Author Archives: Editor

Winter Garden

In the garden she sprinkles nuts on the bird table, breaks the ice on the pond and throws in fish food. If the wind is blowing she'll light a bonfire and stare into the flames until there's nothing left but charred ends. He was always the feeder, she – the burner. She takes a spade from the rack of tools and looks over the overgrown vegetable patch. Since he went nothing had grown but weeds. She slices into the heavy winter soil and turns a sod, then another, then another. Soon the plot is weed-free, loamy and ripe for seed. She digs deep, straight furrows, marked with twine tied around sticks. She plants his expensive secateurs, his fleece-lined gardening gloves and calibrated dibber. She tears open his packets of seed and sows them onto the bonfire's embers. Some of them pop and crackle, others just hiss.
by
Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to wintergarden@adhocfiction.com

Mutability

Pair the socks, he says. She couples black with blue, red with green. Tidy the tins. She mixes tomatoes with beans. Sort the rubbish. She plants cress seeds in a yoghurt pot. Highlight the nouns and verbs, he says. She underlines adverbs and adjectives too. Memorise the eight times table. She learns six, seven and nine. Write three hundred words on your favourite character. She writes three thousand and could go on. Be back by ten, he says. She doesn't come home. Don't go out alone at night. She hitches to London. Phone once a week. She calls him every day. At college, she studies the physiology of a horse, adds a horn. Takes a fin from a fish, gives it an engine, splinters the sky, explodes a shed. Hangs it in a gallery. What a mess, he would say, if only he could.
by
Alison Woodhouse
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to mutability@adhocfiction.com

Gaps

Clearing out their mother's house they found bunches of hair tied with satin ribbons at the back of the drawers in the dark wood dressing table. Not their hair. They were both curly. This hair was straight, long and silky, the colour of warm honey. Had it been hers? But they'd seen pictures of her as a child, always short hair and darker than this. They sat on the edge of the bed and looked at it lying there between them, a puzzle forever unsolved. They thought of all the gaps that could never be filled.
by
Andrea Harman
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to gaps@adhocfiction.com

Directions

Lost are you? Yeah I know where that is. Turn left here, trip over the uncollected rubbish, walk quickly through Cardiff’s most vandalised park, past the sleeping drunks. Make your way past the shooting galleries. Cross by a Tesco’s. Walk past a wheezing accordion played by a Romanian woman who dreams of home. Step back from being hit by a cyclist. Cross by a Tesco’s. Stroll past the pub of your youth. Cross before the probation office and those who congregate in its damp shadow. Up the steps to the shiny glass foyer. Flash your card to security. Wait for a lift. Press 10 for the 10th floor. Turn left. Swipe your time card. Walk through the double doors. Make your way to your desk. Log on to your workstation. Answer the phone. There, there it is. The rest of your life. You can't miss it.
by
Paul Jenkins
@fourfoot
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to directions@adhocfiction.com

Nature Plays No Favourites

On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-June at twenty-two minutes past three, for reasons best known to herself, Gravity took a brief time out. As her name would suggest, there was nothing intentionally ironic about it, but among the abundance of subsequently well-documented fantastical events, chiefly involving floating objects of animal/vegetable/mineral nature no longer invisibly tethered to this planet, and getting caught up in varying degrees of chaos, there was one incident which stood out to me, a student of cold fact versus hot possibility: that of an adrenaline junkie selfie-taker, who, at just after twenty-one minutes past three, lost his grip on the railings of a high rise intended as a spectacular backdrop, and plummeted seven seconds too early for the freak of nature to be of any benefit to him.
by
Anya Cates
@anycats
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to natureplays@adhocfiction.com

The Waller

I pass the waller sometimes, at the highest points on the moors. I hear him before I see him, the ‘plink plink’ of his tools on the lichened stones, like the call of a bird. He’s mute to most folk but over the years I’ve got the odd weather word from him, ‘damp’ or ‘fair’, nothing more. No-one knows who’s paid him for the miles of walling he’s built or repaired, criss-crossing the cruel landscape. I’ve never seen him eat or rest or wear anything to keep warm other than a dust encrusted tweed jacket, even when the wind has cut your face like a blade. Today the moors are white with frost and a crinkle of snow and he said it was ‘crisp’. The ‘plink plink’ recedes into the silence as I walk. When I turn he’s disappeared, absorbed into the stone and bones of the country.
by
Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to thewaller@adhocfiction.com

How would you rate your overall experience on a scale of 1 to 5?

She found scoring questionnaires difficult and everything nowadays requested a score. The butchers, the library, even her last smear test, 5 for the young doctor and biscuits. Now the dating website wanted her to rate last night. He'd arrived before she did 5, bearded 1, and the meal was nice, although there could have been more of it 4. She’d have appreciated less talk of the ex-wife 2. He'd paid 5, and she couldn’t remember the last time a man had put a hand up her skirt in a pub carpark 4. Sex on her kitchen worktops had been a refreshing change 4, although the earth hadn’t moved 2, but then it never did for her, so perhaps 3. She’d never liked sharing her bed 1, but he had left the toilet spotless 4 and went early 5. Average 3. Average was normal.
by
Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to overallexperience@adhocfiction.com

I know the constellations

My father taught me their names. Orion the hunter. His jewelled belt, three bright stars together. The easiest to find, my father said. Behind Orion, Sirius. The twins, Castor and Pollux. He bent down. Pointed. Told me stories. We take the narrow road through the desert, turn towards Elephant Rock. Watch the colours fade from gold, pass round small crescent-shaped biscuits. Tonight there is no moon, the desert quiet, each breath a whisper. The brightness of planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Venus. Milky Way. Orion, Cassiopeia. Falling stars so close I could reach out, cup one in my hand, and run to my father with unfurling fingers crying, "See what I have brought you."
by
Marjory Woodfield
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to constellations@adhocfiction.com

Poses to Assist Domestic Bliss

I seem to have inadvertently taken up aerial yoga. I was at the top of a ladder, changing a light bulb, when I slipped, grabbed onto the nearest curtain, and landed in the middle of an inverted asana. I've been dangling for hours now. No urge to come back down. Possibly ever. Our downward dog looks up at me as I settle into lotus and block out my teenage children’s demands for food. Goodness, they have terrible posture. I could show them how to fix that, but they wouldn’t listen. My husband tells me he appreciates that I’m taking a stand and he will consider my position – or he would, if I’d choose one and stay in it for more than a minute – when I stop being silly. So I shift into cobbler’s pose, knowing he won’t get the joke. Namaste.
by
Karen Jones
@karjon
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to posestoassist@adhocfiction.com

Rubric

It sleeps in the crook of my arm, head nestled into my chest. It's been three days now but we're surviving. I peel small strips of bark from the trees and it sucks the green tinged sap from the wood. Drops of water shed from the tips of leaves, I open its mouth to catch them. It cries sometimes. I think its the wind, brawling in the trees above us. I cup its ears and after a while it stops. Looks up at me. Smiles. Under shelter, I tell it stories. They fall from my mouth, inviolate and beautiful. These days seem to pass like years of dreaming and forgetting. It's funny. Back home. My name scrawled across newspapers. Official files, rubrics, questions, answers, stories - my name. Pages and pages of my name. Those same pages. Born here. Made from this very wood.
by
Tom Manson
@man_son15
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to rubric@adhocfiction.com

Moving

When we moved Kieran's bed, we found a carpet of dust as thick as a fat man's finger, exactly the same shape and size as the bedframe. Dead skin, shed hairs, three red paperclips. "Have we got time to hoover?" I asked. I got a stare: "All the years we've lived here, NOW you want to do some housework?!" We had to step around Kieran on the stairs. I lightly bumped the top of his head with one of my boxes, “Ooh this is heavy!” No offer of help. He wouldn't talk to either of us as we drove off, just stared out the back passenger window. We followed the moving van, listening to Ken Bruce doing 'Pop Master'. Occasionally, we'd hear the odd right answer mumbled from behind us. We hoped the new place would bring happier times. My dad hadn't been the same since his accident at work.
by
Nick Black
@fuzzynick
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to moving@adhocfiction.com

Crazy Angles

I came home and the house didn’t look the same anymore. It was set at crazy angles. When I opened the refrigerator, it slammed shut before I could choose my food. The water in the tub leaked out when I stepped in. The cat tried to climb up the kitchen floor to get her food, which eventually came to her. When the doorbell rang, it rang in strange tones and the man at the door wore his glasses crooked. He asked if I noticed that my house was going to fall. You came home and acted as if nothing had changed though your beer poured with ridiculous curves. “Tonight,” you said, “let’s try something different. Let’s have sex at crazy angles and see how it makes us feel.” “Crazy,” I said, and slipped off the couch and slid down the floor into the bedroom.
by
Trasie Sands
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to crazyangles@adhocfiction.com

Erosions

Time has painted us differently. His features have been etched carefully. He has delicate laughter lines around his mouth and eyes; dots and dashes of grey in his thick blond hair; eyes, although a fraction paler, are still a bright, sparkling blue. I, on the other hand, have been coarsely decorated. Thick streaks of grey run through my thinning dark hair; my once chocolate eyes are now a dull, muddy brown; my wrinkles deep and my jowls low. He’s waiting for me at the table in the corner. Waiting for my twenty-year old self, my best social media self, but that’s not who he’ll be getting. I take one last look and walk to the nearest bus stop.
by
Laura Besley
@laurabesley
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to erosions@adhocfiction.com

Ice Fishing

Once, when I was a kid, I ran out onto the frozen lake near my house and fell through one of the ice fishing holes. Nearly drowned. I don’t know why I keep thinking of it. My wife and I are getting rid of a lot of stuff, trying to get ready to move. We’ve got old records, a complete dining set, an unused cradle, even a vintage gramophone, all pitched out in the front yard ready for sale. We’re headed back to the city, I got a job waiting for me there. To be honest, things are kind of testy between us lately. She’ll go into the bedroom and watch TV or she’ll be in the kitchen doing dishes. And I’ll talk, and it’s like banging on a cellar door, opening it and finding the steps go down for miles. Nothing but pitch black.
by
John Murphy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to icefishing@adhocfiction.com

Nom de guerre

My name was always inadequate. It got me into fights as a kid. I could hear the whispers whenever I started a new class at uni. At 25, I couldn't take it anymore. I had it legally changed to a striking two syllables that got me laid twice in the first week. It was a new unstoppable me. I was walking on air. I started learning French, went hiking in the Himalayas, got a higher-paying job. I quit after three months and landed a better one. I juggled three girlfriends. Even had a threesome with one of them and her roommate. Yesterday I set up a co-worker to do something illicit and I reported her. Got her fired and got me a raise for being committed to the company. Old me tried to complain but I shut him up. Forever. That wuss wouldn't have made it. Not with that disgraceful name.
by
Javier Gómez
@fictionalroots
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to nomdeguerre@adhocfiction.com

Astronauts

The day they started to build the rocket was the day she had her first kiss; he tasted like marzipan. Afterwards, at school, the boy called her dirty, she didn’t care. They wrote letters to The Committee, which the teacher promised to send. 'I like animals—' 'I have two brothers—' 'Please—' Later she found them in the bin, ripped to pieces. By the time it was finished, there she’d be, on the swings, fizzing with cheap wine and kisses that tasted like earth, its dark bulk waiting like a fist. She graduated from wine and kisses on a dog-haired sofa as the astronauts departed. At the very end, when the rocket was just another star in the sky, it was the taste of almonds she remembered most, and the deep-down gut ache as she swung through the dark.
by
Victoria Benstead-Hume
victoriabensteadhume.com
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to astronauts@adhocfiction.com

Several Thoughts Run Through Your Mind When You Lock Yourself Out Of Your Hotel Room

Your phone sitting on that little table under the window with the view of the hills for one, the bath filling with water for another. How deep is it now? You hope the overflow works. And why on earth did you ask room service for breakfast in your room, maybe then you wouldn't have opened the door on suspicion of a knock, and maybe you wouldn't have stepped into the corridor to see where they’d got to; and if you'd given any thought to the situation beforehand the suitcase you keep tripping over could have acted as a doorstop. After confirming brute force alone isn't going to open the door the only option left is to ride the lift down to reception, if only you remembered you were naked before the doors closed.
by
CR Smith
@carolrosalind
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to severalthoughts@adhocfiction.com

Walter's Quest

You need twelve for a set. Walter looks at the row and sees awkwardness and unevenness in eleven. His eyes jump; he’d rather they flow. Without interruption. And so it is that he sets out to look for the twelfth. He will search the universe if need be, he tells himself with gritty certainty. But Walter sees the answer in a diagram in the new catalogue on his mother’s kitchen table. It means a trip to Ikea. He takes a number thirteen bus. How he wishes it were a twelve and then his odyssey would be unnecessary. The brown sheepskin rugs are on sale in aisle fourteen. If only it were aisle twelve. He shakes his head, taking his mother’s large shears from his knapsack. Walter cuts the sheepskin as per the diagram and drapes the resulting cape around his shoulders. His eyes flow. He has the set.
by
S.B. Borgersen
@sueborgersen
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to waltersquest@adhocfiction.com

Silence Sounds Hopeful

Silence sounds hopeful, but we have been scarred by hope. The ramp’s clank and rumble came after hours of canting and swaying in stifled air. Then, we weaved and juddered, rumbled through a town before the steady roar of open roads. We dared then to lift the covers, breathe cooler air. Now, silence. Or rather, the distant soar of cars, scoring the quiet. No other sounds, no dogs, no questioning voices. No driver. We have only heard, not seen him. We saw the agent, as he called himself, all cheekbones and insistence, ushering us on. We clutched water bottles and our nerves close to ourselves. To move, he said, endangered everyone. Now, the air is thick, the truck cramped with limbs thick from stasis. I recall again the village that I fled, the choice then as guns raged, to hide or run. My legs ache for movement and I rise.
by
John Herbert
@jherbertwriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to silencesoundshopeful@adhocfiction.com

You Will

You will arrive from the Metro and breath in the eclectic air and wonder about all the things you’ll do. You will rent an apartment on 35th Street overlooking a mural of Dali. You will laugh with new friends. You will play at coffee shops. You will ask and ask, but they won’t listen to it, despite your persistence. You will know poverty. You will sweep floors. You will drag pallets. You will bus tables. You will busk street corners (6th and 33rd will be one of your favorite haunts). You will feel lost at sea. You will meet someone. You will break-up. You will still play at coffee shops. You will sleep on strange sofas. You will cut the fingers off your gloves at the knuckle. And yet, you will sing soft melodies to the cool raindrops that patter your window at night, and you will understand why.
by
John Murphy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to youwill@adhocfiction.com