Sunday, January 19, 2014
Monday, April 22, 2013
The anthology is scheduled for release in July 2013. You can pre-order your copy at Indie Books Online.
A big thank you to editors Talie Helene and Liz Grzyb and Russell B Farr, the man behind Ticonderoga Publications.
- Joanne Anderton, “Tied To The Waste”, Tales Of Talisman
- R.J.Astruc, “The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice”, Dark Edifice 2
- Lee Battersby, “Comfort Ghost”, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56
- Alan Baxter, “Tiny Lives”, Daily Science Fiction
- Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”, Bloodstones
- Eddy Burger, “The Witch's Wardrobe”, Dark Edifice 3
- Isobelle Carmody, “The Stone Witch”, Under My Hat
- Jay Caselberg, “Beautiful”, The Washington Pastime
- Stephen Dedman, “The Fall”, Exotic Gothic 4, Postscripts
- Felicity Dowker, “To Wish On A Clockwork Heart”, Bread And Circuses
- Terry Dowling, “Nightside Eye”, Cemetary Dance
- Tom Dullemond, “Population Management”, Danse Macabre
- Thoraiya Dyer, “Sleeping Beauty”, Epilogue
- Will Elliot, “Hungry Man”, The Apex Book Of World SF
- Jason Fischer, “Pigroot Flat”, Midnight Echo 8
- Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull In Winter”, Bloodstones
- Lisa L. Hannett, “Sweet Subtleties”, Clarkesworld
- Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Bella Beaufort Goes To War”, Midnight And Moonshine
- Narrelle Harris, “Stalemate”, Showtime
- Kathleen Jennings, “Kindling”, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear
- Gary Kemble, “Saturday Night at the Milkbar”, Midnight Echo 7
- Margo Lanagan, “Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow”, Under My Hat
- Martin Livings, “You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet”, Living With The Dead
- Penelope Love, “A Small Bad Thing”, Bloodstones
- Andrew J. McKiernan, “Torch Song”, From Stage Door Shadows
- Karen Maric, “Anvil Of The Sun”, Aurealis
- Faith Mudge, “Oracle's Tower”, To Spin A Darker Stair
- Nicole Murphy, “The Black Star Killer”, Damnation And Dames
- Jason Nahrung, “The Last Boat To Eden”, Surviving The End
- Tansy Rayner Roberts, “What Books Survive”, Epilogue
- Angela Slatter, “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, This Is Horror Webzine
- Anna Tambour, “The Dog Who Wished He'd Never Heard Of Lovecraft”, Lovecraft Zine
- Kyla Ward, “The Loquacious Cadaver”, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop's Modern Fables
- Kaaron Warren, “River Of Memory”, Zombies Vs. Robots
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Midnight and Moonshine is a beautiful book. There is beautiful writing on every single page of this book. Don't believe me?
The woman is so pale she hurts the eyes, shining with the same sheen as ancient ice. Her hair is long and silver-white, and her face ... For the briefest of instants, her face is thin and fine, translucent as the porcelain bowls Bjarni often obtains in the East. Blue highlights accentuate her high cheekbones and in place of eyebrows are long white feathers. Her irises swirl, now snow, now mercury. Then she settles. Her features firm, fill out, become almost human, but not quite, set apart by the perfection of her beauty. - p 23
Blue Dove extends her free hand, inch by inch, as though Magnus is a wolf keen to bite. Instead, he kisses her palm. The gesture seems to open a valve inside her, releasing all the fight. She sinks to the floor and unleashes a flurry of words. - p 67
The boy gulps, but straightens up. He is no tattertale. Lovers' trysts, illegitimate births, premature deaths -- he hears these and other mysteries whispered and grunted and moaned at night as he scours the chimney flues running from the cellars all the way up to the palace's top floors. Come morning, they are written in blood on the bed sheets Falki carries to the laundry. And though he reads them well, he never says a word. - p 124
Their infant skin remained white, she'd say, because of all the months they'd been swaddled in cobwebs. Spider poison flowed in their veins, not blood. Beetles rolled dung in their heads -- there wasn't half a brain between them. It was the only explanation, when beautiful girls behaved so vilely. - p 143
Delphine trace the strong line of the boy's jaw, trawl her fingers down his neck and place her palm flat on his chest, damping a print on his cotton shirt. Shivering him with her touch. She draw so close, the shrink-head talisman she always wear looped on a long cornhusk rope around her waist, the one she whisper to when she think no-one's looking, jab into his hip. The boy smell the oil in her white dreads. The cool peppermint musk on her unique dress, a collection of handkerchiefs knotted and plaited around her old-young form, thin fabric covering the round bits of her, the full womanly bits, the firm. - p 193
When the spell leaves her Bella feels exhilarated and empty, as if a part of her soul has darkened in payment for this wicked wish, for this vengeance. - p 250
But it's not all just beautiful writing. It's story too. Oh yes. If you love beautiful writing and powerful storytelling, you should buy Midnight and Moonshine.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Sunday, November 18, 2012
It's been a long time between blog posts. Things have been pretty crazy on the home front and work has been busy too.
I've currently got two manuscripts 'out there' - Skin Deep is one of them - and I've finally committed to what will most likely be my next novel-length project.
I don't want to say too much about it at this point, but one of the characters is a hacker.
So I'm doing lots of reading at the moment. I've checked out Suelette Dreyfus's Underground, which was a really interesting read on hacking in the 80s and 90s.
I've also read Fatal System Error (Joseph Menn), which is a pretty good look at current day hacking and its connection to organised crime.
And I'm currently reading Worm (Mark Bowden), which uses the Conficker worm to take a look at hacking and the vulnerability of the internet.
I've also read Kingpin (Kevin Poulsen), about Max 'Vision' Butler's audacious takeover of an online criminal network.
I'm also checking out some episodes of Patrick Gray's Risky Business podcast - which are very interesting, even if I only understand about half of what they're talking about. :)
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I'm honoured to be included. Kathryn Linge interviewed me in 2007, 2010 and she's done it again.
Make sure you read (or at least scroll) to the end so you can see the rest of the interviews.
He had met Zadie four years ago, when he started working at the bank. Short black hair, geeky glasses that always sat slightly crooked, the barest sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose. But they were both seeing other people then, and by the time they were single again they were friends. They bitched about customers and colleagues, crashed at each other's places when they were drunk, offered consolation and red wine when relationships turned sour. And now she was moving away, down to the central coast. Ditching the rat race, she said. Why risk what they had? But still... Kiss her.He'd missed the perfect opportunity. After the movie she invited him in for dinner. They cooked pasta together, for Christ's sake. A glass of red, just enough to take the edge off. Time evaporated as they talked and he never wanted to stop gazing at her crooked smile and deep brown eyes. When she walked him to his car the moon was sitting, silver and bloated, on the suburban horizon. Their breath turned to mist. "Well, I'd better get going," he said. "Yeah." But he didn't go anywhere. They were standing almost close enough to touch. Zadie smiled. That was the moment. Frankie cursed, and turned the fortune over in his hands. It must have been a joke cookie, if there was such a thing, because the back hadn't been printed with the requisite warning about not eating the fortune. And where had it come from? The table was bare – no half-empty plastic containers to suggest that his housemate, Mia, had had Chinese food. "If only you'd been here ﬁve hours ago," he said. #Over the following weeks, Frankie watched Zadie slip away.She found an affordable place just down the road from the beach. He'd lost count of the number of times she had made him promise to visit. That moment, standing in the moonlight, didn't repeat itself. Zadie was so busy preparing for the move Frankie only saw her at work. He often thought about telling her how he felt but it never seemed like the right time and then, suddenly, Z-day had arrived. He wiped the sleep out of his eyes and pulled a t-shirt on, doing his best to ignore the butterﬂies ﬂitting around in his stomach.
Zadie had asked him to help her pack, but in reality there wouldn't be much to do. Just yesterday she'd told him that what little was left in the house would easily ﬁt in her car. Max, her cat, was staying with her aunt and uncle until she'd settled in. Frankie walked down the hallway into the dining room, then stopped. On the edge of the table, sitting amongst old newspapers, Mia's dinner dishes (or were they breakfast dishes – she kept such odd hours it was hard to tell), and unpaid bills was a fortune cookie. Frankie's heart lurched. He'd been thinking a lot about fortune cookies since the Kiss her night. He kept the message in his wallet, as a constant reminder to seize the day. With tingling ﬁngertips he picked the cookie up and snapped it open. He pulled the fortune out. Don't let her go He blinked and read it again, reality bursting through the fantasy. He was so stupid. He stormed into Mia's room, where she was curled up under the doona. "Hey. Hey!" She blinked up at him. "Hey Frank," she said. Her voice sounded rough and for a moment he felt sorry for her. Pub work. It couldn't be much fun. Then she sat up and he caught a glimpse of the guy in bed next to her. Shit, another one.Frankie wasn't a prude but she was going off the rails. Guys Mia met at the pub, she didn't know them from a bar of soap. He was worried she was going to get hurt – physically and emotionally. And, let's face it, a part of him was worried for himself, worried one of them might decide to take the DVD player with them when they snuck out in the morning. "What the hell is this?" Mia took the scrap of paper out of his hand. The guy groaned and rolled over. She shrugged. "Looks like one of those message thingies out of a Chinese cracker." "Where did you get it?" "What?"
"The fortune cookie. Where did you get it?"Now she was fully awake. "I didn't. I haven't had a fortune cookie for years." He watched her for a moment but she wasn't lying. Mia was lazy, inconsiderate, but never cruel. "Sorry. I'm just a bit worked up." "Zadie's leaving today, isn't she?" Frankie nodded, then turned, worried Mia might see the tears stinging his eyes. Zadie's empty house looked alien to him. Bare walls and ﬂoors – movie posters and Persian rugs in transit. The lounge room looked so big now without Zadie's ridiculously overstuffed, unbelievably comfortable sofa taking up half the room. "This is it then," she said. "Yeah. Got everything?" She was holding a carry-on bag in one hand and her keys in the other. Don't let her go. He was going to let her leave. There was no question of trying to stop her. That sort of thing only happened in movies. He walked her down the front steps to her car and he couldn't believe he'd come so close to kissing her on this same spot, barely a month ago. In the harsh midday sun it seemed impossible she could ever want him. "I'll call you when I get down there," she said. He nodded. He couldn't speak. It felt as though there was a golf ball stuck in his throat. She put the bag down and hugged him. She felt so warm. Her hair tickled his face. He could smell her perfume. When she pulled away, her cheeks were wet. She climbed into her car and he walked around and shut the door for her. She started the engine. "Don't go," he said. "What?" A half-smile touched her lips. "Don't go. Please." "Frank. I have to go. All my stuff's down there. I've quit my job. I can't not go." "Zadie, I love you." "I'm sorry. I really am," Zadie said. She put the car into gear. Through a prism of tears, he watched her drive off. There was no fortune cookie waiting for Frankie when he got home. Zadie called him that night and apologised. She didn't offer to come back, and he didn't ask her to."I'm sorry," he said. "I got a bit emotional. It's just, we've been friends for so long. I didn't want to lose you. I'm an idiot." The line went quiet. The conversation stalled. Patricia took over Zadie's teller. She was nice enough. She put up photos of her three grown kids and grey-haired husband. She smelt of talcum powder and peaches. Days turned into weeks. From time to time Frankie took the messages out of his wallet and stared at them, just to convince himself he hadn't imagined it all. Emails replaced phone calls from Zadie. He was waiting for the one that started: "Something really exciting has happened. I've met someone!" He almost wished for it. It would allow him to end this ridiculous charade and move on. #Frankie scratched his chest through his pyjama shirt with one hand and slopped milk onto his cereal with the other. He carried the bowl out to the dining room table, which was clear for once except for a plate dusted with crumbs and a fortune cookie. He stared at it, not even daring to breathe. His mind conjured up a thousand fortunes, all of them involving Zadie, most of them involving the smell of sunscreen and salty air, the shock of cool sea water, an embrace. Frankie set the bowl down and picked up the cookie, praying to a God he only believed in when he wanted something. He snapped it open and retrieved the message. Ride to work A snort of laughter burst through his lips, followed by hysterical giggling and then a ﬁt of crying as he realised what a pathetic state he'd been reduced to. "Ride to work? Ride to work! Why the fuck not?" He strode outside and pulled his bike out of the shed. It was covered in cobwebs and the tyres were ﬂat. He'd forsaken the bike for the train almost a year ago. He dragged it into the lounge room and set to work, muttering to himself. Behind him a door creaked and Mia emerged, peering at him from the perpetual darkness of her bedroom. She took in his dusty pyjamas, greasy hands, crazy smile. "What are you doing?" "I'm going to ride to work today!" When she didn't respond, he winked and tapped the side of his nose. "A cookie told me to!" Frankie was dripping with sweat and panting for breath by the time he reached the top of the hill. He was so exhausted he barely registered the crowd gathered there, backs turned to him.
Ahead, the road curved and the city spread out before him. He looked up and squeezed the brakes, sending a shudder through the back wheel. A pall of smoke hung over the high-rise buildings. At ﬁrst he thought it was a ﬁre, a building on ﬁre. He dropped his feet to the bitumen. A car slowed to a crawl behind him. Half a dozen people stood on the footpath, staring at the skyline. One woman had a hand raised to her eyes to block the morning sun. A man repeated the same thing over and over again: "Terrorists. The bastards got us. Terrorists. Those bastards." From a nearby house a woman emerged wrapped in a dressing gown, eyes gleaming, talking as though she'd known them all their lives. "The train station. Sixty dead." The guy in the car behind Frankie piped up. "Radio's sayin' seventy." Frankie didn't get to work that day. No-one did, not if they worked in the city. Instead he rode home and sat glued to the television, watching the death toll climb. Train carriages ripped apart like they were made of aluminium foil. Just like Mumbai and Madrid, the TV said. Even Mia got up to watch it, wrapped in her doona. In the back of his mind, he wondered why Zadie hadn't phoned him. She must've heard about it. These days everyone was connected, all the time. This is it, he thought, angry and ashamed of himself, It's really over between us. Wallowing in self-pity while the ambos hefted charred corpses into body bags. One of those bodies should have been his. Someone knocked at the front door. Frankie got up on shaky legs, eyes still glued to the box. They were showing CCTV footage of the blast.
People were just getting off the train when – bam! – the screen went white. He smelt familiar perfume and turned to see Zadie standing in the doorway, sunglasses on, sweaty hair pinned back with bobby pins. "I came as soon as I heard," Zadie said. She crossed the threshold and wrapped her arms around his waist. She was hot, her face wet against his shirt. "But it's a three-hour drive," Frankie said, instantly regretting it. Zadie didn't mind. "Promise you'll never leave me," she said. "And I'll do the same for you."#The plane banked and Frankie risked a quick glimpse out the oval window. New York City scarred the horizon. The 747 hit a pocket of empty air and dropped twenty metres, prompting gasps followed by nervous laughter. Frankie's hand clamped down on Zadie's. She winced. "Sorry," he said. Zadie looked away from the window. "It's okay, honey. We're almost there." "Yeah. I know. I'm going to kiss the stinking tarmac when we touch down." "Well if it's good enough for the Pope..." The plane plummeted again and his hand jerked, crushing Zadie's ﬁngers. "Sorry." Frankie had never realised he was scared of ﬂying. It was his ﬁrst time on a plane. He'd been so hyped when he heard Zadie's parents were sending them to New York for their honeymoon he hadn't even wondered how he would handle the journey. The take-off had been the worst part. He couldn't imagine the thing getting off the ground. All that steel, luggage, people. It just wasn't natural. The great hulk lumbered down the runway, engines screaming, cabin shaking, before ﬁnally lifting off. It was okay once they hit cruising altitude. And then they ran into the turbulence. He glanced out the window, along the wing. One of the ﬂaps was down. It was streaked with rust. His eyes ﬁxed on it, waiting for it to move, to show some sign of operation. His ears popped. They were descending. He couldn't even see the skyscrapers now. Frankie tried to think of nice things. The day Zadie moved in, when Mia actually washed up and baked them a cake. Their wedding day, at Zadie's parents' farm, when Zadie's dog Bozo led the bridal party down the hill towards him, pink ribbon tied around her neck. But everything was tinted with fear. "Do you think that's supposed to be like that?" he said. "What?" "That ﬂap." He reached over her and pointed. "Yeah." Terra ﬁrma loomed, blurred by velocity. The ﬂap shuddered. The plane plunged, engines shrieking. Oil streaked into the air. Zadie gasped. "It's coming away."Frankie saw the ﬂap disappear, fatigue cracks slicing through the wing. The cabin ﬁlled with screams. Then an ear-shattering explosion, and everything went black. #Darkness. Hospital sheets. Pain. When he opened his eyes he wondered what Zadie's parents were doing in New York. They looked terrible.
"They said it was quite miraculous," her dad said. "Not many survived." Frankie's leg throbbed; blood pulsed in his ears. "You'll come to the funeral, won't you?" From the day Frankie woke, the darkness never really lifted. Everything was tinged with bitterness and regret. When he was ready to go home Zadie's parents offered to drive him but he said he wanted to do it by himself. Frankie expected the house to be a pigsty, but the place wasn't too bad. It even looked as though someone had mowed the lawn. Frankie had been a little disappointed Mia hadn't visited him in hospital, but this was a welcome trade-off. He limped through the front door and laid his day pack by the dining room table, his eyes scanning the surface but ﬁnding only newspapers and a dirty cereal bowl. "Mia?" She ran out of her bedroom and embraced him. He staggered backwards, a ﬂare of pain shooting through his bad leg. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she said. At ﬁrst Frankie thought Mia had registered his gasp, but then realised she wasn't talking about that. He felt awkward. Why did people always feel the need to apologise? It wasn't her fault. He told her so, but she shook her head against his chest. He felt her tears soak into his t-shirt. "Yeah, it is," she said. Mia pulled away from him and walked towards her bedroom. He followed her on numb legs. His mouth dried out and his hands quivered. She opened a small wooden box and rummaged amongst lipsticks and faux pearls, then pulled out a slip of paper. "No," Frankie said. She offered it to him. "This guy I brought home must have found it on the table when I was in the shower. It was the day before you left. I didn't know..." "No." "...how could I have known?"He took the fortune with numb ﬁngers. His breath came in short, sharp gasps and black spots danced across his ﬁeld of vision. His injured leg throbbed. Frankie stood there, reading the fortune over and over again. Don't get on that plane He backed out of the room, frightened of what he might do to her if he stayed there. Thankfully, she didn't follow him. "Jesus Christ." Frankie screamed and punched the wall, screaming again as a shockwave of pain blasted up his arm. The air seemed too close, too thick.
His peripheral vision dimmed. He felt as though he was peering down a long, dark tunnel. He leant over the kitchen table. Blinked away the darkness. Then he saw it. A fortune cookie. Choking back tears he crushed the cookie in his good hand, letting the crumbs drop to the ﬂoor. He stared at the fortune. It was a phone number, with a regional code. Frankie stared at it for a few moments, considering his options. "Fuck it," he said. He carried it to the phone and dialled the number. After four rings, someone answered. #The man's directions took Frankie west, where new housing subdivisions gave way to yellowing farmland. At the end of a pockmarked single-lane road he turned onto a dirt track that led to a three-storey pale green barn, the sort farm machinery is kept in, with a battered 1974 Corolla parked out front. Frankie got out, stretched his bad leg and tasted the dusty air. Nothing seemed real any more. He felt as though he was watching himself on a movie screen. Frankie limped through the open barn door. His eyes adjusted to the gloom. Oil stains on the concrete ﬂoor from farm equipment long since gone. Empty fortune cookie boxes, and the odd fortune cookie, crushed into the cement. When he saw the machine he wondered how he could have missed it. Its bulk pushed to the ceiling of the barn, three storeys up, a mass of stainless steel pipes, scaffolding, and pieces of machinery like nothing Frankie had ever seen before. Plumes of frosty air drifted down from several places, and electricity occasionally arced, lighting the contraption from deep within. Every second he stared at it he noticed more details: electrical cables, red valve wheels and symbols warning of hazardous waste, radioactive material, and others Frankie had never seen before."Hello," a voice said. Frankie spun on his heels. A man approached, hand outstretched. A crazy head of pitch black hair, eyes gleaming from behind wire-framed glasses. He was wearing a pair of dusty black pants and a short-sleeved plaid shirt with pens in the pocket. His grip was ﬁrm and dry. "Lucian Barnes. I'm sorry about your wife," he said. Frankie, stunned, glanced over Barnes's shoulder and saw the barn wall opposite the machine was covered from ﬂoor to ceiling in cork boards, and the cork boards were mostly ﬁlled with scraps of paper. Fortunes. A ladder was propped to one side. "I don't know why it's fortune cookies. Maybe they're easy to send," Barnes said. Below the board, a card table topped with an ancient Olivetti electric typewriter, and several unopened boxes of fortune cookies. "Or maybe it's a psychological thing. You know, your mind is already prepared to think about the future, snapping open a fortune cookie..." "What's going on?" "I get messages. They helped me build that thing," he said, gesturing at the machine. "I had some idea, of course, that such a method of transportation was possible. But I got stuck with the mathematics. Then I received my ﬁrst message." Frankie followed Barnes to the left-hand-side of the corkboard. In the bottom corner were a collection of fortunes with strings of numbers and equations on them. "So now I send messages. I pass them on. Sometimes I send myself messages." "Yourself?" "Not me exactly. Other versions of me." Barnes picked a ream of paper off the desk. He opened the ream as if it was a book, then pulled out a single piece of paper. "It's like this. This bit of paper. This is everything, our whole universe. Everything, everytime. Past, present future." "Uh huh." "Only... there's this," he said, and placed the sheet back in the ream. "All these other universes, and they don't line up properly. Our present in their future. Or past." "Multiverse theory." Barnes nodded at the machine. "That thing creates a hole." "And you send cookies?"Barnes nodded. Frankie opened his wallet. He had kept all the messages. He had thought about throwing them out, but couldn't bear to do it. Now he laid them out on the table. Kiss her Don't let her go Ride to work Don't get on that plane Frankie sat down at the typewriter. "Can I change my past?" he said. "I don't think so. The thing is, if you changed your past, you wouldn't be here, so obviously you couldn't have succeeded." "I haven't sent the message yet." Barnes shrugged. "Or, if you could, you wouldn't know about it. If you change your past, you change your future. I think it's more likely that you can change the future in another reality. Make things better for another version of you." Frankie thought of Zadie's body, what was left of it, lying in a morgue waiting to be buried. "I can live with that." Frankie typed the message and cut it out. Barnes used tweezers to pull a genuine message out of a cookie and put in the substitute. "When do you want me to send it?" "In place of the first one - Kiss her." Together they walked over to the machine. On their far side of the shed was a small desk with a laptop set up on it. Frankie stood behind Barnes as he tapped at the keyboard, but didn't recognise any of the programs he was using. "You have to understand," Barnes said, "it's taken me twenty years to get this far. Assembling the knowledge necessary to ﬁgure out what the messages I receive mean, and where and when I'm meant to forward them to. You're the ﬁrst person who's visited me. I don't even know if any of the other messages have changed anything, in this dimension or any other. It's not exactly a precise science." Barnes offered a lopsided grin. "I understand. Like I said, I can live with it." "Do you want to put it in?" Frankie tipped his head back and stared at the machine. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. All of a sudden he wasn't sure he wanted to do it. Then he thought about going home, driving back to the city at dusk. He couldn't face that. "What do I do?" Barnes gestured at a ladder in the middle of the machine, ﬁxed to scaffolding with duct tape. "There's a receptacle at the top of the ladder," he said. Frankie grabbed hold of the ladder and immediately felt vibrations buzzing through his body. Hairs all over his body stood on end and his ﬁllings ached. He felt slightly nauseous. He counted twelve steps and stared into the machine's belly, blinking a couple of times to clear his vision. There was a small hole, just big enough for the fortune cookie. He reached out, icy air chilling his skin, dropped it in. The cookie dropped out of sight and the machine thrummed harder. Frankie climbed down six rungs and then jumped, unable to bear the vibrating sensation any longer. He landed, favouring his good leg, then shook his hands and stomped his feet a few times. Barnes tapped away on the keyboard. He turned. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Frankie nodded. Barnes hit the enter key. The vibrations bumped up a couple of notches, and a low drone ﬁlled the air. Frankie swallowed hard to try and clear his ears but it did no good. The world swam around him. The machine, the shed, even Barnes seemed to fade in and out at random. He saw himself, a thousand versions of himself, different clothes, different haircuts, wandering around the shed, then the bare paddock, climbing out of his car, a different car, a motorbike. His heart thumped hard when he saw Zadie climb out of the passenger seat, summer dress barely covering her tanned legs. Then she was gone, the shed was gone, the paddock was gone, everything was gone.#Frankie cracked the fortune cookie and pulled out the slip of paper. He read the message and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Kick Mia out It wasn't the message, it was the context. He'd been thinking this very thought for weeks. The house was constantly trashed, Mia always woke him up when she got home from work, and just lately she'd really lost the plot, bringing guys home from the pub all the time, cranking the stereo until the sun crept over the horizon. It's not that she was a bad person, it's just if he was going to make a go of it with Zadie... The thought caught him by surprise. Make a go of it with Zadie. He liked the sound of that. Frankie grinned, then forced his expression into something more sober. He strode towards Mia's room. "Mia, we need to talk."(First published in Borderlands magazine - issue 9, 2007)