Saturday, July 2, 2022

White Rabbit Story: July

 Wide, Sweet Eyes


It didn't happen the way they say it did in the newspapers and on the local news programme. Not really. It happened like this:

A small group of us had been day drinking. Hiking around town and hitting every decent bar we could find, necking ales for the first few hours and then, when we felt bloated, moving onto the shorts. The Whisky had made me weary so I decided to leave. 

I staggered out of the bar - I don't recall which - and across the road to a taxi rank with a single car. It was still early evening so there was nobody queuing. I climbed into the taxi and told the driver my address. He nodded, flicked on the meter, and pulled away, joining the one-way system that would take us to the ring road, then the bypass, and home. The radio was playing softly. Weird music that might have been jazz.

"And she didn't even cry," he said, as if we'd been in the middle of a conversation and he was resuming the chat. "No matter what I did, she never shed one tear."

I glanced at him in the rear-view mirror: a thin face, ace scars on both cheeks, short black hair, dark eyes with slightly less dark smudges beneath.

"She didn't speak either. Not a word the whole damn time."

I realised that he'd forgotten I was there. He was talking to himself; a sad, strange monologue. I wanted to get out of the car. Right there and then. In the middle of the busy ring road. I didn't want to hear any more. But he kept on talking, and it was as if his words were physically pressing me against the seat, trapping me there. Binding me in place until I heard what he so desperately needed to say.

"I wanted her to tell me to stop but she didn't. She just stared at me the whole time with those wide, sweet eyes and I felt like I couldn't stop what was coming. It was beyond my control. There was nothing I could do but let it happen."

He drove carefully, if a little far over to the right, not speeding, not making any erratic manoeuvres. Just cruising. Hugging the white line. The exit for the bypass was just up ahead; our journey was almost done.

"She's a small girl so she fit inside the car boot easily. I didn't have to cut her up. Not this one."

I closed my eyes. I didn't want to know this. Not any of it. When I opened them again, we were entering my street. He pulled up at the kerb and sat there, saying nothing else. 

Fumbling for the door handle, I stared at the back of his head. It was damp with sweat. His shoulders were shaking. When the door popped open, I almost fell out of it and into the road. As I walked slowly around the back of the vehicle, staring in horror at the lock on the boot, he pulled slowly away. He hadn't even asked for the fare.

I called the police on my mobile. They arrived quickly. No siren. I told them exactly what had happened and then went inside, where I made a cup of strong tea and sat staring at the wall while it went cold, trying not to scream.

A couple of days later a police constable called by to check my statement and give me a brief update. 

She said they'd caught the man a mile or two from my house. He'd parked outside a carpet shop and sat weeping, his hands still gripping the steering wheel. He kept crying while the police car pulled up in front of his taxi. When the officers checked the car boot, there was nobody inside. They did find some spots of blood but when they passed the DNA through the system, they got zero hits regarding an identity.

Whoever she is, she's still out there, either injured or dead. I often think about her. Who she is, or was. Whether that maniac killed her, or if he let her go. She comes to me in my dreams, with her big, kind eyes and her forever open arms. She's bleeding, always bleeding, but she never cries.

                                    

                                                                                                                               © Gary McMahon, 2022


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Extract


 

Charles stared into the darkness, at the dim outline of the tall trees and low bushes. A figure detached itself from the darker mass of the foliage. Then another. And another. More of them, stepping forward into the clearing.

          There were men and women. They were dressed in formal wear: dark suits and ball gowns. Some of them had flashlights, which they switched on. Most of them were carrying hunting rifles. Their faces were covered with masks depicting the faces of well-known actors and actresses, politicians, famous musicians, and some that he didn’t recognise but assumed were celebrities of some sort.

          Charles held up his hands in a placatory gesture and started to back away. “I’m sorry…I’m lost. I don’t want any trouble.”

          One of the figures snorted like a pig, someone else giggled, and several others grunted in a guttural, wordless manner.

          They were all moving forward, coming towards him.

          Charles turned and ran.


(an extract from "After the Reading")



THIS ISN'T ANYWHERE YOU KNOW


a collection of short stories available to preorder now from Black Shuck Books:


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

This Isn't Anywhere You Know


 

The limited hardback edition of my latest short story collection is now available for preorder from the great Black Shuck Books:

https://blackshuckbooks.co.uk/this-isnt-anywhere-you-know/

The hardback contains additional content that won't be in the paperback, and is simply a beautiful object, so if you're interested, please act quickly before they're all gone.

Putting together this book helped me through a tough time. There's a lot of pain between these pages, but also a lot of love and passion. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Book Review - KISSING THE LIZARD by Justin David

 A few years ago, I was approached by a publisher to review a novella called The Pale Ones, which I loved. A few weeks ago, the same publisher asked me to review his own soon-te-be-released novella, and I gladly agreed to take a look.

The book is called Kissing The Lizard, and it's written by Justin David.

Ostensibly a sort of coming of age story set in the 90s, the book features a young gay man, Jamie, who moves to London and meets an initially fascinating character called Matthew. He rents a room in this stranger's house, and that's when things start to change for him - in terms of starting to know who he really is, and also discovering things about his new friend and landlord.

The story moves us from 90s bedsit London to a desert compound in New Mexico, taking in alien abduction theories, the absurdities of new age mysticism, and weird UFO cults, and introducing us to some strange, quirky, and interesting characters along the way. I don't want to give away too much of the actual plot because part of the fun of reading this is not knowing where it's going.

The writing is clear and crisp, laced with some quietly scathing humour and providing a few creepy moments. It isn't a horror story; in fact, it doesn't fit neatly into any genre, which is one of the book's strengths. It's just a story. A good story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Raced through it, in fact. Highly recommended.

You can order it here:

inkandescent

Sunday, May 16, 2021

This Isn't Anywhere You Know


 

I'm absolutely delighted to reveal the cover for my forthcoming short story collection This Isn't Anywhere You Know.

The cover art is by me, the design is by Steve Shaw, and the font is by Priya Sharma - it's her beautiful handwriting, in fact.

The book will be published by Black Shuck Books, date to be announced.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

New Book - Coming Soon.

 


In a week's time, I'll officially announce my next book with a post about the cover and how it came about.

In the meantime, the title of the book is THIS ISN'T ANYWHERE YOU KNOW, and it's a collection of short stories.

The book was originally going to be called NIGHTCALLS, but I woke up with the new title in my head and went with it. The universe gives you gifts sometimes, and when it does, you're a fool if you don't accept them.

16 stories, 4 of them previously unpublished. This is a very personal book that was put together during this period of lockdown as a way of filtering my own issues through the medium of my art. If that sounds pretentious, I don't give a fuck. Sometimes art can help to heal us.That's what this book did for me.

Friday, August 21, 2020

A Lockdown Story

Isolation

 

Gary McMahon

 

 

Outside, the wind was rattling the patio furniture and making the window panes creak in their casings. The tree in next door’s garden swayed like a drunkard, as if threatening to topple at any minute.

            Jackson stared out through the French doors, the weather distracting him from the computer screen. He didn’t like working from home; he preferred to be in the office, surrounded by people he didn’t really like but whose presence provided some kind of familiarity.

            Rain began to fall in grey diagonals across the window glass.

            “Great,” he said, softly. “Another day of British summertime.”

            The song playing on the radio was familiar but he couldn’t quite place the title of the track or the band who’d performed it. Something from the mid-90s, when he’d been in his heyday. He missed those years of freedom. At the time they’d seemed like the promise of something even better – a precursor of yet more adventures to come – but now they were nothing but faded memories left on a shelf to gather dust and wither away. Sometimes he liked to imagine the ghost of his past self, stuck in time around 1996, drifting through the life he might have had.

            Something passed by the small window to his right. A flitting shadow, as if someone had strolled along the narrow pathway at the side of his house.

            Smiling, he thought: and there he is, right on cue. The pale ghost of me.

            He stood and approached the window, peering outside. There was nobody there. Even when he moved to the French doors, he could see that the garden was empty.

            “I’m losing my mind,” he said to the room. The isolation was causing him to see things.

            Group gatherings were still banned by law, so he couldn’t invite anyone round for company. Not that there was anyone to invite since he and Hannah had split up. Their friends, it turned out, had only ever been her friends all along. She’d even taken the cat when she’d moved out, just before the national lockdown kicked in and nobody could move anywhere.

            Nothing stayed the same. Everything was temporary. Even when you thought your life had settled into a rut, the wheels were always capable of coming off to send you careening along another channel.

            When he turned back to the dining table, where his desktop computer and two monitors were set up, there was someone sitting in his chair. At first glance, it was little more solid than a shadow, but as he watched it grew in definition, taking on substance, becoming a person.

            The ghost of me, he thought again.

            “I’m lonely,” said a small, dull voice. “I desire company.”

            Jackson sat down on the other side of the table, facing the figure. Its face was vague, barely a smudge, but he could see that it was looking directly at him. He’d been wrong about the identity of the interloper. It wasn’t him, it was someone else. Someone he didn’t recognise.

            “I’ll do what I can,” he said, not knowing entirely what he meant by the statement. It felt as if he was saying something bigger and more encompassing than the current situation allowed for.

            “That’s all I ever ask of anyone,” said the odd muted voice. “To try your best...”

            The figure reached out across the table and lay a hand on top of his outstretched fingers. It felt like mist; it was cold and moist and unsettling, yet nestling beneath all that there was a strange sense of comfort.

            Time slowed; the wind dropped; the rain continued to fall, but in silence.

            Jackson felt weightless.

            The figure said nothing else. It just sat there and waited for Jackson to begin. His thoughts were muddled, but he knew that, given enough time, he would work out exactly what the visitor wanted from him.

            Then perhaps everything might make sense.





© Gary McMahon 2020




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