short story

All the Letters in his Van

by Ian Steadman

I almost laugh at the man who steps out. I hear Debbie snort beside me. He’s short and stocky, and his nose sticks straight out like the end of a broom handle. His jacket appears to be cut from blue felt, a row of gold-coloured buttons adorning the front, one of them so chipped and faded the plastic shows through. The trousers are of the same material, cut straight without any semblance of fashion or styling. Then there’s the hat. It looks like a child’s dressing-up outfit, but it’s hard to imagine any child wanting to dress as a traffic warden. Sown inexpertly to the front is a Royal Mail badge

For Ailbhe

by Tara Saunders

Dorchadas Eve they stood festival-watch in their cider-scented kitchen, not knowing it would be their last. Paurig, demanding a man’s share of the watch, standing it with eyes half closed. Ailbhe, curled in her snug of blankets by the hearthfire. Da, standing Paurig’s watch while the man-child snored and never saying a word. Ma, who kept plates overflowing and mugs filled, and who sat her own watch besides. And Murra, dragging through the festival all forlorn, preferring to watch for boys instead of Fiach. 

Stars Above, Stars Below

by Derrick Boden

The doctors call my condition neural hyperextension. Command calls it the Franklin Line, after the first pilot to survive long enough to experience it. Most pilots call it burnout. Whatever the name, onset never takes more than five years of piloting a meteor-class fighter. I made it four, and most people consider me lucky. I don't agree.

Of Milk and Blood

by Vanessa Fogg

The rifle feels heavy and unbalanced in her hands. Her knees are shaking, her arms weak as water. Her world has narrowed to a spot fifteen paces ahead. In the barn’s dim light, what looks like a young man lies stretched on the floor, dark hair spread out like a pool of ink. As her heart clangs within her, the figure groans and lifts its head. Dark eyes meet hers, fever-bright. Delicate features in a face pale as snow. A human face, but what rises from its head betrays the disguise. Winter light washes in through the door behind her and catches on onyx-black horns.

Beautiful horns, glossy and bright, rising straight from the head and then curving back and slightly outward like the horns of a goat. The horns of a demon. The unmistakable sign of devil-blood.

This is not the first time that Alis has encountered a demon.