Mending the Moon by Emma Pearl & Sara Ugolotti

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Shelley Carpenter

Cover of Mending the Moon, written by Emma Pearl and illustrated by Sara Ugolotti. The title, written in script to look like thread, appears in the center of the image over a large glowing moon. The author's and illustrator's names appear in small text under the title. Surrounding the moon is an illustration of a forest at night -- trees, plants, flowers, sky, stars -- primarily in a color scheme of blue, purple, and pink. A number of animals -- birds, rabbits, deer, racoon, fox, bear -- as well as a bearded man with a striped cap and long red scarf and a girl with shoulder-length red hair and a white hat with a pompom are gathered around the moon holding threads.

Mending the Moon by Emma Pearl | Illustrated by Sara Ugolotti

Literature indeed comes in many forms. I’ve had the privilege as a reader and later as an editor for Toasted Cheese to read many novels, short stories, memoirs, and lots and lots of poetry. Children’s literature is no exception. This past holiday season I was reminded of this when I was shopping for books for the young readers in my life. I spent a delightful hour in the children’s section of an independent bookstore, sifting through board books, picture books, easy readers, and chapter books, finding gems in the stacks of what I thought and hoped would be new classics in their lifetimes.

My time in the bookstore also reminded me that children’s literature indeed is its own universe. Yet, the same rules apply as with adult literature. What makes a spectacular children’s story is likable, believable characters, a curious setting, an arcing plot, robust vocabulary and language that has rhythm and cadence. Add to it thoughtful, colorful illustrations and you have a children’s picture book. A tangible marriage of pictures and words.

It’s no happy accident. There is design and purpose. It is the picture book that lures young readers into endless worlds of the imagination. Created exclusively for a small audience (pun intended!), it scaffolds them. For it is the picture book that encourages lifelong readership for those who are lucky enough to be exposed to literature at an early age. And I personally think that it’s a big responsibility for the writers of children’s fiction and non-fiction, too. Huge! Unique only to them. A simple creation story may be the spark that hurls a new young reader into discovering new genres and perhaps a life’s pursuit. It is to these authors and illustrators of picture books whom many of us readers owe a debt.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Mending the Moon (Page Street Kids, 2022) a picture book created in collaboration between writer Emma Pearl and illustrator Sara Ugolotti. Mending the Moon is a whimsical fantasy story offering a unique origin story of how the moon got its spots. The main characters are Luna and her grandfather, Poppa. When Luna witnesses the moon falling out of the sky, she begins a journey to find all the missing pieces.

Emma Pearl chooses her words carefully, using dialogue and description in a simple, elegant form that young readers will understand and relate to.

As they walked into the night, moon shards lay all around them, glowing day-bright. They were hard and smooth and warm. They were pearly and glistening and beautiful. Not a bit like cheese. “It’s like a mermaid’s looking glass,” whispered Luna. (8)

The journey takes Luna and Poppa far from their mountain-top home and deep into the forest where they find unexpected help. Pearl builds a plot that is exciting and surprising from the beginning.

As they stood wondering where to start, the shadows began to move. Pairs of eyes appeared. The animals who lived on the mountain had also seen the moon fall. (11)

Likewise, Mending the Moon’s cover jacket drew me in. Like a five-year-old, I was enchanted by Sara Ugolotti’s brilliant illustrations of animals painted in sparkling jewel tones and soft lilac hues that captured the twilight and evening skies. The pages seemed to glow with little flickers of iridescent light from the forest floor to the dazzling moon which gets even more dazzling as the story progresses. Sara Ugolotti creates a magical element with her palette. The forest in winter is a cozy place with lively characters and creatures that are delightfully drawn with humor and warmth as they work together to fix a very big problem.

Mending the Moon is a unique origin story with timely and universal themes of friendship and stewardship.


Emma Pearl writes fiction for all ages from picture books to young adult. She is based in New Zealand. Her flash fiction was published in the June 2022 issue of Toasted Cheese. Mending the Moon is her debut picture book, and the follow-up Saving the Sun will be published in September 2023. Twitter/Instagram: @emmspearl


Sara Ugolotti was born and raised in Italy. After obtaining a bachelor degree in architecture she earned a degree in Illustration at the International School of Comics in Reggio Emilia. She specialized in children’s book illustration and now works as a freelance illustrator for clients worldwide. She loves art, nature and animals, especially dogs. She lives in Italy with her boyfriend and their frenchie Murphy. Instagram: @sara_ugolotti_illustrator


Shelley Carpenter is TC’s Reviews Editor. Email: reviews[at]

Six Old Women and Other Stories by Sharon L. Dean

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Shelley Carpenter

Cover image of Sharon L. Dean's Six Old Women and Other Stories. The author's name appears at the top in yellow all-caps with "Author of the Deborah Strong Mysteries" in smaller black text underneath over a background of a faded red wallpaper with a botanical print. In the foreground is an illustration of a teacup and saucer on a table. The cup has an image of a skull and crossbones on it. Steam rising from the cup encircles the title written in script. To the right of the teacup is a spoon, a tea stain on the off-white tablecloth, and the handle side of a teapot. The cup, saucer, and teapot are white with gold trim.

Six Old Women and Other Stories by Sharon L. Dean

Sharon Dean’s short story collection Six Old Women and Other Stories (Encircle Publications, 2022) is filled with gorgeous prose and dynamic characters who are full of surprises. Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New Hampshire setting that Dean knows well, the stories are filled with a variety of characters, young and old, with variable circumstances: six old women living a reclusive life in a lake house, two cousins who share a childhood mystery relating to a long ago summer camp game, a woman down on her luck, another woman about to be, and a man living off his own steam. Dean dives deep into the human experience as she creates characters with depth, breadth, and soul. The stories are realistically contemporary and historical, too, as the characters move seamlessly from present to past and back again.

Six Old Women, the first story, is the flagship of the collection, a novella. This story intrigued me, drawing me in from the first few lines. Dean imagines six women, unique and distinct. They are clearly identifiable with their words and actions and beautiful human imperfections and secrets, living out their golden years in an elderly commune of old college friends. Then along comes a young nurse who unknowingly changes everything. Dean slowly builds a cozy mystery with interesting backstory and curious flashback leading the reader in snippets toward a whodunit.

Mystery is as strong as the settings in Dean’s stories. It waits. I didn’t see it at first, so caught up was I in the characters. It is subtle and slowly comes to the surface casually in little remarks and observations poking the reader to pay attention to the details.

Likewise, the other stories also build on strong characters who are more than what they seem. The two young cousins in “Shuffleboard” are innocent, carefree young teens spending a summer at a family-style east coast resort popular in mid-century, upper-middle-class America. As I read, I thought about Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in the Hollywood film, Dirty Dancing. The world away from the real world. Leisure days, summer fun, and fireworks. Dean writes with gorgeous detail intertwining character, setting, and plot and packing them in with curious tension between a triad of characters.

This stopped me.

This is where I started to see another thread forming, connecting the stories. Though each story is totally different, they all seem to pitch the young with the old.  A comparison? Not always favorable. Starting out and ending up? Maybe. There is also an element of decay. Two stories in particular are about people who grow old under the watchful eyes of their community. In “Pavlov’s Puppies,” the main character, Miss Ellen Stockwell, described as “one of our own,” started out brilliant in life, the town expecting greatness from her. But life didn’t work out so well for this character and her house reveals much about her.

…built before 1900, it should have been respectively old. Instead, it stands like a cancer… paint chipping, shudders askew… its half-drawn shades obscuring the darkness within.  Even in January the porch smells of dampness and rot, not the rancid smell of decaying garbage, but the musty smell of wet newspapers and cardboard boxes. (155)

Great writing! There is grotesqueness with a creep factor reminding me of a Shirley Jackson story as Dean builds character with mystery, a very human mystery surrounding Miss Stockwell’s personal circumstance and her self-driven transformation to town pariah.

I had similar thoughts about “The Man Who Loved Scrabble.” The subject of this story is a man who exists on the margins, living camp-style in a shack. Jimmy Hanrahan, according to the main character, Hazel, who has a fascination with him since childhood. Hazel takes a backward glance and spends her time spying and prying:

Why had Jimmy Hanrahan disappeared, and why had he returned to live off the grid, his only company, Moses Flannery ? (167)

Dean takes her time with this story, painting a picture of a strange fellowship of three characters who remain unchangeable, though likable. Stagnant and sadly stuck as life passes them by.

“Hardscrabble” differed from the other stories. Another character comes home. Monica. She’s not elderly, but young enough… returning after many years to the White Mountains. This character was interesting. Whereas Dean’s other characters have varied amounts of good humor, this main character has very little of it. Likeability. Monica is self-centered and self-driven and is about to embark on her first solo paragliding experience. Having parted with her boyfriend, she decides to go on the adventure without him. “Live Free or Die” is her home state’s creed. Beware. New Hampshire is beautiful and beautiful can be deadly.

…With no place to land underneath her and no forward penetration, she had to turn and run with the wind. The lower she got the less she could see anything but the tops of trees… (144)

Hardscrabble refers to a trail section in Cannon Mountain where there is history for Monica. Something festers… perhaps this is where Monica will find her grace. Dean shines with the setting that only a true resident could know. I could see the canopy and smell the pines. The technical language is superb.  Monica goes about her business of preparing for her sail over Franconia Notch while trouble brews. This story is more than it seems.

Sharon L. Dean’s stirring collection is a love story of coming home told in many voices, old and young, that illustrate how much home matters, the place where one’s story begins and where it sometimes comes full circle.


Sharon L. Dean grew up in Massachusetts where she was immersed in the literature of New England. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of New Hampshire, a state she lived and taught in before moving to Oregon. Although she has given up writing scholarly books that require footnotes, she incorporates much of her academic research as background in her mysteries. She is the author of three Susan Warner mysteries and three Deborah Strong mysteries. Her latest novel, Leaving Freedom, will be reprinted in 2023 along with a sequel, Finding Freedom. Dean’s short story “Pavlov’s Puppies” appeared in Toasted Cheese. Dean continues to write about New England while she is discovering the beauty of the West.


Shelley Carpenter is TC’s Reviews Editor. Email: reviews[at]

Sinister Melody

Dead of Winter ~ Third Place
David Pugh

Black and white photo of a cobblestone street. The cobblestones are wet, slick and shiny. Light shines down the center of the image, illuminating the pattern of the stones. The sides are in shadow.

Photo Credit: Andy Magee/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

It is early morning and lazily falling snow gathers in drifts at every windowsill, doorway, and curb of the city. Warped sheets of thin metal clank against the spouts of precarious brick chimneys. Iron horseshoes and wooden wheels, reinforced by steel, clatter along uneven cobblestone roads. Dense chunks of ice crash against the wooden piers of the harbor, sloshing in the frigid waters. In the harbor, a ship is being prepared for departure. Picture windows in stores fog with the discussion of price. Noses sniffle and mittened hands catch spontaneous sneezes. Wrapped in scarves, jackets, and woolen hats, residents of the city bustle in the narrow streets between towering grey buildings. No matter their destination, the residents pass each other and greet their neighbors, despite the cold.

A young woman hurries through the snow-covered streets. She hunches, her head down, clutching something to her chest, walking against the rending winds of the winter storm. Candles in windows guide her way. Their lights are faint, but enough to orientate her on the way home. She has walked these streets more times than she could count, but in the grey of the storm standing upright was a struggle all its own. Snow crunches under her boot and she slides off a patch of ice on the cobblestone street.

She stumbles, nearly dropping the something from her arms, and attracts glances of concern from a group of women conversing outside of a nearby shop. Their conversation changes instantly as they offer to help and draw near to her. She finds their presence reassuring, had the fall been worse, and smiles. However, now is not the time for attention so she shakes her head. She meets their gaze, returning their rehearsed smile with her own, and continues toward her destination.

Finally, a building with three candled windows all in a row guides the young woman around a corner to face an ancient brick building. She stops in front of its wooden door. Her feet feel unstable beneath her, and she wonders if anyone else is around. She struggles to balance herself as she removes an iron key from the pocket of her coat. She knows that if she falls again, someone will be there in a matter of seconds. Without looking up from the patch of ice beneath her feet, she slides the iron key into its lock. The lock clicks open, and she disappears inside the ancient brick building.

One mittened hand softly clicks the lock back into place. She gives the knob a twist and a slight pull to confirm that the door is locked. Flakes of snow that cling to her hair melt fast in the humidity of the house. For a moment she coughs, adjusting to the stark change in atmosphere, and she braces herself against the wooden door.

The young woman is short and slight, her face whipped red by the chilling winter air. Her woolen coat, mittens, and scarf are threadbare, and age worn. She sets the something down at her feet and, with considerable effort, she sheds her winter clothing. She piles them in a soggy heap on top of that something on the floor and stands, thinking, in a sweat drenched sundress.

Her name is Melody Geary, and she finds no comfort standing in the foyer of her home. Her mind races with thoughts of her husband, Daniel, and the condition she may find him in, in the bedroom at the top of the stairs. She hears the open window slamming against the side of the house. She shudders and lights a candle sitting in a ceramic dish on a small end table and moves into the dining room, turning her back on the staircase and the something buried by her winter clothing.

She still hears the words of Dr. Randolph.

How, exactly, has he been unwell? Has he been eating much? Has he slept through the night?

Today’s visit had been the third this week and each time his voice was calm and free of skepticism. His questions were specific and, usually, impersonal, but this time he had expressed interest clearly beyond professional in Daniel’s case. Melody smiles at the thought of preferential treatment. She had always found his presence comforting; he never failed to care for them.

Dr. Randolph had always been adamant about seeing his patients directly, but this had been different. In his cramped office, he kept a safe distance from Melody, listening intently as she described the rash that has developed across Daniel’s shoulders.

Judging by your description, I believe I am familiar with this ailment. Though I’ve never had the opportunity to catch it this early. Oh, no! Do not bring him! Give him this, it should stop the spread. Though its side effects will likely be… significant.

Melody shuts her eyes and tries to imagine the lives of her neighbors, blissfully unaware of Daniel’s current state. Faintly, she hears the city beyond the whipping winter storm. The light snap of a whip and the rhythmic clomp of horseshoes against the snow-covered stone streets. The idle chatter of the passengers, and the courteous greeting of the carriage driver to passersby. She hopes they have not noticed Daniel’s absence.

Are you okay, dear?

The face of Mrs. Sanderson, who she had passed only moments ago, flashes in her mind.

Be careful out here! You can’t see five feet in front of you, let alone ice covered in snow. I can take that package for you, come inside and warm up.

She had joined them for tea many times on her walks home. Mrs. Sanderson hosted bridge every afternoon. Melody had no idea how to play, but she would sit and chat with them. She spoke freely about Daniel, or work, or medication from Dr. Randolph, or any other topic that day had brought her. None of the women had thought much of Dr. Randolph. They all found his treatments dubious. Melody would laugh and give a noncommittal comment. She would continue to follow Dr. Randolph’s advice, though she wondered how those women stayed in such good health without it. Their days all seemed to pass so easily to Melody. All of them blissfully unaware of this affliction that may move to her, or any of them any day.

Melody hears the open window upstairs slam again and is brought back to her surroundings. In her dining room, a long table, dressed in a moth-eaten runner, is covered in a thick layer of dust. At one end of the table sits a plate of crumbs and a chair with its back to a window. She pulls the chair away from the table and moves to sit, hovering just above the seat. She sways like the sudden stop in motion is a surprise to her, before righting herself and moving with renewed purpose. She lifts the plate of crumbs, her hands linger on the plate, unsure if something may sit beneath it. After a moment’s consideration, she moves the plate to the nearby sink without a glance back at the table.

Cold water rushes into the disgusting, scum-ringed sink. She places the candle on the counter and painstakingly removes melted wax from the ceramic dish. She rinses the crumbs from yesterday’s dinner plate before dragging a mildewed rag across its surface several times. Melody continues this menial distraction, trying her best to ignore the sounds of breathing.

Deep panting and the sound of rustling leaves crash behind her, escaping the rusted vent cover, clawing at the stray hairs that curl around her ears. She scrapes away at the clean plate and speaks to the calling breath.

“Soon, Daniel, we will be free of this. We will both continue our work. The days of us barely seeing each other, me going to dinner at Barbara’s or you to play cards at Waldorf’s will return. And none of them shall know of this misstep. These days we’ve spent locked here together. Your degenerating health. Our lives will continue as though they had never stopped. No one ever needs to know of these days I have wasted here with you. Let us finally be rid of this.” And she hurries back to the staircase.

She tears through the heap of winter clothes until she finds the something, beneath them all. A large glass jar filled with amber stones. She stares into the pristine surfaces of the stones as she steps onto the first stair. The bare skin of her hands as they hold the glass jar tingles with anticipation with each step. The stones glow with a strong light that guides her up the stairs with a feeling of ease—a naïve hope that could only come to someone who has placed her full confidence in another, never noticing the tingling has spread up her arms, toward her elbows.

As she draws near the landing, she thinks back on Dr. Randolph’s instruction.

No, no! It would be best not to move him, in this state. I suggest you give him these. This medication is unique. All you must do is uncork the jar in the same room as Daniel and the effect will be instant. They produce a strong smell that should stop the spread of the rash in a matter of minutes. Just be sure that no one sees them! This is a foreign treatment and I suspect your neighbors may not appreciate the idea. It may ruin my reputation.

Melody swore she had seen a gleam in Dr. Randolph’s eye as though he had waited to hear her words. He spoke with a chuckle as he covered the jar in a sheet and sent her on her way. He insisted she take detailed notes of the results and leave them under his door the following morning. He was on his way out of town; an old patient of his living further up the coast had taken a poor turn and he was forced to tend to them. The situation seemed rather serious, but he had left in a state of elation, almost manically, reiterating his instructions until she was out the door.

For days, she had stopped at the third step from the top, only pushing a tray of food onto the landing. She would call to him and tell him to get it and the importance of keeping his strength up. Now, shrouded in the amber glow, she steps onto the landing. Scattered on the floor, the untouched sandwiches have turned blue and green with mold. From behind the door to her right, their bedroom door, she hears it all more clearly than downstairs. Rustling leaves, the slamming windowpane, and the breathing. That horrid breathing that has plagued her for nearly a week. The chill of the metal knob shocks her, but only enough to enliven her anticipation. With great effort, Melody opens the door to find her husband, Daniel, exactly as she had left him.

A rotten smell fills the air and the bed sheets and floorboards beneath Daniel are frozen solid. He sits, shoulders hunched forward, on the side of their bed facing the open window. What remains of Daniel’s hair, and the leaves that sprout from his scalp, blow in the winter air. His skin is so thin that the muscle and blood pumping within are visible. Snow blows in the open window, the flakes that land on Daniel melt instantly and soak into his waxy skin. The moisture absorbs into the network of veins that pulse rapidly.

With the horrible sound of snapping twigs, Daniel moves to face her. His neck bends straight backward, like a stem that is unable to support its bud, and he looks to Melody. His eyes protrude slightly, rolling in their sockets with the movement of his head. The waxy coating of his skin had tried, and failed, to form over his eyes only to dry up around his yellow eyeballs. The exposed irises turned a faded grey and cracked, pieces sloughing off in the frigid gusts.

Leaves sprout along the ridge of his collarbone like a ruff; they sway in the frigid air with a startling resilience. The thin skin cracks and falls away from his mouth exposing his brittle and yellow teeth. They chatter together senselessly; the muscles contracting on memory alone. His arms bend backward at the elbow and, his fingers growing like vines, reach out to her.

Along a vein in his shoulder, a clot forms before her eyes. Through his thin and waxy skin, the clot forces its way into the cold winter air, emerging as a fresh bud. It opens and thick petals of a vibrant blue unfurl. They flap before settling against the skin, appearing unbothered by their harsh environment.

This medication is unique; all you must do is uncork the jar in the same room as Daniel and the effect will be instant.

With a smile of assurance, Melody uncorks the glass jar.

They produce a strong smell that should stop the spread of the rash in a matter of minutes.

Melody inhales deeply.

Just be sure that no one sees them!

For a moment, both Melody and Daniel are still. She smells nothing.

Suddenly Daniel’s face contorts mournfully, his mouth opens as though to scream. The waxy luster of the skin fades as it shrivels, clinging to the withering muscle below. The blue petals shrivel and curl before falling to the frozen floorboards. Daniel’s whole body wilts into a silent heap on the bed.

This is the closest the two have been to each other in days. In his current state, she found it difficult to identify him. Despite the vegetation, most of Daniel’s features were still there. High cheekbones. Weak chin. Crooked teeth. Until this moment, she has not considered the details of this affliction.

I believe I am familiar with this ailment, though I’ve never had the opportunity to catch it this early.

Give him this; it should stop the spread. Though its side effects will likely be… significant.

Just be sure that no one sees them!

It may ruin my reputation.

She feels her face flush with guilt she had not felt since childhood. Surely, she could not be at fault; she had only followed Dr. Randolph’s orders. It was impossible for her to have known.

“Are you there, dear?” comes a familiar, but distorted, voice from the open window. The voice is a series of snaps and rustling, like the sound of wind moving through a lush forest. It sounds distant, from far beyond the threshold of the window, but fills the room. It is calm, even toned, and Melody grows tense. Still clutching the glass jar, she does not notice the glow of the stones fade. She moves to the window to see who is addressing her.

Outside Mrs. Sanderson and her neighbors, lying flat against the frozen stone, stare up at her. Through the violently whipping snow, she sees vibrant blue petals blossom from each torso. They sway as though the violent storm is nothing more than a spring breeze. Their mouths gape open as the strange voice comes once more.

“We came to have a word with Daniel. We heard his call.”


David Pugh studied film at Indiana University. Enjoys pizza, Tekken, and slasher films not exceeding 93 minutes.

Quiet Child

Dead of Winter ~ Second Place
DJ Tyrer

Photo of a house fire at night. Most of the image is in darkness, as bright yellow-white flames shoot up from a house and smoke billows around the flames. In the foreground, the tops of other house and trees are silhouetted. Power lines bisect the image horizontally from the left disappearing into the smoke and flames.

Photo Credit: Peter Hill/Flickr (CC-by)

“Quiet, child,” said Uncle Andrew as he withdrew from the room and flicked the switch, plunging it back into darkness.

Nella closed her eyes tight and pulled herself deep down beneath her duvet. It was cold, but that wasn’t the reason why she sought its comfort.

She cried into it. Always the same, always the same two words.

“Quiet, child.”

She bit the duvet, filled her mouth with it till she almost choked, tried to stifle the shuddering sobs that shook her entire body.

Uncle Andrew never believed her.

As the sound she was making softened, Nella could hear the soft sounds that she tried to imagine were those of sleet dashing against the window panes, but weren’t. The sibilant whispers that sounded as if they came from all the corners of the room, as if there were many hidden people speaking too softly for her to hear, or a single sound that echoed quietly about her, again and again, moving ever closer…

She didn’t know what they were, where they came from, who made them—she had never dared open her eyes to see—but she knew that the whispers were bad.

Nella had first heard the sound the week before her parents died in the fire that had destroyed their home, left the beautiful old building a pile of charred rubble.

At first, the sound had been so soft she could barely hear it.

“Can you hear it, mummy,” she had asked, eyes wide with the mystery of it, and her mother had shaken her head and said, “What, dear?”

“That sound. It’s like a breeze in the walls.”

She had imagined that there might be something marvellous hidden within the walls of the house, a doorway to a world like Narnia, somewhere where she might have adventures, a place of dreams—not nightmares.

“I don’t hear anything, darling. It’s probably the wind blowing through the air bricks in the cellar. It’s nothing to be frightened of.”

Her mother had stroked her hair and Nella had quickly fallen into a deep and pleasant sleep. She hadn’t been frightened of the sound, not then. But, she should have been.

Slowly, the whispering sound had grown closer, as if she were hearing people having a quiet conversation in the hallway, moving closer to her door. At first, Nella had thought it was her parents. Then, she had begun to wonder if it was ghosts. Her best friend had told her the house was so old it ought to be haunted and she wondered if she was right and became a little frightened as the sound came nearer, as if the ghosts were drawing closer to her bedroom door, nearer to coming inside.

Her father had laughed good-naturedly when she told him and said, “There are no such things as ghosts, not outside of storybooks. When you die you’re dead and that’s the end of it, you don’t come back in a white sheet to scare people.”

Even now, as she trembled in her bed, that made Nella sad. She hoped her daddy was wrong and that she might see him again, one day, that he might even come back and save her from the whispers.

But, even as the sound grew louder and louder, her parents had been unable to hear it. It was as if the sound were one for her and her alone, a message she couldn’t understand, or a threat or taunt she couldn’t decipher.

Then, came the night of the fire.

The whispering sound had been louder than ever, and there was something in it, a deeper sound, a little like a chuckle that made her feel sick to her stomach—and then the smoke alarms had begun to shriek and she hadn’t been able to hear the whispers any more.

Nella had run from her bed and down the stairs to the telephone in the hall as her parents had always taught her and called the fire brigade, before running out of the house into the snowy night. As she went outside, she heard a crashing sound like the time her cousin booted his football through the side of the greenhouse and a moment later the smoke alarm died, to be replaced by a deeper, more terrifying sound.

Nella had been terrified. She didn’t want to be alone in the darkness with the twitching reddish shadows that danced across the lawn and the houses opposite. She wanted her mummy and daddy.

They would, she knew, be right behind her.

Only they hadn’t been.

Looking back at the house, Nella had seen the flames flailing through the shattered window of her parents’ bedroom, had watched as they danced further across the house, shattering more glass, causing the roof to collapse and the walls to fall in.

The fire engine had arrived with its blue, swirling lights, adding them to the dance of light that spun about her.

A policeman had taken her away. Later, a woman she didn’t know told her that her parents were dead. A fault in the wiring for the Christmas tree lights, she said.

She didn’t notice the holiday pass.

Nella had sobbed for what felt like years. Then, when her tears had run dry, she fell silent, too tired to speak or think. Too scared. For, behind the sadness, she knew that the whispers were somehow to blame.

Her Uncle Andrew and Auntie Susan had taken her in and she hadn’t heard the whispers in their home, had thought herself free of them, had maybe even come to believe they were nothing more than a bad dream.

Then, in the distance, as if far down in the cellar beneath the house, she heard them…

“Uncle Andrew! Uncle Andrew!” she had cried, running into his study. “Can you hear it?”

“What?” he had asked, testily. “I’m very busy, you know.”

“There’s a sort of whispering. I heard it at home. Before the fire.”

“Quiet, child,” he had said, for the first time. “You’ve just been having nightmares. It was a terrible thing you experienced and it is, I suppose, to be expected, but you need to move on and put the past behind you.”


“Quiet, child. Now, go away and play. I’m busy.”

She had gone and tried to talk to her aunt, but Auntie Susan had been just as busy and said the same thing. It was the same every time she tried to tell them what she could hear—the strange whispering, growing louder every night.

Now, it was so loud, it seemed to be all around her, swirling about her bed.

How she wished it would go away!

She didn’t care that Uncle Andrew would be cross with her. She couldn’t bear to be alone in the night any more.

Nella threw back her duvet and opened her mouth to scream, but as she did so, she thought she caught a hint of movement in the darkness, like a figure stepping up to her bed, and heard a sibilant voice hiss, “Quiet, child.”

No sound came from her mouth.

Nella tried again. Nothing!

She pulled the duvet back up over her head and held it tight against her face, as if it would ward off whatever lurked about her bed. And, as she did so, she thought, for just a moment, she caught the sound of a deep and unpleasant chuckle.


Nella woke to the sound of Auntie Susan calling her name.

She threw back the duvet and saw grey morning light through her bedroom window. Somehow, she had survived the night. She shivered at the memory and tried to pretend it had all just been an unpleasant dream.

“Nella, it’s time for breakfast. Hurry up, you’ve got school.”

It was Monday. That meant she was starting at her new school.

Nella sniffed and blinked away tears. She was going to miss her friends. She didn’t want to go some place new.

But her aunt called again and she had to get out of bed.

She washed and dressed and stumbled down the stairs to the kitchen.

“Good morning,” said her aunt with a smile as wide as necessary for the day.

Nella opened her mouth to reply, but no words came out.

Her aunt looked at her. Nella looked back, uncertain, tried to speak again, but still was unable to make a sound beyond the slightest rough hiss of air.

Panic began to well up inside her, the same terrifying panic she had begun to feel when her parents didn’t come to her from the burning house and the policeman swept her away. She tried to shout, to scream, but no sounds came, save an increasingly strangled hiss.

“Nella? Are you okay? Are you choking?”

Her aunt grabbed her and tried to look in her mouth, but Nella pushed her off and shook her head.

She tried again, but still there was no sound. She pointed at her throat.

“Sore throat?”

Nella screwed up her face in thought, then nodded. It was a little sore, now.

But she remembered the voice the night before, the one that wasn’t her uncle. “Quiet, child.”

She thought of one of the bad words her father said when he hit his hand with a hammer or banged his head, then put her hand up over her mouth. Only, she hadn’t really said it, her aunt hadn’t heard it.

“Don’t worry, I’ll call the doctor,” said Auntie Susan.


The doctor had said something about it being to do with her sadness about the fire and her parents dying and having to start a new school. There was a long word that began with ‘sigh’ and made her think of the sibilant whispers that explained it, but she didn’t understand it.

“It’s the time of year. Keep her home for a day or two and she’ll probably be fine. If not, I’ll arrange for her to see a specialist,” the doctor had said. There was a long word for that, too, that also began with ‘sigh’. It was probably because a sigh was the only sound she could make, now.

But, no matter what the doctor said, Nella knew it had nothing to do with sadness and that her voice wouldn’t be coming back. She also knew something bad was coming. She tried to draw it for her aunt, but she just shook her head sadly and seemed to think the pictures were do with Nella’s parents.

It was so frustrating!

That night, she went up the stairs like a princess being sent to face a dragon, only with no prospect of rescue. Her friend, Ali, always said princesses should rescue themselves, but Nella had no idea how she was supposed to do that.

Glumly, she climbed into bed and gestured to her aunt to leave the night light on beside her bedroom door.

“Is that why you’re so down?” she murmured. Nella was grateful that she didn’t turn it off.

The whispers were still there, but further away, in the passageway outside her room, or in the walls. The light, faint as it was, seemed to keep them at bay.

She almost relaxed. If she couldn’t hear them properly, then that had to mean they couldn’t hurt her or her aunt and uncle. As long as the light kept them away, they would all be safe.

The whispers continued to hiss softly in the distance, as if prowling about her room seeking a way in.

Go away and let me sleep, she thought, and she said a silent prayer.

Then, the night light died and, in a moment, her bedroom was dark as anything.

Nella sat straight up and screamed, but she couldn’t make a sound. Nobody would hear her. Nobody would come.

Quickly, she lay back down and pulled the covers over her head.

The whispers were all around her. She thought she heard sounds of movement, swishing and footsteps, but it may just have been the growing noise of almost-voices as they hissed and squawked all about the room.

She could almost make out words. And, amongst them, she could hear her own voice, whispering cruel, hateful things.

The whispers hadn’t just taken her voice away, they had stolen it for themselves.

There was a hissing and a sound like tuh-tuh and she could smell something burning.

She could hear the deep chuckling sound, a mocking laugh that was growing in noise.

“Tonight’s the night,” she heard her voice say. “Tonight’s your turn.”

She couldn’t breathe. She was choking.

She threw back the duvet.

Flames danced where her night light had been.

Nella tried to scream.

“Quiet, child,” said her voice. “It will all be over soon.”

“Soon,” hissed other voices, not calming, but cruel.

“Quiet, child. Quiet, child. Quiet, child.”

The flames drew nearer.

Nella thought she heard her father’s voice, her mother screaming.

Then there was a crash and the door burst open and her uncle was beside her bed, pulling her up into his arms.

She was screaming.

“Quiet, child,” he said, and he carried her through the flames.


DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories (Hellbound Books), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Hypnos, Occult Detective Magazine, parABnormal, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). Facebook.

The Facilitator

Dead of Winter ~ First Place
Alex Grehy

Black and white photo of a London street looking up at walls of buildings, new and old, from the position of someone on the street. The perspective makes the buildings appear to lean in, blocking the sky except for a sliver in the distance, where low sun glints off the bottom floors of a tall, nondescript glass building. The image has a gloomy, foreboding atmosphere.

Photo Credit: It’s No Game/Flickr (CC-by)

“Don’t give them money, it only encourages them.”

Phoebe cursed under her breath as Simon, her work mentor, caught up with her. Their office culture was oppressive, nothing went unobserved, but she’d vainly hoped that out here, on the street, Simon might curb his acid tongue.

“Yah, they only spend it on booze and drugs. Better to give to a homeless charity instead,” drawled Reese, who’d walked up from the station with Simon.

Phoebe assumed their arriving together was a coincidence. There were only so many trains that got everyone to the office in time, though there was hot competition to be the first in and last out.

“Like you’ve ever given anything to charity.” Simon sneered.

“I put a few pennies into a collection tin when they were rattling outside Harrods. A posh store like that wouldn’t let any riff-raff organisations collect outside their doors,” Reese said, walking on towards the entrance of the looming glass and steel tower block where they all worked.

Phoebe hung back and turned to the shapeless heap of quilts that engulfed the homeless person sitting on the pavement.

“I’m sorry, I’m sure they don’t mean to be rude. Here…” Phoebe fumbled around in her bag and tucked a £5 note under the trailing edge of a duvet. As she turned away, a small, clean hand, a woman’s hand, flashed out from beneath the heap and snatched the note away.

Phoebe shivered. She’d not felt warm since moving to the city—even in the summer a keen breeze whistled through these streets. She’d read somewhere that the architects had unintentionally created wind tunnels when they crowded the skyscrapers together, making the most of the precious mile square of prime city centre real estate. Not that it would be any better inside—her building’s air conditioning was fierce and then there was her colleagues’ relentless sniping.

As she drifted through the door, she heard Reese’s shrill voice penetrate the open office floor like a rapier.

“Phoebe’s off daydreaming again!”

Phoebe saw people look up from their cubicles and laugh. She scuttled to her desk, her flaming cheeks hidden by a curtain of hair as she leaned forward to turn her computer on.

Phoebe had complained to Simon about the teasing, but he’d just laughed, calling it harmless banter; she needed to suck it up, grow a pair. Macho bullshit, she’d thought, but not said. Her company prized individual performance over team cohesion, believing that competition led to achievement. It had a sour reputation. Over the water cooler, in the company gym, in the in-house bar and restaurant, her colleagues whispered of staff pushed too far, driven to despair by pressure and stress. There were tales of self-harm, violence, suicides.

Yet it was a global leader in, well, it was hard to say what it led—marketing, public relations, sales, stock trading. Complex and compartmentalised, the company slithered through boom and bust like a snake in the jungle. Staff who survived the rigorous culture, who wriggled into executive positions, became wealthy.


“Hi there, how are you today?” Phoebe addressed the heap of quilts piled on the pavement as she tucked some cash under the corner of the nearest duvet. It had become her daily ritual, though she found it hard to explain why. She was doing well in work, the money was small change, but she didn’t give to any other street beggar. Maybe it was the proximity to her workplace, that she felt safe enough to open her purse and plant some money in this one anonymous heap camped in the shadow of her company’s edifice. She’d never seen the recipient’s face—just the incongruous clean hand, reaching for the money.

“It’s been noticed you know,” Reese called from the pavement behind her. They’d shared a commuter route for over a year now, but Reese was arriving later and later these days.

Phoebe straightened up as Reese approached.

“Hold this a second,” Reese instructed, handing Phoebe her bag. “Don’t let the hobo steal anything.” Reese slipped off her commuting flats and replaced them with high-heeled court shoes.

“What’s been noticed?” Phoebe asked.

“Your obsession with this pile of rags. If Simon doesn’t like the company you keep, he’ll demote you. Our firm has a reputation to maintain.”

“That’s not all they notice,” said Phoebe in a stage whisper, but Reese had already overtaken her and pushed through the building’s entrance.

I’ve seen Simon check his watch when you walk in. I’ve seen him check your productivity logs. I’ve also seen him turn his lusty little eyes onto the new intern—you’ve let your standards slip, Reese. Phoebe shook her head and smiled, allowing that it was ok to be a bitch in the silence of your own head. Except her head was rarely silent these days.

“You can hear, can’t you?”

Phoebe looked down. The voice had come from the heap of quilts.

“Hear who? You? I didn’t think you’d spoken before; I mean, I thought you were asleep…”

“Or passed out, from the drink and drugs your friend thinks I’ve imbibed.”

“Uh, she’s no friend of mine, we just share an office, and she was just generalising, I mean, a lot of people in your situation do give in to… stuff.” Phoebe waved her hands around vaguely, trying to explain in gestures the impossible relationships between her and the people she spent the most time with, yet knew the least about.

“Hmmmm, yes, you’re no friend to her. You, who can hear her thoughts, who can see her struggling and does nothing. Is that why you leave me a pittance every day? To prove to yourself that you’re still a real person, with values, even when your soul is being washed down the drain?”

“How dare you judge me? I felt sorry for you.”

“No, you didn’t. Everyone can feel them, but only you and I can hear them. We’ve got more in common than you know.”

Phoebe turned her back and stomped into her office building, her thoughts a maelstrom of confusion.

How dare she? Why do I have to be kind all the time? Why can’t I cope? She always looks so together, taking time to speak to homeless people when I don’t have time for anything? What am I even doing here?

Phoebe stopped abruptly, only halfway to her desk. Not all those thoughts belonged to her.

“Phoebe’s daydreaming again!”

Reese, shrill as ever, never missed an opportunity to heckle.

I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe this is all I’m good for, taking people down, so they don’t notice how useless I am.

Phoebe looked around; these were definitely not her thoughts.

She strode over to Reese’s cubicle. Reese ducked her head down below the partition. When Phoebe peered over, Reese was resting her head on her keyboard, but Phoebe noticed the tissue in her colleague’s hand, stained with mascara and tears. The two women didn’t say anything. Phoebe returned to her own cubicle and drowned the whispers in her head in a flood of work.


The next day, Phoebe emerged from the underground station and trembled as a cold wind bore down on her, sweeping discarded newspapers and takeaway boxes along the street. There was always a breeze between the buildings, but today it was a gale, though the air had been still enough in the suburbs where she lived.

She pulled her heavy winter coat around her and tucked her chin into the faux fur collar, which may be why she walked straight into a woman walking towards the station.

“Steady on there.”

Phoebe felt a hand grasp her arm, helping her to regain her balance.

“Thank you. I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you.”

“No, you didn’t, you’ve never looked, but you can see me now.”

Phoebe looked down. The hand still clutching her arm was clean and small, yet for all its delicacy, she couldn’t pull away; no, she didn’t want to pull away. She looked across, at the woman’s face.

“It’s you, the hob— tram— homeless person that lives by our building.”

“Oh no, I don’t live there. I have a nice apartment a couple of miles away, in one of those blocks they built at the start of the concrete revolution in the sixties, back when they thought living in high towers would bring us closer to heaven.”

Phoebe looked at the woman in disgust. “You mean you’re some sort of professional beggar. What sort of scam are you running? If you can afford an apartment, you don’t need my £5.”

“No scam. I inherited the apartment when my mother died. That’s not all I inherited; she was a medium. She said I should listen to the testimony of the dead and, lately, I’ve come here to wait for you.”

“For me? Why? Look, I’m fed up with your hustle. Let go of me and don’t let me see you round our building again or I’ll call security.”

The woman tightened her grip.

“No hustle. Look, if I’m not mistaken, today is your awakening. This wind, I’ve never known it so strong—the dead are being drawn here, towards the day of the long dark. You are drawing them.”

Phoebe shook her arm loose.

“I’ll be outside when you need me,” the woman called as Phoebe walked away briskly. She was shaking, annoyed that she’d fallen for some scam. Then she remembered to check her bag—the woman had been close enough to pick her pocket. Distracted, she barely noticed a police car and an ambulance, blue lights flashing, skidding to a halt in front of her building.

Over the hubbub, she heard Reese’s voice in her mind.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, up, up, is this high enough? Got to be sure. Oh shit, they’re here to stop me. Now! yes yes yes.

Phoebe looked around, she couldn’t see Reese anywhere, then she saw a flash of red fabric and heard a thudding crunch as an… object… hit the pavement in front of her. She looked down and saw Reese’s ruined body, her face strangely untouched, though it looked as if the back of her head had been caved in by the impact.

Phoebe heard Reese’s voice in her head again.

Yes… up… high enough? Here to stop me. Now! yes yes yes followed by the sound of the impact then Yes… up… high enough?

Reese’s last thoughts replayed in Phoebe’s mind.

Phoebe sat on the kerb, shaking her head, trying to quiet Reese’s voice. But there was no silence in her mind. Reese’s voice was replaced by that of a stranger. Got to get that train, can’t be late for the meeting, if I don’t seal this deal I’m… then the squeal of brakes. Then the voice looped around. She shook her head again and realised that there were hundreds of voices in her mind, clamouring for her attention.

A cold wind buffeted her as she lifted her head. All around she saw shadowy figures falling from buildings, being crushed by the impact, then rising from the pavements and floating up before falling again. Rushing shadow commuters were mowed down by the traffic, bodies horribly mangled, then they rose again to run endlessly toward meetings they would never attend. The urgency of their thoughts made her stomach clench with anxiety, even as she cried over the futility of their deaths. She buried her head in her hands, pressing the collar of her coat against her ears. But blocking the street noises only made the voices in her head even louder.

A voice, a real voice, addressed her.

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Are you alright? Are you able to stand up? We need to clear the area so that our emergency teams can get to work.”

Phoebe stumbled to her feet, leaning heavily on the paramedic’s arm. All around her, real people, solid people, went about their business as the shadow ghosts whirled around them. The breeze of their passing tugged at tightly-buttoned coats, sweeping scarves and hoods from commuters’ heads.

“I’m ok, I just need a cup of tea, or something.”

“Did you see the fall? Did you know the deceased?”

“Not very well, we just worked in the same building.” Phoebe wrung her hands; Reese’s last thoughts were playing on repeat in her mind again.

“Ok, may I take your name and contact details? I’m sure the police will be in touch when the scene’s been cleared. You look frozen, get that tea and warm up.” The paramedic took Phoebe’s business card and handed it to a nearby police constable.

As Phoebe headed for a coffee shop across the road, she felt an arm link in hers. She looked down, it was the homeless woman.

“That was a hard awakening. Let me buy you a cup of tea, and a cake, the sugar will do you good, and let’s talk,” the woman said.

“Shouldn’t I be buying you the tea; you’re meant to be broke.”

The woman laughed and held up a handful of crumpled £5 notes.

“I’d say you’ve already paid.”


Phoebe stirred a sachet of sugar into her tea while the woman sipped a hot chocolate festooned with double cream and marshmallows.

“How are the voices now?” the woman asked, her voice soft and soothing.

Phoebe listened for a moment. “They’ve quietened down, like they can’t get through the door.”

“They tend to stay around the place that they died. You chose a good spot to rest—no one suffered an untimely death in this building. A few heart attacks, the original owner literally died of old age when he took a break, but nothing violent. Don’t you think it’s time you drank that tea?”

Startled by the matter-of-fact tone of the woman’s voice, Phoebe stopped stirring her tea and took a sip.

“What’s your name? Who are you?” Phoebe asked.

“My name is Eadie and I’m a listener.”

“A listener?”

“Yes, one who hears the dead. Not all of them, just the ones who had too much on their minds when they jumped under a train, or off a building, or just died through not paying attention to their surroundings. They repeat themselves over and over, for all eternity, as far as I can tell.”

“Fine. But what do you actually do?”

“Do? I listen, that’s all I can do. You’ve heard them. They’re trapped in their last thoughts; I can’t move them.”

“And that’s my life now? I have to listen to them, for all eternity?”

“No, you’re something else. I can sense it. You can do more—you’re the Facilitator.”


Phoebe strode towards the office building, assailed by the chill wind of the dead, their last thoughts ringing in her mind, repeating their hopeless litanies over and over and over again. She walked quickly, pausing briefly to tuck a £5 note under Eadie’s heap of blankets. A wry chuckle drifted from the heart of the heap, but the hand still emerged to grab the money.

Phoebe swiped her ID card at her building’s door and stood for a moment, blinking. The company had spared no expense in festooning the foyer in Christmas lights. Tasteful, of course, and arranged with the artistic care of a professional PR specialist, down to the cutesy paper baubles painted by toddlers in the local school. Nonetheless, she savoured the brightness. Outside, the shortest day already seemed to be racing towards sunset, even though it was barely nine a.m.

At her desk, she cherished the silence in her mind and the warmth of her sheltered cubicle, but she couldn’t concentrate. She’d met with Eadie most evenings, trying to understand the woman’s strange gift, and her own. She recalled the conversation they’d had just a week ago.

“My mother said there was only one Facilitator born in every generation.”

“What happened to the last one?”

“Mother didn’t know; she felt the Facilitator awaken, far away, but before mother could find her, the Facilitator’s presence vanished.”

“Do you think the Facilitator could shut off the thoughts? Control what she was hearing?”

“I don’t know. Mother said we would just have to mind our business until the next one—you—came along and facilitated the Reckoning.”

“What is the Reckoning?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” Phoebe had snapped.

“I know that you can hear the dead as well as I can. Instead of opening your beak like a needy baby bird, why don’t you try to learn for yourself. Reach out to the previous Facilitator—she’s probably dead, given how old she’d be.”

“I can do that? No, don’t tell me, you don’t know.”

“You’re right, I don’t know much. The Reckoning has something to do with the living and the dead when the veil thins at sunset on the Winter Solstice. Which is coming soon, whether you’re ready or not.”

Phoebe had spent the week reaching out to the previous Facilitator. She knew that they’d been far away from London, and that they were likely to have been in a big city.

Phoebe was surprised. She thought ghosts would congregate around mystic or holy burial sites, or in spooky churches in the woods. Eadie had laughed out loud when she’d voiced that opinion. The explanation was simple—cities were simply where the most people were, and where the most people died, though Eadie sometimes heard echoes from farms in rural areas, where agricultural accidents were common enough. The weather’s going to break. If I don’t fix the blockage in the combine harvester blades the crop will be ruined. The round bales weigh a ton, there’s no way they’d roll and crush anyone.

The Facilitator had awoken in Liverpool with no one to guide her, Phoebe now knew. The previous Facilitator’s final thoughts swirled around her mind.

I can’t believe I’m talking to the fucking Liver Birds, but they protect Liverpool, so protect me, make them stop, stop, stop! Then Phoebe heard the scrabble and scream as the Facilitator lost her balance and fell. But instead of the immediate looping repeat that Phoebe had expected, she heard a strange echo…

Why did you abandon us? Who will listen to us if you do not? Why weren’t you more careful?

She’d done a few searches and found the Facilitator’s name in a small report in a local newspaper published fifty years before. If Judy Smith’s alleged suicide hadn’t caused travel chaos for Christmas shoppers flocking to the city centre, her death might have gone utterly unremarked.

Eadie had promised that Phoebe wouldn’t go mad, that, if all else failed, there was a way to manage the voices. Though she also said that Phoebe wouldn’t like the solution.

The day passed too quickly. By four p.m., Phoebe couldn’t pretend to work any longer. The news channels on the screens all around the office were broadcasting weather warnings—gale force winds, risk of structural damage, travel disruption, transport agencies advising people to return to their homes as soon as possible. She looked around—most of her colleagues had already left, but if they’d said goodbye, she’d never noticed.

She stood up. A chill breeze teased at her hair and followed her as she walked to the cloakroom. She wrapped her coat around her as the breeze strengthened, then she heard a voice, Simon’s voice, in her head.

Fucking idiot, why did you jump? You knew it was just a fling, you stupid tart. You could have just left, I’d have given you a great reference, oh yeah. But you had to go and kill yourself. You almost got me sacked.

Phoebe looked around. Simon wasn’t there, but the breeze fluttered around Reese’s old workstation, strong enough to shake the cubicle’s partition. Loose sheets of paper fluttered into the air. As Phoebe approached, the computer on Reese’s desk turned itself on. In the screen’s crepuscular light, Reese’s ghost straightened up then ran to the stairwell that led to the roof. Phoebe fancied that Simon’s voice followed her.

Phoebe ran from the office. What did it mean? Was Simon dead? He couldn’t be—she’d seen him just an hour before. She guessed he’d left with the others, though he was more likely to sit out a storm in a wine bar than at home, with his wife and children.

As she stepped into the street, she was assailed by voices in her head, but the looped laments of the dead were muted by other loud, piercing cries.

How could you have left us? Did you not love me? Did you not love our children?

Didn’t I tell you to be careful? I knew your obsession with work would kill you!

How could you be so selfish!

How could you be so greedy? Fat use all your money is to you now!

A gale howled between the buildings as the dead crowded the streets in the darkness of the longest night.

“Come here, quickly!”

Phoebe staggered to the heap of quilts and squirmed into a soft, warm cave created by Eadie’s outstretched arms.

“What do you hear, Facilitator?”

“You mean you can’t hear them?”

“I only hear the dead. What do you hear?”

“I hear voices berating the dead. They’re being horrible, asking questions, accusing. It’s maddening. How can you make it stop? How can I lay them all to rest?”

“Do you think the dead want to rest?” asked Eadie.

“The dead seem to be oblivious, as preoccupied in death as they were in life,” Phoebe replied. She wrapped her arms around her head, the voices were so loud, she was afraid her skull would shatter under the pressure.

“Listen,” said Eadie. “I think I understand. You’re the Facilitator.”

“Yeah, ‘one who makes easy’, according to the dictionary. But nothing’s been easy, or obvious, so far.”

“It didn’t make any sense until tonight. I think you’re hearing the living. They’re calling to their dead. You’re here to make it easy for them to reach their dead.”

“Isn’t that your job?” Phoebe replied through chattering teeth. The ghosts of the dead were passing through the quilts, threatening to tear their protection away and expose the two women.

“No, I’m a medium—the medium through which the dead talk to the living. I’m not a two-way radio. But maybe together we can achieve something.”

Eadie grabbed Phoebe’s hands.

“Open yourself to the living. I’ll reach out to the dead. Maybe this connection—” Eadie shook Phoebe’s hands. “—will let them reach each other.”

The women stared into each other’s eyes and concentrated. Around them, the swirling wind coalesced into a cyclone, ripping the quilts away. Phoebe didn’t even flinch.

I need to get to the meeting, this traffic’s such a pain, maybe if I just dodge between these buses… Eadie chanted a ghost’s last thoughts. Phoebe replied with words from the living.

Your meeting was nothing, even your boss said so. What about meeting with your kids? You never rushed for any of them, you stupid fuck.

I need to get to the meeting, this traffic’s such a pain, maybe if I just dodge between these buses…

Eadie’s eyes were wide and filled with tears. “He hears, but he’s not listening. He doesn’t want to listen.”

“Try another,” said Phoebe.

Yes… up… high enough? Here to stop me. Now! yes yes yes followed by the sound of the impact then Yes… up… high enough?

“Reese, oh no, Reese, I’m so sorry!” Phoebe shouted, struggling to raise her voice above the howling of the wind and the insistent whine of Simon’s rage.

Fucking idiot, why did you jump? You knew it was just a fling, you stupid tart. You could have just left, I’d have given you a great reference, oh yeah. But you had to go and kill yourself. You almost got me sacked.

“No, Simon, shut up, you’re being an arse, let her rest.” Phoebe shouted.

“It’s ok,” Eadie whispered. “Reese is not listening, none of them are listening.”

Phoebe pulled her hands free and threw her arms around Eadie’s shoulders. The living were not listening either. This might be a Reckoning, but it was not a reconciliation.


The police found them the following morning. Eadie was dead. Hypothermia, the coroner later reported.

The paramedics thought Phoebe was also dead, her body was cold to the touch. But in the warmth of the ambulance, she revived. She recalled the doctor’s quip—‘You’re not dead until you’re warm and dead.’

She’d snorted then, little did he know—the dead were never truly dead. Eadie’s voice echoed through her head, her last pleas looping through her mind.

No! No! Why won’t you listen? Why won’t you hear their hurt and heal them?

A month later, Phoebe found that she had inherited all of Eadie’s possessions—a generous amount of money, enough to save Phoebe from the tyranny of work; Eadie’s modest apartment, one room filled with quilts; and a note.

Not all alcoholics are mediums, but all mediums are alcoholics. That’s the secret, get drunk, just enough to silence the voices, that’s the only way to get some rest. Be careful, don’t drink too much, death is not your friend, take it from me.


Phoebe peered out from her nest of quilts—the morning light hurt her eyes and her head was thumping from last night’s binge. It was safe to say that red wine was not the best way to drown the voices of the dead. Effective, yes, but not the best.

Commuters passed by, eyes sliding away from the heap of quilts, unwilling to see the apparent plight of the homeless person at their heart. No one left £5 notes for her, but she grabbed the few coins and bottle tops that were sometimes thrown at her feet. She saw Simon walk past, aiming a kick at her heap of quilts, his voice grating.

“I thought that the old biddy had died; honestly, poor people breed like rats, we’ll never be rid of them.”

She listened. On cue, Reese’s thoughts cut through her mind.

Yes… up… high enough? Here to stop me. Now! yes yes yes followed by the sound of the impact then Yes… up… high enough?

At dawn every day, Phoebe came to the city centre to listen to the dead. She felt she owed them, and Eadie, that much. At dusk, she returned to Eadie’s apartment, showered, ate, binged on alcohol. She experimented with different drinks, desperate to find the best blend to silence the hurricane of voices when the Reckoning came again, next winter.


Alex Grehy’s (she/her) work has been published worldwide and she is a past winner of the Toasted Cheese Dead of Winter contest. She is a regular contributor to The Sirens Call and the Ladies of Horror Flash Project. Her essays on her experiences as a “Lady of Horror” have been published in the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and The Horror Tree blog. Her sweet life is filled with narrowboating, rescue greyhounds, singing and chocolate. Yet her vivid prose, thought-provoking poetry and original view of the world has led to her best friend to say ‘For someone so lovely, you’re very twisted!

Closing Doors

Beaver’s Pick
Maithreyi Nandakumar

Photo of a chiffon scarf loosely hanging/fluttering in front of a window with light shining through the panes. The focus is on the scarf in the foreground; the window in the background is out of focus.

Photo Credit: glasseyes view/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

The doors around her kept swinging in the breeze. She tried to slam them shut but they were stubborn and wouldn’t close. How could they when everything needed so much maintenance?

Dharini went to make herself some tea and sat on her chair that faced the garden. Some of those doors had rickety hooks to hold them together and had never been strong. When she was in this big old house at night, the sound of their banging kept her company, reminding her of all the people in her life who had come and gone or disappeared. The French window opened into a wilderness, full of thorny brambles and deadly weeds. Dharini examined the scratches on her forearms—she ought to have worn a long-sleeved top before tackling the overgrowth. She struggled with the bindweed wrapped tightly like a thick plait around the wild roses and imagined it winding around her. Here she would stand, take root, become a mummified tree with bindweed blooms to decorate her body. She moved backwards to pull more effectively and fell on top of the wilful plants and lay there, stuck. By the time she extricated herself, her clothes had ripped, and her hair literally had been through a hedge.

Dharini sighed at the brilliant sunshine that was yet to subside on this long summer’s day and it hurt to see everything turned on high volume—the light, the birds, the noise inside her head that made her thoughts play on a loop, in that familiar cycle. She had learnt to live with it, to ride the darkness within and allow those doors to keep on swinging.

First thing that morning, she’d walked to the collection centre of the post office to pick up a parcel that had come in her name. They must’ve tried to deliver when she hadn’t bothered to answer the doorbell yesterday. She trudged all the way up the busy roads, across the zigzag traffic lights, past the shops selling cheap plastic buckets and mops, under the thundering railway bridge, and then that bleak stretch with care homes, walking past expensive vehicles and their bad-tempered grunting in the stationary traffic.

As she stood in the queue, she kept hearing planes up above—some were labouring against gravity, as if climbing an invisible mountain, some sounded like racing cars at peak volume. Dharini waited, sweating in her dress, thighs chafed from the walk, wondering who would have sent her anything. It made her more than a little nervous. When it was her turn, she glanced at the man serving customers, one of her tribe—a painted red streak on his forehead, and clearly unimpressed at her dishevelled appearance. Dharini produced her driving license as ID and collected the box and shuffled out before she blurted out a request for a knife to prise it open then and there to examine the contents and possibly leave them behind. She squinted at the sender’s address, but the box had a dent where the label had been damaged.

All day it remained on the kitchen worktop amongst the overflowing stuff that she had not bothered to put away or declutter. She reached for it and held the lightweight parcel on her lap. She shook it and heard a vague rustle—it seemed empty. Opening the drawer next to her chair, she took out a dinner knife and jabbed at the thick tape. She knew who it was from as she recognised the handwriting and the packaging technique. In a flash, she was taken back to their holiday in Tunisia. They’d come up with a plan to pack a large cardboard box full of dirty clothes to mail it back to England, so that they could carry the fragile colourful ceramics in their luggage. Dharini smiled at the memory of shopping at the Aladdin’s Cave with its courtyard full of tagines and stunning platters hanging on the high walls.

Why now? After years of abrupt silence, was this an attempted rapprochement?

As she tackled the gaffer tape, she remembered an earlier gift, a marble coaster that read, “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the nicest things you can be.”

Dharini snorted loudly as the tape burst open along with the cardboard flaps. There was more opaque packaging inside, the contents still a mystery. Using scissors to cut the thick plastic, she pulled out an unmarked envelope and noticed that there were none of the embellishments of before. Dharini’s name wasn’t written in glitter pen with quirky sketches. Inside, the card read To Dharini, Happy Birthday, From H, in a carefully artistic swirl. Dharini swallowed down disappointment at the lack of anything personal or remotely affectionate. No more ‘Dear Dharini’ or ‘Love H’.

So, that night, when she was in bed, she pulled open her laptop and emailed a polite thank you note. “Very kind of you to remember my (landmark) birthday, Dharini.” She shut down the machine and placed it on the floor and fingered the thin piece of indigo chiffon with the pattern of fine fronds—it was a good choice, she’d allow her that much.

Where would she wear it, though? Dharini turned off the lamp and heard the door banging downstairs. She lugged herself out of bed and went down to tie this wisp of chiffon to close the damn thing.


Maithreyi Nandakumar is a writer of fact, fiction, and verse. A former BBC journalist, her stories and poems have been published in print, on radio and online. She’s working on a second novel—a family saga tracing back to a 10th century puzzle and meandering through to the present day. She lives mostly in Bristol, UK but can also be found in London and Chennai.

Get This Body Out of Here

Creative Nonfiction
Jason Irwin

Lake Erie shoreline in New York. The lake is a flat dark grey with low white-capped waves rolling in. The sky is fully obscured by gray clouds, a paler shade than the water. On the left side are some evergreen trees and brush. Behind them, a bit of land juts out into the lake. The brush in the foreground is a mix of green, yellow, orange, and red foliage.

Photo Credit: Michel G./Flickr (CC-by-nc)

“Jay! Jay!” my mother howled from the back bedroom. I rushed to where she lay coiled in a fetal position at the foot of her hospital bed.

“You better get this body out of here,” she commanded. “I died an hour ago.”

I was about to reach out to touch her, to brush her hair away from her face and try to calm her. Instead, I pulled back and stood staring at what she’d become. Purple veins, like dried up tributaries, spread across the sallow topography of her chest. The twin peaks of her clavicle threatened to puncture her skin with each labored breath. Her dark doe eyes held me in their watery gaze, boring into me, feral and pleading, as if I had the power to free her from her torment. At least those were the thoughts that raced through my mind.

“What are you talking about? You’re not dead,” I snapped, instantly realizing how bothered I sounded, how annoyed, as if I were talking to a petulant child. My mother was dying and all I could do was watch her die. It was five a.m. I hadn’t slept well since my mother moved in three weeks earlier. I had to leave for work in an hour.


Six months earlier, before we had any inkling my mother was ill, my partner Jenny and I drove to Dunkirk, New York—my hometown—to spend the weekend with her. It was July, a couple of weeks before my forty-seventh birthday. My mother was feeling good, so we decided to go for a drive. The sun was a hazy ball in a sky crisscrossed with contrails. Everything smelled of fresh cut grass, wildflowers, and diesel.

My mother rolled down her window and let the wind sweep across her face. Bob Dylan crooned from the CD player: “Someday baby you ain’t gonna worry po’ me anymore.” Grape vineyards rose and fell to our right, while on the left, the cement gray waters of Lake Erie passed in and out of view like the back of a whale.

We drove through Silver Creek and the Seneca reservation to Athol Springs, where we sat outside on a restaurant patio overlooking the lake—the Buffalo and Lackawanna skylines in the distance. A flock of white windmills stood on the shore where, when I was a child, the mills of Bethlehem Steel towered and spewed dark plumes of smoke and grime.

Jenny and my mother ordered porterhouse steak with mashed potatoes, while I had walleye, coleslaw and fries. My mother and I posed for a photograph, our shoulders leaning into one another, our smiles wide.


Two years before that summer day, my mother had suffered a stroke. We were in the habit of talking on the phone at least three times a day. Sometimes more. I called her during my lunch break, and while walking to the bus stop after work. She called to tell me what was happening in Dunkirk, what she’d heard on the news, or to remind me it was my turn at Scrabble, which we played on Facebook. Yet she waited two days before mentioning that she might have had a stroke.

It was a Friday in May. I called several times, but she didn’t answer. The day before she’d sounded groggy, a bit confused. She told me she had a terrible headache and was going to lie down.

“You can call me later,” she said. “But I might not answer.”

When she finally did answer, about 3:30 the following afternoon, her voice slurred.

“I think I had a stroke,” she said.

“Last night?”

“No, Wednesday.”

“That was two days ago!”

I hung up and called the Dunkirk Police. That night I drove to Erie, Pennsylvania, where she had been taken by ambulance to Hamot Hospital. My mother had suffered an ischemic stroke due to a buildup of plaque in her carotid arteries.

Even though my mother hadn’t received immediate care, care that may well have prevented her from losing the use of her left arm, she was lucky. Her mind wasn’t affected. She remained sharp and quick-witted as ever. Even her sarcasm was intact. Doctors put a stent in one of her arteries and after a few days she was released. Her doctors suggested she go to a rehab facility for a few weeks, but my mother refused. She was adamant about going home to her apartment. I’d asked her to move in with Jenny and me, but she refused that as well. Every time I asked she refused, saying she didn’t want to be a burden, that she needed her own space, that she loved her apartment. With the help of a walker, a home health aide, and an unyielding determination, she did manage to live on her own a few more years, hiding behind a facade of independence and fearlessness.


Now, as I stood over my mother, the early morning sky outside the window transformed from black to a dull chrome. That summer day along the lake and the intervening years of her “independent living” seemed like a lifetime ago.

I watched my mother watching me. Her eyes followed mine as I tried to look away, embarrassed and frightened by my sudden outburst of anger, for the truth I refused to accept. Images of Kafka’s hunger artist flashed in my mind, and I grew dizzy. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion, distorted somehow, like we were being pulled by some centrifugal force. It was how I’d felt as a child, on the operating table when the doctor put the ether mask over my mouth and the lights grew brighter and I thought I was being swallowed by their radiance until the darkness devoured me.

Get this body out of here! she’d yelled. Had she been dreaming? Was it a premonition? Or had the cancer spread to her brain? There were signs, but maybe I chose not to acknowledge them.

A few days earlier, I’d come home from work to find her sitting in the gray armchair looking on the floor as if she’d dropped something, her rosary perhaps, or a prayer card.

I asked what she was looking for and she smiled as if she suddenly understood the ridiculousness of it all.

“I thought my head fell off,” she’d said. “I was trying to find it.”

Now she was convinced she’d already died, and her corpse lay before her on the bed. “You’re not dead,” I said, as if trying to convince myself.

“Take my pulse then.”

I took her hand in mine and pressed my finger to her wrist, where the vein bulged. I could feel her eyes on me. I closed my eyes and counted to myself.

“Well?” she said, as if she knew the answer. When I admitted I was unable to find a pulse, she looked at me with a mix of frustration and disappointment, as if I’d somehow betrayed her. It was a look she’d given on nights, in my twenties, when I’d come home drunk, insisting I’d only had a beer or two. It was a look that said, “Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m your mother, remember?” It was a look that said, “See, I told you so.”


Jason Irwin is the author of the three full-length poetry collections most recently The History of Our Vagrancies (Main Street Rag, 2020), and two chapbooks. He was a 2022 Zoeglossia Fellow and has also had nonfiction published in various journals including the Santa Ana Review and The Catholic Worker. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

His Own Blood

Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson

Photo of a lake with trees growing right up to the edge of the water. A female moose, followed by her calf, are exiting the water. The adult moose is large and dark brown; the younger moose a lighter brown. The younger moose is still swimming toward shore while the adult moose has just got her footing on the shoreline. The trees are bright yellow-green and this color is reflected on the lake. Some dead trees, with gray trunks and bare branches are scattered amongst the living foliage.

Photo Credit: E_Bass/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Life jacket on, paddle in hand, seated in the front, he pulled against the water, and they glided on the lake, and his father’s strong strokes pushed them forward past the point, and the world unfolded in front of him. His paddle dipped and splashed and moved the water. Whirlpools came spinning with every pull. They were camping. He was camping. They were here, out in the wilderness, just him and his dad, and his mum was a long long car ride away in the city, maybe sitting down to lunch, with voices coming out of the radio to keep her company, and a chair to sit on and a bed to sleep in. They didn’t have that—just a tent and a bedroll and a sleeping bag. That’s how they would live. Camping.

“Are we going to see any animals?”


“Like what?”

“Frogs, snakes. Loons. Maybe a beaver or a muskrat.”

“Anything bigger?”

“Maybe a bear or a moose.”

“A bear. Is that scary?”

“It could be. But if you’re smart, it won’t bother you.”

“Have you ever seen a bear?”

“A few times.”

“And a moose?”

“No, never a moose. But I’d like to see one. I’d like that a lot.”

They ran up onto the shore, sandy with stray rocks, and he jumped out of the boat, and his feet got wet; he pulled the canoe up, and his dad stepped out and handed him his paddle. They stacked the two knapsacks and his father’s life jacket in a pile under a tree. His father picked up the canoe, jerked it onto his head, disappeared beneath it, and started up the trail. He followed with the life jackets on a paddle, their armholes threaded through the shaft, walking in the cool dark of the forest, hearing the buzz of the mosquitoes as they circled and landed and bit while he had both hands full. Ahead of him, the upside-down yellow canoe moved through the forest with his father’s torso and legs emerging beneath it. The path rose, and he walked more quickly to keep his dad in sight. The wind blew, and all around the trees rustled; the leaves shivered, and the light and shadows trembled and jumped. Downhill, coming into the open, there was a new lake in front of him, and it looked the same as the last, but different. There were dead tree stumps in still water and lily pads, and thin reeds stretching up, reaching too high and drooping over, and sometimes their tips touched the water again. His father dropped the boat half into the water and put the back end between two rocks where it stood high on the shore and safe so it wouldn’t blow away. Paddles and life jackets lay against a tree, and he focused on the mosquito on his forearm and slapped it; a splat of blood jumped onto his pale skin.

“Look, Dad, I got him. I killed him. Look at the blood.”

“That’s your blood.”


“Yes. That mosquito sucked it out of you. What did you think it was doing when it bit you?”

He’d killed the mosquito, but it was his own blood smeared on his arm. He stood still, looking at the bright red splat and the black ball of the bug on the back of his wrist, and frowned before scampering back up the path to catch up to his father.

The smear of blood was still on his arm when they set up the tent on a flat pad of pine needles in an opening in the woods. He unfolded the poles, snapped them into place, following his father’s instructions, and threaded them through the fabric of the tent. His father fit the points of the poles into the holes at each corner, and the tent rose, creating a pocket of space where they would sleep.

Later, at night, lying in bed in the darkness, he heard his dad’s breathing in the sleeping bag next to his; rain pattered on the fly, and thunder rolled in the distance. Sudden flashes of light interrupted the darkness, the plunk of drops on the fly reverberated through the tent, his father snored. They were in this great wilderness, alone in the middle of it, just his dad and him. More noises: footsteps, the splash of the water against the rocks, something walking along the shoreline.

Then light, bright through the nylon of the tent—everywhere all at once. He blinked twice, looked around, and remembered. Through the mesh, he saw his dad sitting by the fire, drinking coffee. Stepping out of the tent in his pajamas, into the wet Crocs waiting on the undersheet, he greeted his dad, and started down the path to the box. The mist swirled on the lake, the path was damp, and the sun, low in the blue sky, threw shadows across the trail. Lifting the lid of the box, he looked out into the marsh and saw them. Two of them. One large moose and a second, smaller, the child; they stood in the mist of the shallow bay. He was looking at the moose—the moose his dad had never seen. Two! He would call him to come and see; he would be the one to find the moose for his dad. He imagined telling his mother that he had found the moose.

“Dad,” he called.

The big moose looked up, its doe eye, large and round, querulous and calm, found him as he stood and looked out on the bay. “Dad,” he called again, louder, desperate, feeling the urgency. The two moose turned as one and took unhurried steps to the shoreline. The underbrush parted; they walked into the green of the forest and disappeared. “Dad,” he screamed in despair.

Footsteps running in the woods; his father calling his name. His dad arrived, but the moose were gone.


Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson is a writer who lives in Toronto with his partner and their two children. He won the 2021 Black Orchid Novella Award for his story “The Man Who Went Down Under” which was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In 2022, he won third prize in the Toronto Star Short Story Contest for his story, “The Unfinished Book.”

Anniston, Alabama

Shoshauna Shy

Square-cropped photo with a white border and rounded corners. Partial view of a U.S. five-dollar bill at a diagonal on a wood surface. The portrait of Abraham Lincoln is in the bottom left corner of the photo. "S OF AMERICA" is visible on the top edge and "LLARS" at the bottom edge of the bill, as well as 5s in the right-side corners. To the right of the image of Lincoln is a red seal over the word FIVE. Above this is a serial number in red; below this is a signature (C. Douglas Dillon) and "SERIES 1963."

Photo Credit: J. Money/Flickr (CC-by)


Elsie’s father bragged at breakfast how he had special radar, could tell when anybody was lying to him. Turning ten years old on Tuesday, Elsie decided to test that out. While he was mowing the lawn, Elsie removed a five-dollar bill from his wallet lying on the nightstand, and slipped it into her sock against her shin. She had overheard her mother say on the phone just yesterday that they were finally rich enough to jet off to California. Elsie figured, since that was the case, her dirty deed would go unnoticed.

She decided to ask Melvina, the household’s beloved cook and housekeeper, to take her uptown on the bus so Elsie could buy them both ice cream cones at Lickety Split, and even Hershey bars for later. She’d say she had “birthday money” to spend. She pictured the woman’s face lighting up with pleasure.

Elsie did not picture Melvina in the front yard crying while her father stood on the verandah shouting at the top of his lungs, Melvina pleading he believe her, pleading he let her stay.


Author of five collections of poetry, Shoshauna Shy’s flash fiction has recently appeared in the public arena courtesy of 50-Word Stories, Blink Ink, Free Flash Fiction, and Nixes Mate Review.  She was also one of the seven finalists for the 2021 Fish Flash Fiction Prize, will be included in the Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology in 2022, and earned a Notable Story distinction in Brilliant Flash Fiction’s 2022 contest.

Not Far

Tim Love

Photo of a lawn with unmown grass. A small light blue toy car is in the bottom left corner. Some of the paint is worn off the car. A couple chunks of wood/sticks are nestled in the grass in the upper right.

Photo Credit: Rachel Beer/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

I watch our grandson from our kitchen window. He’s not used to a long back garden like ours. He’s crawled right to the end and found a piece of wood that he’s pushing to and fro making BrrmBrrm noises.

He likes playing down there, in his own little world, winter and summer. “This was your dad’s,” I tell him, giving him a racing car I found in the loft. There’s a coiled spring inside so when he pulls it back and lets go, it surges forwards across the grass. “Wow, thanks Gran!” he says, doing it again and again. He doesn’t seem to care that he’s getting no closer to the house.

Now he’s made the car all by himself out of Lego and is pushing it through the unmown grass, screeching round daisies. When he pushes down, wheels come off. He patiently mends it and continues towards me.

But the radio-controlled jeep lurches too fast, veering wildly into the rosebushes halfway down the garden. “The controls are too sensitive,” he says. “I’ll let the batteries run down”—turning the jeep on its back and revving. His grandad would have hated the whine.

The rest happens so quickly. In no time at all he’s back in the house. “Come on, Gran,” he says, lowering me into my wheelchair. “On your marks. Get set. Go!” He tilts me, kisses the top of my head, then wheelies me out to his new car, each little bump agony though I don’t say. My case is already in the back. He lifts me onto the passenger seat, wheels the chair back into the house, locks up, and sits beside me, resting a hand on my knee. “Dad’s waiting for us there. It’s not far. Ready, then?” he asks.

I nod, not looking back at the house that has been my life, that I know I’ll never see again.

“It’s electric,” he says. “Just feel the acceleration.”


Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Unthology, etc. Twitter: @TimLoveWriter | Facebook | Instagram: @timlove136