Friday 27 August 2021

Ashley Stokes, "Gigantic"

Ashley Stokes is originally from Carshalton in Surrey and studied first Modern History at the University of Oxford and then Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is author of The Syllabus of Errors (Unthank Books, 2013) and Voice (TLC Press, 2019), and editor of the Unthology series and The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings (Unthank Books, 2016). His recent short fiction includes 'Subtemple' in Black Static; 'Hardrada' in Tales from the Shadow Booth, Vol 4, edited by Dan Coxon; 'Evergreen' in BFS Horizons 11; 'Two Drifters' in Unsung Stories Online, and 'Black Lab' in Storgy. Other stories have appeared in Bare Fiction, The Lonely Crowd, the Warwick Review and more. He lives in the East of England where he’s a ghostwriter and ghost. His new novel, Gigantic, is published by Unsung Stories.

About Gigantic, by Ashley Stokes

Kevin Stubbs is a Knower. He knows life hasn’t always treated him fairly. He knows he wants to be allowed access to his son again. But most of all, he knows that the London Borough of Sutton is being stalked by a nine-foot-tall, red-eyed, hairy relict hominid – the North Surrey Gigantopithecus.

Armed with a thermal imaging camera (aka the Heat Ray) and a Trifield 100XE electromagnetic field reader (aka the Tractor Beam), Kevin and his trusty comrades in the GIT (aka the Gigantopithecus Intelligence Team) set out to investigate a new sighting on the outskirts of Sutton. If real, it will finally prove to the world that the infamous Gartree-Hogg footage was genuine, and a British Bigfoot is living in suburban London: FACT. 

But what he discovers undermines everything he believes in – and forces Kevin to face up to his own failures, and the very real, very scary prospect that he might have got it all terribly wrong.

You can see more details about Gigantic on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an extract from the novel. 

From Gigantic

There had been a time when my boy believed in this thing of mine. When he was born, because I’d made a solemn promise to Boho, I gave up the GIT, the expeditions, the camping, the staying up all night, the weekly team discussion evenings in The Churn. Before he was born was one of the best periods of my life. Not only had I pulled for once, but these were also what I called the GIT Supreme days of the classic line-up (Me, Kevin Stubbs, aka Agent MonkeyMagic; Edward ‘Eddie’ Gartree, aka Gorgo, The Man Who Started It All; and Derek Funnel, aka The Funnel). When I got married I left them to it. They became what I called Continuity GIT. I had every intention of leaving it alone, of being a proper dad and a husband and all that, now that I had a kid and my wife’s English was good enough for us to actually have a conversation that wasn’t like a game of charades or moving ships about using semaphore. I am not saying I didn’t hanker. I’m not saying I forgot. I’m not saying I didn’t feel forlorn and wistful when I smelled crisp autumn air or pine needles. 

When he was old enough, I formed a little GIT fun team. It was perhaps my favourite of all the teams. It was like GIT Cubs, just my boy and me. 

On Saturday evenings we would drive out into the woods, a cool-box added to the usual kit, and sit up all night in the van: Oaks Park, Chaldon trig point, Reigate Hill, Box Hill, Raynes Park, all the hotspots. I’d explain The Lore, passing it down from father to son. There would be tea in a flask and sandwiches I’d cut up nice and small, and a Wagon Wheel each. 

These were the perfect moments for me. Not all I’d ever wanted, but something nearly as good as seeing a gigantopithecus rampant. Nearly as good as seeing a gigantopithecus was the first time I saw Kyrylo wrapped up in a white blanket and cradled in Boho’s arms, her sitting up in the hospital bed and her smile then. That first time he gripped my thumb with his little fist. The look of joy on his face when he puffed out all four candles on his birthday cake at once and the three of us all blew the lingering smoke away and collapsed into laughing. When we took the stabilisers off the bike and he rode away from me for the first time without falling over. I wanted us to build on these memories in the woods, on stake-out operations in the van. I wanted him to have childhood memories of me that I did not have with my old man. We would watch out for it together, and in doing so we would be together forever. 

I thought he liked it. I would have liked it, when I was his age. My mum didn’t even let me go outside on my own. And she only encouraged me to keep my mind closed by making me read about Jesus over and over again as if he were a real person who could spring out from behind the curtains at any time. I didn’t have an old man to take me out in the woods and into the Great Spaces. While we were out in the van, just me and my boy, gigantopithecus spotting, I often thought that if I’d known my dad he would have taken me out like this. He would have shown me how to read shadows and scat, how to do a wood knock and a ’squatch call, things I’d had to learn from Gorgo. My dad, who I sometimes thought of as Arthur C. Dad, would have passed down The Lore to me, so when I’d seen the Gartree-Hogg footage for the first time I would have been properly prepared and not so shat up. I wished Arthur C. Dad had taken me out into the woods to show me the grand and noble ones. Instead, at weekends, I’d often found myself sitting in some side-room with The Watchtower or The Silver Chair while Mum was in a Bible study group in some Kingdom Hall somewhere in Sutton or south London or Surrey. Occasionally, this was made even more boring by having to sit in some weirdo’s house with the shy, frakked-up kids of other Witnesses while Mum and their parents talked about whatever they hated the most that week: vaccines, voting, VD, whatever. I didn’t want any of that cold empty bollocks for my boy. I wanted him to live, to Know. What I didn’t want was for him to ever find himself in some conservatory in New Malden with an eight-year-old girl called Ruth whose idea of play was to ask, ‘Kevin, have you considered your relationship with the risen Christ?’ Arthur C. Dad wouldn’t have let that happen to me. I wasn’t going to let that happen to my boy. 

His eighth birthday was on a Saturday. He was born in June, so it was warm, summer, a great time for his old man to take him out squatching. That night we were parked up on Chipstead Downs, but no sooner had we arrived he drifted off in the passenger seat. I was drawing a blanket around him when I heard something outside. Truth be told, I didn’t hear it. I sensed it vibrate through nature, quiver in the night air. My boy was asleep. Zonked out. Dead to the world. I put on my night-vision goggles and slid out into the darkness. I could definitely hear its Darth-Vader-like breathing. I could smell its horrible smell, too. 

You’re not supposed to see it. It’s not supposed to exist. It can scare the bollocks off you. Just look what happened to Jackie Hogg, one of the Original Knowers. In the early days of GIT, pre the arrival on the scene of the young believer Kevin Stubbs, Jackie had seen Giganto so often that his nerves unravelled. It was like he’d been playing a horror-based role-playing game where the characters have a sanity score. I’d played one of these on a rainy Sunday afternoon round Derek Funnel’s flat on the Poet’s Estate with some of his UFO nutter mates from Caterham. It was like Jackie had actually been living in one of these games. Every time he’d seen Giganto, he’d rolled a twenty-sided die and whatever number came up had been deducted from his mind. I’m not like that. I am solid. 

I had my back to the van and Giganto was in the trees. I could hear him. I could certainly smell him. I could smell, too, that he was moving off. Also, his breathing was not as loud as it had been. Using my ninja stealth skills, and with camera at the ready, I followed. I didn’t intend to be gone long, only a few minutes, tops. 

All the time it was ahead of me, an outline in the trees, crisscrossed by fronds: a brown giant, more shadow than man. As the sun came up, just for a second, as I scrambled towards it, I knew that I had it, that it was here in the forests, something that would one day hold out an understanding hand, that would help me be a man of his world, a citizen of eternal nature. But it vanished, and I was left standing with nothing but the woods and the feeling that one day soon we would see each other again. 

Boho was right that I was a frakker not to think ahead. That our boy might well wake up in the van, in the dark, on his own in an isolated spot I’d convinced him was like a prehistoric glade where ten-foot-tall ape-bipeds with cone-shaped heads still roamed and roared, that could shred a deer to pieces and, it was theorised, were attracted by the smell of Wagon Wheels (see Report #181: The Stalker of the Wilderness). 

The thing is, when you’re a kid, adventure is all in the mind. It’s not real. It all happens under controlled circumstances: supervision, teachers, mind control, thought police. This just isn’t so when you’re a grown man, a Knower. I tried to tell myself and Boho that that was what I was trying to communicate to him, that in my own way I was trying to show him the real world. 

Anyway, she didn’t want to hear any of that. That was the end of us, me and her. She demanded that I stop going out looking for Giganto, and when I didn’t say ‘of course’ straightaway I was out of the house. I was sleeping in my van. I was not allowed back until I admitted it wasn’t real. But it was real, I’d seen it loads of times. 

Thursday 26 August 2021

Anita Sivakumaran, "Cold Sun"


Anita Sivakumaran was born in Madras and has lived in the UK since 2004. Her historical novel, The Queen, based on real events, has been made into a major television series. The Birth of Kali, her acclaimed second book, retells Indian mythology from a feminist point of view. Cold Sun is her first novel in the DI Patel detective series. She lives in Leicester with her husband, children and a rescue dog from Greece. Anita has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Leicester. 


About Cold Sun, by Anita Sivakumaran

Cold Sun heralds the literary debut for Detective Vijay Patel of Scotland Yard.

Bangalore. Three high-profile women murdered, their bodies draped in identical red saris. 

When the killer targets the British Foreign Minister’s ex-wife, Scotland Yard sends the troubled, brilliant Vijay Patel to lend his expertise to the Indian police investigation. A stranger in a strange land, ex-professional cricketer Patel must battle local resentment and his own ignorance of his ancestral country, while trying to save his failing relationship back home. 

Soon, the killer’s eyes will turn to Patel. And also to Chandra Subramanium, the fierce female detective he is working with in Bangalore.

This breathless thriller will keep you guessing until the final, shocking revelation of the killer’s identity.

Below, you can read an excerpt from the novel. 

From Cold Sun

Sparks flew from the welding gun. Spots danced in the boy’s unprotected eyes. He blinked them away, placed the gun on the tamped earth, stood, stretched. Waiting for the metal to cool, he watched the mechanic kneeling in the dirt, blue coveralls filthy, reattaching a rusty bumper to an old Ambassador. The mechanic glanced up, his eyes meeting the boy’s and flitting away like a butterfly. He nearly dropped the bumper.

It wasn’t often that the boy allowed his eyes to meet another’s. Crouching now, he steadied the cylinder at his feet, checked if the joint had sufficiently hardened. Tugged at it to make sure. Then he lifted the cylinder into his backpack. Without a word or nod to the mechanic, he lifted the pack to his shoulder and left.

Outside, he paused to blink a few times. The sun hung low over the strip of wasteland on which the concrete and corrugated-iron motor-repair shack perched. Scrub grass, hard brown earth. Torn plastic bags flapped in the dusty breeze. A faint stink of decaying offal and human faeces. The rough concrete walls and curtained rear doorways of a row of butcher shops stretched in either direction. The boy walked slowly, eyes lowered.

A street dog nosed at a mound of rubbish. Her teats stretched low, pink and white patches on them. One eye glistened pearly in blindness. Ignoring the angry buzz of displaced bottle flies, the boy knelt beside the dog. He brought some stale bread from his pocket. The dog wagged her tail. Intent, the boy watched her gobble it down from his open palm. He let her lick his fingers, lifted them to his nostrils, smelt the stench of rotting meat and butcher’s bones in her saliva.

Soon the dog grew restless. She cocked her ears at some far off sound, prepared to move on. The boy reached for his backpack, slid the zip open. The dog wagged her tail again with renewed enthusiasm. He tugged at the metal ball one more time. The joint had hardened well. He fitted it into the tube.

The dog’s tail drooped to cup her anus as the boy positioned the tube’s mouth to her forehead, his knee propped under her jaw. Inured to the city’s noise, she barely flinched when he pulled the lever and the sudden boom filled the air.

The tail wagged on for a few moments, even after the one good eye had glazed over. A smile curled the boy’s lips. He gazed slowly around the empty wasteland. Then he packed up and left.

Soon, a blanket of bottle flies covered the carcass.

Chapter One

‘Patel!’ Sergeant Jackson hollered across the heads of fourteen detectives busy at their desks. ‘Skinner’s looking for you. Hop to it, baby.’

Patel ignored the sniggers. He took the blue pencil to the report in his hand, marked a missing apostrophe to the word ‘its.’ He threw the pencil into an open drawer, where it was swallowed by clutter, and ran a hand through his hair.

‘Sadly, I already left,’ he said to Jackson, who just shrugged.

He closed the file, tucked it under an arm, slung his jacket over one shoulder and jogged to the stairs. His hair bounced and flopped over his forehead, overdue a cut. Boyish locks did not suit a homicide detective. Even if, as Sarah put it when she felt friendly, combined with his smoky brown eyes they made him look like a Bollywood hero.

By the time he’d passed the IT help desk and rounded the conference block, he was out of breath. Those years of athletic training were long gone, together with his cricketing career. Mostly now he ran to catch the Piccadilly Line and lifted pints of lager.

He slowed outside the row of senior management’s private cubicles, glanced through windows overlooking the Thames. Bitter rain streaked the glass, transforming London’s dust into slime. Through the worm-runs of water, he saw the traffic lights flash dully on Westminster Bridge. Orange, then red.

Perfectly miserable weather. Perfect for a jaunt down the road for a pint of London Pride. But really, he ought to be heading home to pack. The flight was at five a.m. and he hadn’t so much as laid out a pair of swimming trunks. In fact, where were his trunks? He’d last seen them in September, when they’d booked a holiday at some posh hotel in Cornwall. He and Sarah. Booked and cancelled last minute for emergency root-canal treatment. The very thought of it made his jaw ache.

He pushed Inspector Rima’s door open.

She looked up from her computer, swept her hair off her shoulder, said, ‘Don’t you knock?’

‘I was going to leave this on your desk.’

She held her hand out for the report, eyes twinkling. ‘So you’re off, then? Sunny Tenerife?’

‘Yeah.’ He grimaced, breathless and sweaty, feeling a little foolish to be having this conversation. ‘Nearly got cancelled again.’

‘Oh yeah?’

‘This case came up.’ He indicated the file, the cover of which Rima was flicking open. ‘Skinner assigned me.’

Rima raised her eyebrows. She wasn’t unaware of Superintendent Skinner’s feelings about Patel.

‘You got lucky?’

‘I guess.’


‘Deceased is a forty-one-year-old homeless male. Name: John Snow.’

‘No kidding.’

‘Anyway, another homeless fella comes down off his four-day bender under some bridge in West Margate, half frozen to death. Looks down, sees the blood all over his bony hands, his rags. Runs himself and his bony arse straight to Station WB10 South Precinct and ’fesses.’

Rima, flicking through the report, didn’t appear to be listening.

‘You’d think the devil got hold of the poor bugger.’

Rima closed the report, opened it again, studied the top sheet. She frowned, put her finger on it.

‘Why no copy for the FLO?’

‘Homeless man doesn’t rate a Family Liaison Officer.’

She made a face. ‘Of course. We’ve to make “savings” –’ she used air quotes ‘– of thirty million by the end of the year.’

‘You sound just like Skinner.’

She smiled. ‘If we had the resources, we’d track his family down. Even a bum has family, somewhere.’

It was unlike her to display Samaritan urges.

‘Homeless murder,’ said Patel. ‘Cold pavement to cold slab.’

‘Poor bugger,’ she said. She stared at him. ‘Come here.’

A shiver up his spine. ‘Got to go pack, Inspector.’

She came around the desk and put a finger on his shirt button.

‘How about something to remember me by in Tenerife?’ Fighting the urge to back away and run, he said, ‘Sarah wants to—’

A knock on the door. Without pause, it opened.

‘There you are, Patel. Been looking everywhere for you.’ The smarmy voice of Detective Inspector Bingham.

Rima’s hand was back by her side. ‘Dave,’ said Patel. ‘Not down the pub yet?’

‘About to, then I got asked to run an errand.’ Bingham chuckled, then guffawed.

Patel smelled beef stroganoff from the canteen lunch. He waited. He thought there was a joke brewing.

Bingham guffawed and chuckled some more before saying, ‘Super wants you.’

‘When? Tomorrow?’

‘Now, cupcake. He’s got an assignment for you.’

‘He knows I booked the week off.’

‘Yeah, he might have mentioned something like that. All the homicide detectives tied up, you know? After the New Year’s Eve spike in cases and all.’

‘You’re the SIO?’

‘Nothing to do with me. I’m going to Thailand tomorrow. Did I tell you? Warm up me old cobblers.’

Patel just looked at Bingham.

‘Don’t keep the man waiting. Ta, love.’ A quick ferrety glance at Rima and Bingham went away, strutting and chuckling his head off.

Patel raised his eyebrows at Rima.

She twitched her lips in a smile. ‘Go and get some, Sergeant.’


‘Have a seat, Patel.’

Superintendent Skinner gestured to the faded leather chair across his desk. Patel cautiously lowered himself into it, knowing it creaked madly. Although the smile on his face and his salt and pepper bouffant hair gave Skinner an avuncular air, his steel-grey eyes emanated hate.

‘You’ve closed the homeless case.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘You’d think that in these times of austerity we wouldn’t have the resources to go after every teenage drug overdose, every homeless man pissing himself to death.’

‘It was murder, sir.’

Skinner’s smile vanished. ‘Murder of one fuck-head bum by another.’

‘Report’s been submitted, sir. Second-degree manslaughter.’

‘Justice for the poor homeless man. Could go on a recruitment poster: “We serve with ... care in the community.”’

‘Just doing my job, sir.’

‘Twice the patriot, aren’t you? Playing cricket for the country, and now righting the wrongs done to your countrymen, be they royals or the great unwashed.’

Patel felt a prickle of wariness.

‘Our poster boy.’ Skinner’s tone implied he was a highly unlikely one, and on that point, at least, Patel had to concur.

‘You’ve been with us three years, have you not?’

Patel nodded. Baiting, taunting, and now the trip down memory lane.

‘You certainly caused a storm in Yorkshire.’

Patel stared at Skinner, keeping any emotion off his face. ‘The Dales Ripper.’ Skinner smacked his lips. ‘Some of us can only dream of netting such a high-profile criminal.’ Skinner leaned forward. ‘Tell me. What did it feel like, the eureka moment?’

‘Eureka moment, sir?’

The whites of Skinner’s eyes shone like a dirty enamel sink that’d had a good scrubbing.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Thomas Legendre, "Keeping Time"

Thomas Legendre’s previous work includes The Burning (a novel), Half Life (a play produced by NVA and the National Theatre of Scotland), and Dream Repair (a radio drama aired by BBC Radio 4). He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham.

About Keeping Time, by Thomas Legendre

Keeping Time is about an archaeologist who travels back in time and has an affair with his wife - or is it about a musician having an affair with her husband?

A crumbling marriage. An ancient mystery. And a way to change the past ... When archaeologist Aaron Keeler finds himself transported eighteen years backward in time, he becomes swept up in a strangely illicit liaison with his younger wife. A brilliant musician, Violet is captivated by the attentive, “weathered” version of her husband. The Aaron she recently married has become distant, absorbed by his excavation of a prehistoric site at Kilmartin Glen on Scotland’s west coast, where he will soon make the discovery that launches his career. As Aaron travels back and forth across the span of nearly two decades, with time passing in both worlds, he faces a threat to his revelatory dig, a crisis with the older Violet - mother of his two young children - and a sudden deterioration of his health. Meanwhile, Violet’s musical performances take on a resonance related to the secrets the two are uncovering in both time frames. With their children and Aaron’s lives at risk, he and Violet try to repair the damage before it’s too late.

You can watch a trailer for Keeping Time here

Below, you can read a short excerpt from the novel. 

From Keeping Time, by Thomas Legendre

Chapter 1:  1988

If I make a circle it doesn’t matter where I start, so let’s begin with Aaron appearing from the future. How does a time traveller arrive? By buzzing the entryphone. It halts me during Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor for Organ - or rather, a piano transcription that seems too thin, too sterile - and I rise from the bench humming the final variation, trying to give it some life. I lose it completely, though, at the sound of Aaron’s voice bristling with static. This can’t be good news. He’s supposed to be in Mid Argyll. As his footsteps come up the main stair I think maybe the next phase of his Great Dig was postponed and he lost his keys in a Neolithic ditch. But then the sight of him sends me backing into the sitting room. He recites my favourite colour, my lucky number, my comfort foods, my shoe and dress sizes - as if I need convincing, when in fact the problem isn’t that I doubt who he is, but that I immediately believe it. Yes, it’s obvious. My future is his past. Although it’s April of 1988 for me, it’s November of 2006 for him - or almost November. Halloween Night. That’s when our son will stay home with me, apparently, while he takes our daughter trick-or-treating despite my protests so he can introduce her to his American childhood ritual, his annual allowance of junk food and fright. I can’t imagine myself protesting such a harmless thing, which is partly why it seems like a different woman in that time. An alternate self. The mother of two children. I’m already suspicious of her. Where does she begin? Where do I end? But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m here. I’m now. I’m making it up as I go along. If I make a circle it doesn’t matter where I start.

“But you need to know it’s really me,” he says. “And I can prove it. The first time we met was at that pub off Buccleuch. You were upset about playing the Rach 3 and I told you ...” He stops himself, clenching his eyes shut. “No, no. Wait. Anyone could know that.”

He turns away and grips the mantle, in the throes of some internal debate, then turns back and starts reeling off details about something that happened to me before that - a private trauma I’ve never shared with anyone. Proof. Evidence. He needs to convince himself that I’m convinced. He needs to believe that I believe.

“Aaron?” I wave him down. “This isn’t necessary.”

“But you locked the door behind him,” he says, carrying on, “and you sat there hugging your knees until dawn when you could walk home safely and you couldn’t even bring yourself to tell Clare or Isobel afterward, instead making up some story about, what was it, he vomited and passed out. It was your first and last one-night stand. Am I right?”

His face is both familiar and strange. There’s a wider spread to his features, the continental drift of age, but otherwise he seems recast with sharper angles and ridges, with deeper definition. The endearing little curve to his lower lip is more pronounced, his hairline reduced to a close-cropped style that actually suits him better. It’s the haircut he should have had from the beginning. I hesitate to mention it because I’m afraid he’s going to say it was my suggestion. The other Violet. The older one. A deep unease comes over me, unreasonably, at the thought of her.

“Violet, please. Am I right about this?”

I manage to nod.

“Have you shared that experience with anyone?”

I manage to shake my head.

“Anyone at all?”

I close my eyes to absorb not the fact but the feeling of it. A new time signature.

“I know it must be strange to have me describe it this way ... like watching your own dream on television. But you’ll tell me in a few years. At a performance one night you’ll see someone who resembles him and you’ll confess the whole thing afterward right here in this room. Except it’s not really a confession because you didn’t do anything wrong. I should mention that now, ahead of time, to preempt some of the guilt. Because the guy tried to rape you, for Christ’s sake, so don’t be ashamed of that and I still want to track him down and break his kneecaps, which you’ll attribute to my crude notion of Appalachian justice. If memory serves.”

And his accent has changed. Those hints of southern comfort, those drawling vowels - all tempered to British speech. The sound of him, the sense. Yes, it’s the man he will be in eighteen years. One of my legs is trembling like a bow string and I have to collar it with both hands to make it stop.

He comes forward. “Are you all right?”

I step back and knock into a lamp. He lunges and catches it before it falls, and then looks at it oddly as he sets it back.

“Tessa broke this. She was crawling under the table and -” He glances at an empty corner of the room. “The table we’re going to buy after we have the flat repainted. In 1996, I think.”

“Good thing you caught it, then.”

His attention snaps back to me, flummoxed by the comment until it takes hold and he laughs. He nods for a moment. Then his eyes widen with mischief. “Hey, should I smash it and see what happens?”

Monday 16 August 2021

Lorette C. Luzajic, "Winter in June"

Lorette C. Luzajic writes from Toronto, Canada. Her flash fiction and prose poetry have been widely published, including in Cleaver, The Citron Review, JMWW, The Miramichi Reader, Unbroken, Ghost Parachute, Cabinet of Heed, and numerous anthologies. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly and was longlisted at Furious Fiction Australia. She has been nominated three times each for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Lorette is the creator and editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted entirely to literature inspired by visual art. She is also an internationally collected collage and mixed media artist. Her website is here

About Winter in June, by Lorette C. Luzajic

Winter in June is a collection of flash fiction and prose poetry, small stories haunted by art history and memories real and imagined. Each piece is inspired by an artist or a work of visual art, but stands alone. You will meet a monk, a stripper, a man obsessed by taxidermy, and take a ride on a train with a man who isn’t there. You will smoke salvia divinorum, the most psychotropic plant known to humankind. You will sample salami in Italy, and join a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Death in Mexico City. You will see the phantom of Flatwoods for yourself, reluctantly attend a bullfight, fall in love with a convict, search for Andy Warhol’s grave, and ask a machine to grant your deepest longings. You will swim with a barracuda and watch a man eat his own grandmother. You will also visit a safe space, an art gallery where there is nothing to see but clean white walls. Even with all this terror and enchantment, it is really just a scrapbook of snapshots of everyday moments and ordinary magic.  

Winter in June is available here. You can see more details here. Below, you can read a sample piece from the collection. 

From Winter in June

Night Flight

Imagine, we were half bird. Our flight is fleeting, yes, but still we sometimes slipped into the sky. You are new to this world and don’t know the half of it. Even so, you show us the way. How to slay the dragons, how to turn the page. We gnaw on plastic poultry legs and rubbery bananas and you fake punch a random price into a toy cash register, hold your grubby paw out for my pocketful of coins. I wouldn’t have wished the world on you, but here you are. You have arrived, starry eyed and surprised. You have a blue-green bike and a matching bow in your hair. You love cucumbers and mangos and the frilliest pajamas. Every word is a victory and you’re starting to string them together. We were dancing in our sock feet in your toy room, stripes and polka dots a blur in your swirl. If only we had more ice cream, you say when I pull out the goodnight story. You stall for time before lights out and I guess it’s the same for all of us. Lord, just one more year, just one more day, just one more hour. But soon you are drifting through the clouds and I watch sleep soften your small face. The moon is your witness, I think, kissing you where she does on your dimple. I cover you in a thin sheet, watch your shifting shoulders, small wings dark as earth.  

“Night Flight” first appeared in Gyroscope Review.