David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

YMV

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I’m writing a story featuring a blind person, which led me by some circuitous and probably inappropriate path, to think that I should mention two of my stories that are available free for your listening pleasure, via podcast.

First up is my first ever published story, “Good Boy”, no longer in print, but available in audio in a slightly redacted version, on Pseudopod right here, just one click away.

“Some Corner of a Dorset Field that is Forever Arabia” can be read or listened to at Three Lobed Burning Eye, by clicking here. Your reader is yours truly, under the pseudonym Lloyd Connor, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably wasn’t. Delight in the fact that my written vocabulary is wider than my oral vocabulary! The story will be appearing again early this year under my own name.

Oh, and Happy New Year, Space Cadets!

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Among the Dead

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

My grandfather sits in the ruin of his house. It is always night when I am here. The sky is my skull, a low dome seen from the inside. His jaw is strong and held hard, grinding the fossils of his teeth. (Even if he still smoked, he could not. His pipe stem could not be forced between those lips. It would be snapped by those teeth. The end of it would stay in that mouth a hundred years, preserved.)

Wind sweeps the ash. I do not feel the cold. I stare at the strength of that head. I remember bending and kissing that head, like a child’s, as it lay on a pillow. The man I never kissed, who always shook hands. The skull beneath the skin.

That he came back to sit here, among the ruins. He does not decay, instead the house does. Each time I come, it has deteriorated further, taking his place in the grave. The elements do not bother him. If the wind wears him, if water drips him away, leaching away the minerals of him a drop at a time, perhaps it is for the best. Perhaps it is what he desires. As he weathers, mountains are ground down, oceans rise, seas fall. Forests grow and are consumed. The constellations shift, all sped up for him. He is the Time Traveller, he is Rod Taylor in his chair, encased in stone, then freed again. In my visits, I am a shadow. I am the flickering ghost. It is I who am death, I am mortality. We are worn down around him.

He gulps sometimes. The throat works, the jaw moves and clenches. He is biting deeper, getting a better grip on the world. Once or twice he has looked towards me. I stand close. He does not stop me. I am calm in his presence, calm with the nostalgia of grief. The longing for those other worlds I can never visit. Childhood. The past. The lives of others. The drowsy warmth of everything will be alright. The knowledge of grief to come.

That he has returned, and so far, not the others. Preserved in his pride, his inflexible ideas of proper behaviour. The feuds that burned silently within, in his room as he read, as he listened to talk back radio.

It is monochrome here. It suits the grey hair, slicked back along his scalp.

My aunt, white gowned against the window, arms raised and pressing the glass. Could only I see her? Were the adults pretending it was otherwise? My other grandmother, from the other side of my family, smiling, her lips uncertain, her eyes betraying an unease. She knew. We mourned when my aunt left, why did no one tell me she was back? Kept inside, a secret.

All the dead are kept inside, a secret that no one else wants to know. We are all haunted, and sometimes they stare out from the windows of our eyes. They come back, but they are not the same.

My grandfather sits amongst the exposed beams, the drooping wallpaper having outlasted the plasterboard beneath. He has made himself comfortable in the chair that was thrown away long ago. Its return is as great a miracle as his. He is silent. Why do we protest? Why do we bother to rage? The brave new world was always coming, and there was nothing we could do about it. We shall consume the whole world, we shall eat our young, the forests will die, the skies will burn.

There is no moon, no stars, no electricity, no peasant mob brandishing torches, but I see him clear in this night. I cannot think how I first found him here. I think I just knew. He cannot be in this house. It was sold years ago, and rebuilt, and another family lives here. Still, it is where I found him. Perhaps we are in one of those other twenty four dimensions of folded string. I do not know. I just gaze upon him and sit in his quiet presence.

The dead stare. What vision is imprinted on their eyes? We fear what they have seen.

His wife is not there. Will she come? Nobody told me my grandmother was in hospital. I could not answer the phone. I was freezing in a bath of ice, sitting with a child who refused to be comforted unless someone was in there with him, trying to bring his fever down. Later, when I finally was told, in emergency as she, unconscious, clawed at the air, as though prematurely buried and scraping at the coffin lid, I prayed and prayed into her ear, a hundred Hail Mary’s to calm her down, and then those arms rested, they allowed themselves to stop. Thank you God for that.

The dead are all inside. How many skeleton arms drag torsos forward through the mud of my mind, skulls drooping, exposed spines drifting away to nothing? How many more bony arms are yet to come? When shall I join them? What shall I see?

Or will death be banished forever, and we infested us with nanobots that work constantly to keep us fit, keep us happy in our jobs, content in the hell we have made?

These are thoughts I think, when I awake after my visits.

Crop Rotation

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Pretty chuffed to see my story ‘Crop Rotation’,  included by Ellen Datlow in her long list of honourable mentions of horror stories for 2016, associated with volume 9 of The Best Horror of the Year. I was very happy that ‘Crop Rotation’ was published in the anthology ‘At the Edge‘, edited by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts. Quick, be like all the cool kids and run out and buy it now.

Coming in December …

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Hanging out with HP Lovecraft and Ramsey Campbell, amongst others …

His “Dutch” Period

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2017 at 8:56 pm

In centuries to come, when literary experts comment upon my oeuvre, as they no doubt shall, they will remark of my Dutch period that my characters spend much of their time climbing up or down stairs, and complaining about aches in their legs. In the words of Dr Zachary Smith, the pain, the pain …

(As opposed to my Australian period, where characters spent their time in the bodies of goannas, having sex with each other.)

Well played, straight bat and a fine century

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2017 at 5:22 am

Aurealis, a much loved and very entertaining science fiction and fantasy magazine that also happens to be Australian*, has released its 100th edition. In the world of genre periodicals, this is an excellent achievement. Congratulations to all involved, well played!

 

*And just happened once upon a time, way back in edition #68, to include my sf-horror story ‘Avoiding Gagarin’. 

Anticipation

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2017 at 10:33 am

Of course, anticipation is usually sweeter, but it remains that (not unexpectedly, but wouldn’t it have been noice, yes, noice!) “Eat, Pray, Wait” by yours truly shall not grace the pages of the next edition of Year’s Best Weird Fiction. However, it is available here for your reading pleasure, sandwiched with other morsels between the covers of john Benson’s “Not One of Us”. Of course, I recommend YBWF and Michael Kelly’s Undertow publications (especially Shadows and Tall Trees) to you for your edification (cos that’s what we are all about, the edification). And while at it, why not read something else I have written, so that my living will have been worthwhile? (Insert smiley face here, but shade it grey and make it faint, that’s a noice touch.)

Abandoned chunk from a work in progress

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Fucken hungry.  He could murder a cold one too, a dozen, but he knows he could drink a sea and  it wouldn’t fill him with what he needs.

He’s just taking a breather.  No one could deny he’s been digging away down here in the dark.  Working hard.  Its only when he looks up that he realises there’s a kid down here.

Thinking about it, he supposes there are dead kids. Has to be.  Plenty of them. Not much use though, are they, your dead kid.  Not in a mine, he thinks, forgetting how old he was when he started this caper, like he’s forgotten everything, except how to dig. And that he’s dead. He knows that.

Its not a smoko, cos he doesn’t have any smokes.  Can’t, not down a mine.  More a breather.  Not that he’s sure he’s really breathing.  Dead, and he still wants a smoke.  Some habits die hard.  And its not as though he’s just dead.  When he realised he was here, when he woke up working, he didn’ t have any legs left, that’s how dead he was.

The kid’s not on a track, not on rails. Neither is he, now that his legs have grown back, but you know what I mean. He’s not official like. The kid’s not working. He’s on a lark, just wandering about.  Gets on his wick.

The kid sees him. He’s got a lamp stuck on his head, like he’s a miner. He’s a bludger, more like. Shit scared now, not wandering about so aimlessly now. So he should be, bludger.  He wouldn’t bludge down here.  Who knows what they’d do?  If they can bring you back to life, what other shit can they do?  He’s never liked bludgers and he’s never liked wankers.  Remembers that.  Bludgers, wankers, thieves.  Blinks.  A feeling rises, and he remembers it before he can name it.  Shame.  That’s it.  Thieves.  He’s been eating some of the rocks he’s been digging.  Just some little ones.  Surely no one will miss them.  Fucken hungry.

Smell the kid’s fear. Didn’t know he could do that. Bet that’s new.  Scent condenses on his tongue, and saliva flows. He changes inside. Its like feelings he gave up on a long time ago. Longings.

So fucken hungry he could eat his own arse.

But he doesn’t have to.

He’d laugh if he had a voice.   Oh yes.  The kid’s face turns weird, he’s running.  Why?  He realised that he had been walking, without knowing it.  Just a passenger being carried along by legs and hunger.  I see.  The kid’s running away from me.  The kid fumbles in his back pack, loses a bit of the distance between them, pulls out a bit of tinfoil.  That knife won’t help, kid. You gonna murder me?  I’m already dead.

He hops down from the track, into the rubble of what they’ve been digging. Coal. Utility pipes. Dirt. Small trees pulled down through the earth by their roots. Form and complexity. Information and structure. Bits of it lying around down there.

Watcha got in that bag kid? A monster gun? Shambling over, stretching stiff joints. Something wriggling about in there.

Whatever it is, the kid brings the knife down into the centre of it, and it doesn’t like it.  Its jumping around.  The kid sticks the knife into its guts, and it spurts.

O!  The smell. He still can’t remember his name, but flavours flood back, and the drool pours out over his chin.  He can recall crumbed lambs brains and cream and mushrooms and wine – the bitter of the first beer after work on a summer’s day – burning his fingers snatching at hot chips with vinegar, the sun already down and steam pouring from their mouths as they broke battered fish into bits – onion as he licked at his wife’s fingers – stolen honey – other, private tastes…

The thing whatever it was was in his face and he sucked it empty, breathed it down, a wonderful throat-full of blood or motor oil or whatever it was inside, bloody beautiful, and chewing down on the carcass, swallowing it into him, wiping his mouth with his arm then licking the arm clean, the misery in his stomach abated for a moment, letting out a moan like he’s breaking.

The creaking of an ancient unoiled engine returning to life, his voice returned. “Thanks kid.” Clouds were lifting and he stepped out of a haze. “I’m George?” he groaned with the intonation of an unsure teenage girl.  “Yes, I’m George. What the fuck are you doing down here?”

“Looking for someone.”

“Are they dead?”

“Hope not.”

Dream not the impossible dream

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2017 at 8:40 pm

News of the bus misadventure in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.

Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young.  How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time.  I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”.  Then he opened his mouth:

“Children.  Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about.  Did you know that flight is impossible?”

How intrigued I was.  I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day.  I had never had a new text book before, unsullied by the eye prints of ancient children.  One quote has stuck in my mind.

“Flight is not possible, and never has been possible.  It is a scientific fact, that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has ever been found in the air.”

That clinched it for me.  Magical thinking dropped away.  Years of superstitious nonsense gone.  Evolution proved it.

“But sir” piped up one familiar voice, and even in those days, the teacher dared not ignore it.

“Yes Trevor?”

“Sir, I dream of flying.”

The teacher was flustered, and he looked around more, sweating.  “But that…”

“Sir, I dream of flying.  I’m up in the air, looking down on all creation.  Without a care, I stretch my arms and just fly over everything.  It feels wonderful.”

“I’m sure it does.”

“But its not true, is it sir?”

The teacher was silent.

“Dreams are stupid, aren’t they sir.  We dream all sorts of ridiculous things, don’t we.”

“Yes that’s right Trevor.  Flight is not possible.  We dream all sorts of nonsense.”

“So sir, when you say all the time that we can achieve whatever we want, and that we should follow our dreams, you’re full of shit, aren’t you sir.”

“Yes Trevor.”

I like to remember that day, on nights when I hear the screeching low over head, when there is the illusion of scrabbling at my roof tiles, when something unseen triggers the alarms in my fortified compound.  It comforts me to know that the desperate screeching above, the whooping, the unearthly howls, are all an illusion, for flight is simply impossible.  It pushes thoughts of military experiments gone awry from my mind, so that images of crazed scientists splitting open the space-time continuum are restricted to my dreams.  Which, as we now all know, are full of shit.

Then tonight on the news, the story of the dreadful bus crash in the Canute Peaks, and the loss of 30 or so scientists as their bus plummeted into the unplumbable depths of the Siegfired Chasm, as they were trying to achieve the State of Bliss.  They were crazy themselves, of course.  They had been at a conference where they had been discussing whether the lack of fossils in the air was not because flight was impossible, but because over time, the ground has risen and absorbed the aerial fossil record.  Some things just should not be discussed.

I like to think that some of them survived the horrible, horrible fall, and that they will eke out an existence in those depths, surviving on the flesh of their comrades who died on the way down, but of course, I am an incurable romantic.

Grappling with 2017

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

The coming soon is coming sooner. Long awaited, the second volume of the Grapple Annual is, I hear, coming this way. If not just around the corner, then surely it is just down the street and couple of blocks to the left. Some rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Canberra to be born. Should we be bewaring the ides of March? Or April? Or even February? Dunno. But I hear that it is coming.

Sergeant Burns is a character that/who has been living inside my head for a long time. He had a little peek out of my third eye hole a few years ago, courtesy of my self-trephination (there are some who say the pineal gland is not meant to see the light of day. Who says it doesn’t already? I just wanted to let some air in. Are these the same few who would restrict surgery for the elite, and deny it to the masses? I speak of the performance thereof. But now is not the time to discuss Amateur surgery. I capitalise Amateur in the spirit of the Olympics. But I digress. And where would the fun be in life if we didn’t?), in his initial public appearance a few years ago in the first Grapple Annual, which published his Penultimate Report. And now he wakes me from my sleep, demanding I record his final adventures. Another character, little harmless (I think there is a spelling mistake there somewhere) MacGuffin, spends a few moments in the daylight in the second Grapple, before being replaced in his cupboard, or setting off to interstellar darkness, or both, or perhaps I just can’t remember which.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction, celibating or is that celebrating Robert Heinlein’s birthday as I colonise July in the Grapple Annual. Coming soon-ish.

The Grapple Annual No. 2

FEATURING:

Braille by Louis Klee (4 January)
Hydra by Emma Marie Jones (11 January)
– 28 January by Soraya Morayef (28 January)
– Loss by Alice Bishop (7 February)
– Racey Friends – looking by Paden Hunter (12 February)
– Nightdriving by Alexander Bennetts (28 February)
– Fairy Goddaughter by Sarah Pritchard (6 March)
– Beware the Ides of March! by Sam Brien (15 March)
 The Connected World by David C Mahler (21 March)
– Visiting Richard Yates by Elizabeth Caplice (25 March)
– March Camping, 1990s by Christopher Evans (26 March)
– Dreamcast Monolith with Undergrowth by Alice Carroll (31 March)
– Meander, Triste and Awe by Brett Canét-Gibson (14th April)
– Divine Vinyl by Owen Heitmann (16 April)
 From JG Ballard, July 1966 (behind Foot Locker, August 2013) by Andrew Galan (19 April)
– Today I Feel Like Remembering by Anna Jacobson (22 April)
 Thoughts on art and the ways it reaches you by Sandra Hajda (29 April)
– May, The Opening by Ben Walter (1 May)
– Mahala by Fikret Pajalic (5 May)
– The Drunk and the Flower Man by Nathan Fioritti (11 May)
– What If? by Miranda Cashin (15 May)
– The River Fisher’s Daughter by Kirk Marshall (25 May)
– Baby Emma by Emma Makepeace (1 June)
– All these places have their moments by Madeline Karurtz (12 June)
– After Life by Lauren Briggs (23 June)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction by David Stevens (7 July)
– The 8th July in History by Safdar Ahmed (8 July)
– Positive Space by Lynley Eavis (21 July)
– The End of Days by Jack Martinez (1 August)
– When They Were Young by Shuang West (13 August)
– Audley by Humyara Mahbub (14 August)
– The Gurindji People by Mandy Ord (16 August)
– Go Troppo by Isabelle Li (17 September)
– Campo de’ Fiori by Ashley Capes (22 September)
 Rule Ten by Gregory Wolos (28 September)
– Four Confessions That I’ve Been Meaning to Confess Since That Evening When We Made Guacamole and I Compared All Three Avocados to my Womb, Which Might’ve Made You Uncomfortable but I Couldn’t Tell for Sure by Kayla Pongrac (29 September)
– Pilot Episode, October 2nd by Lauren Paredes (2 October)
– I Desire; I Have Our Home by Emma Rose Smith (2 November)
– Great Emu War by Eleri Mai Harris (8 November)
– Lucia by Lucy Hunter (13 December)
– An ordinary domestic pattern was disclosed by Monica Carroll (17 December)
– Time Zones by Jake Lawrence (30 December)

Editor: Duncan Felton

Designer and visual art editor: Finbah Neill

Editorial Assistant: Rachael Nielsen

Readers: Lucy Nelson, Frazer Brown and  Kara Griffin-Warwicke