Author Archives: Editor

Breaking Dad

Through the crackled panel of the door you see him lying at the foot of the stairs; a grisly painting in mosaic. Blue of the pyjamas he's been wearing since Thursday, white of the skin that never sees sunshine, and crimson of something terrible... up near his head. The picture is all joined together like the tiles on an ancient temple's floor. Beautiful but damaged. Yesterday he had been more difficult than usual. Said that without her he didn't know what to do with himself. Every morning he got out of bed and just wanted to die. You shrugged it off. He has always been melodramatic. Even before the heavy curtain came to lock his memories down. She is in hospital and your only job was not to break dad while she was gone. You fumble the key in the door, your heart pounding.
by
Debbi Voisey
@DublinWriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

A Private Thing

It’s her across the landing’s turn to clean the close. I have to tell her every time, even though she knows the rota fine well. I make sure they know the drill when they move in, but young ones are that lazy these days. Not like it used to be. We took pride in the closes when I was a young bride. Just as important as how you kept your ain flat. Haven’t seen her for a couple of days. The usual shouting and banging, her screaming, weans crying, him stomping off, hasn’t been happening. It’s been quiet for a while. Just the weans crying now and then, but softer. None of my business, mind. Marriage is a private thing. But it’s her turn to clean the close, so I’ll give her door a chap later. Aye. Later. Or maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just clean the close myself.
by
Karen Jones
@karjon
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Mudskipper

You came in a rush when the river rose, my waters breaking as the dam burst upstream. Your screams rasped like mewling cats. As we clustered on rooftops you sucked hungrily at the air. It was only when the waters receded that your colic calmed. We would lay you on a blanket outside while we dripped sweat over the reconstruction, watching the mudskippers flip and flop across their aqueous domain. Each unlikely flight pulled your eyes wide with wonderment. Today, I read about the mudskippers' gills, and the tiny bubble of air they trap inside, that perfect pocket of survival. Many years have passed since we lost you to the mud. I guess your bubble burst too soon.
by
Dan Coxon
@dancoxonauthor
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Vitruvian Man

Three mirrors hinge in an arc around you. The corners of your eyes catch either side of your face, one in shadow, one in light. Beyond the reflection of your bare shoulder, the sun and moon hang together in a square of sky framed by a veiled window. You twist the lip gloss and trace the fine bristles in a smooth arc across the bow of your epithelium. You fold a tissue and smudge a rose of colour onto the white pulp. The shade reminds you of your wife, gloved hands pruning and planting, weeding and watering. You slide a cap over your crown, lift the hairpiece from the faceless mannequin, and secure it with a few drops of spirit gum. You slip into the silk dress like a second skin. You stand with your arms outstretched, legs parted like the Vitruvian Man. A perfect square, a perfect circle.
by
Christopher M Drew
@cmdrew81
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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2. Send your art to vitruvianman@adhocfiction.com

Digging to Australia

My little brother Danny has decided to dig a tunnel to Australia. He’s out in the yard now, toy spade in hand. ‘You can’t do that,’ I said. ‘It’s too far. Besides, it’s really hot in the middle of the Earth.’ He looks at me. ‘Even hotter than that time we went to Spain and dad got sunburnt and we spent that evening peeling the skin off his back.’ That’s a mistake. I’ve reminded him of something disgusting. He loves disgusting things. ‘I hope that happens to me,’ he says. I shrug and leave him to it. Later I look outside. He’s gone. There’s just a massive hole. As I start to panic, the phone goes. ‘Hello?’ says a voice. ‘I’m calling from Melbourne. I’ve got your lad here. He’s fine, but, strewth, the skin ain’t half peeling off him.’ In the background, I can hear Danny giggling.

Credits

fiction by
David Cook
@davidcook100

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Days of Yore

Gone are the days when I sat on the stoop talking to neighbours as they passed by - going to work, to school, to the bingo hall, to the park, to the street corner to listen to the soap-box man spout his beliefs of the day. Curtains twitch as mine stays still. We are all behind screens now - watching the stream of cars pass, bumper to bumper on the street where we used to play hopscotch and skip, singing our songs to the world. A world which has passed us by, leaving us unnoticed. We are the ones who shaped progress, who gave it its foundation, who lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters to wars for independence, sovereignty, power. All forgotten now as life surges on in the belief that technology will solve everything, where kindness is being overlooked in the rush to save the world from itself.

Credits

fiction by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Hair

When I wake up, I can feel a hair in my mouth. It is woven around my tongue, between my teeth. Saliva builds as I try to suck it free, to pinch it between my fingers, but I can’t grasp it. Is it one of mine or one of hers? I wouldn’t be surprised it was my wife’s. Her hair gets everywhere. She always trimmed her split ends while sitting on the edge of the bed. When the treatment shed her hair, she couldn’t face brushing it up and throwing it away. There is such pain in being a woman with no hair. I shaved my head to show my support; it’s not the same, she said. I have it, finally. Wet and stuck to my fingertip. It isn’t hers. I throw the covers off me, searching the sheets for her, but even the hairs are gone.

Credits

fiction by
Santino Prinzi
@tinoprinzi

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Rebel Mechanic

I could smell engine oil when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down the pit. All my friends' parents bought cars. My Dad bought 'bargains'. 'Bargains' broke down when it rained so I didn't go to the cinema or play football at weekends. I stood over Dad's legs and handed him spanners and sockets. Billy called round to see if I wanted to watch 'Return of the Jedi' but Dad had already put his overalls on and so I went outside to ask if the car was working today. There was a policeman in the lounge when I got home. I still had popcorn flakes on my jumper. There had been a terrible accident. The car had slipped off the jack and dropped down with Dad underneath it. The lightning bolts shooting out from the Emperor's hands made the same noise as a car jack being kicked out.
by
Steve Campbell
@standondog
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

The Last Kiss

You said goodbye in the anonymity of Paddington Station. Train announcements echoed off the high roof, flattening your voice with a thousand others. Destinations, track numbers, and your decision were incomprehensible. I should have known you would go back to her. Responsibilities and excuses. Men always go back to your wives. You left your coffee cup on the table, lukewarm dregs in the creases round the base. I studied the place you had last taken a sip, and pressed my lips to the cardboard, tipped it up, drained the cup. This would be our last kiss, moisture enveloping our DNA in the acinar cells of our saliva, embracing in my mouth. I envisioned them sluicing down my oesophagus, swirling through my gut, absorbed through my intestinal wall, flowing through my veins, pumping their way into the tiny embryo that has the shared double helix of us.

Credits

fiction
&
artwork
by

Louise Mangos
louisemangos.com
@LouiseMangos

©
creator

Time Honoured

Marion half stood at the sound of the engine. She placed the cup back on the saucer and hovered, ever-hopeful, at the curtain. Another delivery for number 4. But the driver had just missed Mrs In and Out. Seizing her chance, Marion shakily gripped her stick and shuffled, determined, to the frosty porch, a martyrs face prepared. She knew she would keep the little parcel til Saturday at least. Weekend hours are the longest. She might knock after Sunday lunch, be unexpectedly invited in for a coffee. There was Kendal Mint Cake in the larder. Imagine their delight if she produced that too! Waiting for the kettle once more, steam wrinkled the pristine calendar. Surely Paul will come for his birthday next month. Maybe hold on to that cake. School run soon. She should stand at her gate and warn the rushing mums of that ice. They were always rushing.

Credits

fiction by
Jen Hall
@jmiceling

image by
SB Borgersen
sueborgersen.com

©
creators

The Writing Process

Draft 1: Steve bought a cup of coffee. Draft 2: Steve bought an extra-tall, triple-shot, non-fat latte. Draft 7: Steve bought a grande latte from the pretty girl behind the counter. Draft 11: Steve bought a latte from the smiling waitress who reminded him of his mother. Draft 24: Steven Blake purchased a foamy latte from the waitress who looked uncannily like his mother. Draft 46: Steven Palmer-Blake pulled out his gold credit card and paid the pretty waitress for his triple-shot, extra-tall, non-fat, extra-foam, mocha-latte with extra sprinkles, all the while thinking how much the waitress looked like his recently deceased mother. Final draft: Steve bought a cup of coffee.
by
Scarlett Sauvage
@ScarlettSauvage
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Striking Time

Every night she would hear his key in the lock exactly as the pips went for the six o'clock news. He was as reliable as the bell chiming the hour. Tonight, something was different. The hour came and went. The hands on the clock slid round to quarter past. When he arrived, he was flushed and merry. "Didn't notice the time," he said, kissing her stiff cheek and spinning her chair in the direction of the kitchen. She thought she caught a whiff of perfume. "Big Ben's getting a facelift, did you know?" She stared mutely at him. He smiled, holding the cup to her lips."About time someone looked after the old chap. It'll give him a new lease of life." He whistled as he raised a spoonful of slop to her mouth. "I might be late again tomorrow night, love. OK?"
by
Roz Levens
@RozLevens
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Black Ice

Do you know if you spread too much baby oil on the body your skin becomes a slippery slide? If you place your feet on a wooden floor, that floor then becomes like black ice. And as you slip and slide like a novice ice skater without the skates, you try desperately to hang on to something sturdy, something that will keep you upright. But your hands, your slippery hands slide off the bedside table, and the door handle rejects you, and now you’re flapping around wildly like a bird just learning to fly, or a chicken who has just lost its head. And as you call out to me for help, I reassure you that I will get a towel. But what I’m really doing is removing myself, so that when I call for the ambulance I can tell them with complete sincerity, I did not see you fall.

Credits

fiction by
Kereen Getten
@kereengetten

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

One Morning in May

'A cup of tea would be nice.' he said as he looked behind her to the wardrobe which held their lives in clothes and their dead dreams in a box wrapped in a blanket and tied with a sash. Among the shoes and boots which had walked the fields and paced the corridors of sleeplessness for the twenty years it took to raise the sons who wanted a sister whose curl of golden hair occupied the dead dream box. A day of a million tears shed over tea and whiskey in stained mugs and cloudy glasses because no-one noticed the unimportant things that became unseen in a house where, before, a stained cup was a mortal sin, but now the sin was the loss, the theft, the emptiness, the memories. She brought his tea, placed it against his lips and they both sighed as their eyes drifted towards the wardrobe.

Credits

fiction by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206

image by
Linda Grierson-Irish
lindagriersonirish.wixsite

©
creators

#Notmydream

We sleep through the alarm. Curled like torpid dormice, our body heat cocoons us in blissful ignorance. Together we fly, soaring high in shared dreams: fantasy worlds where tolerance, understanding and kindness are the trending hashtags. The day is on hold. The screaming headlines are still muted until clicked and set free.

Credits

fiction by
Tracy Fells
@theliterarypig

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Blaško

“Here in Moklište, every story is like the cosmos, with ever-smaller systems fitting neatly into one another – a galaxy, a planet, a continent, a country, a province, a town, the present, the past, the grandpast, the great-grandpast and so on, until we get to the myths, which are each based on their own stories, passed down from generation to generation.” His voice fills the library like the creaking of a waterwheel, churning in the stream of his thoughts. He pauses. In the candlelight, the suits of armour, petrified by dust and web, hold their breath. Only when the pilgrim looks up from his hands, sleeping on a bed of shavings in his lap, beside his penknife and the whittled stake, does Blaško continue. “You can never tell the whole story, which is why it is always best to begin at the end. The present. Where we are now.”
by
Richard de Nooy
@RicharddeNooy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

The Sac That Was Our Living Room Ceiling

The flat upstairs. It's their escaped water, low slung in the sac that was our living room ceiling. Icy cold drops sweat along the pregnant plaster, grow plump, fall down - we had to move the couch. The floorboards are dotted with filling bowls. Some day (or night) soon, the whole lot's going to finally burst. My family nag me to call the landlord but I hate confrontation. I say I'll call him tomorrow, after the weekend, after Christmas. I know they're losing respect for me over this. I hate that I'm supposed to be the one to deal with problems. This isn't our country. I don't like to make waves. Meanwhile, the sagging over our heads undulates and sways with its own incomprehensible tides.

Credits

fiction by
Nick Black
@fuzzynick

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Bar

Dumped. On the edge of Leeds, just a stone’s-throw-away from dead-end-alley which she teeters down in her six-inch heels and fake furs ‘bloody useless’ against brutish winds. She’s feeling out-of-sorts. The doorman dressed in his best, draws back from the devilish cold as our blue lady enters and sheds off her skins into the closet. She rouges her lips then click-clacks across marble to sit high at the bar and fiddle fingers around rings, till the man unhangs a polished glass on display and swills in a G&T to slide over. Another double, he positions by her elbow and jerks his thumb at a smoking silhouette in a hat. She keeps her bright eyes away from rebel’s corner, but quaffs a hand under her hair, swivels her twizzler to excite bubbles to fizz in her gin and wonders where a warm taxi might take her as she sips her pick-me-up.
by
Ruth Tamiatto
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Different Strokes

The dried meat hung next to her. Speckles of brown and red pricked its surface. Had she been vegetarian, before this? She needed to get out of the room. Shiny floors stared up at her, daring her to try. On her plate sat three tired tomatoes. She rolled them around as if that might prompt her disobedient tongue to curl into the right shape for words. Red-circle-no. Close enough. She hated the things. A girl in starched white leant over her. ‘In we pop, Alison’. One tomato was spooned into a space on her face. She tried to chew. In the bed opposite, a man as old as her father smiled with one side of his mouth. She glanced back at the meat to her right with its five familiar fingers. I’m only half here. ‘Yes, lovely tomatoes,’ said the girl as she stroked away a trickle of escaping saliva.
by
Stephanie Hutton
@tiredpsych
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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

Bound in Smoke

Blackened branches, white with ash at the ends, dumped on the patio when we were done prodding. Embers gagging on the lack of oxygen after hours of burning in our makeshift back garden barbecue: an oversized tin can so charred we could only remember it was once for olives. Flaky ash lying on the window sill and the seats we had made on stacked breeze blocks and an empty blue plastic milk bottle crate. Debris so integral to our garden life we'd forgotten any urge we had, on moving in, to buy real outdoor furniture. Leaning in against the back door in the light from the kitchen, my spiral bound notepad, biro tucked through the wire. “Alright?” His eyes were blazing clear. The things we had written. Words and thoughts scorched and bound in the smoke. “Yeah. You?” “Yeah.” We meant it, no need to say more.
by
Claire T Allen
@lipbalmy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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