Fearful Symmetry by Fiona Glass

  In the night’s heat a sudden breeze stirs the jungle’s fabric.  Fronds sway uneasily and leaves dance; a shaft of moonlight creates deeper shadows amongst the shadows and is gone, leaving darkness in its wake.  A dark that has nothing to do with velvet, but crushes and cloys, a steamy weight on your chest.  Thunder growls in the distance: a summer storm – or is it the breathy grumble of some wild beast, stalking through the dense under-canopy of vines and shrubs?  There are eyes amongst the fronds now, and the dark stripe of stem on stem could almost be… a tiger, on the prowl. The breeze stirs again and you can almost hear the rustle as it moves, Read More

The Double by Alisha Mughal

  Marie watched herself in the mirror, running the fine-toothed comb down through her long black hair. Keeping her movements slight and to a minimum, she watched her hands, one with its light grip on the comb and the other open flat and hovering behind each tuft the comb ran through, move in a way that reminded her of the stiff, statuesque movements of a doll’s unarticulated limbs. With her head tilted to the side, her hair cascading down over her left shoulder, she admired her bared neck, her right sternocleidomastoid muscle taut. Her reflection in the mirror became her self in front of others, and she thought about how beautiful her neck would look in that soft light that Read More

Body Work by Neil Leadbeater

  The building, noted for its long, low roof and floor-to-ceiling windows, lay at the far end of the school grounds on the north side of town. There was nothing extraordinary about it once you walked inside. It was just a large empty space. There was none of the fancy paraphernalia that you see in gyms today. We went to it once a week between French and Maths. The instructor was an ex-Army Sergeant Major, the sort whose talk was all shout; whose face showed no emotion. We were fresh out of the packet, green as grass; boys without names trained to obey his loud commands without any hint of complaint. Our world was circumscribed, purposeful, exact. We were exercising Read More

The Letter by Kate Whitehead

The steps to the house were worn down with the years of trampling feet but still grand like the smooth white pillars in front of the conservatory. I was juvenile and an aspiring author so pounced on any new adventure as a catalyst to the beginning of something. That was all I owned; a lot of openings which lay around for a while then became crumpled balls before disappearing under the detritus of my everyday life. This unexpected excursion was a break from my daily routine which revolved around looking for two elusive things simultaneously: work and long term accommodation. It was beginning to seem that neither of them would ever be available to me which left me in a Read More

Shadows on the Concrete by Veronica Lavia

They walk into the darkness, shadows on the concrete. I see shapes melt into the pavement. They appear and disappear, gray figures cast on a grayer world. They have no bodies. Forgotten, they walk amidst deserted cities, and only those who still have eyes to look and observe assist to these invisible interactions of bodiless shapes. They don’t see me, when I see them. I linger at the edge of the road, terrified that the ground is going to melt and drag me in the word of lost shadows. It happens at time, there’s so few of us left at the edges of the crumbling reality. The borderland we call it, the borderland of those who haven’t disappeared yet. It’s Read More

Brodie by Leela Soma

My journey began in Chennai 2015. What is a young lad from Glasgow doing in Chennai, India? You might well ask! It started on that night in November 2013 strange dream of me drowning or nearly drowning holding on to someone or something very precious to me. That was strange. I am a very good swimmer, a ‘wee fish in water’ as my grandma used to say. I had read late into the night tossing and turning. I was so excited about my success in getting a placement in an Indian music college! The Royal Conservatoire course had a three month placement for our class in the final year of my music course. I wanted to experience a completely new Read More

A Merry Christmas Mr Dickens by Rebecca Lewis

  Gad’s Hill, Christmas Eve, 1869   It is mid-afternoon and the light, meagre at best, is fading fast from the day. Charles is restless at his desk.  The writing is progressing slowly, much more slowly than he should like. He cannot settle – the dreadful pain that has tormented him for months on end will not allow it. To remedy this he drinks a brandy, makes excuses to his family, much occupied with the decorating of the Christmas tree, and strolls down the hill towards the town. He strides as best he can – his left foot dragging slightly – across the Rochester Bridge, flourishing his cane before him and greeting the occasional well-wisher with a nod and smile. Read More

The Knife by Frances Holland

1922 In the topmost attic room of a run-down terraced house in Salford is a small packing trunk. Inside the trunk is a canvas bag containing an identification card, an empty brandy bottle, and, wrapped in a grubby handkerchief, a small switchblade knife with a mother-of-pearl handle. I take out the knife and turn it over in my gloved hand. I slide it inside an envelope concealed in my coat pocket, and leave without a word. *********************************************** FIVE HOURS EARLIER I adore the sound of the telephone ringing in the hall. It makes me feel connected to the world, to life and activity everywhere. We have several in the newspaper offices in which I work, writing articles on local leek Read More

The Punch Bag by S S Haque

“Thunder, thunder, lightening.” “Aish!” Nabiha landed a cross to the head, a sharp left hook and a right roundhouse to the ribs that pushed me back a few paces. I held up the Thai pads and watched her eyes for a flinch, a giveaway. The dark brown discs were still, on my chest. Her shoulders were static and her punches landed without warning. Jab, cross, jab, cross! Fast and strong, her leather fists smashed the leather pads with satisfying whacks. She moved in and out on her toes. “Woah!” Her front teep kick took me by surprise and I fell back against the ropes and bounced forward. “Come forward, yes!” As I placed the Thai pads, keeping up with her Read More

Flora by Karina Cornell

You know when you wake up, and in the first few seconds of existence you don’t know who you are, why you are, and can’t seem to grasp any significant detail about your life? That void of endless possibility, is my favourite part of the day. My mind reels in circles, trying to grab onto any tangible thought or memory as slowly I open my eyelids, peeling them up like tiny drawbridges unlocking my world. The first thing I see is my enormous tree, just outside my window. The lush green leaves move each in their own individual way, but connected as a vast force, in sync. It gifts me the hope that there could be more than just that Read More