“Yo. Hear the bell?” I say over my shoulder to Thorndike, who's lying spread-eagled on his bed, face down. The only parts of him moving are the bright yellow soles of his trainers, bobbing up and down erratically like headlights. He’d cleaned them last night before bed, as he always did. Scrubbing and picking and brushing any specks he’d picked up from the linoleum. Like he was determined not to carry any of his day into the next.
"Can I tell you a story?"
"Yes, one about me," I say. "It's one I've never told anyone....."
“The DNA sample that you have provided does not match any of our records. Please return another sample to us.” He paused and read it again. Without saying anything, he flipped it over and skimmed the other side. It listed the countries: 0%, 0%, 0%. Another small line at the bottom: “Your DNA sample has not returned any matches.”
Through the knees of his suit trousers, woollen and scratchy, the child could feel the wet soil seeping. He had found a snail to watch.
I’m little. Only two years or so. I must be less than three years old, because she’s still alive. I’m outside, somewhere. I’m surrounded by people - large, looming faces that I don’t recognise. I tip my head over the arms that hold me to look around. There’s a beautiful one, two old ones, a big one, a really big one, a furry one, and there’s her.
When he died, a big part of Peter thought the rest of the world would too. He’d thought about how it might happen, many times. Not the way he’d die - that seemed fairly obvious to him - but how the world would cease after he was no longer there to watch it. Would the earth disappear with a bubble-wrap ‘pop’ at the moment his main artery finally clogged? Would the colors in the world start to drain as his vision swam? Would the roads, forests and oceans, some that he’d travelled across and some that he’d only read about, start to fold up on themselves like giant monoliths in the sky as his own heart constricted and failed in his chest? Most importantly, would anyone know why it was happening?
The air was so hot that it hovered around her nostrils even as she walked. Somehow the air outside felt warmer than the hot blood running through her veins, and it made Judy uncomfortable. There hadn’t been a single breeze between her house and the town hall which had given her any release from this feeling, and her skin was already prickling at the thought of pushing open the door and feeling the cool air that only a place with stone walls 10 feet thick could have on this summer day.
So many sounds that she couldn’t place. But they were coming from a place. Did the place come first, or the words? She sang them so they weren’t wriggling around in her throat like a fish. Like a plaice. She laughed and saw colours.
Spring was here, and so too, finally, was he. The group had been sat, or stood, for almost half an hour now on the front lawn. The photographer had so far been in and out of the house three times to collect more equipment. To the waiting men, the light bulbs, the stand, and the camera he was meticulously positioning looked like more of a bizarre sculpture than a setup for a single photo....
The pig (part of the Stranger Stories series) The moment she opened the front door, the shadowy figure grabbed at her. He rushed forward so quickly that he could have caught her heart in his hands as it leapt up her throat and out her mouth. But as she felt his hands on her, and smelled his cologne, she swallowed the feeling of fear. She recognised him.