A family learns that love never dies

Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash

We’re waiting at the bus stop when I die.

A heart attack. I feel no numbness, no pain. Don’t grab at my arm or chest, the way these things are portrayed in the movies. One moment, I’m standing holding my four-year-old daughter’s hand and waiting on the 704, the next I’m on the floor, breathing my last.

She holds my hand; I try to smile.

“It’s okay,” I say.

It’s the only time I’ve ever lied to her.

“It wasn’t me,” says Julia, tears dripping from her thick eyelashes (which she got from me).

The headmaster, Mr. Carr, places both…


Some loves are too strong to let go of…

Image courtesy of KELLEPICS via Pixabay

Translucent hands, iron chains.

looked around the room I’d spent so much time in during life. It looked familiar, yet wrong — like Dave Grohl without a beard. The tight metal cuffs pulled me down, and I saw that dozens of chains spoked outwards from me in every direction.

Oh Jesus, I thought. Is God the old guy from the Saw movies?

I followed one at random, link by link. If I still had lungs, I would’ve been out of breath with the effort. So tired I wanted to lay down and die.

“Irony,” I said out loud.

My lifeless…


A pilot flies himself on vacation

Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

Today is the first of May: May Day. I’ve been working overtime recently, and it falls on a Friday this year, so I thought I’d have myself a long weekend, to unwind. I booked a last-minute holiday and found a flight, but my boss asked me to do him one favor before I could leave.

So, here I am: flying the plane to my own vacation.

I’ve spent enough time at this to know something is deeply wrong. We can’t gain enough altitude. Every time we almost do, the nose throws itself down again. …


A young boy comes under fire for his beliefs

Photo by IV Horton on Unsplash

“Naw. I mean, no. Sir.” Daniel Ballantyne squirmed in his seat.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” asked Mr Moore.

“A just…” But Daniel didn’t get any further.

“Ye just wit, lost yer marbles?” said David Sloane.

“Aye, yer oot yer chump, Danny,” said Edward Murdoch. “Mister Moore? Tell Danny he’s mental.”

Mr. Moore continued scratching his greying beard; he shook his head.

“What’s this all about, Daniel?”

“Am just no sure is all,” he said.

“About wit?” Kevin Smythe was livid.

“Ach, yer bum’s oot the windae!” said Edward Murdoch.

“Now, now, boys. Let Daniel speak.”

The rest of the…


A fancy dress mishap could ruin Jane’s chances of promotion

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Jane stood in the entrance, her wings fluttering nervously as they felt the air of the room change.

“Oh shit,” she said, holding fast to her strained smile.

Countless compound eyes stared at her, their soulless geometric faces somehow still able to express the full gamut of upper-class emotions: amusement, mild embarrassment, disdain, detached distaste, an unearned sense of self worth... God, how she hated them.

She rubbed an antennae with her foremost limb, took a deep breath and walked into the room, feeling big and fat. …


A fugitive heeds a message in a gas station sandwich

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

I’d just like to state for the record that I don’t normally eat food from sketchy gas stations situated a month’s ride from the normal distribution channels.

But, sometimes, needs must.

I hadn’t eaten for almost a week at that point, and the digestive upgrades can only stretch a human body so far. Hitching out into parts unknown, I grabbed the first thing it looked like my body might not reject if I ate it.

My choice? A re-fried, deep-fried bacon baguette with protein slabs, oh, and extra mayo. …


A doctor and her patient versus the Apocalypse

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I’ve just placed the thermometer inside Mr. Kettering's anus when the call comes through.

I excuse myself from the room — promising to return before it’s decided whether or not he’s running a fever — then check my phone on the toilet.

“Zombies,” says my husband. “Get out of there. Now. You know where to meet.”

I check the apocalyptic images that are popping up on social media, then stuff my phone in my pocket and climb out of the bathroom window and down the fire escape.

My car is only a few hundred meters away.

If I hurry, I…


When the sun comes out, the game is on

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Scab’s summer holiday was in danger of being cancelled. He spent every interminable rainy day in front of the computer or the telly, his mind neither fully paying attention to what was happening on the screen, nor free to enjoy its own meandering paths. But now the sun was poking out from behind the leaden clouds.

At first, he held up a hand to bat away the sunlight which slanted through his bedroom window. When he looked up, annoyed, he was momentarily nonplussed to see dust motes glinting in the golden shafts of light.

Understanding dawned: the rain had relented…


Men are from Mars, women are from Earth

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

My girlfriend and I check with each other every few months, just to make sure both of us still don’t want to get married or have children. So, when I come upstairs to find her searching for wedding dresses online, I am ill prepared.

“I’m not saying we have to get married,” she says to my shocked expression. “Only that I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. And, if you asked me, I’d say yes.”

It is the single most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me.

I waste no time in…


I’m one homemade Voight-Kampf Test away from learning the truth

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

1. She’s fascinated by photos of her past

My kid is always on my phone, mostly because I’m too busy watching Blade Runner to reply to work emails or speak to my boss.

When she’s not playing Candy Crush or trolling people on YouTube, she’s looking at photos and videos of herself, just like Leon, who collected Polaroids of him and the other replicants!

Coincidence? I’ve no idea.

It’s not like I’ve been very involved as a parent, and I certainly haven’t met any of her friends (I assume she has friends).

2. Her retinas shine at random

As you learned above, I’ve taken…

Matt Cowan

Writer of fictions, purveyor of laughs, lover of women (ok, my wife and daughter).

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