Science Fiction

Something Nasty In The Woodshed…

A little unsettling Voodoo down by Waitrose? Dubious occultists are up to no good at number 23 again? The Thelemic Lodge next door just won’t keep the noise down? Yup, urban occult. Who knows what sinister esoteric doings are going on behind the closed doors of suburban Blighty.

I just loved the new anthology idea from Anachron Press. Urban Occult. Irresistible. Trying to write a contribution sounded loads of fun. Satanists. Crazy Wiccans. Those nasty inner-city backwaters that really just aren’t right. And I’ve been lucky enough to have my short story included. Wow. Plus I’m very pleased to have designed the jacket.

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Dark Fantasy Short Stories

A day in a life with a demon. Any demon. Write a short story. Dark fantasy Short Stories please…

To me? An irresistible idea for an anthology as it offered a good excuse for wandering about the internet poking into demonic pacts, hellish secrets and Faustian goings on. Too many great things to try and write about. But how could you get yourself stuck with a demon? Was this necessarily a bad thing? And once you’d signed your life away how exactly would you go about trying to renege on the deal?

Enter Mrs Milton. As I’m pretty sure old ladies know far more than they ever let on… My small contribution the the Anachron Press ‘Day of Demons’ anthology.


 

THE DEVIL & MRS MILTON // ANACHRON PRESS

+ The Devil & Mrs Milton // Day Of Demons // Anachron Press

Day of Demons is a collection of powerful stories featuring the conflict of demons and humans over the course of a day.

Read how one woman’s inner-self awakens to unexpected and frightening consequences, or how a charismatic half-breed thief is forced to strike a deal with a pen-stealing imp. Read about a mother as she struggles to cope with a deadly, satanic bargain, and a sword-wielding anti-hero as he returns out of exile to face his demonic fate.

Nine stories, nine demons, nine authors. From fantasy, to horror, to contemporary fiction, this anthology will fright, delight and grip you with tales of daring-do, danger and of course — demons.

– Anachron Press –

+ From…

‘Deal’ by Karen Davies, ‘Inheritance’ by Phil Hickes, ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ by Krista Walsh, ‘Sam & The Spear’ by Gary Bonn. ‘Numen’ by V. Đ. Griesdoorn, ‘City of Light and Stone’ by Laura Diamond, ‘Cost of Glory’ by Edward Drake and ‘A Mother’s Love’ by James M. Mazzaro. All masterfully put together by editor Colin F. Barnes!

+ Read a little excerpt…

THE DEVIL & MRS MILTON // SARAH ANNE LANGTON

Would you like my life? The money. The connections. The trappings of wealth. The comforts of success. Would you take it if I offered? Snatch opportunity from my hands? In one small gesture have this to be yours?

Don’t be under any illusions. Don’t fail to see behind the shining veneer. This all came at a high price. A tithe paid in blood. And you should be very careful with whom you strike a bargain.

Nothing is a safe bet. And there’s sometimes a cost you don’t really want to pay.

I have an appointment this evening. A nefarious friend is intending to call. Balance on a debt that’s unavoidably due. Not anybody you’d like to meet. But stay and talk a while. I have a little time before he arrives.

The business deal. A social engagement. The relationship. The new enterprise. I have the magical gift of turning all to gold. Success always stands by my side. Doors that eternally open. My path invariably takes me towards greater rewards. Whatever journey I embark upon my providence is assured. I never put a foot wrong. Always safely walk between the paving cracks. I have insinuated myself into the most fortuitous relationship with life. Everything unfailingly falls my way. Life appears to love me. A prominent participant in all that is esteemed. But I’ve had a little help you see. An unfair advantage. A sleight of hand. A dirty secret. Something I’ve kept hidden from others in my world. Not that ever I asked for it. Nothing that I wanted. A node of success. Too big. Too close. A life that didn’t appear tangible to any who looked too intently. A legacy of my family for generations. A bargain made in my absence a long time ago.

Perhaps I should be resigned to my fate. A bit of North London Zen? I’ve had many long years to think about this day. Plotting. Planning. Secrets. My fetch has always stood close by. Watching from the sidelines. Expectantly eager in the corners of a room. She’s never been too distant. Always following in the backwash of my days. The street lights that dim as I approach. The hissing cat that will never sit by my side. The distant chime of bells as sleep pulls me down into fragmentary dreams. I discern my guest and his associates have tainted my life. Little reminders to ensure I don’t forget our deal. I fear that I burn a little too brightly in the more ethereal of places. But that was never of my choice. An attraction I never desired. And as the more esoteric of gentleman would point out (and I’m certain they speak truly) when you have no choice but to see them, then of course, they can see you.

I believe my guest is on his way. Twisting just out of perception. Signal to noise against the monochrome streets of a Camden winter’s day. Don’t feel obliged to wait with me. I’m sure anybody would understand should you leave. But company is pleasant. And I have a curious tale to tell.


 

Available right now at Amazon UK and Amazon US! Go take a look if you’d like some demonic tales to entertain. And who wouldn’t?

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Pandemonium: Stories Of The Smoke

Charles Dickens. What does mention of that name make me think? Well, Victorian literary heavyweight. Bah Humbug!. Social critic. Genius characterization. London at her most deliciously captivating. London at her grubby, grasping worst. Of being entranced reading a ‘Tale of Two Cities’. And the iconic image of Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes. Oh, and his dog. For some reason Bill Sikes’s dog.

So with those thoughts I sat down to try and write a Dickensian tale for the wonderful ‘Pandemonium: Stories Of The Smoke’ anthology. A bit daunting for me as I’ve never written anything above a little flash fiction before but I love London. Her history has so many fascinating tales to tell. It would be nice to try and make a small contribution to those.

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The London Library

(Keep It Down There Mr Darwin)

Need to write something? Want to get that drawing project you started months ago finished? Well, your house is beset with devilish traps to prevent you from doing so. Really. A kitchen full of tea to be made. An Xbox just feet away. A whole world of pointless tasks you can happily procrastinate over. And that’s before actually risking going anywhere near the internet. A total lack of will power prevails and before you know it you’re playing Portal in between another round of Earl Grey.

After piteously moaning about this utter lack of creative discipline a friend offered to loan me their library membership. Well, that’s very sweet. Okay. So slightly discouraged by thoughts of ‘Children’s Book Day’, clusters of cold dodging old folks, crazy people talking to the large print books and other previous library encounters I set off to Westminster. To The London Library.

I then find out why my slight reticence to venture here caused several smiles of amusement.

Set in a gorgeous Georgina town house The London Library turns out to be a fairytale establishment straight out of your favourite fantasy fiction. A deceptively narrow little door on St Jame’s Square leads into a labyrinthine warren of floors. Delightfully confusing. Books shelved up to the ceilings. Crackly old leather armchairs. Oil painting from centuries ago. There’s even a quirky Edwardian cataloguing system. Books filed by subject matter, so random finds of interesting reading matter abound. The place itself is initially so fascinating there’s no chance of getting any actual writing done. But a least I now have a better class of distraction.

This is a place where you imagined Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. Agatha Christie plotted fiendish crimes. Henry James thought about ghosts and governesses whilst Charles Darwin contemplated evolution. And turns out they did.

The London Library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle. His founding vision was for an institution which would allow subscribers to enjoy the riches of a national library in their own homes.

Carlyle was joined in his vision by eminent early supporters: The Earl of Clarendon, the enlightened early-Victorian politician, was the Library’s first president, Thackeray its first auditor; Gladstone and Sir Edward Bunbury were on the first committee and early members included Charles Dickens and George Eliot.

Over the past 170 years, The London Library’s collection has grown to more than one million volumes covering 2,000 subjects. It has enjoyed the patronage of many eminent writers, academics, politicians and readers throughout its history and has long played a central role in the intellectual life of the nation.

- The London Library -

Sadly admission costs here but beg, borrow or steal membership if the opportunity ever arises. Or there’s a free tour on Monday evenings. Just a look round the building alone is worth your time before even getting started into the books shelves.

Oh, and if you’re feeling flush avid readers can adopt their favourite book to make sure it always gets looked after with the care and attention it deserves. Bless.

Eventually, despite a fascinating book find about hidden London tube stations and a guide to Victorian underwear, some writing did get underway. Hey, two thousand words without the aid of Jaffa Cakes. And convinced I may well be sitting in Charles Dickens old chair I didn’t immediately start shoe shopping online. I had a nasty feeling he might be watching.

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