The Colour of Lies

Story for the young at heart!

The Colour of Lies

The author’s note: “This story was written in good faith, only meant to be read by ‘little people’ under the age of fourteen. And under no circumstance admit to reading it. If you do by chance, lie about it.”

In a cramped and ugly room, the brickwork, sloppily painted and crumbling, dust littered the bare concrete floor.

“Do you know why you are here?”

“I know nothing.”

The lie detector continued with its job. The black line jerked up and down. Scrawling its route to the truth.

Aoife, young and beautiful studied Ciara the frumpy policewoman who had her chained to the chair and clipped to the infernal blinking machine. Unblinking, Aoife asked, “When are you going to release me?”

“When I get some truth from your cute pink little lips,” the experienced woman had heard it all before, guilty children lying as if their lives thrived on falsehoods.

Aoife bounced her ginger ringlets and smiled, sunbeams flicked across the ceiling, illuminating the room as outside the window, storm clouds parted, the sun had a clear route to earth, the girl’s eyelashes caught fire as the sun turned them to liquid gold, the smile broadened as if Aoife controlled the weather.

Ciara walked around behind the girl’s glimmering hair.

“When will I get the truth?” she said, cracking her knuckles.

“I always tell the honest and full truth.”

“There you go, that is a lie, I can tell even if this machine cannot.”

“If you are so clever, why not unplug it?” asked Aoife.

“Are you scared of it?”

“I am afraid of nothing.”

Her heartbeat was steady at sixty-five beats per minute, blood pressure unmoved at one-hundred and twenty swore the machine.

“I know you are lying,” said the woman in the unflattering plain clothing.

“Why do you think I’m lying?”

“Everybody is afraid of something.”

“Well, I’m not.”

“The chocolate factory owner complained to us. He was in tears, devastated. His pride and joy broken into, and forty-two cartons of their best confectionary stolen. It is my job to catch the thieves,” she snorted.

“I am only twelve. How could I carry that load?”

“You are eleven and a half.”

“And, at under twelve, you should not chain me up.”

“You are not chained.”

“Who is lying now?” smirked Aoife.

Ciara drew back her hand, then thought better of slapping the child. She walked around and knelt in front.

“Help me catch the criminals, and you can go,” she said.

“I don’t know who did it, or anything about the chocolate.”

“There are four colours of a lie. White, grey, black and red. White lies are told to help others, even if there may be a loss to yourself. A grey lie helps the other person, but it may help you too. Then we have black. A black lie is told by someone who wants to get out of trouble, to gain something, or to harm the other party. Last, we have the red lie. Spite and revenge. Carved in blood, maybe? Retributive lies told by someone betrayed.”

She waited to stare deep into her captive’s eyes, “What colour lies are you telling me?” 

The older woman’s eyes flicked to the detector, heartbeat sixty-five, BP one-hundred and twenty, straight lines. Looking back at the girl, no sign of panic, Aoife just smiled childishly.

“All children love chocolate,” the policewoman continued.

“Now you are lying, some children hate the stuff,” laughed Aoife.

“We are not here to discuss likes and dislikes. I have a serious crime to investigate.”

“What is so serious about a few bars of chocolate going missing?”

There was an urgent tapping at the door. “Come out here,” said a more senior officer.

“What? I’m getting there, okay slower than I hoped, but the girl is cracking,” said Ciara to her boss.

“Now you are lying. You are getting nowhere. Throw in a tidbit and get her talking.”

Ciara unhappily marched back in, “There is no good smirking at me, you’ll be here longer if I’m upset,” she said.

“I’m guessing, you are in trouble?” asked Aoife.

“Listen and listen carefully. They destined some cartons for England. The missing ones.”

“So?”

“The chocolate was… Tampered with.”

“And?”

“You need to tell your accomplices not to eat any, or give any to friends.”

“Why not?

“Because it is not normal chocolate. Do not eat it.”

“Now, who is lying?” the young girl grinned as if a clown dropped his trousers.  

“Please, believe me, there is a good reason that chocolate was to be sent to England and only England.”

“Oh, yeah, and what is that reason?”

“I’m not at liberty to tell you, but you must believe me. We need it back.”

Aoife was enjoying herself, smiling, sitting relaxed and keeping eye contact with Ciara.

“You are looking stressed,” said the older woman. “Would you like a drink before we continue?”

“You must release me, I’m feeling the strain,” she smirked. “And yes please, I’d love a hot chocolate,” she laughed out loud.

The door burst open, two angry men hurried in.

“We are taking over the interrogation, you are getting nowhere, get out!”

Head ducked Ciara stomped to the door, “Good luck, Sir,” as she slammed it shut.

“Right young lady, we’ll be straight with you. We need you to be honest with us, okay?”

One man stood on either side of Aoife, both peering closely and directly into her face. The girl’s head turned to look at each man. The smile gone disappeared as the sun ducked behind a cloud.

“What is this all about?” she whimpered.

“The stolen chocolate contains a falsity drug,” one of the stern men said.

“A falsity drug, whatever is that?” she asked.

“Dear child, you will not be aware of the problems our neighbours across the Muir Éireann, or the Irish Sea they know it. They are struggling with something that has never happened before, English kids only ever tell the truth!”

“Image, how could a parent cope with that?” said the other man. “None of the ‘I’ve got a headache’, on school mornings, ‘I’ve forgotten my homework’, or worst of all, ‘It wasn’t me!’ Picture the agony mums and dads are going through,” he said shaking his head from side to side.

The men both stood back, hoping for an answer.

Aoife looked at both men again, shook her head and said, “We Leprechauns never lie. Especially about the English! Let me out and I’ll take you to the chocolate.”

It was then the officers knew they’d never recover the chocolate!

The END

All At Sea!

Here, Anchor.fm read or listen. Comedy for April Fool’s Day.

All At Sea!

“Not now, Samantha, thank you, can’t you see I’m thinking.”

“Yes, sir.”

Chief Jones flapped his fingers at the door behind her, Samantha ducked her head and backed out to her desk in the adjoining room. Chief Jones was not the chief of anything, but he was managing director of Westwing Lines and had more than his fair share of problems.

“How can I see if he’s thinking?” she muttered to herself. She returned the bank manager’s call, “Sorry, Mr Arbib, he’s tied up, I’ll get him to call you.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll call him, maybe I’ll be lucky and catch him when he’s less busy,” he snorted.

Samantha reread the jobs vacant section of the local paper.

Chief Jones threw his pen across the office. fuming but considering his next move. Slowly he crouched, his back arched as he bent to fetch the fake Parker, not because he was tidy, it was the only pen on his desk that worked. The bank’s letter glared at him as it bounced up and down on the desk as if it had a heart of its own, a black heart. It was not happy reading, not only that, but Mr Arbib used his actual name, Charles Jones. Which infuriated the Chief.

“That prat has known me for fifteen years, he still calls me Charles.”

He ignored the rest of the contents. The paragraph pointing out Westwing’s debt to the bank, in red numbers, the part about his lovely four-bedroomed detached home being used as security, blah, blah.

Slowly an idea was forming like a tadpole emerging from its egg. And like the tadpole, the idea could swim, its legs were growing and gaining strength. Chief buzzed for a coffee, his radiant face puzzled Samantha.

“Are you okay, sir?”

“Never been better, things are on the up!”

His pen scratched its way across line after line of scribbled sketches, misspelled words, and figures. He gave some huge ticks.

His smile grew as he flicked on LinkedIn. It confirmed the rumour he had heard.

“DeepSea Cruises were looking for new staff to crew the latest cruiser in its line,” he chuckled aloud.

Samantha got increasingly worried as she tidied the coffee mug and saw what he was reading.

“Excuse me, but why does good news for your enemy make you so happy?”

“Ah-ha, all will soon be revealed,” he answered, cleaning away imaginary crumbs.

Facebook’s home page saw DeepSea’s CEO shaking hands with the mayor. He cut the ribbons on the launch of a new boat.

“We are looking for a new crew for this magnificent craft. I wonder if there is anybody at Westwing looking for work?” his camera ready smile beamed confidence. It was only matched by Chief Jones’s own pumped up grin.

Samantha ducked out before there was an explosion. It never came.

Chief Jones busied himself with a press release, not from Westwing, but from the DeepSea company.

“Naughty me,” he chuckled as he edited the text before he sent it to a local journalist he knew was keen on tidbits of information.

‘The public will be aware, that DeepSea has launched its luxury craft with a highly trained crew to take cruisers to their dream destination. We are proud to announce a very special, once in a lifetime voyage. Those who keep their eyes on the news will know that the iceberg which sank The Titanic, has recently been discovered floating in waters north of Scotland. We and only us can cruise alongside the giant berg, our voyagers can take close-up photographs of not only the berg but some souvenirs of The Titanic. Deck chairs, the ship’s bell, and some of the passenger’s clothing became wedged in the ice. Incredibly, it is all visible as the ice melts. Take your only chance to see historic artefacts from the horrendous accident all those years ago.’

The release gave booking details, including a special price for the first one-hundred customers we will also present the lucky people with free souvenir t-shirts.

“That’s the local press, now to get tongues wagging on social media,” he smiled proud of himself.

“Samantha,” he called, “Your mate, you know the graphic designer girl, can I trust her?”

“Trusted to do what?” answered the secretary.

“Can she keep her mouth shut?”

“Sir, what are you up to?”

“Never mind that, can I trust her?”

“She’s been my friend since school, yes, she is completely trustworthy,” answered Samantha.

“Great, get her in, ASAP.”

Veronica slid her business card across the table, “Samantha tells me you have a ‘delicate’ job for me? What do you need?”

Chief Jones slid his laptop towards the designer, “Here we have some pictures of icebergs and a collection of debris from a shipwreck. Can you conjure up pictures that look like the ship parts are in the ice? And it needs to be with a rough sea in the background.”

“Sure, that’s easy enough, is that all?”

“I want the pictures sent to my email address and we will use these pics on t-shirts for another thing.”

“Again, easy. What about my payment?”

“If you can keep quiet about this until April the third, you get paid double. Okay? Is tomorrow too soon?

“The pictures by lunchtime the shirts a bit later,” said Veronica.

Samantha looked quizzically at her friend as she walked out with her finger to her lips.

Social media was buzzing with exaggerated tales of bergs, of Titanic memorabilia hitting the market at hugely increased prices, stories upon stories, tales of family members who were there, and those who just knew someone who was. Titanic fever burst.

Chief Jones leant back at his desk and called another contact, “I need some ice, can you help?”

“You having a party?”

“Haha, I need a bit more than just for our cocktails. Don’t ask why, but I want a truckload of filthy unusable lumps of the stuff. I want it delivered outside an office, so you had better use an unmarked vehicle. It may be sensible to cover the number plates too,” the chief smiled. Things were dropping into place.

Five am on April the first, Chief Jones was awake, he needed no alarm clock. He crept downstairs, leaving his wife peacefully unaware of the day’s events. Downing a too-hot coffee, he made his way on the quiet streets. He passed DeepSea’s offices as they dumped the ice in the road, spreading across the pavement.

“I wish to make a complaint. There is stinking ice all over the place!” he bellowed into his mobile.

He bounced up the stairs to his office and turned on Facebook.

Within minutes, someone had posted a short video of police arriving, all scratching their heads.

‘Police froze in plaice’ was the caption.

By seven o’clock his social media apps were buzzing, all making jokes at DeepSea’s expense. More fake stories concerning Captain Edward Smith the Titanic skipper and his link to DeepSea.

“Have you heard the news?” asked Samantha as she dumped her coat and bag.

“Wonderful isn’t it,” grinned her boss.

“Veronica was told to move along by the police, she even handed them a t-shirt each,” laughed Samantha.

 As the morning progressed, Chief Jones and Samantha were expecting calls booking cruises on their ships. As yet no changes.

“Give them a chance to cancel with DeepSea first, they can then book with us,” said Chief Jones.

“Oh, what’s this?” Samantha pointed to her mobile’s Line link. “There will be a press release from DeepSea at noon,” noticed Samantha handing her phone to her boss.

“Maybe they are going bust?” grinned her boss.

They turned on the local news channel at noon.

“Before we update you with the news, we have an announcement from the managing director of DeepSea,” the reporter said as she handed the mic.

“Here we go,” said Chief Jones, “He is going to apologise for all those who have lost their deposits and a big sorry to those who thought they had new jobs,” he giggled like a schoolgirl.

“I have to start with a big apology,” said the MD.

Chief Jones and Samantha shook hands in triumph.

The tv seemed to increase in volume.

“I know how important your news coverage is, sorry but I have to cut in. I really must thank Westwing’s staff and their owner. We didn’t expect you to advertise our new cruise in such a complimentary way. Wonderful job, they now overbooked us for our next half dozen trips.”

Chief Jones and Samantha stood and gazed open-mouthed.

“One last thing before we carry on with the rest of the day’s news. The police have released a graphic designer from custody and the council will be sending a bill to Westwing for cleaning the stinking iceberg from the street.”

The END

Great Prank, Frank!

Fun short story by Colin Devonshire, here, Anchor.fm and Wattpad.

Great Prank, Frank

“And as I was saying,” Frank droned on. Frank’s brother had heard enough about how glorious life in Thailand is.

“Oh, yeah, did I tell you about Jojo’s new motor-scooter? Brand new, would you believe it? We had to take it back to the dealer. And, guess what? The petrol station down the road from us has been tampering with the fuel. I wondered how they could undercut the others. Anyway, they soon fixed it. Oh, better go, I’ve just had a great idea. Cheers.”

Frank deep in thought slipped his mobile into his pocket as he strolled to his hobby workshop in the garden. 

“Jojo, come here please,” called Frank.

“What? Frank, I’m watching tv,” his new bride answered.

“Is your brother still trying to sell that heap of junk he calls a car?”

“It is not junk, he loves that car,” snarled Jojo.

“Yeah, why is he desperate to sell it then.”

“He has had a few problems with it and can’t afford to fix it.”

“I’ll buy it off him if he drops the price,” said Frank.

“Yeah, really? What do you want it for?”

“We are going to prank that idiot with cheap petrol. Okay?”

They struck a deal. The car crept its way to the Frank’s workshop. Banging and clattering upset the neighbours for days.

“Well, what do you think?” asked Frank.

“It looks the same to me,” answered Jojo.

“Good, it’s supposed to.”

“Frank, what have you done, why are the seats over there?” she pointed to a pile of discarded car parts in the corner.

“Look inside, we have improved seats,” Frank grinned.

“They are metal, they don’t look very comfortable?”

“No, my dear, they do not need to be comfortable,” he banged on the hollow steel. His wife shook her head.

Frank crouched and pointed under the chassis, “Look.”

A grumbling girl looked at metal boxes all linked to the underside of the car.

“Yeah, and?” she said, thinking of her spicy lunch.

“Those are tanks too,” Frank announced proudly.

“It will be better to leave it until tomorrow,” he said.

“What are you talking about now?” asked Jojo.

“Tomorrow is April the first,” stated Frank.

“So?”

“April Fools Day, don’t you Thais know anything?”

A less than impressed wife stalked back to her soap operas. Frank was beaming at his project.

After tutting, Jojo clicked to Channel Seven with the handsome young star.

Frank, proud of himself opened a bottle of Singha beer and daydreamed of tomorrow.

Bright and early the next morning Frank called up to the bedroom, “Hon, splendid news for you. That burger joint you love is offering left-handed burgers. Shall we try it later? I’ll have a normal one, you can try the cack-handed one.”

“Don’t be so bloody stupid,” as she turned over.

“It says here in the Bangkok Post and they offer a cut-price if you mention the ad. I’ll see you later, I’m off to get some petrol.”

Frank slammed the door and kicked it as he got out and walked around the aged saloon, “Start you bastard,” he screamed at the car.

After calming himself, he slid across the seat and tried turning the key again.

Cough, cough, splutter, splutter, it fired.

“Great, now the fun starts,” he rubbed his hands as the car crawled to the petrol station.

Other vehicles tooted at the slow-moving saloon, the under chassis tanks scraped on bumps in the road, Frank found it tricky to stop himself from sliding off the seat. He had stripped the indicator wiring along with all unnecessary equipment to allow for more tank space. The car turned left (without signalling), and up to the forecourt offering five-star premium petrol.

“Fill her up, shall I?” smirked the garage owner.

“Yeah, and wash the windscreen,” smiled Frank. Unlike the UK, Thailand’s petrol garages offered assisted fill-ups.

With the nozzle in place, Frank slid out, “I’m just popping to the convenience store to get some fags, won’t be long,” he pointed next door.

Crouching behind the wall, he sniggered. The garage owner mopped the windscreen and noticed the seating inside.

“Foreigners are all mad,” he said, “How can you be comfortable with those,” shaking his head as he chucked the rags into the bucket.

He glanced at the gauge’s needle spinning round. Scratching his head, he wondered what his record sale was. A petrol soaked handkerchief wiped the sweat out of his eyes. 

“Bloody boiling again,” he cursed Thailand’s hottest month even at that early hour. “Still not full, how big is that tank?” he muttered.

Frank was taking photographs with his phone from his hiding spot, “My brother will love this,” he chuckled.

The garage owner noticed liquid seeping under the car, “Christ, that’s a lot of water coming from the air-con?”

“Oh, no,” he could smell petrol. He rushed to the nozzle.

He grabbed the handle and pull as he might it would not budge. Frank laughed as his final adaption proved to be a great success. The tanks were still filling. 

Frank’s phone was now taking video shots as he edged closed. A cigarette hung loosely from his mouth.

The business owner had not noticed him walking towards his car. He was pulling and twisting at the disobedient nozzle.

“Haven’t you finished yet?” Frank shouted.

Fear smacked the petrol man like police truncheon to the teeth, “Put that cigarette out!” he wailed, the split liquid soaked his flip-flops, panic took hold of the man as he held the nozzle to stop him toppling backwards. 

“What’s the matter,” Frank started speaking as the cigarette bounced loosely lip to lip before it fell. Frank moved to catch it, before quickly snatching his hands away from the heat. The glowing tobacco hit Frank’s shirt front before sparking its way to the concrete.

The petrol station owner turned away like a prima ballerina, before tripping his way between pumps, past his office door and leaping into the bushes beyond hands on head.

The cigarette turned from explosive danger to damp squib; it fizzled to nothing in the puddle.

Frank struggled to control his wobbling girth as he roared. Tears of laughter splattered his scorched shirt. He bent down and turned off the water main, and disconnected the water pipe from the semi-hidden petrol tube and left it hanging.

He left his car where it was. “There was water in the petrol before, now there is petrol in the water.” He chuckled as he walked home, checking his videos. “Enjoy bro,” he added to the comments.

The END

Krasue

Short horror story from Thailand, by Colin Devonshire.

A piercing scream cracked the bedroom mirror.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” asked Billy, panting, as his fingers searched for his wife’s hand.

Khmer expletives were yelled at him, none he understood. Breathing too fast, the young expectant mother regained her composure. Her chest lifted and fell gently in time with her oxygen intake.

“Where am I?” Nipa said as she looked around the bedroom.

“Babe, you are okay, we are at home, in bed, calm down. You are sweating. It must have been a nightmare,” said the shaken young husband.

He flicked the bedside lamp on.

“Christ, it is blood. What happened?” he asked.

“I, I, I can’t talk…” she coughed up more blood.

“Keep still. What is that?” he asked, pointing to a cord hanging from the corner of her mouth. She coughed again, this time spewing streams of red. The cord remained, as if stuck deep in her stomach. The visible end swung limply.

The girl bend double, head between her knees, made more difficult as the six-month-old lump was in the way.

“Let me look,” Billy said as he touched the blood-soaked shoelace. Like a boy tugging a worm from its muddy home.

Gently pulling, releasing its deep grip, it slid painfully up and out of her throat. Another stream of vomit soaked her husband.

“Got it!” he called, examining the item as a stamp collector sees a Penny Black.

Nipa rolled on her back and rubbed her unborn baby bump.

Billy held his prize to the light, “It looks like uncooked bacon rind, a huge one. What the hell have you been eating?”

At seven AM Billy left his wife to her troubled sleep in their Nong Bo Village, in northern Thailand. He went to check on their livestock. Clucking and grunts accompanied him. Passing the spiky bamboo fence surrounding their property, he wondered, “Why have we got such an ugly and useless fence?”

He quickened his pace to the chicken hut. Sensing something was wrong, he sprinted. 

“Oh no,” he wailed.

His prize cockerel gutted open, spread and pinned on the fence post. The beautiful comb gone, along with the rest of the head.

“I loved that bird,” he cried.

The usual pleasure of Billy’s morning ritual, his early inspection of their farm, drinking a mug of Nescafe, relaxing before easing into the day’s work, ruined. He often daydreamed about the night he met the love of his life. Three years before, he had fallen head over heels with a gorgeous and vivacious nightclub hostess; they dated for the rest of his holiday, then returning to England, they enjoyed a long-distance romance; he proposed via Skype; she left the club; they married at her father’s farm. Billy bought a farm nearby. They settled and began married life together. She became pregnant. What could be better?

“How are you feeling?” Billy asked his wife, as she slumped next to him at the table, shattered. Her coffee skin was milky, the night had drained her colour.

“Yeah, a bit sleepy, at least baby slept well,” Nipa answered as she prepared rice soup for breakfast.

“Hold the breakfast, I think we should go to the doctor? We have an appointment, we don’t want to be late.”

“I need to eat, I am starving,” she said, dipping sticky rice into last night’s curry.

“Do you want to know the baby’s sex yet?” Billy asked, excited to find out.

“It’s a boy,” she answered bluntly.

Billy, puzzled by her answer, decided not to question her. That could wait. He also wanted to find out more about his and their neighbour’s fences. That too could wait. His wife’s breakfast could not. He waited in front of his laptop.

“Come on, Wi-Fi, don’t let me down,” he said. Their connection was rarely reliable.

He checked Google.

“Krasue fears spikes as they get their entrails tangled!” My God, now I’ve heard it all,” he chuckled, not understanding the text. 

Once more, he ducked the chance to query things.

“That can wait,” he said to himself.

“Good morning, have you come for your check-up?” asked the doctor’s receptionist.

“Yes, we need to ask him something else as well,” said Nipa.

“Your appointment’s booked for a scan and consultation, is that correct?”

“I know, but we need to see him about something else too, if possible?”

The receptionist showed them in.

“Hello, no problem with junior I trust?” said the doctor.

As they explained what had happened the night before, the doctor looked increasingly worried. Changing the subject, he stated, “The baby’s heartbeat is strong, the scan is fine. You have nothing to worry about regarding the baby. I can see if it is a boy or girl, do you want to see?” 

“It is a boy,” said Nipa.

“Yes, how are you so sure,” he asked.

Nipa just smiled. 

Billy asked, “What about the blood last night?”

“I can’t see where it came from. No cuts in her mouth or throat. Any stomach pain?”

“None, doc,” answered Nipa.

“I don’t suppose you kept any of the blood, or the curious thread?” asked the doctor.

“No, we cleaned up and threw away the other thing,” answered Billy.

“I’ll run some tests, roll up your sleeve, please,” the doctor said.

“Fantastic, a son,” said Billy as they walked back to their truck.

“Yes,” said an unsmiling Nipa.

Billy studied her blank face, riveted straight ahead. He decided not to ask what was worrying her. They bumped along the track to their home.

“Hungry?” she asked solemnly.

“What is the problem? I thought you would be happy, you haven’t even phoned your dad to tell him.”

“You couldn’t understand,” she stormed inside, leaving her husband to check the remaining chickens. 

“Your lunch is on the table, I’m going for a nap,” she called from the stairs.

Billy was used to the fiery, sometimes weird North-Eastern food, but they had never served him live maggots.

“What the hell is this?”

Insulted, he stormed up the stairs.

“Don’t pretend you are asleep, you’ve only just got into bed,” he said as he shook her.

Her eyes opened wide, staring sightlessly. The baby bulge moved, rocking from side to side.

Shocked, he forgot his anger. 

“What’s the matter?” he yelled, placing the back of his hand on her forehead. “Christ, you are burning up.”

He patted his pockets, “Where is it?” panicked he hunted for his phone.

“Did you enjoy your lunch?” she asked brightly.

Her calmness stunned him for a minute before he could speak.

“Are you sure you are okay?” he asked again, feeling her temperature.

“Yeah, I’m fine. How long did I sleep for? Better get on.”

She leapt from the bed and sauntered downstairs.

“Oh, you haven’t touched your ‘larb’?”

Larb was one of her dishes he loved.

“No, it was…” he looked over her shoulder at his lunch.

“I thought you like the way I prepare that dish?”

“I do, but it had… Never mind.”

Not seeing any maggots, he played with the dish before pushing it to one side.

“The chicks were fine, I’ll check on the pigs now,” he said, hopping out the back door.

“You wanted to know about our fences?” she asked.

“Yes, true, but how did you know?”

“If you don’t like them, rip them down,” she said.

He sensed something was wrong. The pigs were unusually quiet. He quickened his pace. Speechless, as he approached the mess nailed to the gatepost, once a boar, now a blood coated carcass of rotten and stinking pork. Flies buzzed in a cloud. The prized father of dozens of piglets pinned on its back, slit from throat to the anus. The guts missing from the fetid bulk.

“Call the police, somebody has killed Arsene, our boar!”

“Don’t worry, dear, these things happen,” she said, beaming.

That evening, eating on their patio, Billy decided the time was right to get some answers.

“You seem different. Have I upset you?” he asked.

“No dear, you are perfect.”

“Is something wrong with the baby?”

“No dear, everything is fine,” answered Nipa.

“Did you mean what you said about the fence?”

She turned glaring, red in the face, “Yes, get rid of the damn thing.”

“Um, okay,” he stammered.

Instantly her mood changed, “Would you like some mango?” she asked sweetly.

The next morning, Billy set about ripping down the ugly, pointless fence he hated, pointless, as it does no useful purpose, but not pointless, as it offers nothing but points. He chuckled to himself, losing concentration.

“Shit, shit, shit!” screamed Billy as thorns embedded in his thigh.

Limping back to the house, Nipa hid her mouth as she beamed.

“Oh, darling, what has happened?” she asked.

“It is pretty obvious, isn’t it?”

She sat him down, gently pulling the points from his leg.

“Steady, that hurts,” wailed Billy.

She smiled, putting splinters aside. She sucked on the wound, loudly, like a child with her first lolly.

“What the hell are you doing?” asked Billy.

Between slurps, she answered, “Traditional Thai healing,” she licked her lips.

A battered Honda motorcycle rumbled up to the house. An aging man jumped off, fuming.

“Now, what are you doing? First, you marry a foreigner, now you’re removing protection for the entire village,” bellowed Nipa’s ageing father in the Khmer language.

He threw his half-smoked roll-up cigarette to the ground, “Get it fixed!”

“What did your dad want?” asked Billy. “He didn’t seem happy, did you tell him it’s a boy?”

“He was checking how the baby is, and delighted the family has another male,” she lied sweetly.

The sun dipped below the horizon. Billy limped as he lit a fire and burnt the fence remains with some dried leaves he had swept up. Nipa took a mug of coffee out to him.

“Thanks, babe. Can you see the lights near our entrance?”

“Yes, it is my father and other villagers.”

“How can you see them, I only see movement and dull lights?”

“I’ve been eating my carrots,” she laughed.

“What do they want, why don’t they come in?”

“I’ll find out,” she said as she started walking the long driveway.

Billy went back to his raking. A car’s horn sounded as a vehicle turned into their entrance. It stopped near the fire but kept the engine running. 

“Oh, it’s you, doc. Any problem?” asked Billy.

 “The villagers have been calling me, they want me to talk with you about your fence.”

“Really?”

“Yes, they worry there is a Krasue nearby,” said the doctor.

“A what? I thought that was a joke.”

“Where shall I start?” queried the doctor.

“Do you want to come in, have a drink?” asked Billy.

“Oh no, thanks. I won’t be long.”

“Okay, tell me.”

“There is a belief around these parts, not only here but also in Lao, Cambodia, throughout Thailand and down into Malaysia. Usually, but not always, a female spirit leaves her body and searches for another place to live. She or it, needs blood, rotting flesh or intestines to survive on,” said the doctor rushing his words.

“I read something on the web. You mean like a vampire?”

“But vampires are good looking,” he chuckled more confidently. “A Krasue is just head and entrails, it floats around farms and scrubland.”

“You have to be joking? How can an intelligent man like yourself believe that tosh?” asked Billy.

“I didn’t say I believe it, but all these folk does. They want you to replace the spiked fence.”

“Is that what all the fuss is about? Okay, I can make another.”

“Great, that’s all I wanted to hear,” the doctor stammered.

“Come in and have a beer, I’d love to find out more.”

“No, no thanks, I must go.”

The doctor dropped his phone as he clambered into his car. Driving away too fast, he clipped the hedge as he skidded past the villagers.

“I’ll return his mobile tomorrow,” Billy thought. “What was the rush?”

“Is your dad coming in?” Billy asked as his wife returned.

“No, they all have a few bottles of home-brew waiting. Talking of which, do you want a cold one?”

“Yes, join me on the patio. Let’s talk about baby names.”

“Yeah, okay, do you have any ideas?”

“Not really, there are a couple of male names that keep cropping up in my family, but they are old-fashioned. Why not have a Thai name?”

“Why not have both?” she said.

She placed a second beer in front of him, smiling and cool.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I was talking to the doctor, and agreed to replace the fence.”

She spilled the beer, no longer calm, Nipa went to bed without a word.

Billy lifted the bottle and drained the remains. Sitting alone, he thought about his day, life, and the future.

Creeping up the stairs, he peered in at his sleeping wife. Sliding under the sheet next to her, he turned to his side. Sleep would not come. Tossing and twitching he lay on his back sweating. Moonlight illuminated the room. 

He sensed a breath on his face. 

Opening his eyes he stammered, “What… How…”

His ashen wife floated inches above him. Pointed teeth opened, “Shh…”

He fell to the floor, banging his head against a cupboard.

“Quiet, I’m trying to sleep,” said Nipa.

Billy sat up, rubbed his bruise and looked around. Clambering back into bed suffered a fitful sleep.

Breakfast was quiet, Billy had questions he dare not ask, Nipa was sluggish through lack of sleep.

The chicks and pigs were oddly quiet as he left the house.

“What? There are no eggs,” said Billy to himself, as he went to the pigpen.

“Oh, no!” 

They had nailed ten of their piglets to the wooden door. Slit like the boar, their entrails dragged in the mud.

He rushed to the kitchen, “Come quick.”

“Are they male?” she asked.

“Are what male? Do you mean pigs? I didn’t look. Why?”

Nipa helped her husband cleaning up the small bodies and prepared them, ready to offer the meat to a local butcher.

“While we’re in town, I want to see the doctor,” said Billy, as they delivered the package.

“He’s busy all day,” said Nipa, bagging her phone.

“Really? I’ll try tomorrow,” he said.

“What’s so urgent about seeing the doc?”

“Nothing much, something he said about our fence.”

“Forget the fucking fence,” she glared before turning around.

“It’s unlike you to swear. What’s wrong?” asked Billy.

“Nothing darling,” she said sweetly. “Let’s go home.”

“I want to know who is killing our livestock. I need you to translate for me,” said Billy.

“Why waste your, or should I say, our time? No one will tell tales on their neighbours.”

“I have got to try. I need to show them I mean business, otherwise we’ll have no farm.”

Grunting, she nodded, “Okay, let’s go.”

At the first farm they reached, people scuttled inside the house, slamming doors and closing windows.

“It must be them, look they are so scared. They won’t even talk to us,” said Billy.

“Right, let’s go home,” smiled Nipa.

“No, I’m going to the police.”

The police station was a two-man hut constructed on the main road’s junction. Pulling up, Nipa stayed in her seat.

“Come on, I need you to help. I don’t suppose they speak English, do you?” he said, temper rising.

Slowly, she walked to the sliding glass of the office. Two officers’ feet up on the shared desk looked at them wide-eyed.

Billy opened his mouth to speak as the officers sprang from their seats and stood behind the chairs.

Puzzled, he continued in English, “We’ve had problems with our neighbours. I need you guys to tell them to stop killing my animals.”

The men remained rooted and speechless. Nipa stared at them. The men looked around them, wishing they had an escape route behind them. The only door was between themselves and their visitors.

Nipa moved towards the door, the police crouched, quaking.

“Come on, you’ve scared them, they must have heard about an aggressive Englishman,” laughing she strode back to the truck.

“What was all that about? Did they think I would hurt them?” he asked, puffing out his chest.

“Yes, dear, you can intimidate sometimes, you know?” said Nipa, grinning behind her hands.

Proudly Billy drove home expecting an end to the killings.

Back at the farm, Billy searched for tools, a saw, a hammer, and some nails.

“What are you doing,” asked Nipa.

“I’m repairing the fence I tore down.”

“I thought it was clear, I don’t want the FENCE,” she screamed.

Billy returned his tools to their chest.

“Would you like a coffee, darling,” Nipa said sweetly.

“Is the pregnancy getting too much for you?” asked Billy.

“No dear, I’m fine, enjoying thinking about our son.”

There were still no eggs for Billy to collect.

“How about an early night?” Nipa breathed.

The clock ticked to one AM. The baby moved uncomfortably for its mum. Salty moisture ran into her eyes, sweat dripped from her nose. The baby jumped inside, its tiny hands and feet searched for an escape, poking and kicking. Nipa rolled to her side, easing the pain. But not for long. 

Billy slept unaware.

On her back again, readjusting her bulge, her eyes rolled up into her head, she was now gently floating above the bed.

She turned again, spinning face down, she floated a few inches above the sheets. She was now nose to nose with Billy, not touching, just there.

His eyes opened, the rest of his body frozen in place. Staring as if in a schoolboy competition, who could last longer. This was no fun game. He wet himself.

She floated lower, drifting towards the foot of the bed, his eyes followed her until she reached his groin, he could watch no longer, forcing his eyes closed. Her nose twitched. He sensed her movement, not daring to open his eyes again until her fetid breath invaded his nose. Quaking, he saw she was eye to eye with him. Hers were empty, empty of empathy, empty of colour. Clear glass marbles watched him, before floating down once more. Only a few inches this time, she slowed and stopped at his Adam’s apple.

“Please be a dream,” he wished.

Her mouth opened, revealing rows of pointed teeth. He knew it was no dream as the first bite clamped his throat.

Tearing, ripping, and chewing, he was dead. She was ravenous, taking clump after clump of his throat, opening up to her goal, his intestines. 

The gorge continued until sated. His stomach, intestines, and tendons gone. She drifted into a seated position next to her husband’s body. 

Looking at him, she smiled and rested, knowing her task was unfinished. She waited less than a minute.

She was calm and precise as she drew a fingernail sharply across her bulge, “You are next, my baby son.”

Opening her belly, spreading flaps of skin and fat, she lifted the boy out. She clamped her needle-like teeth down on the still attached baby, leaving nothing but a skull and a few bones.

The Krasue floated out of the open window and swept across the gap of missing fencing. 

“I told him not to fix it!” she sniggered. 

Howling into the night sky, it echoed across rice fields, waking terrified farmers. 

She found a new home, high in a Pinus Kesiya tree. Settling comfortably on a branch until she needed her next feast.

The END

Who Are You? Who Am I?

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, read http://www.dark-novels.com or listen Anchor.fm

Who Are You? Who Am I?

A gentle click and a kittenish hum accompanied Amy’s unladylike yawn. She looked around and apologised to no one, at least no one awake.

“It’s six o’clock, you asked me to call you,” as a lively nurse popped her head around the door. Amy checked her watch.

“Thank you, I’d better go,” Amy dabbed her eyes as she did every day. She twirled her engagement ring as she did on the hour. As she did every hour.

“Miss Amy, can you hold on for a moment, the doctor wants to talk to you?”

“Is there any change?” Amy asked hopefully.

The nurse ducked away without answering. Signalled for her to follow.

“But this is not the doctor’s office,” said Amy as they stood outside a door labelled ‘Dr Franks – Psychiatrist’. 

“Good luck,” the nurse whispered.

“Come in, come in,” said the good-looking man with his arm outstretched ready to shake. 

“Why am I here?” asked Amy.

“Please sit down. The staff thought it would be helpful if we spoke.”

“But why?” she repeated.

“You’ve visited your boyfriend daily since his eh, accident. Every day, you come at the same time, you leave at the same time.”

“So what? I am a teacher, therefore I finish work at four, is it not normal for me to arrive just after that time?”

“Yes, I guess it is. The professor wanted me to ask you something, can I do that?”

“Yes, depends on what it is. Anything about me, fine, including OCD.”

“Oh, you know about the obsessive-compulsive disorder, have you seen someone about it?”

“No, I don’t need to. What do you want to ask?”

“We all feel we need to improve your life.”

“And how do you propose to do that? Bring Jake back to me?” 

“Jake has not changed in months, his doctors all agree, sadly, he won’t.”

“Are you planning on turning off his life support?” tears appeared as she studied the man’s eyes.

Rain hammered the window pane, cleaning weeks of accumulated dust. The summer had been the driest for years. A distant rumble made Amy shake her head.

“Amy, you are not his next of kin, his father is,” he stopped speaking as Amy fumed.

“His family doesn’t care about him, I’m the only one who cares. You will not turn him off.”

“We all understand, but,” again he shut his mouth as Amy put her finger to his mouth. 

“I won’t hear of it!”

She turned and fled back to her boyfriend’s room.

Thunder crashed above the hospital’s roof. Lightening flashed, instantly brightened the dull lights.

As Amy burst through the door, a shattering blast from the clouds rocked the building, so loud it seemed an earthquake had hammered London. An even larger blast shattered glass, windows splintered inwards as a lightning bolt crashed into the roof. 

The power failed as Dr Franks rushed after her. The only light now came from sparks raining from power points around the room.

“Don’t worry, the emergency generator will kick in,” he said.

“What about Jake?” she wailed, shaking the dead wires attached.

“Saves me a problem,” thought Dr Franks, immediately cursing himself for the idea.

Amy’s scream echoed as the temporary power flicked on.

“Oh, God,” shrieked Dr Franks. His fingers shook as he hammered his mobile.

Jake was sitting. His eyes blinked, Amy hugged him, gently at first, then with all her might.

Puffs of smoke escaped from tubes as he pulled at them, throwing plastic tubes and wires away from his body.

“Jake, Jake, oh, you’ve come back to me,” Amy cried as she clung to him.

His voice croaked drily as he asked, “Who are you?”

Amy drifted, agony and joy. Should she laugh or cry?

“Who am I?”

Nurses and a doctor dashed to the bedside as Amy and Dr Franks were shoved aside.

Jake collapsed backwards as they wheeled him to an emergency ward. He turned to a nurse, “You are expecting a son, a lovely boy,” he whispered in her ear.

The newly married girl grinned, pushing the bed ahead.

“I doubt that,” she mouthed to him. 

Dr Franks put his arms around Amy trying to quell the panting of her breath, the quivering of her limbs as her knees buckled, Franks led her to a chair.

“He has been comatose for ten months two weeks and three days, suddenly he sits up. What just happened?” she stammered.

“That is as close to a miracle you’ll ever see,” the stunned psychiatrist panted.

“Will he be alright?” she asked.

“As soon as I’ve got you settled, I’ll find out,” Dr Franks said as he led her to a private room.

Amy sobbed quietly and waited to compose herself. The time dragged, not realising Amy had not twirled her ring, nor had she checked the time. She was about to ask for a nurse when Dr Franks knocked and entered beaming.

“Tell me,” she asked.

“Incredibly, he is fine, his heart is strong. All the tests they performed shocked the medical team. We expect him to get back to normal, but he’s likely to be exhausted.”

“Can I see him?” she begged.

“You can come with me.”

Amy’s heart was pounding like a steam engine as she entered his room. Nurses moved aside as Amy rushed to the bed.

“Oh, Jake, darling Jake, I love you so much.”

“Thank you, for the lovely thought, I’m sure I could love you too. But, who are you?”

Amy lost her smile. She stared at Dr Franks.

“Don’t worry, it’s quite normal to lose your memory temporarily,” said Dr Franks.

Jake raised his hand, like a naughty schoolboy, “Who am I? You called me Jake, is that my name?”

Looks bounced between Amy and Dr French, then between Amy and Jake.

“What do you remember?” asked Amy.

“All I know, I was in a better place.”

That comment stunned Amy. Her ring untouched, the diamond was on show. Its sparkle forced a smile.

“Better than with me?” she asked smiling down at him.

“I was a wisp, floating through time and space. The lights of a billion shades twinkling calling me nearer.”

“Calling you nearer what?” asked Dr Franks.

“The endless chase, what else?” answered Jake.

Amy and the psychiatrist gaped, lost in their own minds.

“Did you hear anything?” asked Franks.

“Sounds floated, opera, violins, and indescribable noises, so beautiful you want to embrace them.”

Amy held his hands as asked, “Can you remember meditating in our bedroom? You were sat on our light blue carpet, you were listening to your old CD player, Thai monks whispering a chant. I was tidying up around you. Dressed and ready for work, I bent to kiss you goodbye, as I did every day. But this time you were cold to touch. I could not feel a pulse and immediately called for an ambulance. Do you recall any of that?”

Jake took what seemed a millennium. He looked at her unknowing why, but sure somehow he would hurt her before he answered, “I don’t know you.”

Dr Frank put his hands on her shoulders, “Come on, we had better let Jake rest. He may remember more after relaxing.”

Amy looked up, staring deep into his eyes, “I am at peace.”

The END

If you enjoyed that, try a full-length novel amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Or The Glass Kingdom, by Lawrence Osborne.

The Glass Kingdom: A Novel by [Lawrence Osborne]

Escaping New York for the anonymity of Bangkok, Sarah Mullins arrives in Thailand on the lam with nothing more than a suitcase of purloined money. Her plan is to lie low and map out her next move in a high-end apartment complex called the Kingdom, whose glass-fronted façade boasts views of the bustling city and glimpses into the vast honeycomb of lives within. 

It is not long before she meets the alluring Mali doing laps in the apartment pool, a fellow tenant determined to bring the quiet American out of her shell. An invitation to Mali’s weekly poker nights follows, and—fueled by shots of yadong, good food, and gossip—Sarah soon falls in with the Kingdom’s glamorous circle of ex-pat women.

But as political chaos erupts on the streets below and attempted uprisings wrack the city, tensions tighten within the gilded compound. When the violence outside begins to invade the Kingdom in a series of strange disappearances, the residents are thrown into suspicion: both of the world beyond their windows and of one another. And under the constant surveillance of the building’s watchful inhabitants, Sarah’s safe haven begins to feel like a snare.

From a master of atmosphere and mood, The Glass Kingdom is a brilliantly unsettling story of civil and psychological unrest, and an enthralling study of karma and human greed.

$13.99

Splash Splash

A short story by Colin Devonshire, here or Anchor.fm

Splash, splash

“Thank you, darling. How wonderful, a break together, I never thought we’d do it,” Mags said.

“Anything for the prettiest wife in the world,” Robin smiled.

“Don’t get carried away with your praise, especially when you don’t mean it,” she chuckled.

“We’ve had a nightmare year or two. A break will be good for us all. How do you feel?” he asked.

“So far, so good. It was tough getting out of the house that first day. But now, six months on, I not only escaped my self-built prison, but I also made steady progress, I left the village. Now, here I am, with my family, on holiday.”

“I’m proud of you, and so are the children. Where are they?” asked Robin.

“They are too young to understand, but thanks for saying it. They ran to the beach without unpacking their stuff,” said a joyful mother.

“Are they okay on their own?”

“Just look out of the window, there they are, running across the sand. Not a care in the world.”

“Shall we leave them to it? We could catch up with another thing that’s been missing from our lives,” he grinned as he wrapped his arms around his wife. The cheeky young woman he had met all those years ago at university was back. She tugged him to the bedroom.

“Just a sec,” she mouthed as he unclipped her bra. 

“Okay, where were we,” she said, returning from sneaking a look outside.

“You don’t have to check them every minute, you know,” said Robin, lifting the quilt and patting the bed.

The children had worn themselves out leaping the waves, now it was time to search for the enemy, crabs.

“Lizzie, look, a monster,” said Jay.

“Not as big as mine,” said Lizzie as she freed a gluey blob from a discarded Coke bottle.

“That is not a crab, you are cheating. What is it? Is it alive?”

“I don’t know. Ouch! It bit me,” said Lizzie, shaking blobs of blood from her thumb.

“Over there, there’s another one,” said Jay, pointing at a sandy puddle. He moved towards it, then yelped.

“Look out behind you,” said Lizzie too slowly. “There’s another one of those things.”

“Jesus, that hurt. Come on, we’d better go home,” said big brother Jay.

The children sprinted up the beach, clambered over some rocks and burst through the back gate and into the kitchen.

“Mum, Dad, something has hurt us,” screamed Lizzie at the bottom of the stairs, “The arch-rivals got us.”

Robin’s concentration split in two, Mags’ bliss shattered.

“Oh God, what’s happened? Get dressed quickly,” as Robin nudged his wife, they fell out of bed.

Grabbing a robe, Mags bounded down the stairs, her husband two steps behind.

“What happened?” she asked.

“It bit my thumb,” Lizzie held it out.

Jay balanced on one leg and raised the other, “It got me on the ankle, look.”

Robin looked at the wounds.

“Nasty, how did you do that?”

“Same as Lizzie’s thumb. Something in the sand bit us,” said Jay, Lizzie nodded furiously in agreement.

“What do you think, Mum?” asked Robin.

“It looks like a leech bite?” Mags said.

“Err, that sounds horrible,” said Lizzie.

“I thought you only get leeches in freshwater?” asked Jay.

“Normally, yes, but there are some in warmer oceans.”

“And the Channel is warmer? You are joking?” mentioned Robin.

“That’s what I don’t understand. Maybe it was something else,” said Mags.

“How come you know so much about it, Mum,” asked Jay.

“As you know, I’ve spent a lot of time indoors, most of it reading,” answered Mags.

“I wish I was clever like you,” said Lizzie.

“We are glad you go to school, then you will be clever too. Now, run upstairs, unpack your things and change for dinner,” ordered Robin.

The children plodded downstairs, “I can’t smell cooking, what are we eating? Don’t say it is salad?” asked Jay.

“No. We are going out, is that okay with you both?” said Robin.

“What about Mum, can she come?” asked Lizzie.

“Mummy is better now. Come on, let’s find a restaurant,” said Robin.

The children pulled their parents towards fast-food outlets, Robin and Lizzie had more original ideas for their meal.

“Here we are, ‘Olde English Pub and Restaurant’ that’s the place we spotted in the guidebook, highly recommended.” 

“Yes, looks lovely, a meal in the pub’s garden. What do you fancy?” asked Robin.

“Wow, we’ve never been in a pub before,” said Lizzie.

“Do they have burgers?… Ouch what was that?” Jay furiously scratched his ankle under the table. “Mum, I’m bleeding again!”

“Do you need a plaster?” the girl said as she handed out menus.

Mags grabbed paper tissues from the table, mopping the blood.

“Robin, look at this,” Mags pointed at the wound, “Something is wriggling under the blood.”

The barmaid gagged as she backed away, menus floated to the grass.

“We had better get to a hospital,” said Robin, trying to stop his son from looking.

Jay, supported by his parents, limped to the A&E counter, his trainer now full of blood. 

“Come through please,” a nurse showed the way.

“Okay, young man,” smiled the doctor, “please lay on the table, let me remove your shoe and sock. What did he do?” he asked, turning to Robin.

“Both he and his sister got nipped by something in the sea earlier. We cleaned it and popped on a BandAid, then it started itching and blood oozed out. His sister is outside with his Mum, do you want to look at her thumb too?”

“Let me look at this first, then I’ll check on her.”

The nurse pulled off the plaster and gasped. Open-eyed, she stared at the doctor.

He started gently pulling at a blood-soaked worm. A worm with a mouth opening and closing, sucking in air, the doctor tugged harder; the worm wrapped itself around the pincers. 

“Hold this” ordered the doctor, the nurse stepped closer and held the metal. The doctor scrabbled for another tool.

“You had better wait outside,” he said to Robin.

The worried father was in two minds, finally went and talked to Mags.

Mags and Lizzie weren’t in view, Robin guessed they must be in the ladies, he waited.

“Aargh, get it off me.”

Robin dashed to his daughter’s voice.

Mags’ hands clamped hard on to a wash-hand basin, her feet rooted to the spot. She knotted her eyes shut. She couldn’t bear to look at her daughter’s hand. Lizzie’s arm outstretched, juddering her wrist, flicking blood up the mirror.

“Mum, get it off me!”

“Nurse, nurse, come quick,” shouted Robin from the doorway.

“You take my daughter, I’ll look after my wife,” ordered Robin.

“Mags, it’s okay, relax, breathe deep and long. Come on, release your grip, let go of the basin, let’s sit down,” he said.

“It’s starting again, I can’t move,” she quaked, “I must go home,” she wailed.

“You’re okay, we can’t leave the children.”

He prised her hands away from the ceramic and gently led the shaking woman to the waiting room.

“Will you be all right? I must check on Jay and Lizzie.”

He didn’t wait for an answer; he dashed out to find the doctor.

“It’s all my fault,” she mumbled to his fast disappearing shoulders. 

“Here we are Maxie, are you ready for your run?”

The elderly chemist unclipped a battered and scored leather lead, the over-weight black Labrador waddled on to the beach, he attempted running, remembering those days as a pup, now barely quicker than his walking pace he made his way to the sea’s edge, aged paws splashing ahead of his loving owner.

“Good boy, you enjoy your dip,” she called after him.

The chemist kept to the dry fluffy sand, her eyes never leaving her beloved dog. Suddenly, Maxie’s front legs buckled, his nose dipped into the seawater and wrinkled sand, as his front legs collapsed completely.

“Oh, no, Maxie, what is wrong?” called his owner, she ran crying to her pet.

Crouching down in the sand, she lifted her pet’s head from the water, noticing small lumps under the fur. The slight bumps were moving towards his chest. 

“What the?… Aargh.”

She felt mosquito bites from inside her rubber ankle boots. Trying to free her foot from the footwear, she toppled sideways to the wet. Within seconds, circles of blood appeared on her legs. No longer mosquito bites, the pain jabbed and pricked like a nest of bee stings. 

Young lovers cuddled up along the seafront as they enjoyed a stroll to the pub.

“What is happening over there?” the girl pointed.

“It looks like the old lady and her dog that passed us. Come on, they need help,” the boyfriend answered as they both sprinted down the beach.

Within moments they became covered in small biting creatures.

“Help,” he pressed the panic button on his phone before disappearing under a cloud of dark grey.

In the bay, a dinghy floated on the tide as it moored.

“How did you enjoy your first sailing lesson?” asked a proud father.

“Oh, wow, great, that was fun. When can we go again?” asked his daughter.

“Sounds like the weather will be fine again tomorrow. How about in the morning?”

“Brill Dad, thanks. What’s that?” she pointed to a black cloud moving towards their boat under the gentle waves.

“It looks like an overweight blubber filled walrus,” he smiled before leaning over the edge to look closer, his daughter next to him.

Behind them, slug-like creatures were sliding up and over the opposite bows.

Further out in the bay, a Finnmaster 8 bobbed. Its owners were on the seabed, hoping they could find the shoulder bag their friend flung overboard earlier. They passed hand signals, the index finger rolled to meet the thumb, ‘Okay’, followed by pointing up, meant enough searching for today.

“Nightmare,” said Bobby as he spat out saltwater.

“Poor Sal, devastated at losing her favourite bag, and all her stuff in it,” nodded Petra.

“What the hell was she thinking? She hurled it at him.”

“You heard the row she was having with her ‘new’ friend.”

“Not friends now,” laughed Bobby.

“No, especially when she swung her bag at him, then trying to push him overboard,” giggled Petra.

“So, she has lost her mobile, her iPad and her purse. Was it worth it?”

“It was good of you to drop them off and come back and start the search. While they can sort out their problem. And it leaves us alone,” she grinned.

“The least we could do, hopefully, she has the barbecue on for when we get back? Maybe she’ll cook him well-done,” he laughed.

Bobby aided Petra to the back of the small cruiser. She threw her flippers on and heaved herself up, then collapsed back into the sea.

A cloud of murky red water surrounded her foot.

Petra froze rigid, fear overtook pain, shock overtook agony. Her foot no longer there.

She screamed as she fought to scramble aboard. She looked back at her boyfriend, sinking helplessly.

“Oh, my God, Bobby,” she mouthed as she watched him slowly disintegrate into popped bubbles.

Bobby’s handsome features exploded into spumes of red jelly. Creatures were writhing inside his wetsuit, wrapping themselves along the anchor rope and crawling up and on towards her.

Petra slid towards the radio.

Mags sat motionless in the waiting room, staring ahead. She fixed her eyes on an unused hook on the wall.

“I wonder if it held a sign saying, ‘beware of mad women’, or something similar? Oh, Robin, this is all my fault.”

“Darling, please don’t torture yourself, you are doing so well. This is certainly not because of you,” said Robin.

“It’s all my fault, if it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t be here,” mumbled Mags.

“Don’t think like that. Are you okay for a minute there? I should check on the children again.”

Her head bowed as she hugged herself, Robin stood slowly, touched her shoulder and walked out.

“How are they doctor?”

“We’ve removed all the… Uh, creatures. But had trouble stopping the bleeding, we’ve stitched them up, they appear fine now, but we must keep them in tonight, I want to find out what those things are,” said the doctor. 

“Sir, we have an SOS call.”

“Put it on speaker,” said the lifeboat skipper.

“It’s mumbled now, strange, it was clear just now?”

The speaker crackled as if spitting threats.

“Trace that link,” shouted the skipper.

“We’ve lost it. I don’t understand it?”

“What do you mean? Nothing?”

“Yes, Sir, silence.”

“Get a chopper up there.”

“We’ve got a fishing boat in our sights, we’re going low for a closer look. It appears fine,” said the helicopter captain.

“It looks like it’s losing fuel. Look at the colour of the water,” said number two.

“There’s nobody on deck. What is that? Look, the nets are moving.”

“That is not netting, what the hell?”

“And all around the boat, sir, that is not oil.”

“I can’t go any closer, the oil, or whatever it is, is moving up and onto the deck. Where are the crew?”

“Christ, I hope that’s fish blood?”

“Did you hear that?” asked Mags as she watched the hospital’s overhead tv.

“Yes, the BBC told everyone not to go into the sea. What the hell?” Robin shook his head.

He held out his arm to support his wife as he led her to the children’s private rooms.

“Come on Mags, do it for the children,” he said.

“I should have stayed locked in the house. We all should have.”

While they were wishing Jay and Lizzie goodnight, a submarine slid into deeper water from nearby Portsmouth.

“We are approaching the site now, sir, port-side. You can see where the rocks tumbled deeper by the tanker that went down last week.”

“The tanker finally got towed away, but leaving a hell of a mess?”

“Yes, sir, you can see the sludge that remains. They cleared most of it with high-powered jets of detergent. Wait a moment, what is that?” 

“All engines stop, I want a closer look.”

“Are those props from a sub? And that looks like a chunk of the rudder.” 

It puzzled the officers for a moment, then they spotted a smashed lump of steel.

“Bits of a submarine hull?”

“Is that the tower, over there?”

“Yes, sir. A wartime wreck, maybe?”

They radioed orders back and forth.

“Lieutenant, get us back, I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” ordered the captain.

Senior officers had charts spread across an immense desk.

“Christ, look, the Admiral is already here,” said the Lieutenant.

“Gentlemen come in, what did you find?”

“Sir,” said the Captain, “It appears to be a wartime sub, the rockfall must have disturbed its resting place,” he smiled.

“This is no laughing matter!” growled the Admiral.

 “No, Sir, sorry Sir,” said the Captain.

“Were there any identification marks on the hull?” asked the Admiral looking at the Lieutenant.

“No, Sir, there wasn’t much we could see. I guessed it was a wartime sub, judging by the rudder, Sir.”

“No markings at all? How about the crew’s skeletons?” asked the senior man.

“Not that we could see,” the Captain scratched his chin, “any bones would have drifted away, surely?”

“What all of them?”

“Some rags were floating in the wreck, could they be uniforms?”

“Get a diver there, we need to discover more.”

The Admiral started searching wartime charts.

“We’ve lost the diver… Aargh!” screamed the dive master as he too became cloaked in black.

The Admiral was reading hand-written notes stashed in a file within a file. Brittle and dusty. ‘Top Secret’ stamped on it.

“Why was this never encrypted on computer files?” he asked himself.

“Christ, what is all this?” he breathed to himself.

“HMS Azur Lane? I’ve never heard of her? What the hell? Captained by Helex Robbo? Helex who? I’ve never heard of him. ‘Sailed for a top-secret mission to destroy the Kaiserliche Marine’, dated 1919.” The Admiral checked and reread more files, scratching and rubbing his jaw he was none the wiser.  

 “What is this?” he opened a dusty envelope. “HMS Holland recommissioned, that cannot be?” He questioned the document. “It sank in 1913!”

Searching the dusty paperwork, “Renamed as Azur Lane, they sent it to German ports in the Baltic.”

He read on, sweat ran down his rigid jawline, “Armed with torpedoes packed with deadly germs!”

Search as he may, he failed to find a report on the details of the mission.

The Admiral collapsed back in his chair. He poured himself a glass of rum, downed it in one. He decided what he must do. He screwed the paperwork into balls, grabbing a wastepaper bin filled it, then torched it on his desk. Embers turned to ash.

The 9 mm pistol was still smoking as his secretary rushed to the door.

The END

If you enjoyed that short story, try my full length novels. amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Only In Bangkok!

FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, read here or listen Anchor.fm.

Only in Bangkok!

“That’s the thing about this city, you can do anything here,” said Pope.

“Why do they call you Pope?”

“The simple answer, it’s my name.”

“Yeah? I don’t believe you.”

“And I’m supposed to believe Gratis is your name?”

The two men laughed and drained their beers.

“You were saying about the city?” asked Gratis.

“You can get away with a lot more here. We have a similar problem.”

“You don’t know me, how can you know about my problems, if I have any?”

“Because I can read,” said Pope.

“What do you mean?”

“You are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are you not?” Pope ordered two more bottles of Leo, “Make sure they are cold this time,” he grinned at the scantily clad girl with the sexy bob-cut, who pretended to be embarrassed at his leer.

Bottles clinked as if friendship was sealed.

“You posted a pic of yourself, ‘Plastered and pickled’, did you not?” asked Pope.

“And?”

“You entered conversation with the world, all laughing at your unhappy role as a husband in the world’s playpen for bachelors,” said Pope.

“What of it?” asked Gratis.

“You want to be a free man. I have a similar wish,” as Pope stared into the eyes of his companion.

“What exactly are you suggesting?”

“Do you know the word mariticide or perhaps uxoricide? The look on your face tells me you are thinking of a joke? Am I correct? The words mean, killing your spouse,” said Pope as he finished his beer.

“That is not a joking matter,” said Gratis.

“No, and I am not joking. I will kill your wife, you kill mine.”

The thumping hip-hop music slowed, any surrounding movement was slow-motion, the bob-cut frozen.

“Are you serious?” Gratis mouthed as life returned to normal.

“We both need to free ourselves, my plan will leave us able to get our lives back.”

“It would stop my misses whinging about not having enough cash,” said Gratis, dreaming of bliss.

“And mine kicking up about ‘suspected’ girlfriends.”

“It was not my original idea. Other guys have got away with this scheme in fictional books,” said Pope, failing to mention the men got caught in the end.

The men shook hands, sealing the deal.

Pope explained, “Just to show my determination, I will go first. When you are satisfied she’s dead, it will be your turn. When we set the date, I suggest you book a few days away, somewhere plenty of folks will see you.”

The music got louder; the lights got brighter, bob-cut got prettier. The men got drunker.

Two days later, Gratis and his wife were arguing, “My mum is ill, she needs to go to the hospital,” Daeng said.

“So?” said Gratis.

“I must send her some money for the doctor.”

“Tough, I have got none.”

“You are lazy and useless,” Daeng was looking for something to throw.

He held his arm up to defend himself as his mobile beeped.

“Yeah, Pope, perfect timing,” he chuckled.

“Well now, my darling Daeng, it looks like our problems are over. I have a job interview, I’m off to Pattaya on tonight’s bus.”

“Ee, heer, you lousy bastard,” she screamed part in Thai. “You’ve got no money for my sick mum, but you can afford a trip to Sin City.”

Cutlery, coffee mugs, anything within reach rained onto the fast ducking husband.

Two hours later, Gratis checked into the Sithole Hotel on the beach road. He always stayed in that place, not because it was top-class, or anywhere near, he just loved the name. And they knew him. 

“Back again Khun Gratis? Good to see you.”

“Yeah, I need a break from the wife,” he grinned at the night manager.

Gratis slung his shoulder bag in his room before dashing to the lively bar next door.

“You buy me a drink?” said one of the mini-skirted bar girls.

“Come on darling, sit with me,” he said as he signalled for a ‘lady drink’, smiles all round as the ‘mamma san’ passed over the oddly coloured little drink to her newest girl, Pinky.

Drinks flowed, the Brit in the Arsenal shirt got louder. “Give it a break, mate,” shouted Gratis.

“And what are you gonna do about it,” as he lunged to grab Pinky.

A half-empty Leo beer bottle crashed on the Arsenal fan’s head. Stools, tables, customers and staff flew in all directions.

“You can go in the morning after you have paid for the damage,” said the police officer.

After spending a more peaceful day on a boat trip to a nearby island, Gratis nursed his cuts and bruises with a gang of youthful backpacking Dutch tourists. His last evening was enjoyed with Pinky. His mobile beeped.

“You had better return home. The police have been hammering on your door,” chuckled Pope.

On the bus back to Bangkok, Gratis upset his neighbouring travellers as he practised his sad face, his acted tearful display, and various displays of emotions.

“Oscar, coming my way,” he laughed to himself.

He took the lift to his single-bed condo, “Hi, Daeng, darling, I’m home, give me a kiss.”

One stern police officer stood at the door.

“Khun Gratis, sorry, but have bad news. Come to the station.”

Gratis looked over the brown-shirted uniform, “What has happened? Is that blood, oh, my God, where is Daeng?”

A message beeped, “Now, it’s your turn.”

After answering questions about his trip to Pattaya he was allowed home, “Very sorry, Sir, we will do everything to solve this terrible crime.”

His phone bleeped again as he reached his front door.

“What is that? Who is she? You had better be joking?”

The message continued below the photo of the fortyish European women.

“My wife,” the details, name, address and make of her car followed, “Tomorrow at six pm”.

“But, but, she’s English, that’s not fair, the police and the Embassy will go mad to catch the murderer!” he screamed at the Samsung.

He answered the first bleep, “That was not the deal.”

“Why? Because she is not Thai? What’s the difference? She will meet at her school at four pm, she will be home straight after that, make sure you are there.”

All the next day, Gratis was thinking how? Also, how did he get caught by Pope? The police would be keener to catch the killer of a teacher at a swanky international school than a girl with a bar background. 

“Pope is right, I’ve no connection to her or her snooty school,” the more he thought he calmed and got on with planning.

“Plastic bag over her head? Got to be. It is quiet, easy from behind, as soon as she gets out of her car. That’s it!” he congratulated himself. “Oh, and don’t forget to take her things, make it look like a theft.”

At four-thirty pm a taxi dropped him at a row of shops near his target’s home. He ordered a coffee and studied the surrounding area. Dressed in jeans and a Bangkok t-shirt, he looked like any tourist, the only difference was the bulge in his trouser pocket. A large and sturdy plastic bag. He walked past her address and back again. The home was a tidy-looking terrace, narrow, three floors with a garage, and no sign of a dog. He clapped his hands.

At five minutes past six a Japanese saloon pulled up, the driver lifted the garage door. Gratis leapt from behind the bins and deftly swung the bag over her head.

“Stop fighting you silly bitch,” he squealed. This was not as easy as it looked in the movies.

Her outstretched leg crashed into the bins, Gratis was struggling to keep his balance.

“Christ, you’re a battler,” he sweated, as she lost power and slumped to the drive. Gratis held on for a full minute. As he unwrapped his hands from the plastic. He straightened, panting.

He heard, “Bastard!” shouted behind him, as pain ripped into him, his skull cracked as he hit the driveway, blood pooled as he died.

Pope pulled his phone and called the emergency number.

“Police, ambulance,” he shouted, neighbours ran to his assistance.

Two ambulances took away the bodies. The police led him gently to the station for questioning.

Later that evening, Pope made another call.

“Daeng, it’s all clear, you can come home. We can be together at last.”

“Oh, darling…” she gushed.

She calmed herself and made one more call that evening. She didn’t know the name of the person she had called, just his profession.

“I’ve sent half the money to your account, you’ll get the rest when you complete the job.”

The END

If you enjoyed that short story, you may like my full-length novels. http://www.amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

If You Work For Big Al

FREE short story, read here or listen on Anchor.fm

“I need to see you, now!” whispered Big Al. A whisper that melts phones.

“On my way,” JD knew better than to argue with the man who paid his wages. He also knew that when Big Al whispered you had better move… fast.

JD badly needed a shower, there was no time for a shave. There was no dress code for this meeting. He slung on last night’s jeans and t-shirt. Sniffing the Levis, he changed his mind and quickly found some clean light brown canvas strides and a denim shirt. Satisfied that his body odour would not insult Big Al’s nostrils, he grabbed a leather jacket and drove the short distance to North London.

Big Al’s busty daughter was waiting by the window.

“Go straight in, he is upstairs… Waiting,” Marilyn said, with the cheeky smile that got several men in serious trouble with her father. JD knew better than to tempt fate. He smiled and studied his trainers.

“No need to knock, get in here,” whispered Big Al coughing cigar smoke from behind the elaborately carved door. The horse whisper was loud enough to rattle lesser men’s nerves. JD heard a snigger from behind, Marilyn was signalling she wanted to talk on the phone. JD shook his head and marched in.

He remembered to sit as fast as possible, Big Al didn’t enjoy guests towering over him. Big Al’s sized five handmade brogues had the number seven stamped on the sole. They appeared to dance on the antique desk as he twitched his knees. His hands slammed onto bony knees as Big Al leaned forwards snarling.

“You know Geordie Jenkins?” 

JD was unsure if that was a question or a statement. He nodded anyway.

“He is your next task,” Big Al raised his reading glasses to eyebrow level, his hands to shoulder height, “Don’t but me,” he snarled.

“Bu… I was going to ask a question. Is Geordie home?”

“No, and he has been upsetting my plans, I want it stopped.”

“B…” JD started again, “Last I heard, he was in Bangkok?”

“Correct. Thailand has stopped all tourism, that is not my problem, my customers are locals, ex-pats, Thai business people and Asian gents who seem to creep under the immigration net with too much money to lose. That prat, the Geordie git is struggling for business with no tourists. He is trying to nick my punters. So, my dear JD, I need you to stop him,” said Big Al, leaning back, his glasses slipped down his nose as the Bangkok Post headline appeared on his computer screen.

“See, the Thai government will not open their borders for the foreseeable future. I want Geordie stopped now,” Big Al whispered the words.

“How can I get to Bangkok?” whimpered JD.

“That is why I pay you so handsomely. You must complete the job. Not some unknown monkey. Get me?”

“Yes, Al. Let me work out the difficulties, I’ll let you know ASAP,” said JD.

“Be here tomorrow with the details. Same time.”

“Can I come with you? I love the food and beaches in Thailand,” giggled Marilyn as JD trudged past her to his car. 

The screen on his car’s dashboard lit up. It was Big Al’s daughter, “Dad has gone out, why not come back we can plan your next move from here? I’ve got all the encrypted passwords with details of all Dad’s colleagues and customers, we can find someone to do the job there for you. You disappear for a few days, then turn up with a smile and put your hand out for your payment,” said Marilyn.

“How do you stand it?” said JD, “I need the money, that’s clear, so I must work for him, but you?”

“It’s a long story, but I also have no choice,” said Marilyn as she slid a chair to JD.

An hour later they were beaming with their choice. A French national who was more than capable of completing the task. However, there was another problem. Pierre lived next to the beach on Phuket, people weren’t allowed on or off the island. This hitch was overcome by employing the services of a Micro plane pilot to drop him on the mainland. Costs of any backhanders if either man were apprehended was allowed for.

“Perfect,” they agreed.

“See you tomorrow at noon,” smiled JD.

JD was whistling as he rang the doorbell. It was unlocked and opened to his touch.

“That’s odd,” he breathed. Instantly alert, he peered around the door, suspecting an unhappy customer was paying a visit. JD then heard a whimpering upstairs.

“Marilyn, are you okay?” he called as he mounted steps three at a time.

“Join us,” was whispered from behind the door.

The stunted barrels of a sawn-off shotgun were rammed into his spine.

“On your knees,” whispered Big Al as he moved between Marilyn and JD. Big Al could now look JD in the eyes.

Marilyn strained against the slipknots which were cutting into her wrists and ankles.

“I consider myself a fair man, a generous boss and a loving father. Why do you two not respect that?” The whisper sounded like two bricks scraping together.

“We were trying to find the best way to complete your task.”

“Oh, really? You were going to use a half-wit Frog who couldn’t even get off the island without you arranging it for him.” Brick dust was clouding.

Marilyn was shaking her head, “How do you know? I disconnected all the cameras?”

“My darling, sweet, untrustworthy daughter, you only disconnected the ones you know about,” his laughter sounded like the bricks had crumbled.

JD fidgeted, which earned him a mouth full of stock. He rolled to the floor.

“It’s not the ‘task’ is it?” Marilyn breathed, “You just don’t want me to have a boyfriend, right?”

Her father stood across JD with the gun pointed at his face, “Your mother had enough lovers for both of you,” he wheezed.

“Dad, I’m twenty-four, it is time I settled down with a husband. Like JD.”

“He works for me, he is not good enough for you.”

“But Dad, we love each other.”

“You love him, haha, so much that you’d go against your father’s orders?” he snarled.

“We were getting your job completed most speedily and cost-effectively way possible with the pandemic hanging over us all.”

“God, you argue just like your Mum did.”

“I don’t remember too much about her. Perhaps I should keep my trap shut? Will I vanish too?”

“You’ve both got one last chance. He will join a tanker leaving for Bangkok tonight. If the task gets fulfilled to my satisfaction, he can come back and I’ll consider employing him full time.”

“And?”

“And you can see him. He’d better not break your heart.”

“Oh, Dad, I love you.”

It was her turn to whisper, “Sometimes.”

His Stanley knife sliced through her ties and she ran to the groggy JD. Big Al went downstairs to the reception desk and made a call.

“JD will be ready for you to collect, he’ll be in a golf bag, he is packed with water and some sandwiches. Let him out when you sail, he may be groggy,” Big Al coughed. “Easy enough to add him and the clubs to personnel belongings. Get him ashore, follow him, and ensure the task is completed. Then my friend,” Al looked around and whispered even quieter, “I don’t want him to return, let’s say he went out of bounds. Got it?”

Upstairs, Marilyn soundlessly replaced the receiver. She calmly picked up the weapon from the desk, checked the shotgun cartridges, then crept down the stairs.

Big Al picked his favourite claret from the rack and moved to the kitchen to find his favourite goblet. A wide smile greeted his daughter until she aimed the gun.

“Glad you were in the kitchen, makes it easy to clean,” she smirked.

The lorry with the shipping container arrived from the window Marilyn pointed at the golf set on the drive. The driver waved and muttered, “Lighter than I expected?”

The END

If you enjoyed that one, how about this?

Not Far Enough From Worries, who wrote it? Oh, it was me, Colin Devonshire.

Available: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Far-Enough-Worries-Book-ebook/dp/B0788N3KQD/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Colin+devonshire&qid=1615363627&s=books&sr=1-2

Only $0.99

Not Far Enough From Worries (No Worries Book 1) by [Colin Devonshire]

The Jet Pee Nong Hotel

by Colin Devonshire – Read or listen to more short stories here https://anchor.fm/colin-devonshire

The Jet Pee Nong Hotel

“Jet Pee Nong, what the hell is that?” asked the walk-in customer.

“That, my friend, is the name of a magnificent hotel in a brilliant resort, on the holiday you’ve been dreaming of,” answered the overly keen sales agent at Rickets Travel Bureau.

“I noticed the ‘deal of a century’, you’ve been plugging on social media recently. Tell me more.”

“You are in luck. We only had one spot available, and it had been booked,” said the young man with the bright yellow blazer with the over-sized letters, RTB, plastered over the breast pocket. Below the logo was a pin screaming ‘Jethro’.

“I was in luck, but it had been booked?”

“Yes, tragedy in the customer’s family. She had to cancel. So, it’s yours, just give me your card and I’ll get on with booking it for you,” Jethro beamed.

Nigel Peters scratched his chin, “I’ve never been to Thailand before, what’s it like?”

“Oh, you’ll love it. It will be hot, the beaches are clean, the food is to die for… And Thai ladies are beautiful, say no more,” RTB Jethro was getting on Nigel’s nerves. He considered the reason he was there in the first place, he needed a break.

“Okay, book it.”

“Splendid decision, Mr Peters, you fly out Wednesday from Heathrow. Have a lovely holiday.”

Nigel settled himself in the middle seat in the central aisle and half-way back of the Thai Airways Jumbo.

“There’s always one, and he is always next to me,” Nigel mumbled to himself as a scruffy younger man tried stuffing his over-large holdall in the crammed overhead container.

“Sorry mate, they buggered my ticket, panic all around,” he said squeezing next to Nigel.

Pulling his jacket free of his neighbour as he sat.

“You’re here now, enjoy the flight,” Nigel sneered, making it clear he wanted no further conversation.

A man was waiting at Suvarnabhumi Airport with a small sign boasting, ‘Mr Peter’, hand-written in black marker pen.

“But I’m Peter,” an elderly man stated.

“No, sir, I meet Mr Nigel Peter,” said the mini-bus driver.

“Excuse me, are you looking for me?” asked Nigel, looking at the clipboard and seeing ‘Peters’. 

Nigel was directed to his seat on the bus.

The mini-bus took no time in becoming snarled in Bangkok’s infamous traffic.

“Hello again, mate,” Nigel heard from behind.

“Yes, hi, you again, it seems we are destined to sit together.”

“Where are you going? I’m going to the beach, I deserve sand and sea after what I’ve been through,” said the scruffy man.

“Me too,” Nigel said, dreading the next question.

“Are you going to Hua Hin?”

“Oh, God,” Nigel breathed as he studied the overhead vinyl. “Yes, I think that’s what it’s called.”

The mini-bus pulled up outside a newly painted building, ‘Jed Pee Nong Hotel’ in foot-high letters hung above the entrance.

“Don’t tell me we’re both staying here?” thought Nigel.

“This way, gentlemen,” said a young receptionist, pointing to the front desk. The driver lugged the luggage to the hotel’s trolly.

“Can I see your passports please,” she smiled.

Nigel rushed his document out of his pocket, hoping to escape his travelling companion.

“Thank you, Mr Peters. And yours, Mr Jackson?” she looked as Mr Jackson searched his pockets and then his small shoulder bag.

Mr Peters was getting used to studying ceilings, plane, bus and now the fresh paint of the hotel foyer.

“No problem sir, the police station is over the road,” she pointed, “I’ll report it missing. Here’s your key.”

“Where’s my key?” asked Nigel.

“Oh, we only give one key per room,” she answered.

The men looked at each other, then at her.

“What?” yelled Nigel.

“I’ve got you down as a couple? That’s what the agent told us,” she said.

“Oh, no, I had to sit next to him on the plane, shared the bus with him, there is no way I’m sharing a room!” 

The girl busied herself with a huge ledger, “We are full tonight, but, tomorrow lunchtime we will have a room free?” 

Mr Jackson shrugged okay. Mr Peters did not, as they trudged to the lift.

“You have got to be kidding me!” as Nigel saw the double bed.

“Which side do you want? I prefer to sleep near the window. If that’s okay with you. Oh, can you keep your noise down, I need to nap,” called Mr Jackson to Nigel’s fast disappearing back as he stormed back to reception.

“I am sorry, sir, but…” she started.

“Where can I get a drink?” fumed Nigel.

A folding map was handed to him, with bars, and restaurants circled. Nigel marched in the sea’s direction and hopefully cold beer.

After sampling some strong Thai beer, he got chatting with a few friendly bar girls. The beers soon changed to shots of local whisky. Nigel had calmed down and was enjoying himself with one young lady. They agreed to meet up the following day.

“My God, it’s gone one o’clock,” slurred Nigel as he staggered back towards his hotel.

“Can I have my key, please?” he said, proud that he didn’t appear as drunk as he felt.

“The key is with… um, your friend, sir,” the receptionist from earlier reported.

“Let me in, Mr Jackson,” Nigel spoke to the door. “Come on, hurry, I need a pee,” he asked louder.

No answer, no sound from inside, Nigel’s firmly crossed legs made it to the WC in reception.

“Have you got a spare key, please,” said a much relived Mr Peters.

“Yes, sir, I can let you in. He must be a sound sleeper.”

The room door pushed back, and the lights flicked on.

“Where is he?” asked the puzzled receptionist.

“Where are my bags? My passport!”

An instantly sober guest opened the wardrobe, then the bathroom even looked under the bed.

“Please sir, accompany me to the police station, we must report this. At least then, you will have the bed to yourself,” smiled the girl.

No smile joined her across the road. A furious snarl marched back after spending an hour with the bored night officer.

“Why did I have to keep repeating myself, as he scribbled notes?” whined Nigel.

“His English is not so good, you were speaking too fast,” said the girl.

“So, all this is my fault?”

“No, sir, please take the hotel key and have a good night,” she offered, thankfully her shift had ended.

A hammering woke Nigel at eight o’clock, “Sorry, sir, but you didn’t answer your room phone,” said the receptionist standing next to a police officer.

“I unplugged the phone, as I wanted a full sleep!” said Nigel as he glared at his visitors.

“Do you mind if I come in,” the officer strode to the coffee table and sat down, pulling the other chair back for Nigel.

“What now?”

“I need you to prove who you are, sir,” said the stern man in the brown uniform.

“I haven’t got my passport, as you well know,” glared Nigel, pulling his wallet from the trousers he had slept in.

The police officer held out his hand, Nigel passed the wallet over.

“No credit cards? No driving licence? No cash?”

“What? Give it here,” stormed Nigel, snatching it back.

The empty wallet hit the far wall. The receptionist’s eyes widened. Her ears glowed at English terms she was unused to.

“Calm down, sir. You had better accompany me across the road,” said the officer, hand on his pistol.

Nigel slumped to his knees, head in hands, “Christ Almighty,” he wailed as he was guided to the police station.

After a lengthy telephone conversation with the British Embassy and proving who he was, he could enjoy the rest of his stay in Thailand. A friend sent him cash via PayPal, making life easier with cash in his pocket. Nigel loved the Thai food, he enjoyed watching monkeys steal fruit, he even saw a dolphin when he took an interesting boat ride as part of a trip to the nearby mountain. His guide was the young lady he met his first night. They were getting on as if they’d known each other for years.

On his third day in Hua Hin, he relaxed in a deck chair on the beach; he unfolded the Bangkok Post.

“What,” instantly he sat up, as a headline on an inside page jumped at him, like a cold fish’s revenge. He felt the slap across the cheeks.

“RTB owner found dead in her home!”

For a reason only known to him, he looked all around him, as he read, “Well-known travel agent and business owner, Mrs Eastman, was found battered to death in her bedroom. Her husband, Mr Eastman’s whereabouts were unknown.”

 Nigel cringed behind the newspaper, suspecting Mr Eastman could watch him. He carried on reading the report aloud, “Young sales assistant, Mr Jethro Jenks, is helping police with their enquiries. Mr Eastman known to have boarded a flight to Bangkok. ‘We lost track of him there’, said a detective headed the case,” Nigel folded the paper gently on his thighs, as a voice he recognised, shouted from behind, “Keep your noise down, I’m trying to nap.”

The END

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Bar Girl, Thai thriller by Gerald Hogg $4.99

On the tropical island of Koh Samui bar-girls are going missing and are later turning up dead. The granddaughter of a high ranking General with connections to the upper echelons of the Thai army government has also gone missing and Police Lieutenant Chai Son Sinuan of the Royal Thailand Police, an incorruptible policeman in a police force that is deep-rooted in corruption is assigned the case. To make matters worse a German resident of Koh Samui who is the younger brother of a minister in the Christian Democratic Union party in the German Bundestag went for his usual afternoon bike ride two days ago and has not been seen since. As Son learns more about the missing German and the general’s granddaughter he is convinced that the investigations are connected. The clock is ticking and Son is in a race against time to solve the crimes before the killer strikes again. Colonel Saetang Son’s commanding officer assigns the corrupt, narcissistic Sub Lieutenant Shinawatra who has family connections reaching back to an ex-Thai prime minister to assist Son in the case and the two police officers clash from the second that they meet.

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Love Lasts

Love Lasts – not the usual dark story, but there is a surprise at the end!

“Good morning, Vic, are you ready for a cuppa?” asked Becky the carer. The pretty young girl smiled from the doorway, teapot in one hand, cup and saucer in the other.

“Oh, yes, please, I’m gasping,” answered Vic, placing the handset back on the outdated dial phone.

“Later this morning we are going for a stroll around the grounds. Do you want to join us?” asked Becky.

“I don’t know yet, hopefully June will come to visit me, I think I’ll have to let you know later, okay?”

“Yes, dear, every day the same, I’ll pop in after breakfast and see if you are free,” said a cheerful Becky.

Vic slurped the hot tea, “Lovely, almost as lovely as Becky.”

Her smile broadened she left to get on with her chores. 

“A quick trip to the loo, then I’ll make a call,” Vic decided.

Vic settled slowly back on the armchair next to the bed. Dialling the only number ever used on the black Bakelite antique. Waiting a minute, then Vic beamed.

“Hello June, how are you feeling this bright morning?”

“They have invited me to join them on a ramble. Well, you know, just a wander around the home, really do you think so? It would be marvellous if you could come?”

“Not this time, I understand.”

Vic continued the one-way conversation for another fifteen minutes. Becky waited outside the door.

The handset was carefully replaced.

“Are you coming for a walk with us?” Becky asked.

“Yes, thank you, it seems June won’t be joining us today.”

“That is a shame. Next time?”

“Oh yes, she would love to meet you all,” said Vic.

“How long were you together?” Becky asked.

“We met during the war. A long time ago.”

“I’ve been with my husband for five years now. Sometimes it seems like forever,” said Becky.

“It was different in those days, of course,” said Vic.

“Yes, I suppose so. When our children came along, it all changed for us too. He was happy at first, but now he goes out with his mates all the time. What should I do?” asked Becky.

“I don’t know, I’m not the sort to offer advice. We never had children, couldn’t. June and I spent every minute we could together, sometimes it was awkward. But we managed.”

“You love June the same today as that very first day. How wonderful?”

“Oh yes, that will never change. Okay, I’m here and she’s not, but it bonds us with our hearts.”

Becky grabbed a tissue and dabbed her eyes.

A nurse peered around the door, “We are about to leave, are you both ready?”

“I’ll help Vic dress, we’ll be there in ten minutes,” said Becky.

“Do you mind if I ask a question?” asked Becky.

“No, dear, anything, ask away.”

“Did you live together since the war?”

“It was not that simple in those days. We met up whenever we could. You know a quick kiss and cuddle, then back to our homes, separately. Neighbours love to gossip,” Vic smiled at the thought.

“Were you both married to other people?”

“Yes, both of us were. We were in hastily arranged weddings. Our partners didn’t come home from the war.”

“That is so sad,” said Becky.

“It was, but it meant June and I were free to be with each other.”

“So, why didn’t you live together?”

“It wasn’t the done thing in those days,” answered Vic.

Becky pulled clothes from the wardrobe as Vic reached for the phone.

“I’ve got a quick call to make, okay?”

Someone slid buckets and mops into the bedroom, “Oh, hello, who are you?” asked Becky.

“I’m Bob, the new cleaner, nice to meet you. Do you want this wire plugged in?”

“No, no, please leave it. It’s from Vic’s phone.”

Bob looked puzzled, Becky put her index finger to her lips and shook her head.

“Does she not know?” whispered Bob.

“No, the phone hasn’t worked since Vic moved here ten years ago. I’m afraid Vicky doesn’t know her friend is not on the line.”

The END

I hope you enjoyed the story?

Here are a couple of full-length novels you may enjoy.

Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’.

$4.74

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N. Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again…and again.

Love Story, With Murders: Fiona Griffiths Crime Thriller Series Book 2 by [Harry Bingham]

Mysteries don’t come much more macabre or puzzling than this. Who were the two victims, and what connection could they have shared that would result in this bizarre double-discovery? But that’s only half the story. The most gruesome moments are much more about Fiona and her curious mental state. There is a complex and very clever double mystery here, and what makes the story unique is the parallel unraveling of Fiona’s own mystery, and it’s her voice, established precisely in the first book but given even freer rein here, that makes it so compelling.

$5.83

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