Cathy Cade

All The Time In The World

Skype summoned from her mobile. Faith found her bag under a cushion on the sofa and rooted for the phone.

“Hi, Mum.”

“Hello, love. How’s it going over there?”

“We’re fine. Dinner’s in the oven, so I thought I’d give you a call while I’m waiting for Paul.”

“Is he working? Isn’t it rather late?” She tried to remember if they were currently eleven or thirteen hours behind New Zealand.

“He’s only covering emergencies, but there are plenty of those, with everyone at home using their electrics. The weather must be warming up over there.”

Faith glanced out of the window. “It keeps changing its mind. Last week was lovely – spring-like – but now it’s blowing a hurricane again. I suppose it must be cooling down where you are.”

“M-mm, still warm most days. How’s Dad? Seems ages since I spoke to him.”

“He’s fine, love. How about you? Are you working?”

“I’m working from home. Is Dad there? Put him on.”

“Oh, he’s out, love.” She glanced at the clock. “Gone shopping.”

“Shopping? Dad?”

“For DIY stuff.”

 “Are your DIY stores open? And aren’t you oldies meant to be social distancing?”

She paused. “You know your dad – hates to be told what to do.”

“He’s getting a bit old for civil disobedience, isn’t he?”

“Oh, he still likes to see himself as an eco-warrior, battling the authorities.” She remembered to smile at the screen – the camera.

Saffie chuckled back. “His finest hour… he still goes on about that link road, doesn’t he.”

“Especially when he’s had a few. Hey, that Prime Minister of yours is getting herself some good press coverage over here…”

Successfully diverted, Saffie shared lockdown anecdotes until her oven timer called.

Faith returned to the kitchen, trailed by Pickle the terrier.

“Yes, Pickle, you will get your walk – as soon as I’ve had my breakfast.” She flipped the kettle switch again. Was it too early for wine?

Faith sipped her Chardonnay as DCI Barnaby interviewed a suspect.

The Skype alert sounded.

At this time in the evening? Saffie had called already this week. She paused Midsomer Murders and reached for her mobile.

“Hi Mum?”

“Is everything alright, love?”

“Just checking in. Thought I’d have a word with Dad before I log on to work this morning.”

“He’s…” Pickle barked. “…on his phone in the bedroom.”

“I’ll hang on then, till he’s down.”

“You don’t want to be late starting work, love.”

“There’s no hurry. I can work longer if I need to. With no daily commute, I’ve got all the time in the world.”

Paul appeared behind Saffie on the screen. “Hiya Faith! How’re you keeping over there?”

“We’re fine, Paul. We’re both fine.”

“I’m heading off to work. Stay well.” He waved and disappeared. Saffie watched him go. Faith heard their door close. “Hang on, Paul. Your sandwiches! I’ve got to go, Mum. Talk soon.”

Faith was out walking Pickle when her mobile rang.

“Hello, sweetheart. It’s me.”

“Finn, I was hoping you’d call.”

“It’s a bloody nuisance – not being allowed visitors. There’s so much over-reaction about all this–”

“Saffie keeps calling and asking after you. I don’t know what to tell her.”

“Tell her I’m out.”

“At 10 o’clock at night? I can hardly say you’re in the pub.”

“Say… say I’m delivering food parcels. You’ll think of something. You’re a clever girl.”

Up ahead, the dog was joyfully rolling in something yellow… “Pickle, leave it!”

“You go and sort him out, sweetheart. We’ll talk later.”

Another evening call. Saffie got straight to the point.

“Hi, Mum. Is Dad around?”

“He’s out, love.”

“Not again?”

“He’s delivering food parcels for the local food bank.”

“Mum, it’s half-past nine where you are. I checked.”

“To be honest, love, I think the volunteers go back to the organiser’s afterwards for a crafty pint.”

“Has he got the virus, Mum?”

“Oh no – nothing like that.”

“You would tell me, wouldn’t you?”

“I promise you, love, we’re both fit and well.”

That must have looked sincere. Saffie’s expression relaxed.

“Well he won’t be if he keeps having pints with his mates.”

“That’s what I tell him, love. Your brother rang yesterday. He’s busy – the courts are still sitting.”

“Oh, how is he? I’ve not heard from Will since Christmas.” An alert trilled in the background. “Damn, work’s calling; I’ve got to go. I’ll phone you later. Tomorrow.”

Faith hung on until she got to the front of the queuing system and the ringtone replaced that awful music.

A gruff voice answered. She asked if she could possibly speak to her husband. The voice went away to consult with someone and returned to say Finn would call her in the next half hour.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang.

“Are you alright, Fay? They said it was important.”

“Finn, Saffie’s called again. She knows something’s up. I can’t keep lying to her.”

A heavy sigh carried down the telephone line.

“This is all so bloody ridiculous. Just because I was chatting to Ben in the street. I bet that nosey parker next door put them up to it. Her curtains twitched every time I stepped outside.”

“Finn, you know it wasn’t just that. It was how you reacted.”

“I only said–”

“You were out of order, Finn. No wonder they threw the book at you this time.”

“It’s not as if I hurt anyone. I only shoved the lad out of my way.”

” ‘Causing a public nuisance; obstructing a police officer; assaulting a constable in the execution of his duty; assault with intent to resist lawful apprehension; refusing to assist a constable…’ Will says they never use that one these days. You must have really got up someone’s nose.”

“Just stall her till next week, can you, sweetheart? I’ll be out by then.”

Her silence prompted that familiar wheedling tone.

“Please, Fay. I don’t want her to know her old dad’s doing time.”



Cathy Cade is a retired librarian whose stories have been published in Scribble and Flash Fiction Magazine, and in anthologies, including To Hull and Back Short Stories 2018, Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind. Cathy’s collection, Witch Way and other ambiguous stories, is available from Amazon, as is her story-verse, A Year Before Christmas.

Find her online at

Therese Kieran

Time Bound

I sharpen my pencil. I begin a new notebook and call it Response. I clamp a brick to my chest. My eyes well up at the sight of empty buses on walks with our dog. I pray in a procession going into M&S. I shop online, purchase: seeds, a bird-feeder, watercolours, books, a solar powered lantern, tea-tree and lavender oils, send them to my parents. I cook batches of food for them to freeze. I make pizza from scratch, including the dough, once. I make an elaborate Indian meal from the Darjeeling Express cook book, the puris puff like my enthusiasm, the coconut rice is fragrant as the lilac growing wild on our lane. I drink wine, sometimes too much. I write and draw. I clap. I write a letter to a Turkish artist imprisoned for her art. I meet people on screen and it is awkward because I can’t stop looking at myself. I make cards. I write weekly to my aunt in a nursing home, not because we are close, but because I feel sorry for her. I make buns for my uncle without knowing I’ve caused a row. I go to the Pharmacy for my son’s meds and break down because it is two weeks now and the controlled drug has not been approved by the GP, who needs to have several conversations with my son’s psychiatrist. I thank the Pharmacist profusely when he sorts it out. I blow up at my son for visiting his friend. I see my husband, feel him less. I see my husband stressed. I walk circuits of the park with one daughter, then another. I visit my hornbeam in a different park. I read To Kill A Mocking Bird, An American Marriage, American Wife, The White Book and poetry, lots of poetry. I watch a sock puppet called Claude recite poetry, beautifully, daily. I mix shades of blue, paint them on cartridge paper and make a blue wall. I visit my parents and on the way back get caught up in a high speed Garda chase on the M1 that is beyond exhilarating. I talk many hours on the phone. I make a mask from a sock, taking instructions from a smiling Dutch woman and say, “hoi, hoi” all day. I attend two funerals but only cry at one. I plant nasturtiums and hang bird feeders full of seeds that only squirrels want to eat. I am interviewed for an online literary festival and tell virtually no-one. I do as little housework as possible. I witness the blur of days; the certainty of night, wrap its torpor, tight, tight, tight around me.



Therese Kieran lives in Belfast. She writes and makes art and has proudly contributed to print journals such as The Honest Ulsterman, Coast to Coast, Iceberg Tales, Paper Clip, Valley Press. A 2020 highlight is her poem in the Poetry Jukebox’s ‘Once Barefoot’ curation, currently available in Paris and Belfast to support climate change.

Tracy Gaughan

The Ghosts of Time

She burst through the living room like a cyclone, scattering chairs, books, and loose papers into the air like weapons.

I’ve heard it again, Roger! Roger! I’ve heard it again!

Where this time dear? I think.  Within the sprung slats of the wearying bed frame? Resting inside the ruined cloth and dying cobwebs of the garret?   Those mildewed memories can rot and blight an overcharged mind such as yours, I want to say. 

Mildred and I fit together like spoons, like people holding hands.  Our love is not loud and catastrophic like cannon fire.  It is swift and lethal as an arrow.  The kind of love that pierces the skin unnoticed, hemorrhaging blood from the body like a great river from a mountain slope.

No, no, she says, I was in the garden by the east tower and I heard it.  Soft and undemanding but persistent, like a bluetit’s begging call.

We haven’t had a bird in the east garden for over a decade.  But my sweet and foolish wife, how her innocence beguiles me still.  That mind, that sharp discerning yet sensitive mind, it pains me to watch it wither and die daily like light exiting the evening hastily in winter. We have been through all this before, she and I.  And there will come the day when the provenance of her auditory hallucination reveals itself, like the face of a bride beneath a lifted veil.  She will wail and cry, an orphaned cub.  Her thoughts will muddle, her speech will falter as she uncovers the evidence:

It was you! You killed her! You bastard. She will say.  She will scream.  She will strike me with the vengeance of an angered god.  We shall flail, fall, and slip into the shadows like actors departing a darkened stage. 

Our house, Hearth House was falling to pieces.  The day Mildred’s mother disappeared, the surrounding land grew dark and arid and now lies bleak and skinless.  The very air seems to strip the little fields and gardens of vegetation, leaving the forest of ash, the great oak in the courtyard, even the ivy naked of a leaf.  There’s little lure for the sparrows and harried blackbirds and even the scavenging rooks over-fly the decaying estate.  Mildred began to experience her  ‘false perceptions of sound’ shall we say, at about the same time.  Voices or reverberations?  Neither of us really knows anymore.   She races from room to window, from defoliated tree to inert flower, tilting her head like a spaniel, seeking its source. 

It’s like an echo, Roger.  It’s audible yet indistinct.  A muffled sound.  Something like… like blurred vision when you try to read without your glasses.  I can’t quite make it out.  Come and help me find it.  It’s in every-place yet, no place!” 

I watch her turning over sap-sucked leaves and withered grasses scraped of life by maggots rummaging the undergrowth.  And everywhere, the echo.   Ricocheting off rock and bark and sombre sky; reverberating through the house like a freight train.  Over here! it seems to repeat.  Then, one morning, beyond the herb garden I observe Mildred place an ear to the ground beneath a gaunt and haggard hawthorn.   The birds who’d overflown the house were clinging to it.  Stabbed by its thorny antlers and hanging there like macabre Christmas baubles swinging in the absent breeze. The veil rises.  The echo, the voice, the hum, she finds it.  Thumping like a heart. 

What’s down there? The predicted question. 

Your mother! The eternal response. 

With the flailing, a touch of rue.  For ghosts cannot change a thing I say, poetically placing a forceful hand over my wife’s mouth, pinching the nostrils waiting for the breath to surrender itself  – we are condemned only to repeat the same thing.  We suffer interminably but at least we do it as one. For those who die in violence can never rest in peace.  In time, Mildred will forget, and we will re-enact this perpetual performance as if for the first time.  Like the seasons, the blossoms may pass but the bulb remains.



Tracy Gaughan is a writer living in Galway.  Her poetry and short fiction have featured in a variety of literary journals including Live Encounters, Boyne Berries, and The Honest Ulsterman.  She is IRL/UK Poetry Editor at The Blue Nib Magazine.

Zach Murphy

A Fair Amount of Ghosts

He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He doesn’t look like he’s from this era. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put any money into his basket.

There’s a formidable stone house that sits atop Fairmount Hill. It’s been for sale for as long as I can remember. The crooked post sinks deeper into the soil with each passing year. It isn’t a place to live in. It’s a place to dwell in. There’s a dusty rocking chair on the front porch. It’s always rocking. Always rocking. I’m not sure if the chair is occupied by an old soul or if it’s just the wind. Maybe it’s both. I guess the wind is an old soul.

This town is full of posters for Missing Cats. There’s one for a sweet, fluffy Maine Coon named “Bear.” He’s been gone for a while now. I’ve searched through every alleyway, under every porch, and inside of every bush for him. Sometimes I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. But then he’s not there. The rain has pretty much washed away the tattered posters. If he ever turns up, I worry that the posters will be missing.

I met the love of my life in Irvine Park, near the gloriously spouting water fountain, beneath the serene umbrella of oak trees. We spent a small piece of eternity there together. We talked about whether or not the world was coming to an end soon, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. After we said our goodbyes and she walked off into the distance, I never saw her again. So I left my heart in Irvine Park.



Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Ellipsis Zine, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Lotus-eater, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Levitate, Drunk Monkeys, Door Is A Jar, and Yellow Medicine Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hayley-Jenifer Brennan

Three Cups of Tea

The silence swirled its way around her as she stood in front of The House; its high walls and thick wooden door seemed intimidating now in a way they never had before. It was freezing and her hands had gone numb long ago, but she couldn’t make herself walk up the stone steps onto the large, dark porch. She couldn’t make herself go inside. Everything was different now – the magic was gone.

“Jenny,” Miriam’s voice came from behind her. “It’s okay not to want to go inside.” Miriam’s soft and comforting touch on her lower back reminded Jenny that there were still reasons to keep going. “You are allowed to pause.”

“I can’t write this one away…” Jenny’s voice sounded distant. “I can’t fix this with silly one-liners and happy endings.”

She felt reduced from woman to little girl as she looked up at The House, still flawless and pristine. The lights were off, but it wasn’t unwelcoming. It was still home.

“I’ve lost the keys,” Jenny said tonelessly. “I can’t get in.”

In the windows, they could see faint silhouettes of the stories that had taken place there. Feet bolted to the ground; one story twisted around Jenny like a never-ending nightmare. It would give no forewarning of its arrival. It would dot beautiful, painful memories in seemingly unrelated things. It would hollow her smile with ease.

She felt her phone go off in her hands, but she was lost in thought and in physicality. She wandered through the familiar space in her memory, cosy and warm in the hoodie she’d bought not ten days prior. Everything was so colourful – sometimes she couldn’t really believe she was here. She hummed contentedly and her phone vibrated again. She answered the call.

“Jenny, I’m so sorry.”

She blinked and the memory was silent. Had she made it up? Surely, she had made it up. She was always making up silly stories. This one was the silliest of all.

She looked down at her hand to find that her phone had been replaced by the key to The House.

“Can we go inside?” she asked, finally.

Miriam didn’t say anything, but the hand she had resting on Jenny’s back pushed her forward softly until they were at the door. Miriam gave her a comforting smile as they keys clicked in the lock. Jenny took a deep breath.

She switched on the lights in the kitchen. She switched on the heating. She switched on the kettle. She placed three steaming cups of tea neatly on the table that she recognised from the many times they sat around it and giggled over nothing. A big table full of inside jokes that seemed to have no origins or came free with fried noodles.

She could write endless tales and rewrite them when they didn’t read the way she had intended, but she couldn’t rewrite this one.

“I miss him,” she said, realising that she’d made three cups of tea for two people.



Hayley-Jenifer Brennan is just getting her start in writing, and has two publications under her belt so far. This is a deeply personal piece about loss, grieving, and the time it takes to move forward.

Aisling Lynch

Spring Again

“What are you waiting for, permission?”

I opened my eyes. Had I blinked? It must have been longer, it feels like I’m looking through a camera lense and pulling everything into focus. I feel like I’m waking up and looking for my glasses. Where are my glasses? My question is answered when my vision finally sharpens and I see him. A man is standing in front of me. I think I know him. I must know him, his hands are clasped over mine. My hands hold something in them. I don’t know what it is but it is the only thing I am certain of. I feel movement against the skin of my palms. Is it alive? Everything else is uncertain. The man is important. I know that much. He speaks, I know his voice down to my bones but I cannot think of his name. 

“You look tired, love.” He is smiling at me, I feel his hand on my cheek. It is familiar, but in a way that feels long ago and far away. It does not feel comforting, which I assume is how it is supposed to feel. The man is still smiling at me, but his eyes are full of something else. They are a deep, concerned brown. I want to ask a question, many questions but I am suddenly taken by everything else in view. There is long grass around where we stand. It is bright too, we are close to the sky. I peer around the man, whose smile is fading with every moment I am silent. I see a vast ocean just under the horizon. My chest tightens. A cliff, now this is familiar. It begins to trickle in like a leak, the memory of where we are…where we were? We were here together, this man and I. Another time. Before. Another certainty. I will relish them as they come. I want to look behind me to see the rest of it, but something stills me. A deep, quiet warning that I should not take my eyes from the man in front of me. His smile is gone, a firm line where the curve once was. It somehow suits him. I suddenly have the urge to laugh, but I cannot seem to find my voice and it is released as a quick exhaled breath. He notices, and speaks again.

“The season has taken its toll on you…” The strangest thing is, he is right. I am tired, even though I seem to be only waking this very moment. Something is not right. I look at him more closely and try to find what is missing. As if by looking at him I can look deeper into myself. He speaks again “…you can rest now. Your work is done.” I don’t know what he means. I watch as he lifts my clasped hands with their secret held within and plants a soft kiss on each one. I am surprised to see my hands are worn and rough. Gardening, I think. Another memory tangled in weeds and vines. I don’t have time to think more on it, because I am suddenly very, very hungry. It feels as though I haven’t eaten in days. My stomach growls and I begin to feel dizzy. The man laughs at me and opens my palm.

“You’re always forgetting to eat Seph, here” A nickname. I need him to tell me more but instead the man opens my hands and I see them. Red and glossy, freshly gouged from the skin. I’m so hungry. I have never been this hungry. I lift the small clump of seeds to my nose, they smell of summer but I am reminded first of spring. The man’s lips pull back into a smile once more, but it is different. Sharper.

“Well, what are you waiting for, permission?” he says. Somehow I know that smile better than his name. The realisation hits me hard, but the seeds are already in my mouth and it is too late. The last thing I see before the scene fades is the man’s face. The face behind the one he wears for show. Sunken eyes over a narrow face. His final words echo back and forth in my head.

“What are you waiting for, permission?”

My eyes feel heavy as they open. But the world is in view straight away, this time. This time? My mind must have been elsewhere. Daydreaming. The man standing in front of me is smiling. The sky is bright and the sea glints behind him. This place. There is a cold breeze and my cheeks sting under the chilly whipped air. Was that there before? Before? My hands are warm though. He’s holding my hands. I suddenly want them back, but I remain still. 

“You look tired, love.” I barely hear him say the words. I am tired. Very tired. I cannot do this again. Do what again? I look at the man carefully. I know him, surely, but something feels different. What was his name again? His hand is on my cheek, I know the feeling but I am looking deep into eyes I don’t know. Because they are not his. Is that even possible? I ask myself, but I feel most certain. It is comforting, to be certain. I lean into the questions at the back of my mind. The trickle must become a flow. I need to think. The man is looking at me like I’m a sick lamb. I don’t like it. I close my eyes. Show me more. “The season has taken its toll on you…” What season? It cannot be Spring again or Summer with this chill in the air. Spring again? “…you can rest now. Your work is done.” Remember. My hands are warm though. What is in your hands? I summon strength, more than I thought I would need and slowly I pull my hands and their prize away from him. I remember a hunger as I open my hands, and my eyes. 

Pomegranate seeds. But these are dry, old and unappetizing. The man’s voice is sharp and clear this time.

“Are… are you not hungry, Seph?” That is not my name. I don’t think I have ever felt anything like what is happening now, but I know I must have. I know Him too well. My mind races with centuries of my past. Memories of the same moment in a different shell case. With it comes a power all my own that I quite forgot I had. How long have we been replaying this scene? I close my fists around the seeds and crush them to a fine powder that slips through my fingers. With them go any shred of doubt I had. I step back from the man who held me and the curtain is pulled away. There is no grass or sea to be seen in this place. Just the barren rocky cliffside, and the darkness and Him standing at the edge of everything. Just how he likes it. I find my voice, and it echoes in the cavernous dark.

“What nonsense is this?” I demand. The man has dropped his guise fully, and now looks sheepish and grey. His black eyes hold no feeling, only the fidgeting of his bony hands betray guilt. 

“I just needed you to stay a bit longer, love.” he says meekly. Of course. And he didn’t think to ask me first. He never does.

“So you thought you would waste a few millenia with this… stupidity?” The anger in me boils as I walk slowly towards him, accidentally sprouting grass and forget-me-knots with each step. 

“Time loops aren’t stupid.” he mumbles, his head bowed to avoid my gaze. I have heard enough, in the moment I raise my hand to him it is wrapped in the sharpest thorns.

“What are you doing, Persephone?” I don’t hear any fear in his tone. He is mocking me. I gather my power and shove him off the edge of that cliff he always clings to. I do not turn to leave until I hear a splash. The dead can keep him for now, I need some air. I spin thick vines into a ladder to take me out of this wretched place, I spot them with lavender and sage to clear my head. As I work I hear him scream from the depths.

“You will come back to me! You always come back!” I cannot help but smile at how frustrated he must be. A lonely little man in his cave of ghosts. I honor him with a reply.

“Of course, husband. And when I do, it will be on my terms.” I turn my back one final time and breath in the heady smell of home.

“Goodbye, Hades!” I call out, as I climb swiftly into the sky.



Aisling Lynch is a daydream enthusiast and aspiring writer with a penchant for nonsense in all its forms. She loves myths and fairy tales so much that she often believes she is one. Don’t we all end up in stories anyway?

Brian Dunster

Three Seconds     

            I’m not sure how to word what I’m about to say.  I mean, I thought I did.  I wrote it all out in my head, structured it perfectly. But that’s the thing, isn’t it?  It always sounds better in your head than when you try to explain it to someone else. 

            It started about three months ago.  I was investigating the death of a very rich and powerful man, but not of late for obvious reasons. It was evening time.  I had just finished following up on a lead and I had gone home for the night.  The sun was setting behind a concrete jungle just beyond my apartment window.  I sat at my kitchen table and poured myself a glass of whiskey.  I would have preferred it with some ice but my freezer was broken. I remember looking at the glass.  It was half full.  Then I looked to the clock hanging from the wall.  It had been five o’clock for the last ten minutes.  That’s when I heard my front door being kicked in and before I knew what was happening, two large men dressed in black – a typical colour for hired goons – stormed into my home and shot me dead.  How am I here explaining this?  Well, and stay with me, it does get complicated from here on out. 

            So there I was, dead.  And I knew I was dead because I had watched the bullet go into my brain.  The gun shot sent me flying backwards and I hit the floor with a thump.  But suddenly I found myself sitting upright, alive, and holding the glass of whiskey with no ice.  It felt like a bad dream and I thought perhaps I had fallen asleep for the briefest of moments.  But I hadn’t. I was more awake than ever.  And then I looked to the clock on the wall.  It was stuck on five o’clock and I recalled what came after –  my front door crashes open and I’m shot dead.  I leapt from the table and hurried to the busted freezer and pulled out my .9mm handgun.  I clicked the safety off and aimed squarely at the door.  I waited.  Nothing.  Maybe I had fallen asleep.  Then suddenly there came a crack and my front door was forced open.  I readied myself and took calm breaths.  But nobody came through.  Outside I could hear whispers of two men talking.

            ‘We know you have a gun aimed at the door, ready to pop us when we show our heads,’ said one of the gunmen.

How did they know that?  I was the one who had the vision of them killing me.

            ‘And I know you have a bullet with my name written all over it,’ I said in response.

There was a long pause. I heard more whispering; their voices growing louder.  I relaxed my arm a little but as I did they came into the apartment, dove behind my sofa and used the cushions as a shield.  I managed to get a couple of shots off but I didn’t even wing them.  Their turn.  They opened fire and once again I was shot dead.  Game over.  Please enter two euro to continue.

            Being killed twice in the space of a minute is not fun.  It’s very irritating.  And don’t let your friends tell you otherwise.  But I wasn’t actually dead.  I had only seen myself die as before.  I was back, aiming at the gunmen behind the sofa. I had not expected them to use my oversized cushions to deflect my shots, and in my excitement I emptied the chamber without readjusting. But now I knew and all I had to do was aim a little lower. But they never emerged.

            ‘We know you plan to shoot us in the legs if we pop up,’ one of the gunmen said. 

            ‘And I know you plan to ruin my only cushions,’ I replied angrily. 

I really had no idea what was going on.  I was awfully scared and it wasn’t the two gunmen in my apartment that frightened me the most.

            After another long pause and after more annoying whispering I was beginning to get tired.  And I really wanted that drink. I started to think what was happening to me wasn’t just happening to me.  Maybe it was infecting the gunmen too.  How else would they have known that I had a gun aimed and ready to fire when I’d see their heads?  And they couldn’t have seen me readjust my aim, they just couldn’t have.  The only explanation, which at the time seemed crazy and unbelievable, was they were also having visions.  But they were not seeing future events the way I was.  They were seeing them after I reacted to my own vision.  The best I can figure, it is like reacting to an action already being reacted to.  You can see what I meant by complicated?

            Anyway, there I was in my apartment, waiting.  I thought about doing something but if my theory was right about them having flashes of the future too then they would see it coming.  But I was really thirsty. 

            ‘I don’t suppose you’re having brief glimpses of the future by any chance?’ I said, hoping my thinking was right and that I didn’t come off sounding insane.

            ‘You too?’ one of the gunmen shouted back.

            ‘How else would I have predicted what you came here to do?’ Another pause. ‘What do you say we call this a draw?’ I continued.

            ‘We were sent here for a reason,’ one of the gunmen explained.

            ‘I got that. But these seem like extreme circumstances.  If we can both predict how the other will act and react then it will inevitably result in a stalemate each time,’ I explained.  

More whispering.  The kind of whispering you often hear in a cinema during the previews just before the main feature. 

‘Okay, we’re gonna leave.  But this ain’t over,’ one of the gunmen threatened. 

And then they were gone.  I quickly closed the door.  Bolted it shut.  Barricaded it with my sofa and finally had that drink.  It would have been so much nicer with some ice.  But you can’t always get what you want.

Since then the crime rate dropped. It became impossible for someone to be caught off guard. If you tried to murder someone, in that three seconds of seeing themselves die a person could act accordingly and prevent it. It’s better if you don’t try and make sense of it. Who knows where it came from and frankly, who cares? Think of it as a joke you don’t understand but laugh at anyway to avoid feeling embarrassed.



Brian has an itch… A mighty big itch. But it is no ordinary itch, oh no. It’s an itch for storytelling. Brian creates for a living. He can not see himself doing anything else. He has spent the last ten years building a portfolio of work, producing short films, music videos, and short stories. Brian studied film and television in IADT Dun Laoghaire and since graduating in 2011 has been evolving and honing his skills ever since.  He has won awards for his work, winning Best Student Film at the Kerry Film Festival ion 2011, and has showcased several other projects in numerous festivals across Ireland, including the Jameson International Film Festival and Cork Fastnet Film Festival, to name but a few. Keep up to date on his Facebook page – and check out some of his work on Vimeo –

Alexis Silas

The Fairyland Flower Show

Lizzie’s parents had forgotten about magic.

She tried not to hold it against them. She understood that most people forgot magic as they aged, becoming more preoccupied with matters such as stock portfolios, mortgages, and lawn maintenance by the time they were grown-ups. It seemed to be the way of things.

 But then her twin sister Laura fell ill, and lapsed into a coma.

The doctors were mystified. After several months, they gave up on a diagnosis and decided that Laura would be most comfortable at home. Laura slept, like a princess in a fairy tale, if the princess were in a rented hospital bed surrounded by medical equipment. Their parents were losing hope, but Lizzie was only ten and had not yet learned how to give up. As medical science had failed to provide answers, Lizzie went into her back yard to look for fairies. Fairies were full of gossip. Perhaps she could catch one that would know what had happened to Laura.

Her first two captures turned out to be mere butterflies, but on her third try, Lizzie slammed her jam jar over a downtrodden pixie who’d paused inside a snapdragon for a hit of nectar.  

At first the pixie hadn’t wanted to talk, but she got pretty chatty the moment Lizzie lit a match and held it under the jar.

“All right, all right!” the pixie said. “The scuttlebutt is that your sister ate the cursed fruit of the Goblin King. A second taste would cure her, but he never sells to the same person twice. Now would it kill you to punch some air holes in this thing?”

“That depends,” said Lizzie. “Where can I find this fruit?”

“The Fairyland Flower Show. Dusk to dawn on Midsummer Night. The Goblin King attends every year; his fruit blossoms always win. The doorway opens on the crest of the big hill outside the village.”

Lizzie opened the jar, and the pixie flew off with an aggrieved “Hmphf!”  

Two weeks later, Lizzie waited on the hillside on Midsummer Night. When the last of the fireflies had dimmed, an archway appeared, dripping with wisteria blooms and Spanish moss.

A leprechaun stopped her at the entrance. His red beard reached just to Lizzie’s knee, but he spoke with authority: “Admission’s one copper.”

Lizzie only had a single silver coin, and she needed that for the Goblin King.

“I didn’t know there was an entry fee,” she said.

Her eyes widened as the leprechaun produced a sharp knife, but then he handed it to her. “There’s plenty on your head,” he said.

She cut a single curl from her copper-red hair. The man examined the lock with an appraising eye, and said, “That’ll do,” as he tucked it into his waistcoat pocket.

Lizzie stepped through the door, onto a verdant carpet of clover. Moonlight illuminated a network of booths the size of a city. Everywhere she looked, fantastical creatures displayed their unique fruits and flowers: elves arranged bowers made from blooming saplings, and giants tended beanstalks that stretched to the sky. There was even a vampire, beaming with pride next to a plant that bore a ribbon reading: “Best of Show: Carnivorous Division.”  

A gnome pedaled by on a red tricycle, towing a flatbed of begonias. When Lizzie asked about the Goblin King, he pointed her towards the center of the show.

She walked for hours. It was almost morning before she reached the Goblin King’s booth. Boughs of apple blossom decorated the roof, and baskets on the counter overflowed with berries. Goblins with wrinkled faces and hands gnarled as tree branches scrambled about, hawking wares.

Lizzie set her silver coin on the counter. “Give me all the fruit this coin will buy,” she said.

The Goblin King clapped his hands. “A customer!” he cried, with glee. “But surely you will try, before you buy? Sample our wares, forget your cares.”

Lizzie shook her head. “I only want to buy the fruit, not eat it,” she said.

“Try some, first. We have the ripest berries, the sweetest cherries.”

Again, Lizzie refused. “I’m only here to buy it.”

The other goblins began chanting, “Just a taste. What a waste, to show such haste!”

It was tempting. The peaches were velvety, the strawberries ripe. But…there was Laura, asleep at home. “No,” Lizzie said. “If you won’t sell it to me, then give me back my silver coin.”

The Goblin King’s face twisted in anger. “You’re up to some trick!” he cried. “Taste my fruit at once, if you want it so badly!”

Enraged, he threw a peach at her. 

The ripe peach exploded all over her shirt. Juice splattered her arms and her face, stinging her eyes. Lizzie kept her mouth clamped shut so that not even a drop of juice would enter. She brushed the pulp from her shirt, and her hands became sticky with the mess.

The other goblins turned on her, their arms full of ammunition. But as she prepared to be pelted, the sights and sounds around her began to fade. The angry faces melted away; the booths evaporated in the sunlight.

Dawn had come, and the Fairyland Flower Show was over for another year. Only a ring of toadstools was left to mark the place where it had been.      

“I failed,” she thought. “I didn’t get any of the fruit.”

Her hands, though, were sticky with peach juice.

When she arrived at home, her parents were huddled next to Laura’s bedside. Their eyes were dull and hopeless. They hadn’t seen Lizzie come in.

“The doctors said we need to be realistic,” she heard her mother say.

Lizzie sighed. Sometimes, you had to do all the heavy lifting yourself.

She’d resisted the urge to clean her hands during the walk home. She unfurled her sticky, juice-covered fingers, and stuck one of them into her sister’s mouth.

Her parents did not understand what she was doing, and probably never would. But that didn’t matter, because Laura opened her eyes and smiled.



Alexis Silas is an aspiring writer who copes with everything by enjoying copious amounts of hot, sugary beverages. Her favorite method of procrastination involves reading stories about anthropomorphized animals that wear waistcoats and tiny spectacles.

Claire Loader

Boundary Lines

Is it myth that the world lies thinner in parts, that boundary lines are not only made for cattle, hawthorn planted not just for its bloom?  The cat didn’t think so, braving the road to lick its gossamer edges, to see what lay there amidst the roots of spring.   I could have told her what rested beneath that tree, should have warned her not to venture beyond the wall.

“Oh god, where did you find her?”

“Just over the far side.” Matt had turned as he walked towards me, knew I’d look given half the chance.

“Please, just…”

“No, Dee.”

We buried her up the back corner, the small trowel almost snapping with the rock, our knuckles raw as we scraped and burrowed.  We sat then in the sun, cigarette clenched between dirty fingers, clothed in the drift of its smoke.

“I wish we’d put a fence up or something.”

“Dee, you can’t fence a cat.  This wasn’t your fault.  Lads do over a hundred on that road, no one is safe on that thing.”

“Margaret Higgins walks it.”

“Margaret Higgins has some direct link with God that we just don’t know about.  She’s putting full tenners on the collection plate I’m sure of it.”

There was a cockiness about Margaret alright, a hi-vis-less swagger that seemed to stare down each passing car.  Her head furrowed in concentration, I’m sure she never noticed what lay beyond the stone wall, never wondered about the tree, how odd it was to be left like that alone on the fence line. I had commented to a visiting neighbour once, how it sat so beautifully, as if each branch was hung with snow.

“That’s where they buried the children sure.  Tis an old lisheen.”

“I’m sorry, what?” 

The neighbour’s voice so matter of fact, as if that was the tree’s only purpose.  “The wee uns, the poor wee things, from the famine and the like.  Not baptised you see, had to be put somewhere.”

I thought about it now, methodically flicking the dirt from beneath each fingernail, each click like the thud of a midnight wagon hitting off the sodden fields.

“Do you think she was going to play with them?  That they called to her?”

“What?” Matt squinting at me in the dying evening rays.

“You know, the children.”

“Dee seriously, would you stop.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just the more stories I hear about this house the more I think we made the wrong decision moving out here.  I doubt even the whole of Galway has enough sage to clear this place.”

We hadn’t moved in two weeks and the stories began filtering through.  The old farmer bulldozing the ring fort on the hill above the house, as if the cows couldn’t just walk around it.  How he couldn’t find anyone to help him.  “Afraid the faeries would come after them sure, said nothing good would come of that kind of carry on.” 

I wasn’t sure when the forts became the home of the little people, when it was that souterrains went from a simple place to hide to the very gates of the underworld.  I didn’t think I believed in all that stuff either until they said the farmer was found dead in the field a few days later.  Heart attack they said, that or he’d angered the heritage Gods at least.

I looked up from my hands, watched the last of the light fall beneath the hill.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just cos I’m feeling so crap about the cat, but do you not think it’s a tad unlucky our new house seems to fall directly between a bulldozed fairy fort and a children’s friggin graveyard?  That has to be some bad mojo, no?”   

He could see the tears beginning to well, the shake in my voice as I ran my fingers through my hair.   “Come on, a good sleep is all you need.”

“Yeah. Maybe you’re right.”

We woke the next morning to find the small mound empty.  Matt saying it must have been the fox, that we didn’t bury her deep enough.  I didn’t tell him where I thought she’d really gone.  That perhaps we didn’t need to buy so much sage after all.  The children would be appeased at least.



Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway.  Her work has appeared in various publications, including Crannóg, Dodging The Rain, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Cabinet of Heed and Crossways.

Andrew Boulton


The lighthouse keeper was buried head first in the sand, so at first all Vince could see were his rough black boots.

It didn’t take Vince long to dig him out. The sand was wet, even this far from the shore and, in the way he had to as a boy, he soon found a shell that would work instead of a spade.

Vince held the tiny lighthouse keeper in his hand has he brushed away the stubborn sand. It was inexpertly carved from wood and even less expertly painted. But the yellow coat, faded to English mustard by the salt, and the chipped white beard made it clear enough what the figure was supposed to be.

Back in the lighthouse, where Vince had been squatting since the last fight, the final fight, with his grandfather, he placed the small keeper by the window facing, as duty demanded, out to sea.

When Vince woke up, as usual with the dry burn of bad cider in his throat, he lit his first cigarette and swore his first swear of the day.

The paper of the cigarette clung dryly to his lip and his lighter distractedly puffed up the very last of its fuel.

But when Vince looked up to where he had left the lighthouse keeper it seemed bigger. Not much, but certainly larger. The uneven black buttons, only four from six surviving the weather, were now the size of a baby’s finger print.

Over the next few days, the lighthouse keeper seemed to grow a little more every night. But by now Vince was drinking even cheaper booze and smoking scavenged tobacco and had only been this long without a dose twice in his life.

By the following Monday, a week since he’d found it, the lighthouse keeper was as tall as Vince’s cracked phone. A week later, it was nearly the size of the whiskey bottles sharing the shelf.

But Vince, if not assured in withdrawal, was at least experienced in it, and he maintained the robust sense of logic an unravelling mind demands.

Yet, as Vince woke up each morning to find his skin painful and tight, he also woke up to a taller, fatter lighthouse keeper.

Until, on this morning, Vince opened his eyes to the unbroken ocean. He was not in his bed, he was standing on the window sill, unable to move or to cry out or even to reach for the tobacco he kept in the mitten his grandmother had knitted for him as a boy.

And behind him, in the very edge of Vince’s immovable gaze, he saw a great yellow shape piling Vince’s belongings into a bin bag.



Andrew Boulton is a Creative Advertising lecturer from Nottingham. He is new to the world of short story writing and lives with his wife, 3 year old daughter and a chubby cat.