We both wrote a flash fiction story called ‘Tombstones.’ Ino’s:

I brought my cine camera to make a vampire film among the tombstones. Unfortunately there was a notice up proclaiming,  ” do not disturb the graves,” and a verger with a hand-bell, looking for all the world like a town crier, also came up to me and said, “you are not allowed to film here.”

How do the great classics of gothic film ever get made? Is it essential to have the money and clout to construct an imaginary graveyard? I’m only an amateur film-maker and cannot stretch to that. Although perhaps I should try, in my back garden, and then it would be more authentic because all the real ghoulies would flock to my unconsecrated ground which was mimicking a place of burial. Then they could star in the film.

“Look, Mum, here comes a monster!”

The clergy would be perfectly happy with all these creatures from Hell coming into my back garden and then appearing at the local film club in all their glory on the silver screen. It would be better than me trespassing.

My story:

Gravestones used to be white. Now they are grey or black, and the next generation upon seeing them will think we have consigned our dearly departed either to Hell, (the black ones) or to an abode of sackcloth and ashes which must be Purgatory (the grey ones). They can’t be going to Heaven, because there is no longer a row of white tombstones, standing tall like incisors against the horizon.

I tried erecting a tombstone in pale grey, in the hope it would look more like a white one. It just ended up looking more like ashes than ever before: like the remains of a smouldering pyre that had been lit cautiously upon some consecrated mound to circumvent the fire regulations. It was like soot in the grate, rather than the blacker soot in the chimney.

But when did anyone last use an open fire? We are in the age of dehydrated central heating, shrivelling up the atmosphere faster than a blocked chimney can choke the air in a room, and leaving no residue to be seen- or incorporated into a tombstone design.



We both wrote  a flash fiction story called ‘Tassel.’


My story:

I caught one of the tassels in my gown on the door handle of the drawing room, and it temporarily arrested my flight from the great house. It gave me a moment longer to contemplate the finery of my surroundings as I struggled, hooked to the door, to free myself from the restraint.

Where would I go when I managed to escape- to the poor house? Would I be scrubbing a filthy floor, and afterwards be handed one scrap of bread as my evening meal?

At last I pulled myself away and resumed my journey, adjusting the comb in my hair as I ran. I wanted to keep the comb. Perhaps I could hide it in my pocket and no-one would know it was there. If they knew they would probably take it away from me, just as everything else was about to be taken, starting from now.


Ino’s story:

The tassel swung. It swung and swung. It had a knotted silk loop on the end, and the knot hit the wall with a thud. Then something burst, up above in the unseen world from which the tassel had originated.

Brown silk flew everywhere, and it looked like a tulle dress tucked up and worn by a model on the catwalk as it flew into clumps and frilled, gathered areas which stuck to the wall, giving an impression of horrible gothic sleeves.

More tassels appeared at centre stage: a whole row of them like a glockenspiel; tassels being hit by little hammers all along the row, xylophone tinkles as the hammers hit: thud, thud and thud again, right the way along. And the whole stage split. The wings spread out as they cracked from bottom to top, and now the ceiling fell in on our many phantoms of the opera who were seated silently in the amphitheatre, waiting for something to happen.

Well, it wasn’t long to wait after all, and someone at the back called out, “eschaton.”




We both wrote a piece called ‘Bicycle.’ Mine:

At the back of the store I found an imitation penny farthing bicycle. When the shopkeeper wasn’t looking I took it out into the yard behind the shop and began to ride it, and the big wheel got larger and the small wheel got smaller until it was a hoop the size of a circus ring with a tiny dot underneath it.

Then it became a cell with a nucleus that was such a speck you could hardly see it, and I found myself turned into a chromosome of waving seaweed that spanned half the diameter and flowed over the rest. I was part of a cell in some unknown organism, crawling on the seabed in a new world, and soon to emerge onto the land. What kind of creature it would grow into I could not tell.

Wheeling the bike  to the front of the shop,  I warned the shopkeeper of its psychedelic properties. He replied that there had never been a penny farthing bicycle in the store, and it must have been me who had brought it in.



My bicycle is blue with red handlebars, and there is a bell prominently situated at the front where the handlebars meet.

I ring the bell all the time. I ring it to make pedestrians jump and almost fall under my wheels, and I ring it to warn cats that I am about to ride over their tails and chop off the end. I ring it just before I ram into the back of other cyclists and I ring it before I thread around other road users at the junction, terrifying them, and looking like I’m about to get myself killed.

If a policeman tries to stop me I ring the bell- then whizz away at high speed. If an angry pedestrian accosts me, I spit at him, ring the bell and then accelerate away, narrowly missing him as I gather speed and tear along the open road. Even my mother has been grazed by my wheels as I shoot away out of our yard, to escape her criticisms of my reckless behaviour.

Never tell me to stop ringing the bell, for it is only that which warns you that I am near.


Cardboard Box

This one was channelled from Ino:

My cat likes to sleep in a cardboard box. I too sometimes step into the box, although not to sleep; for me it is an escape from the world, and I can sit in it with my hands covering my eyes and see an inner world under the sea, full of waving sea-fronds and fat, bloated fish.

Sometimes I imagine that a fisherman has found the box and boxed me up in it, wrapping sticky tape around it many times. Then he heaves it over his shoulder and walks down to the sea, where he casts it in to use as bait for the fish. Most bait is only small, like a worm on the end of a line, but this box is large enough to hold me, so it can’t be a bait for the same kind of fish and must be intended for something else: a shark, perhaps, or a piranha. What will the fisherman do when he catches the shark or piranha, will he eat it? They must taste bad, and it’s unhygienic to eat meat-consuming fish anyway, for at second -hand you eat whatsoever it is the fish has eaten.

My cat climbs into the box holding a sardine in her mouth, and she licks her paws languidly and then falls asleep. There is no room now for me to get into the box tonight. I’ll have to dream instead, in my innocent bed with rose petals on the pillow.




Here is the piece I wrote to go with Ino’s ‘Mauve.’


Peter Carroll invented a new colour: octarine, a colour of enlightenment. But to me it looks purple.

I meditated on the octarine and saw it before me, a shining sheet of purple. Plunging into it, I went to a strange world where raindrops moved horizontally and did not fall, where cows with three long legs and one short leg grazed on a stitched cotton sampler made of blue gauze, with no grass in sight.

You might expect to see such objects if you were looking into a distorted fairground mirror. You wouldn’t want to see a reflection of yourself looking too fat or too thin, because that would be boring. It’s too much like this predictable everyday realm, where someone built the funfair with the fat and thin mirror in it, and wrote out ledgers of dull funfair accounts. It would be better to be as I was then, one foot on the trapeze and my whole body hanging in the air. Yet there was no danger of falling; only alien stars.

As I moved deeper into the purple it became even more bizarre, with footsteps wandering across the ceiling and down the walls. “If this is octarine,” I thought, “it’s craziness, not enlightenment.” Suddenly it was no longer any more exciting than the familiar world, and then I came out.






(channelled from Ino).

There are a host of colours near the violet end of the spectrum which are all similar shades, and one of these is mauve. It’s a strange name for a colour- and it’s my name. That’s right, my mother named me Mauve.

It wasn’t because I looked purple in the face when I was born. It was because my mother was a painter, and just before I was born she had embarked upon a new painting in which the dominant colour was to be mauve. In fact it had very few other colours, and was mainly monotone.

My mother shaded and shaded during those last few days when she was feeling so heavy, and like some lumbering beast. As she shaded, the brush turned to one side, she was sure she could feel the colour and spirit of the painting seeping into her skin, seeping right through to her womb and into the baby. The painting WAS the baby, and the baby was…. hers.

Therefore, she was free to name the baby after the painting if she so desired, and she did. This was to be her grand bohemian gesture, one she had been wanting to make for a long time, but had not known exactly how until this phenomenon occurred and showed her the way.

Her young husband, my father, was surprised when she announced on the way to the hospital that she was going to call the baby ‘Mauve’. His preferred name had been Annabel. He had known an Annabel at school, and in poetry.

This however was moving poetry, thrusting out its hand in the doctor’s face, or was it moving art? Was giving birth performance art, of a kind never to be repeated except with the next masterpiece, and even then with variations?

So there I was – performance art, and here I am now, disposed at times to wear mauve all over and spray it on my hair, because in my thoughts I resemble my mother.




For Halloween we both wrote a flash fiction story titled: Spider


Ino’s Story:

She spun me into her web. I was in the middle, with the strands spanning out from the ends of my fingertips, like knives for stabbing a fly. Yet, if I was in the middle I should have been the spider- and I wasn’t. I was still the spider’s assistant.

I don’t want to catch flies for her. She can open her mouth and they will fly in, possibly to get away from the web. Humans get flies in their mouths too: and spiders, which they swallow in the night without knowing.

I flex my fingers and call the flies, and the web dances, but I can’t dance when I am trussed up here in the middle like a mummy in a tomb. I will ask her to take her place back in the middle of the web, where she should be, and let me sit out:- sit out this dance, as the web ducks and dives with each insect foot that probes it. She is bound to hear me, for the strands act as a radio.

But what will she say? She might have meant me to deputize for her forever. The web will dull, and become clogged with dust, and I won’t be able to spin another one, like she could. We will all turn to dust together: myself, the web and the flies.


My story:

He liked all the girls to call him ‘Spider’. He must have heard one of those lines from a film, like “everyone calls him Tiger”, and he didn’t want to be a wild cat so he settled for something that merely rhymed with ‘tiger’.

He so loved rhymes that he thought about taking it even further and becoming ‘Spider the Easy Rider’, but he was afraid that would provoke as much ridicule as admiration.

He soon noticed that the girls who simply wanted to be popular were always saying “Spider, Spider…. Spider this and Spider that…” but any girl who really liked him would ask his friends, “what’s his real name?”

That irked him to a degree. He wanted to be loved as the fantasy personality:  Spider with all the connecting strands, who will eat you for breakfast. But they always wanted to know who he was really, and his real identity caused him some shame, which he had repressed.

He needed to take a close look, and examine what he was ashamed of. Yet still he shied away from doing that, as he climbed the walls with his flexible spider legs and spun a great, complicated web. A web of deceit, or a web of the street?






Classical Greek Literature

We both wrote a flash fiction story titled: Classical Greek Literature

Ino’s Story:

Their plays have lasted through the centuries and have not been lost, and  many of their poems have lasted too. This poem, however, has gone. My poem, my confession, has gone.

I wrote it in a prison cell, by the light of a tiny torch. Did you think the ancient Greeks didn’t have torches? I had one. It was made from fire, not a battery of course, and don’t ask me how I made it under the watchful eye of the jailer, but I did. The fire burned along that hollow stick, and illuminated the curled letters as I inscribed them, and the meaning they carried was enough to inflame horror in the breast of any casual reader.

My confession was detailed, yet matter of fact. I showed no remorse or emotion about what I had done. In fact I made it clear that I would do it again, if similar circumstances were to present themselves. It is at this point that most of those whom I address become impatient to know the details. But alas, you cannot know them for as I said before, my confession is gone.


My Story:

It always bothered me to read ‘Agamemnon’ or ‘Antigone’, because I seemed to be in them. After the first few scenes, I would inevitably find myself. It was never simply one of the characters that was me, although it started like that. Very soon it would become all-pervasive, an essence that was felt throughout the play. That was when I would shut the book with a snap and let it fall to the floor, and only after an interval of several hours had passed would I creep back and slide it furtively into the bookshelf.

Would it have purged me to watch a performance of these plays? I wondered about that, for my tutor used to say that their purpose was to purge the audience. He had picked up that academic theory from somewhere, but I bet he wouldn’t want to be vomited up into a toilet, and despatched by pulling the chain. That’s what would have happened to me, because the plays were me.

Not surprisingly, I never completed the course. The tutor thought I was lazy.


I have found this flash fiction story that was edited out of my book of short stories ‘Chaos Dreams Part 2’. 


The general election was in mid-swing, and for Mandy it brought back memories of that campaign long ago, squeezed into the back of a van with scruffy, heavily smoking labour party campaigners and piles of leaflets tied with rubber bands. That lady in the polo-necked jumper, twenty years her senior, who had so impressed her with tales of ‘politically educating’ potential voters on their doorstep. All Mandy had felt able to do was stuff a leaflet through the letterbox and quickly move on to the next one.

Now as she walked up the road there was a slim leaflet sticking out of every letterbox- and then suddenly, on one of the doorposts, she saw the pixie. He was exactly like a pixie from a children’s’ fairy tale: a little green figure balancing on the stone and holding a flute. As she watched he put it up to his lips and began to play, and the music was so completely mesmerizing that she forgot where she was and entered a reverie, and after the reverie she could remember nothing of what she had first thought or daydreamed.


Annabel, you were my child in our game,

Like Annabel Lee who I couldn’t have named,

Like Anna and Bel who were cloistered together,

And I’ve heard Annabel is a Satanist name.


Mandy made her way home, hoping that after her intriguing experience the depression wouldn’t hit tonight. For she had an affliction, and it was depression. However well her life was going, however fortunate she was, she would sink into that quagmire of hopelessness, convinced that neither she nor her life had any worth. It ate away at her cheerful times; it was like a mousetrap that she could tread on at any moment.

As she sipped her tea and watched the News, she thought she could tentatively trust that this would be a cheerful evening. Then the pixie was there beside the TV, singing like a jangling cricket and leading her away into a funneled-out tornado, poised over foggy, brackish moorlands where there were stagnant pools and a single wren bobbing in a bush. She became more and more lost in travelling through this spiral, walking on cloud steps, and she loved the pixie and wanted to follow him forever.

When you’re working at the polling station, you have to pretend you live there for the day, because there are no half shifts. There is  only the full one which ends with taking out drawing pins with exhausted fingers under dark windows and electric light, and bagging up many papers to transport away along with heavy metal boxes. On this side of the counter you must stay alert, while those queuing up on the other side relax and slouch, and half surrender responsibility for this change to normal routine.

Mandy was proud of her hard work at those distant elections- it somehow justified her sitting now gazing into a coal fire, or spending several hours watching a film. She didn’t mean to drift away so often but it felt peaceful, like rambling through the countryside. The journey with the pixie was only a new variation of the same; it was simply harder to remember what happened when she followed him. The music had so many layers: although it was one flute there could have been a whole orchestra behind it, and each layer whirled her somewhere new along a path bordered by grey, misty shapes, which might have been flower heads leaning upwards above a marshland.


Annabel, you stood there in my trance

Frozen to trees, and then freed to dance.

You’d gone back to being Sally, my doll.

I recognized you and I gave you the chance.


The last time she got depressed she had lain on her bed for four hours, and all she did during that time was pull undone some knitting she had been attempting to learn as a new hobby, at a time when traditional household crafts had all but disappeared. Dinner time passed without her bothering to eat anything, because what does it matter when you live alone? You might as well never eat again.


Annabel now has changed into a monster.

Throw the doll by the leg; nobody wants her.

I see bright red when I say ‘Annabel.’

Ruth is red too, but I’ve lost her as sponsor.


Mandy stood up quickly as she remembered this, and did a few tasks to reassure herself that she wasn’t depressed tonight.  Work was best for taking her mind off it, yet it often struck in the middle of work as well, and that was devastating as she slowly ran out of energy and motivation and came to a stop. But there would be none of that tonight; she would finish her work and then sit down to follow the pixie again into his musical world where the two of them were united.





Evil Guardian Angel

This one was channelled from Ino

I don’t know what to do with my English public schoolgirl friend. She never actually wore a tie at school, but I’ve decided that the Old School Tie is something that strangles those who try to survive without being streetwise.

Several times now I’ve picked her up from the gutter of life, dusted her down and set her back on the road again. But she only goes somewhere that’s off the map, where many a big bad wolf idles by the side of the road watching for her to stray off it.

As I lift her up by her braces (she’s never had braces on her teeth but she does so need a gate across her mouth), I swing her a few times as if from the gibbet where her path would shortly have petered out had I not picked her up. Then I place her on a friendlier road lined with flowers, and I give her a pocket handkerchief full of pot pourri tied to a stick that she carries over her shoulder.

But I should have put in rat poison. Then the discolouration of her character and tongue would at least have been quick instead of painfully slow as she meanders along the flowery way, the easy path, the ‘wide road that leads to destruction.’

In the land where old school ties have only recently disappeared, it behoves you to be very careful that people can’t tell exactly where you come from, right to the exact front door and the number on it.

If I can find you so can the stork, and whose baby would you really like to be? He picked up his bundle just as you did, and will be depositing you behind the front door where the cap fits. ALL CAPS: easy to read there above the door. So the journey will end and a new one will begin, but don’t expect me to keep picking you up this time, because I’ve picked someone else.