, or two.”


The new cook decided to go with a classic: a Gin Fizz over ice, decorated with a slice of lemon and a slice of lime. It would work well with the smoked salmon pasta, and he had all the ingredients to hand.

A minute later, the cabin boy was back, close to tears. The Fizz was a fizzle … the glass had been upended in the garden salad.

“It’s not your fault,” whimpered the boy. “Someone ought to have warned you. But the captain wants to see you. Now.”

Captain Ogg had a reputation for being a genial old soul and good to her crew. It was one of the reasons the cook had taken the position on the Esme. So, he was surprised to see the captain looking furious, her face plum-coloured with rage. The plate of pasta hit the bulkhead next to his head, spraying him with dream sauce and capers.

“You’re lucky I don’t space you, boy,” she growled.

“I’m sorry,” said the cook, trying not to tremble. “but I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong. You aren’t listed as having any allergies.” He took a stab in the dark, and added, “I apologise for serving you seafood.”

“So that slice of lime wasn’t a dig at me?” demanded the captain.

“What? No!”

The captain relaxed, and the plum turned back to apple in her cheeks. She sighed.

“I guess you’re too young to know of the scandal,” she said. “Just know, boy, that you should never serve lime to an old sailor. Have you ever heard of timelimes?”

The cook shook his head. “It’s not something we covered in chef school.”

“Well, no. It wouldn’t be. Timelimes were once used to help humans adjust to the vagaries of space travel. Time dilation and all that. That was a hundred and sixty years ago.”

The cook swallowed. That was before his grandparents were born. He wisely didn’t share that fact with the captain.

She continued on, “However, timelimes have some mighty weird side effects. It isn’t pretty when your heart ages ten times faster than the rest of you, or your intestine reverts back to when you were three years old. I lost a crew to scurvy, because they all refused to eat the limes, and that was the only citrus we had on board.”

“Good god! How awful!”

“Indeed. Even a whiff of lime can cause flashbacks in an old sailor who has suffered a timelime accident.”

The cook nodded. He said, “I will remove all lime and lime-related items from my pantry. I promise not to make that mistake again.”

The captain twinkled at him. “Good lad. Now off you go. I still need you to cook me dinner.”

As he walked back to his kitchens, the cook wondered whether or not he had just been submitted to an elaborate hazing ritual. What would be next?

The next day, the first mate informed him, “It appears that the strawberries in last night’s desserts acted as an aphrodisiac for the alien crew members from the Discworld system. They are all pregnant, and they are claiming you are at fault.”

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Little Black Flowers Grow In the Sky


Little black flowers grow in the sky. They grow in between the stars, in the rich loam of eternity. Most people can’t see them, not even if they wanted to. Most people should be glad they can’t see them. Those black sunflowers glow with a light of their own, in a spectrum that mortal beings can’t register. Such dark light can blind you just as easily as staring into the sun, and then it burns down and turns your soul to ashes. This is the truth; signed in blood and hope to die.

Sullivan stared down at his hands, red with blood. He had always thought that blood was bright red, but his blood looked dark. It flowed like a river from his gut. He couldn’t remember why.
It was strange that he couldn’t remember, when some part of him knew that remembering was important. It seemed to be the one thing left of which he was certain, while the rest of his thoughts were breaking up and scattering like autumn leaves tossed in a high wind. He scrambled to catch them, as they fluttered further and further away.
Is this what dying feels like?
As his normal senses slithered away, he appeared to be growing new ones. He looked up from his bloody hands. People crowded around, forming a ring of heads above him. He could make out their mouths opening and closing, but their voices receded away from him. Instead, he could hear the rocks beneath him sing, sounding something like whale song and something like a carillon of crystal bells being struck. From his own broken body came the sounds of waves breaking and a steady drumbeat. The blue of the sky was fading, replaced by colours he had never seen before. His fingertips tingled as the Earth plummeted through the universe. He could smell the sadness and worry and horror of the people milling around him.
It was then he noticed the optical illusion the circling heads were forming. They were so close together, that they looked like the petals surround the central disc of a daisy or a sunflower. It amused him, and Sullivan attempted a laugh. Like his thoughts, laughter seemed to spiral away into the tunnel of the sun, where it was burnt into gilt and ash. The ashes smelt like fresh-baked bread.
“Sully? Sully, can you hear me?” called a woman’s voice across the void.
What a beautiful voice! It shimmered with a rainbow of moonlight walks, sharing cosy talks, happy tears, fighting fears, holding tight, and bitter fights.
“Sully. You stay with us, you hear?”
The voice reminded him that he had something to remember. It was so important to remember. What he had to remember was twisted up with that voice, like twine around roses.
“Sully? Becca is safe. You saved her from being run over. Do you understand? Rebecca is safe. But you were run over instead,” said the beautiful voice. “You have to stay with us. Stay with me.”
Stay? Stay? His very being was being pulled apart in preparation for roaming the starry sunflower fields. He wasn’t even sure if he was staying himself. Some nameless power was shaking apart the jigsaw that had made him Sullivan. It didn’t physically hurt, though his confusion was almost painful. Then the torment of his thoughts focussed on the name ‘Rebecca’.
Rebecca. An album of impressions flickered: the perfume of baby powder, soft blue eyes, dimpled knees and a smile framing four baby teeth. Rebecca: a chuckle that turned into a laugh, reading Winnie the Pooh, giggling tickle fights…it was good to remember Rebecca. It was very good to know that Rebecca was safe. It still wasn’t the important fact he was struggling to remember, yet knowing Rebecca was safe it did give him an intense glow of satisfaction.
His limbs had felt like they had grown too heavy to lift. That was changing. He felt buoyant; his heart weighed less than a feather, it was light enough to float way. There was no pain. No sorrow. No fear. Nothingness. Black sunflowers flew out of his chest, one after another, a chain of shadowy jellyfish floating upwards to the surface of the ocean.
The pain of that cry cut him deeper than any razor. It sliced away at his confusion. He remembered the beautiful voice belonged to his wife, Hayley, and Rebecca was their daughter. He managed to gain some control of his eyes. He focussed on the petal of darkness nearest to him. It resolved itself into the tear-jewelled face of his Hayley.
His lips and tongue were numb. Had he just visited the dentist for a filling? He fought to say her name. He couldn’t hear if he succeeded, but her eyes met his, so she must have heard something. She had one of his hands clutched in her own, oblivious of the blood and gore. He couldn’t feel her touching him. Why couldn’t he feel her touching him?
It didn’t matter. He could see her, and that was enough. Her eyes were mirrors, as always, showing him his own face as Hayley saw it, loving, kind, and dependable. He always looked handsome in Hayley’s eyes. It was his daily miracle that she loved him with such strength. And she had gifted him with a child of her body. He tried to squeeze her hand.
Suddenly it hailed gloves. Hayley was pulled away from him, and he didn’t have the strength to prevent it. Sullivan couldn’t feel what they were doing, but he could see and hear them, though they sounded very far away. Scissors cut away his clothes. Gloves with cloths swabbed away at all this blood. Voices made brisk comments that fell around him like snowflakes.
“Stand back please. Give us room.”
“There is internal bleeding”
“It looks as if at least one wheel ran over his hips.”
“His pelvis is shattered.”
“Bone shards cut his intestines.”
“We need to get him stable enough to transport to the hospital.”
“This is his wife and child.”
“Madam, can you give us your husband’s name?”
Hayley said, “It is Stephen George Aage Sullivan. But everyone calls him Sully. Please, he is only twenty-nine.”
“Don’t you worry, Missus,” said one of the brisk voices.
A concerned face swam into view. “You just have to hang on, Sully mate. You’ll be on your way to the hospital in just a minute.”
Sully could see the lie. The other snowflakes words floated gently to the ground… these words dropped like stones of ice and shattered all around him. The ambulance officers were working hard, but even as he watched them they grew further and further away.
The black sunflowers were now coming in bouquets and nosegays and daisy chains. They swam across his vision, obscuring his field of view. His back arched to help shake them from his chest.
A mouse screamed, “Sully!”
Another mouse shouted, “Arrhythmia. We’re losing him.”
The confusion took hold again, and the world spun around him, the calm centre in the middle of a cyclone. He tried to close his eyes; they wouldn’t respond.
It was snowing a blizzard now, but the sunflowers still drifted as though they were bubbles wafting on a gentle breeze. He no longer heard the bells or the ocean or the drum, but the rocks were still carolling like birds. He thought he could hear them whisper his name as part of their chorus. It was glorious. His thoughts were dropping off the string and rolling away, until there was just one thought left.
You have to remember.
Most of Sullivan had escaped by now. It was running free, no longer trapped by time or space or the puny laws of man or physics. He was both as large as an electron, as small as the universe, as still as sound wave and as slow as a ray of light. His existence was just a fading poem, with only one final task left for him to do.
He had promised to remember. And Sullivan was a man who always kept his promises. It was the one thing that defined him above all other aspects of his being, even as he stopped being a being.
His heart thudded for one final time.
For just one last time, he thought with perfect clarity. He remembered. I promised to love you until death do us part, Hayley. But I will love you forever.
He could hear the speaking stones sing and mutter his name. While his face remained turned skyward, the blue reflected in his glazing eyes, his vision was filled with infinite fields of shining, gorgeous, shimmering black sunflowers.

Little black flowers grow in the sky. They grow in between the stars, in the rich loam of eternity. Those black sunflowers glow with a light of their own, in a spectrum that mortal beings can’t register. Such dark light can blind you just as easily as staring into the sun, and then it burns down and turns your soul to ashes.
The only thing that remains is love.
This is the truth; signed in blood and hope to die.

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The Photograph – a short story

Peter’s ears were assaulted by the shocking clatter of a smash, with a counterpoint of shattering glass. These were followed immediately by the sounds of grunting and swearing echoing around the deep ceiling of the renovated hall. The fuss halted the idle chatter between Peter and the gallery owner, and they both rushed towards the epicentre of the trouble.

They were in time to witness a drunken lout being restrained by two other men, as all three struggled beside the remains of one of Peter’s photographic portraits. Blood spattered the floor, testimony to an attempt by the drunk to smash the artwork with his bare fists.

“Fuck’n queers!” cursed the drunk, as he attempted to tug his arms free. “That’s what you all are…queers ‘n poofters ‘n fairies. Bloody lot of you should be shot on sight.”

One of young men engaged in preventing his tirade turned to the gathering crowd, “Quick, somebody, call the police! You can see he’s off his face.”

“I’m right on it. Don’t let him go, now,” uttered the gallery owner, and he rushed off to retrieve his mobile phone from his office. A couple of people in the crowd looked uncertainly after him, and a young woman reached for her own cell phone.

Peter couldn’t drag his eyes away from his ruined work. It was one of his favourite pieces. It was a drag queen, taken in full regalia as she marched in Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gra parade. The photo was a monotone, originally in black and white; Peter had tinted his subject every shade of blue. He had really captured the joy and pride that the transvestite had radiated like a beacon.

Now, the piece was crumpled and torn and bloodstained, and its frame was irretrievably smashed. Its despoiler must have known what to expect when he had attended Peter’s gallery opening. What would have motivated such an act of rage? Wasn’t this kind of Neanderthal response to the gay community meant to be just a memory in this more enlightened decade? With some effort, he managed to tear his eyes away from the scraps of his work.

His eyes met with another gentleman’s gaze, a handsome redhead who was watching the spectacle with obvious delight. Suddenly, Peter felt an overwhelming wave of fear, loathing and horror. It was a sensation akin to drowning, as he really couldn’t bring himself to draw a breath – he was so frozen with terror. His heart felt like it was beating within a cage of barbed wire. Was he dying?

A girl noticed his distress, the same girl that had just used her phone to summon the police. “Oh look,” she shrieked, “It’s the artist! He’s going into shock. Somebody do something.” The crowd’s attention was drawn away from the drunk, and towards Peter. Several people stepped forward to help him. A matronly woman stepped in front of him, and hid the glowing green eyes that filled Peter’s vision. The terror was shut off like a blowing of a light bulb.

He went to sink to the floor, but there were many hands to catch him. His consciousness took the best and fastest avenue of recovery from the utter madness of the last few moments, and Peter fainted.


It took a few days for Peter to regain his courage and return to the art gallery. The memory of those fleeting moments of complete and utter dread and hatred was still strong. It was like his mind was a sea, and someone had dropped an enormous jagged shoal right into the centre of it. Dangerous currents lurked just under his surface thoughts. Still, he couldn’t really avoid such a personally important venue as the art gallery forever. He bolstered his meagre store of courage, snatched up his camera case, and set off to his showing.

The gallery owner greeted him warmly. Peter’s works were selling steadily, and the showing was well on the way to success. Peter politely refused an offer of a shared pot of coffee in the office, preferring to wander for a bit. He had his camera at the ready. He never knew when an interesting or exciting subject might present itself.

The sheer beauty of one of the art gallery patrons quickly captured his attention. The man was a true redhead, with the clear-cut, patrician features of a Greek sculpture. Peter was usually attracted to men with dark, brooding features, but this guy’s gorgeous skin and hair lured and seduced his eye.

Unobtrusively, Peter snapped a few shots of the gentleman. Peter was so focussed on his subject that he didn’t notice that the man seemed to travel with an enormous area of personal space. As the redhead strolled around the gallery, his approach to the other patrons seemed to make them suddenly shudder or squirm, and hurry away.

Peter hoped the man was homosexual. He moved with an animal grace that was most sensual to watch, as he toured the photo portraits. After a while, the redhead noticed of Peter’s admiring gaze. He turned to meet Peter’s eyes.

Suddenly, Peter was trapped in a turmoil of repellent sensations. Hatred. Greed. The need to destroy. Disgust. Lust. Rage. It was a replay of the horror that occurred on the opening night of Peter’s exhibit. His bruised psyche recoiled in fear.  The redhead grinned at Peter’s obvious distress. It was the same type of sneer that might lurk on a boy’s face, as the boy amuses himself by torturing a puppy with a stick.  As he turned away from Peter, the redhead smiled with pleasure.

The photographer watched, pale and sweating and shaking, as the other man exited the art gallery in a leisurely manner.


Peter’s photographs of the redhead proved to be most enlightening, on several levels. Instead a suave and handsome human male, the pictures revealed a portrait of a devil, a gargoyle with the most intently evil expression imaginable. It was every sin personified, into one terrible, monstrous form.

After toying with the idea of releasing the photos to the press, Peter quietly burned the photos and the negatives. No one would believe the real circumstances behind the portraits. As well, Peter instinctively felt that any public release would be asking for trouble, lots of trouble.

Instead, Peter began to regularly attend church instead.


*I wrote this story nearly two decades ago. With ‘Lucifer’ playing on the small screen, I felt it was time to give it an airing. It need a major polish, but it has good bones.


Filed under Short Story, Uncategorized, writing