Tag Archives: horror

All Our Tomorrows

For far too long I’ve been procrastinating about writing my own stories. The usual reason is that I’m too busy writing stuff for other people, and while this is somewhat true, it’s still just an excuse.

CompleteCover“Those reasons why you can’t are just excuses. There is always a way. No excuses, get it done.” Those words are mine, tweeted a few days ago. I think it’s time I started following my own advice for a change. So, though I’m not usually one for all the New Year’s resolutions malarkey, this year I have resolved to write a lot more for myself.

Those who know me know that I have been toying with the idea of releasing a short story collection, called Flotsam. It’s that which I’ll concentrate on, while also, from time to time, adding more words to A Negative Bind.

So, as a treat (I’m not sure “treat” is the correct word…), here’s the beginning of a short sci-fi/horror story which will be included in Flotsam.

All Our Tomorrows

Photo 31-08-2013 19 47 10We’re comin’ in too fast!” Benny wailed.

Well yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Why’d you think that would be then?” Cal surveyed the ruined console in front of him. Sparks spluttered in dark recesses – recesses where dials and readouts were supposed to be. Heading indicator, velocity readout, life support and system updates, fairly useful things like that. Acrid smoke drifted in the cockpit, redolent of burnt ozone and melted plasteel.

Benny clambered out of the navigator’s chair in the rear of the cabin, coughing in the smoky atmosphere, and made his way forward, finally dropping heavily into the co-pilot’s seat next to Cal.

Can’t you do summet, Cal? You’re the pilot, like, so can’t you do that flying shit you do?”

Cal grimaced and took a deep breath, immediately regretting it as a coughing fit followed. He looked over at Benny, wiping his streaming eyes as he did so.

No, Benny, I can’t do that flying shit that I do, ’cause we ain’t flying, we’re fuckin’ crashing.” His voice was calm, reasonable, but the look in Cal’s eyes revealed that all was not sweetness and light with the Captain at this particular moment in time. Benny flinched as Cal’s hand settled on his shoulder, squeezing it painfully.

And we’re crashing, Benny, ’cause we somehow managed to fly into a fuckin’ asteroid. Now, you’re the navigator, so why the fuck didn’t you do your navigating shit and navigate us around that fucker?”

Benny’s shoulder cracked audibly, and painfully, as the Captain’s hand squeezed harder still. Cal had paid a backstreet TechMech back on Khollos IV to replace the servo-motors in his worn out cybot arm with illegal Pluton powered ones, and he had revelled in showing off his mech aided strength ever since. At least he can’t blame me for losin’ his arm, Benny thought as he gritted his teeth against the pain. That was his own damn fool fault.

C’mon Cal, it weren’t my fault, I was busy…”

You were busy jerkin’ off to Cylerion porn, that’s what you were doing!” The spacecraft lurched alarmingly, and Cal released his grip. Benny gingerly rubbed his shoulder, convinced that something was broken. The lights clicked off, then back on again. A muted alarm began to wail somewhere behind them, and a soft, feminine voice politely advised them that they should evacuate the ship immediately. A single red light blinked on and off above their heads.

Shit!” Cal flicked a switch, flinching as it sparked and hissed, belching more smoke at him. “Double shit!”

Benny suddenly felt claustrophobic. The view screens were no longer working, damaged in the collision, and the cockpit now felt exceedingly small. He looked around fearfully, panic slowly slipping its icy tendrils into his stomach.

Cal? Captain? What…?”

Cal fixed him with a despairing look. “Mr. French, I believe that now would be a good time to make for the emergency pod. And then, maybe, pray.”

Benny didn’t need telling twice – he was out of his seat and on his way before the Captain had finished speaking.

* * * *

The two men sat on the ridge of a tall dune as the twin suns reached their zenith in the sky above. Cal surveyed the distant desert through the viewscope while Benny sipped tepid water from his aqua-pack. Three days had passed since their unexpected arrival on this world, their stricken cargo craft breaking up as it entered the atmosphere.

They had nearly roasted in the oven of their emergency pod as it too blazed a trail through the ozone. Gravity had taken over and they hurtled towards the ground, panic rising between them until, with a sudden jolt, the large ‘chute deployed, slowing their descent to a slightly less terrifying speed. Through the small view port the terrain below could be seen – sandy desert from horizon to horizon.

There’s definitely something there in the far distance,” Cal said, still looking through the viewscope. “I can’t quite make it out, it’s like a dirty smudge on the horizon.”

Not in a talkative frame of mind, Benny grunted by way of reply. Their relationship, strained at the best of times, had rapidly declined since the crash. He gingerly touched his left eye, wincing as his fingertips brushed over it. The swelling had started to reduce, but the pain lingered. He had escaped uninjured from the emergency pod, only to walk straight into Cal’s fist, with the full power of his cybot arm behind it. He was out before he’d hit the floor, and so missed Cal’s venomous tirade against him and second rate navigators in general.

Cal lowered the viewscope and looked at Benny. “A grunt? Is that all? Don’t you have anything useful to say?”

Benny took another sip, rinsed his mouth, and spat the water out, aware he was wasting precious fluid but not caring. “You can’t make it out, even with the viewscope. If you can’t see what it is, then what the hell am I supposed to say, Captain? I’ve only got me two eyes, and one of them is swolled near shut.”

Okay, fair point. But do you have any idea what it could be?” Cal unhooked the tube to his own aqua-pack and took a long sip, grimacing as the brackish water reached his mouth.

Benny scratched his head where his scalp was beginning to peel. He’d never been any good in the sun, his pale skin easily burnt even in the mildest of summers. So two suns glaring down on him from a cloudless sky was downright unfair, in his opinion.

Well? Anything?” Patience wasn’t one of Cal’s strong points.

Benny met his gaze. “It could be smoke.”

Cal’s eyes lit up. “Smoke! Yeah, exactly what I was thinking! When I was a kid the factories of Newchester looked like that, ‘specially from a distance. And if there’s smoke, then there must be people!” He was on his feet, scanning the horizon with his scope again.

To Benny, the presence of smoke, if that’s what it was, didn’t necessarily mean people. It could be due to any number of things. They had no idea what, if anything, lived on this god forsaken planet. The newest star charts referred to it only as AR159C – Possible Oxygenated Atmosphere – Unexplored.

We need to check it out. It’ll mean a long hike for us, but we can do it.” Cal slipped the viewscope back into its case and slung it over his shoulder. “We don’t have much of an option anyway, seeing as you broke the emergency radio.”

Benny lunged to his feet. “What d’ya mean, I broke the radio? The friggin’ thing ain’t worked since we left Khollos IV, ’cause you were too tight to get it serviced. That, and everything else on that bag of bolts you called a ship. The Federation should’ve grounded you years ago! Don’t you go blaming me for shit you caused just to save a few Creds!”

Cal was walking away, heading to their small camp by the emergency pod at the base of the dune. He stopped, and turned to look at Benny. His eyes were glazed, no sign of emotion in them whatsoever. Benny closed his mouth with an audible click and stepped back a pace.

I’m the Captain. Your Captain, Mr. French. What I say, goes. So if I say you broke the radio, then you broke the damn radio, okay? Good.” Cal turned and continued down the steep slope, sliding on the loose sand that sucked hungrily at his heavy boots. “Come along now. We need to make preparations.”

Benny stood and stared after his retreating Captain. Cal had always been on the wrong side of stable, and it looked very much as if he was losing control. Benny thought Cal becoming unstable, out here on this friggin’ never ending beach, would be a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed.

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Writing


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Hey! Hi, howareya?

Kept you waiting, huh? (for all you MGS fans out there.)

Well then. Busy, busy, busy. But finally back to working on my own stuff once again. The Negative Bind hasn’t been forgotten about, it’s still very much on my mind. It has, however, been shelved for the time being, as my short story collection keeps rearing its ugly little head and distracting me.

Once upon a time I had a title in mind for this collection but as time went on I came up with another name for it and ran with that for a while. This new title – A Dog Barked Once – made perfect sense. To me, anyway. You see, the vast majority of my stories contain, somewhere in them, the line “…somewhere in the distance a dog barked, once, twice…”, and so A Dog Barked Once seemed very fitting. Hell, I could even write a second collection and call it A Dog Barked Twice!


But no. Again time has moved on, and I find myself favouring my original title – Flotsam.

Why Flotsam, you ask. Well, dictionaries define the word as:

  • pieces of broken wood and other waste materials found on the beach or floating on the sea.
  • anything or anyone that is not wanted or not considered to be important or useful.

If you were to ask me where I get my ideas from, most of the time I’d be unable to tell you. They just kind of appear in my head. The closest I can come to explaining it is to say I view the imagination in my head as a vast, and mostly empty, ocean. Floating around in this Imaginocean are idea boxes – some complete and whole, the majority only a part of the entire story, pieces of wreckage from a fractured tale.

Whenever one of these boxes floats close enough to the shore, I wade out and grab it with both hands before it can float out of reach again. I’ll open the box, see what’s inside, and write it down, before settling back to await the next idea box to drift into view.

So yes, I’m slightly weird. No matter.

A lot of writers like to do cover reveals. They like to keep the image hidden until they feel the time is right, and then release it with great fanfare, or in a more subdued manner, depending on their style. Well, not me. Once I have a cover I like then I don’t mind showing it around (mainly because there’s a very good chance I’ll change my mind and make another cover before long).

And so, without further ado, here is the cover for my upcoming short story collection, Flotsam.



When will it be released? Who knows. Whenever I get around to finishing it, would be my best guess. Until then, at least you have a pretty picture to look at, right?


As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Books, Writing


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Well hello there, how’re you doing?

Since before last Christmas I’ve been working on a collection of short stories. The stories had been knocking around in my head for quite some time, and so I thought they deserved to be brought into the world. I had a title for the book of this collection. I had a cover all worked out. I had a list of the stories I was sure I wanted to include, and a list of others I’d put in if there was room.

I set about this task in good spirits. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I had everything I needed. Piece of cake.


Every time I worked on one story, my mind would wander to another. Work on that other story instead, and I’d be thinking about yet another. Progress was slow. Progress was painful.

Something was wrong here. The words weren’t flowing and I needed to find out why. This past weekend I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, peering into the recesses of my mind, looking for the cause.

And I found it.

Sunset behind the clouds over Quintrell Downs in Cornwall.After I’d published my short story ‘Watcher’, I started work on another, longer tale. The story of Paul Bowscar came to life rapidly, the boy would never shut up, his tale needed to be told, and he was damn sure he was going to make sure I wrote it all down. He was constantly in my head. Talking incessantly, eager to be heard. Morning, noon and night.

Then one day – silence. Nothing at all. Paul had left, gone to wherever his own negative bind had taken him. The words dried up, the story stalled.

But no longer. Paul is back. Maybe he took exception to me writing things other than his story, who knows. But back he is, and it’s time to complete his tale.

So, The Negative Bind has been resurrected. How long will it take? Who can tell, and Paul certainly isn’t telling. He’ll get to the end when he’s good and ready.

Small excerpts might be posted from time to time. They might not. But this story will be told, one way or the other.

As always, that shallot.




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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Books, Writing


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Story! New. Buy it. Now.

So, just a quickie. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a quickie…

Christmas is almost upon us. Peace on Earth. Good will to all men. And all that other happy stuff.

Bah humbug.

Stuck for a present to buy the person you don’t really like? Well, I have a short story published on Amazon – the link is over on the right somewhere. It’s cheap too.

So that’s sorted then. Excellent.

twentysevenOn the other hand, if you want a really good story to read, then this bad boy by Jack Binding came out yesterday. I haven’t, as yet, had the time to read and review it myself (sorry Jack), but having read Jack’s other stories I have no doubt it’s well worth the buy and read.

So, do yourself a favour, click the image, or >>>HERE<<<, and buy yourself an early Christmas present.

I might write again before Christmas. Then again, I might not. Either way, have yourself a good one. Try not to kill anyone. Save it for the new year, it’s more apt.

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Books


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Leaves You Shuddering And Filthy…

imageShameless promotion time. This is one of my favourite reviews for my short story ‘Watcher’. It’s a four star review, but then not all good reviews have to be five stars. So long as they’re honest in what they say then they’re all gratefully received. The story has since undergone an update, so hopefully some, if not all, of the kinks have been ironed out.

‘Watcher – A Short Story Of Terror’ is available on Amazon Kindle, here.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you shuddering and filthy… in a good way., July 4, 2013
By Patrick Dixon (Carson City, NV) – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Watcher (Kindle Edition)

It’s not often that we get to crawl inside the mind of a killer and stay there; rarer still that the cesspit is exposed as much more than an excuse for random blood and guts. The Watcher allows us both.

A piece of short fiction, The Watcher goes into perversely loving detail as we are presented with the titular character’s attack on a young woman… and the surprising aftermath. I’m known to have a sick enjoyment of things that leave me feeling filthy and unclean – tend to rate such things as being much more difficult to achieve than the usual happy thoughts or scary stuff; 8MM, for example, is one of my favorite movies for this reason – and this managed that feat quite easily. The language, the hints of what led to The Watcher’s state of mind and his increasing mental instability as the siege continues were all well done and vividly presented, focusing on smell and taste – I’ll never look at gumdrops quite the same way again, I’ll tell you that – as much as the usual sight and sound.

Only a few small quibbled prevented me from flagging this as five stars; first, some of the language is a trifle awkward or repetitive. Not a huge amount, and not really what it was docked for, but there was more than one moment where I paused upon seeing the same word for the third or fourth time on a page. Second was the focus on the victim; her backstory was interesting enough but I felt it toned it back too much when we popped into her head to “take a break” as it were from The Watcher; disgusting though he may be, I think there would have been a little more “oomph” if we were with him the whole time. Lastly, the ending. I like it, I do, and part of me says that it makes the victim’s chapters necessary in its way, but I felt it was a little too foreshadowed and predictable by the time it came. It’s not all bad, as it at least doesn’t take the typical slasher-film route, nor does it give you the snuggle-bunny feeling of “It’s all okay, now,” so bonus points for being original. Just not quite what I was hoping for.

There’s also the tightrope issue of wanting more. Short fiction always has that abyss yawning below, while the author skips across, trying to keep a balance between word-glut and not telling enough; to be certain, leaving the readers wanting to know more is usually a good thing, but at the same time too much left unsaid can sometimes stifle the enjoyment. I think this one stays on the “good questions left” side of things, but I’d still like to see more. Expansion on The Watcher’s youth and early “career” would be a fascinating read, I suspect. While one can make some educated guesses on why he is the way he is (there’s certainly a handful of clues scattered about), the warped part of me would have liked more of the psychology behind him. Of course, that could very easily balloon up to novel-length, which might kill the charm of being inside The Watcher’s head.

Overall, though, a pleasing read for those who don’t mind getting their hands (and minds) dirty. Great presentation, good characterization, and a twist ending put it well ahead of the pack.


If you do get round to reading ‘Watcher’ sometime in the future, and you enjoy it, please take the time to write a brief review, they all help enormously. Feel free to drop me a line too, to let me know. Thank you.



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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Books


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The ‘Cellar Door’ Theory

What lurks behind the cellar door...

What lurks behind the cellar door…

I have a theory… well, ‘theory’ is rather a grand name for it. ‘Idea’ would be more apt. Maybe even ‘nonsensical notion’. Whatever.

It concerns types of horror, and how all of them can be created from the same setting, and it goes something like this…

Ok… well, imagine the scene. A big, old farmhouse, zoom in to the kitchen, a big, old fashioned farmhouse kitchen. A lady is sitting at a large wooden table. Maybe she’s reading a recipe, or shelling peas, or peeling potatoes. On the wall behind her is the door to the cellar. She’s listening to the radio as she works, a local country music station…

Picturing the scene?

She hears a noise, she pauses what she’s doing. All is quiet, apart from a country singer singing a sad song on the radio. She carries on doing what she’s doing. Another noise. This time she looks behind her. It sounded like it came from the cellar. Again, quiet, just the radio. Before she can carry on working, another, louder noise. This time she’s sure it came from the cellar. Her brow creases, she puts a hand to her mouth. What could it be?

Still picturing the scene?

She marks her place in the recipe book/puts down her paring knife/pushes aside the shelled peas – whatever it is she’s doing – and she stands up, frowning at the door. Maybe she was mistaken… but no, yet another noise. Her heart beats loud in her chest, her breathing quickens. She scolds herself for being nervous, it’s probably just a rat knocking over her pickling jars… She moves forward, she needs to check it out. After all, hasn’t she saved the small change from her housekeeping money to buy those jars? She approaches the door. A cold draught blows from under it, chilling her slipper clad feet. The doorknob is cool to her touch as she grasps it, ready to open the door…

Still in the scene?

She swallows. Her heart is racing. The radio DJ is talking about the unseasonably hot weather. She scolds herself again for being silly, smiles, turns the knob and pulls open the door….

…And what happens next depends on what type of horror you want to write. Or at least the type of horror for that particular story.

Did you get all geared up there, waiting to see what happens next?

Good, that’s the point. That’s the base for a horror, the suspense. What the suspense leads up to depends on the style that’s being aimed for by the author.

So she opens the door, and there’s…

A guy in a hockey mask with a chainsaw – teenage gore fest type horror.

Glowing yellow eyes, myriad sharp teeth, rancid breath, roar drowns out her scream – slightly more imaginative teenage gore fest type horror.

Nothing there but a cat on the bottom step – psychological, playing with your nerves until the real scare type horror.

Nothing there but a cat on the bottom step… but, she slips, falls down the stairs, knocks herself unconscious. The cat, a starving stray, starts to lick up the blood. Hunger getting the better of it, it nuzzles into her neck, eating its way through… – OMG, that could actually happen type horror.

Aliens living in her cellar who ask to borrow an extension cord to plug in and recharge their spaceship – comedic and silly type horror.

Of course, none of the above actually means anything, and the list of examples is unending. It’s just nice to waffle on about a theory once in a while. What an author wishes to write is their own affair, and how they go about it is their business. Horrifying and scary to some may be laugh-a-minute comedy to others. And vice versa.

Personally, I like the third example, though the fourth one has a certain appeal.

Write about what scares you, because then you’ll be able to inject a real sense of fear into the words. The unknown scares me the most. A serial killer with a chainsaw – a snarling monster, all teeth and claws – a malevolent spirit from the other side – an unimaginable horror from another planet – these are all tangible things. If they can be seen and touched, they can be dealt with – yes, they may scare the life out of you, but they’re all problems with an achievable solution.

For me, the actual walk to the cellar door would be the worst part, the most frightening. Until I’d opened the door and seen what I was dealing with, my mind would be supplying all sorts of different scenarios, and none of them would have happy endings. Once the door was open though, well, then I’d know the exact nature of my immediate fate and be able to make plans to deal with it. Or just run away.

Anyway, enough waffling.



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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Writing


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Just a thought…

Just a thought for horror writers…

We sit in our nice, comfortable houses, full of our good food and good drink, and write about the horrors of the zombie apocalypse, or the end of the world, for entertainment purposes. For fun.

But what if it was the zombie apocalypse? What if we were living through the horrors of the end of the world? What would we write about then?

The horrors of home comforts...

The horrors of home comforts…

After years of battling the undead, would that ultimately become humankind’s normality, therefore making the age old comforts of home the true horror?

Would we then write about living in nice, comfortable houses? Would we write about being full of good food and good drink?

Would that be entertainment? Would that be fun?

Would that be terrifyingly horrific?

Well, would it?



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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Thoughts, Writing


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