Tag Archives: short story

Ten Orbits of the Sun – update.


Well, I didn’t progress further than the shortlist for the Mind Short Story Competition. Still, I’m very proud to have made it this far.

Anyhoo, a few folks said they would like to read my short story, so here it is. The theme for the competition was ‘Journeys’, either literal or metaphorical.

P.S. I’ll always be grateful to Mike O’Toole for his stunning front cover photography.

P.P.S. Here’s a quote from a Mind judge/organiser:

“Believe me, I was definitely rooting for 10 Orbits of the Sun to go through to the judges. Both myself and one of the shortlisters cried reading your story. It was so beautifully written and emotive.”

Ten Orbits of the Sun.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Something changes inside of you when you have a child. Obviously, things change inside of a woman, quite literally. But I’m talking about changing from a man’s point of view – philosophically.

Up until my late thirties, I never wanted kids. Why would I? They’d be a burden. I had a fabulous career, a few great friends, a fantastic salary and a nice little crash pad overlooking a languid river.

Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I got all broody. And I just wanted a baby. Specifically, a baby girl. I don’t know why I wanted a girl. Perhaps I found the thought of a rambunctious boy quite off-putting. Or maybe it was because I didn’t want a boy to turn out like his father.

It stands to reason that I had to find a suitable mother first, which took a little longer than I had anticipated. I met Suki on an online dating website and, as we were both pushing forty, we decided it would be prudent to start a family sooner rather than later. We had a lot in common, we both loved the arts and books, she even shared my passion for antiques. She worked at the local hospital as an ER nurse, while I worked in a large design agency working on global brand campaigns. When we got married I decided to quit the industry and open up an antique shop in a trendy part of town. Something I’d dreamed of doing since my twenties.

Anyhow, I got my wish. And I was the proud father of little Tallulah. When I said that something changes inside of you, I meant that something changes chemically as well as philosophically. Nothing else, nor anyone else, matters quite so much in the world. Every cell in your body is geared toward protecting this little being. It starts from the moment of conception. I used to sing lullabies to Suki’s tummy and recite poetry to her. I’d talk to her and tell her how much I loved her and how much I was looking forward to seeing her. It’s a love that’s hard to describe. You would do anything for your charge. Yes, even kill for them. Die for them. It’s quite primeval on one level. Yet deeply spiritual on another. I can understand why some parents conceal their children from the law if they have committed a crime.

Sure, not all parents feel this way. And I’m not trying to say that I’m unique in feeling like this. Plenty of parents are doting and plenty are neglectful.

It was three years before I had a full night’s sleep or a hot meal. I’d be bouncing Tallulah on my left knee to keep her entertained whilst trying to eat a bowl of lukewarm pasta with my right hand. Or driving her around the suburbs to get her off to sleep. Every day brought a new parenting challenge or experience. Like the time I pursed my lips and asked her to give me a ‘smacker’, so she slapped me across the face! Or the time she pulled at my cheek and asked: “Daddy, why is your skin like a raw chicken drumstick?” Charming.

Because I’d had a child later in life, other parents in the park would ask if I was her grandad. It didn’t help that I’d gone grey early in life. She found it funny at first, but as time went on I think it began to annoy her. That I wasn’t like the other dads who were all much younger than me. It used to worry me that I might not be around for her later in life – when she was at university, or if she got married, if she had children. I wondered if I had been selfish having a child so late on.

I watched my little girl flourish and blossom over the years. She was a happy kid. Loved to read. Loved to write her own stories. She’d make little 8-page books and fill them with fairy tales and drawings. She loved to ride her bike and occasionally we’d go to McEvoy’s farm and she’d ride Ruby, the chestnut brown mare. She didn’t care much for video games or TV either and would much prefer to concoct experiments out of things she’d find in the garden and around the house.

I remember one time, when we were going for a drive in the desert in my old jalopy, she’d said: “Daddy, how far is it around the sun?”

“What? The Earth’s orbit?” I’d said.

“Yes.”

“About 585 million miles, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. Depends on the time of year, I think.” I turned the volume down on the car stereo so I could hear my inquisitive daughter better.

“Why does it depend on the time of year?” she said, turning the volume back up again so she could hear the trashy pop song that was playing.

“Not a hundred percent sure. Something to do with the ellipse of the Earth’s orbit,” I tried to draw an ellipse in the dust on the dashboard. “And the tilt of the Earth’s axis.” Astronomy isn’t my strong point and I got the distinct impression that Tallulah guessed I was busking a little.

Tallulah looked out of the open passenger window from behind her sunglasses at the scorched desert dotted with parched brush and spindly shrubs.

I stole a glance at the side of her pensive face, her golden hair was tantalising her cheeks. “Why d’you ask?”

“By my next birthday, I will have travelled 5.8 billion miles around the sun. Pretty amazing, huh?”

I pursed my lips. “When you look at it like that, kiddo, it is pretty amazing.”

“And that’s not including all the miles we’ve done down here on Earth,” she said wistfully.

I didn’t know how many miles we’d clocked up on Earth, and, in the great scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t affect Tallulah’s ‘orbital total’ very much. But it was still a significant amount for mere Earth dwellers.

I don’t know why this memory of my daughter springs to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s to do with heavenly bodies. The very fact that she came up with this concept amazed me. She could often be very abstract in her thinking. While other kids were busy playing with Barbie dolls, Tallulah was calculating how far she’d travelled in the universe. I always imagined her growing up to be a great children’s writer one day. Or maybe even a scientist.

Tallulah didn’t make it into double figures before she was taken from me. It was that God-damned bike I’d bought for her ninth birthday. She was cycling home from school when a truck cut her up at some traffic lights. The driver said he didn’t see her coming up on the inside.

I’d always been uncomfortable with her riding to and from school. Not because she was a careless rider but because of careless drivers. However, her friends all did it, so she wanted to do it too. I guess I should have been a stronger father and forbidden it. Up until then I’d always dropped her off and picked her from school in the car. But peer pressure had reluctantly forced me to concede.

I was at the shop when it happened. I don’t know, but around the time of the accident, I recall being overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Like, somehow I’d had this telepathic connection with her, or something. Sounds ludicrous, I know. Though, I didn’t put it down to anything bad having befallen my little girl at the time. I just thought it was due to my mood swings.

I got a phone call from my distraught wife about an hour later. She had been working in the ER department when Tallulah was brought in. It was hard to make out what Suki was actually trying to tell me through her hysterical sobs. When the penny finally dropped, I felt the world disappear from beneath my feet and I was suddenly floating in a black void. I was dizzy. I felt my insides twitch and heave and I vomited over a glass cabinet containing antique duelling pistols. I think the customers must have thought I was hungover as they stared at me disdainfully and left the shop.

I closed the store and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. The truck had already crushed the precious life out of her. Had the driver been there when I found out I imagine I would have killed him. Not that I would do that now, having had time to reflect on the incident. I know it was an accident. He didn’t mean to kill her. But he should’ve taken more care. Particularly at that time of day, being near a school and all.

I have never known grief like it.

I don’t believe in heaven and hell.

But this was hell.

The depths of Christian hell could not provide me with such torment. I went over all of the things that I might possibly have done for Tallulah not to have been at that particular spot at that particular moment in time. Not buying her the bike was top of the list. Me picking her up was a second. Taking gymnastics class on a Tuesday instead of violin on a Wednesday was another. Or letting her go to her friend Maisie’s house after school so she would have taken a different route. There were an infinite amount of possibilities. Of variables that would have put her at a different point in the universe at that moment in time. And I didn’t take any of them. It was my fault, not the truck driver’s.

As you can imagine, my wife was inconsolable too. But I had to put on a more stoic face for everyone else: the police, doctors, funeral directors, family, friends. I know people mean well by wanting to offer their condolences, but the last thing we wanted to do at that time was talk to anybody. Shout – yes. Scream – definitely. Why? Why Tallulah? What had she ever done to anybody? To me, it was further proof that there is no god. How could an all-powerful, loving deity let a beautifully perfect little girl be killed in such a horrific way? What the hell was the point of existence?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some form of afterlife. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps we’re reincarnated. Or, maybe we rise to a higher dimension. I once had the notion that the afterlife was an emotion rather than a place. Sort of like ecstasy or bliss. That one’s spirit melded back into the universe in a kind of eternal rapture. Most likely, there will be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s a chance I’m not prepared to take.

Of course, I haven’t discussed this with Suki. What would she say? She’d say I was being irrational. And I guess I am. No rational person decides to take their own life. She’d say I needed to see a doctor. That I was depressed. Not thinking straight. Get some pills or bereavement counselling. On the other hand, I could also see why my thinking is completely rational. It wasn’t fair on Suki, I know that. To lose a child and a husband. But what choice do I have?

You know what I miss the most about Tallulah? It’s a sound. Specifically, a word. It’s a word I’ll never hear ever again: “Daddy.” There isn’t a more perfect sound in the entire universe. Perhaps her mother would disagree.

Like I said at the beginning – having a child changes you. You’d do anything to protect them. And I have failed in that respect. Why should my parental duties end in this life? Lots of religious people believe in heaven and hell. But they don’t think twice about giving up on their dead loved ones. If their faith was so resolute why wouldn’t they follow them to paradise?

Perhaps Tallulah and I will both spend eternity in black nothingness. In which case, it won’t matter a jot to either of us. But if there is something else, I’m certainly not going to let my beloved daughter wander the afterlife all by herself.

What kind of father would I be?

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Books, Children, Children's stories, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, love, mental health, Philosophy, religion, Science, Short stories, Uncategorized, Writing

The Ethics of Crowdfunding Assassinations. Or, “How I topped a Toff”. (Part 1.)


I was sitting on the bus the other day, on the way to collect my dole money, (being the work-shy scrounger that I am), when I happened to earwig in on a conversation by two assassins sitting on the seat in front of me.

I could tell they were assassins because one was dressed like a ninja and the other like a navy seal but without the military insignia.

Anyhoo, they were discussing whether they thought they could get crowdfunding to assassinate George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, as they didn’t reckon their Job Seekers Allowance would cover it.

ids_3369210b

Whilst I obviously don’t condone murder per se, my ears pricked up, as I had never heard anyone discussing the finer points of crowdfunding for such an endeavor – even if the targets in question were totally deserving of such a fate.

First of all, they went through a “wish list” of things they might need to carry out their task: a high-powered sniper rifle; a couple of Glock 9mms; ammo; some ninja throwing stars; a super-fast getaway car, (along the lines of a Nissan Micra); some factory workers overalls; some waiters uniforms; and two bags of cheesy Wotsits just in case they had to do a stakeout.

This final point caused quite a kerfuffle, as the ninja said in no uncertain terms that Wotsits tasted of belly fluff and that he preferred Monster Munch. The seal compromised and a bag of each was added to the list. (Along with a can of diet Coke and an Innocent smoothie.)

Unknown

It turns out the factory workers’ overalls were for the hit on Osborne. As he would no doubt be on a factory visit at some stage. The waiters’ outfits were for the hit on IDS as he would invariably be having a champagne breakfast at some swanky hotel at the taxpayers’ expense.

They also reckoned they would need about half a mill to bribe a government official to get info as to the whereabouts of the two miscreants during the year.

All in all, these two would-be Lee Harveys totted up that they would need about a million quid to successfully carry out their mission. (Excluding a couple of Easyjet flights to the Costa del Sol afterwards.)

I didn’t think a million quid was too bad to pop a cap in the bottoms of two of the most nefarious politicians since the rise of the National Socialist Workers’ Party.

They even drew up a list of funding options, ranging from a tenner for a, “I topped a Toff” t-shirt, to a hundred quid for an invite to the afters street party. (This they reckoned would be a big seller.)

They also talked of being able to attend the actual assassinations for a grand per person. But weren’t too sure about the practicalities of this, as a large, cheering, placard waving mob following them around might not be best for covertness.

After a time, they began to doubt the logistics of it all and whether people would get into the spirit of things and chip in. So they turned to me and asked me what I thought.

I said that I absolutely and utterly did not condone murder and, had my iPhone not run out of battery, would’ve probably reported them to the police, (which they empathised with, being upstanding citizens an’ all).  However, hypothetically, I asked, wouldn’t it be easier for the two little tykes to simply do the whole lot of them in at once and take out the entire cabinet?

They complained that this was a risky strategy and that they’d never in a million years get access to the cabinet.

So I says, give the million quid and a bomb in a lobster thermidor to Iain Duncan Smith, he’d sell his own mother for a sturgeon canapé. Sure, hasn’t he been sponging off his missus for the past thirty years?

“But he’s top of our list!” the ninja said.

“Yes,” I said. “But you can do him in afterwards. When he’s under the viaduct kicking the shit out of a homeless person.”

They seemed to think this was a good idea.

Anyways, my stop was coming up, so I bid them adieu.

I don’t know what the legalities are of crowdfunding the assassination of high-ranking politicians, but it has to be worth a shot.

Or, perhaps, two.

12 Comments

Filed under Comedy, community, Economy, Education, Ideas, Inspiration, Politics, Writing

Kanye in Botswana – New Flash Fiction


botswana-horizon

KANYE IN BOTSWANA

By David Milligan Croft

 

The anger and frustration were risible behind Jeb’s gritted teeth. He wanted to lash out at the person standing in front of him with the smug grin on his face. But he knew that that would cost him his job. In this “P.C.” age he lived in it was deemed unacceptable to beat one’s co-worker to a pulp. If not him, anyone or anything in general would suffice, such as: his pet Syrian hamster in its cage at home. He could pluck it up and wring its scrawny little neck or snap its spine in half and crush its squidgy innards. Not that the hamster had done anything in particular to warrant Jeb’s wrath – apart from leaving droppings and straw all over the house – which was actually reason enough. No, it would preferably be a human.

The problem was, Jeb wasn’t blessed with fighting prowess, either physically or technically. He was average height and had a scraggy physique and concave chest. He had gaunt cheeks with bulbous eyes and a hooked nose. His heart was palpitating and his palms sweated as the man from accounts poked fun at him.

Apart from his physical shortcomings he wasn’t bestowed with a quick wit or more than average intelligence either. All of which made him a fairly unremarkable specimen of Homo sapiens and quite an easy target for jocularity. It was this latter fact that was the nub of Jeb’s dissatisfaction with life’s lot. He wanted to be somebody. To do something. But the fact was, he lacked either the imagination or the skill sets to achieve… whatever it was he wanted to achieve.

Instead, he just stood there by the coffee machine in the makeshift kitchen area, hands trembling, face flushed bright red, surrounded by his colleagues who were all laughing at him for having thought Kanye West was a holiday destination in the Florida Keys. To be fair to Jeb, this was only on account of the aforementioned accounts man, Brendan Tucker, telling Jeb that Kanye West was the ‘in-place’ to holiday that summer and was he thinking of taking his vacation there? When Jeb responded in the affirmative and that, in fact, he had already booked his flight, was when his teammates all fell about guffawing at his expense.

On one occasion, at an office Christmas party, a couple of years previously, Jeb had attempted to boost his image by hiring the services of a young, glamorous escort whom he attempted to pass off as his girlfriend. When ‘Crystal’ arrived at his home, she was neither young, nor glamorous. Nor was she particularly attractive. She had corkscrew peroxide blonde hair, pockmarked skin and a bright red skirt that could easily have passed for a cummerbund.

On arriving at the office party which, incidentally, was on the theme of Saints and Sinners, making Crystal instantly feel at home, she promptly disappeared to the loos leaving Jeb alone at the accounts table sipping a dry sherry.

Lamentably, Brendan had seen through Jeb’s ruse and had offered Crystal fifty quid to give him a blowjob in the gents’ toilets. The act of which, Jeb stumbled upon whilst visiting the little boys’ room. All in all, with Brendan’s bonus on top of the £250 she’d earned from Jeb, Crystal had made an extremely tidy sum for her evening’s work. Jeb went home alone and Brendan’s newly acquired humiliating anecdote was a bargain at only £50.

A few days after the ‘coffee pot’ incident, Jeb arrived at work in the open plan office wearing a very loud, short-sleeved floral shirt and proclaimed that he was going on holiday to Kanye in the south east of Botswana the very next day. Moreover, he was specifically going to the western part of the town. (He emphasised the ‘western’ part.)

He regaled all who would listen, (which was Mary from admin and John from maintenance), that Kanye was founded by European settlers in 1853 and that it was his love of both Africa, and history, that had prompted his choice of holiday. And, when Brendan had first mentioned going on holiday to Kanye, Jeb said he had misheard the part about ‘Florida’. Sadly, Brendan wasn’t there to hear the news firsthand, but Jeb was certain that the office grapevine would successfully deliver his news and put Brendan Tucker firmly in his place once and for all.

Unfortunately, that’s about as far as Jeb’s one-upmanship got him. Whilst on safari in the southern region of Kanye, he was dragged out of his tent one night by a boisterous cackle of hyenas. And, as they tore and gorged at his pasty white flesh, the hysterical yips of the hyenas couldn’t help but remind him of Brendan Tucker and his colleagues back at the office.

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Nature, Short stories, Writing

10 Orbits of the Sun – new short story.


Here’s a pretty short short story that I’ve been working on recently. I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts. Good or bad. But mainly good.

(Sorry about all the photos – it’s the art director in me.)

77279433008c719a89392810fc726552

10 ORBITS OF THE SUN.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Something changes inside of you when you have a child. Obviously, things change inside of a woman, quite literally. But I’m talking about changing from a man’s point of view – philosophically.

Up until my late thirties, I never wanted kids. Why would I? They’d be a burden. I had a fabulous career, a few great friends, a fantastic salary and a tidy crash pad overlooking the lazy river.

Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I got all broody. And I just wanted a baby. Specifically, a baby girl. I don’t know why I wanted a girl. Perhaps I found the thought of a rambunctious boy quite off-putting.

It stands to reason that I had to find a suitable mother first, which took a little longer than I had hoped. Anyhow, I got my wish. And I was the proud father of little Tallulah. When I said that something changes inside of you, I meant that something changes chemically. Nothing else, nor anyone else, matters quite so much in the world. Every cell in your body is geared toward protecting this little being. It’s a love that’s hard to describe. You would do anything for your charge. Yes, even kill for them. Die for them. It’s quite primeval on one level. Yet deeply spiritual on another.

Sure, not all parents feel this way. And I’m not trying to say that I’m unique in feeling like this. Plenty of parents are doting and plenty are neglectful.

I watched my little girl flourish and blossom. She was a happy kid. Loved to read. Loved to write her own stories. She’d make little 8-page books and fill them with fairytales and drawings. She loved to ride her bike and occasionally we’d go to Ed’s farm and she’d ride Ruby, the chestnut brown mare. She didn’t care much for video games or TV either.

397c2d5b75e9057bc3132b333ef9fd61

I remember one time, when we were going for a drive in the desert in my old jalopy, she said: “Daddy, how far is it around the sun?”

“What? The Earth’s orbit?” I’d said.

“Yes.”

“About 585 million miles, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. Depends on the time of year.” I turned the volume down on the car stereo so I could hear my inquisitive daughter better.

“Why does it depend on the time of year?” she said, turning the volume back up again so she could hear the brashy pop song that was playing.

“Not hundred percent. Something to do with the ellipse of our orbit,” I tried to draw an ellipse in the dust on the dashboard. “And the tilt of the Earth’s axis.” Astronomy isn’t my strong point and I got the impression that Tallulah guessed I was busking a little.

Tallulah looked out of the passenger window from behind her sunglasses at the scorched desert dotted with parched brush and spindly shrubs.

I stole a glance at the side of her pensive face, her golden hair was tantalising her cheeks. “Why d’you ask?”

“By my next birthday, I will have travelled 5.8 billion miles around the sun. Pretty amazing, huh?”

I pursed my lips. “When you look at it like that, kiddo, it is pretty amazing.”

“And that’s not including all the miles we’ve done down here on Earth,” she said wistfully.

I didn’t know how many miles we’d clocked up, and, in the great scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t affect Tallulah’s ‘orbital total’ very much. But it was still a significant amount for mere Earth dwellers.

I don’t know why this memory of my daughter springs to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s to do with heavenly bodies. The very fact that she came up with this concept amazed me. She could often be very abstract in her thinking. While other kids were ogling the shapes in clouds, Tallulah was busy calculating how far she’d travelled in the universe. I always imagined her growing up to be a great writer one day. Or maybe even a scientist.

Tallulah didn’t make it into double figures before she was taken from me. It was that God damned bike I’d bought for her ninth birthday. She was cycling home from school when a truck cut her up at some traffic lights. The driver said he didn’t see her coming up on the inside.

I’d always been uncomfortable with her riding to and from school. Not because she was a careless rider but because of careless drivers. However, her friends all did it, so she wanted to do it too. I guess I should have been a stronger father.

I was at work when it happened. I don’t know, but around the time of the accident, I recall being overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Like somehow I’d had this telepathic connection with her or something. Sounds ludicrous, I know. Though, I didn’t put it down to anything bad having befallen my little girl at the time.

I got a phone call from my distraught wife about an hour later. It was hard to make out what she was actually trying to tell me through her hysterical sobs. When the penny finally dropped, I felt the world disappear from beneath my feet and I was suddenly floating in a black void. I was dizzy. I felt my insides twitch and heave and I vomited over a glass case containing antique pistols. I think the customers must have thought I was hungover as they stared at me disdainfully and left the shop.

I closed the store and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. The truck had already crushed the precious life out of her. Had the driver been there when I found out I imagine I would have killed him. Not that I would do that now, having had time to reflect on the incident. I know it was an accident. He didn’t mean to kill her. But he should’ve taken more care. Particularly at that time of day, being near a school and all.

I have never known grief like it. I don’t believe in heaven and hell.

This was hell.

The depths of Christian hell could not provide me with such torment. I went over all of the things that I might possibly have done for Tallulah not to have been at that particular spot at that particular moment in time. Not buying her the bike was top of the list. Her taking gymnastics class on a Tuesday instead of violin on a Wednesday was another. There were an infinite amount of possibilities. Of variables that would have put her at a different point in the universe. And I didn’t take any of them.

As you can imagine, my wife was inconsolable too. But I had to put on a more stoic face for everyone else: the police, doctors, funeral directors, family, friends. I know people mean well by wanting to offer their condolences, but the last thing we wanted to do at that time was talk to anybody. Shout – yes. Scream – definitely. Why? Why, Tallulah? What had she ever done to anybody? To me, it was further proof that there is no god. How could an all-powerful, loving deity let a beautifully perfect little girl be killed in such a horrific way?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some form of afterlife. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps we’re reincarnated. Or, maybe we rise to a higher dimension. I once had the notion that the afterlife was an emotion rather than a place. Sort of like ecstasy or bliss. That one’s spirit melded back into the universe in a kind of eternal rapture. Most likely, there will be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s a chance I’m not prepared to take.

Of course, I haven’t discussed this with my wife. What would she say? She’d say I was being irrational. And I guess I was. No rational person decides to take their own life. She’d say I needed to see a doctor. That I was depressed. Not thinking straight. Get some pills. On the other hand, I could also see why my thinking was completely rational.

You know what I miss the most about Tallulah? It’s a sound. Specifically, a word. It’s a word I’ll never hear ever again: “Daddy!”

Like I said at the beginning – having a child changes you. You’d do anything to protect them. Why should my parental duties end in this life? Lots of religious people believe in heaven and hell. But they don’t think twice about giving up on their dead loved ones. If their faith was so resolute why wouldn’t they follow them to paradise?

Perhaps Tallulah and I will both spend eternity in black nothingness. In which case, it won’t matter a jot to either of us. But if there is something else, I’m certainly not going to let my beloved daughter wander the afterlife all by herself.

What kind of father would I be?

tumblr_mt2gclQvAU1qg5tb3o1_1280

Espe P.

4034a71d7fc24af4cdae9570c0212f9b

By the way, a few folk have asked me if these are photos of my kids. Just to reassure you – they’re not. When I’m working on a story I set up a Pinterest board for it. I put up pins of characters, locations, props etc to help me visualise my world. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a cheat to put them up on this post as I should let the story set the scene. However, like I said at the beginning – it’s the art director in me that can’t help putting some visuals in. Think of them as an extended front cover.

Addendum.

If you liked this story, why not read the whole collection, which is available on Amazon.

TOS

Save

Save

Save

12 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, love, Nature, Philosophy, religion, Science, Short stories, Writing

A serial dog-killer and kinky sex? What’s not to like?


As a little taster to my writing style, I thought I would offer this short story free for 5 days, starting today, 14th November ’til Sunday 18th November.

Woman’s Best Friend is a black-comedy, about a boy who tries to take revenge on a serial dog-killer who’s running amok in his town. Unfortunately, each time he tries to execute one of his elaborate plans to bump off the canine killer, he accidentally kills one of the townsfolk.

The story was shortlisted for The Independent on Sunday Short Story Competition in 1997 and was subsequently published by Bloomsbury in IOS New Stories.

Don’t worry, there isn’t really any kinky sex in it. (Just a reference to it.)

Did I mention it was Free?

If you like it, you might then want to pop over to Amazon and buy my debut novel, Love is Blood.

WBF-COV

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Children, Comedy, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Short stories, Writing

Short Story – Shall I Be Mother?


A slighter darker tone for this next short story. Come to think of it, it’s pretty macabre. So, I wouldn’t be letting any younglings read it if I were you.

SHALL I BE MOTHER?

© David Milligan-Croft.

I’ve always loved raspberry jam. Preferably the stuff with seeds in it. Hot, white toast, smothered in proper salty butter, (none of this polyunsaturate stuff), and a good dollop of Bonne Maman. I could sit and pick the seeds from between my over-sized teeth all day. My twin brother, Walter, on the other hand, finds this habit disgusting. So much so, he’s tried to kill me on several occasions.

Mother used to tell me that it was nothing to do with my habits, but because I am the ‘Good’ side of our birth and Walter is the ‘Evil’. I can’t say for sure whether she’s right or not, but I don’t think it’s helped Walter’s progress in life by actually telling him this repeatedly since he was a baby.

My brother gets out of prison today and has vowed to kill me. So I can understand why you might think it foolish of me to be driving there to pick him up.

Walter first tried to kill me when we were eight. We were playing ‘Houdini’ at the time. First, I tied him up and timed him to see how quickly it took him to escape. One minute forty eight seconds – a new record. Next, it was my turn. But I found Walter’s Alpine Butterfly knots a little too secure to break free of. Satisfied that I was well and truly trussed up, he proceeded to bash my head repeatedly against the side of Dad’s workbench. I passed out after about thirty or forty blows. I think the only reason I survived was because he got too tired and had to stop for a breather. He’s always had breathing difficulties ever since the doctors had trouble getting him out of our mother’s womb after I was born. They ended up using forceps on him. You should’ve seen the shape of his head! In old baby photographs of the two of us, Walter has this bizarre cone-shaped bonce. He looks like he was given birth to by an alien.

Eventually, Dad found me on the garage floor in a considerably large pool of blood. I had a fractured skull, twenty seven stitches and lost the use of my right eye. Social workers came and asked me a lot of questions but I just said that I didn’t remember what happened. They talked to Walter a lot too, he just said that I had slipped and banged my head. I know they didn’t swallow his story, but what could they do?

The second time he tried to kill me was when he harpooned me with an eel trident. We were about eleven I reckon. Harlington Creek was murky and warm. We stood like statues up to our knees in the greeny-brown water waiting for an unsuspecting eel to swim between our legs. We waited for quite a long time. Eventually, Walter said we should try further upstream. The farther we walked the more dense the forest canopy became and the slippier the rocks under our feet. It wasn’t long before I slipped and fell on my backside.

As I held out my hand for him to pull me up, Walter promptly speared me through the chest with his trident. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked. I was also finding it a little hard to breathe as he’d punctured my right lung.

I don’t know if you know anything about punctured lungs, but apparently the trick is to lie on the side that is punctured. This is so the blood from the wound doesn’t pour out internally and fill up the good lung, thus asphyxiating yourself. Handy to know in such a situation. The only slight flaw in this plan was that I was up to my waist in water, so any attempt to lay on my side would have been totally futile.

Walter told the police and folk at the hospital that he had slipped on the mossy rocks when he was trying to help me up and accidentally harpooned me. By the time I had come out of my coma from blood loss the whole thing had pretty much blown over so I didn’t bother mentioning anything. Plus my memory was a bit hazy at the time.

Their was nothing wrong with my faculties when, for a third time, he tried to do me in. To be honest, I was getting a bit sick of it.

‘What have I ever done to harm you?’ I asked him just moments before he whacked me over the head with a replica samurai sword. I would have preferred it if it had actually been a real sword. At least then I wouldn’t have known anything about it. These replica types are about as sharp as a Peeler’s cudgel.

‘Ow!’, I remember saying. ‘What was that for?’

‘That’s for being my moronic twin brother!’, he hissed as he took out his zippo. Walter had started smoking on his 15th birthday. Partly because he thought it made him look cool, and partly to piss off our parents.

My vision was coming in and out of focus as a result of the blow to the head so I couldn’t really make out what he was doing. I thought he was lighting a birthday cake or something when he said: ‘Happy birthday, you little shit.’

It wasn’t until some weeks later that I found out that he wasn’t lighting a birthday cake after all, but a blow torch. As you can imagine I’m not a pretty sight when it comes to sunbathing on the Cote d’Azur. Fortunately, he did stay away from my face, so you can only really tell if I have a couple of buttons of my shirt undone.

Walter didn’t really have much of an excuse this time. He did try to tell Dad that he had been soldering a part for his motorbike when the torch slipped from his grasp as I entered the room and accidentally set me on fire. I think 80% first degree burns and a bit of ‘previous’ failed to convince the authorities this time.

That’s why he got 15 years for attempted murder.

I know it seems like a bit of a coincidence that they would release him on our thirtieth birthday, but sometimes life is like that. It’s not that I haven’t seen him in the past fifteen years, I went to visit him once or twice. Thankfully though, they did have two inch bulletproof glass between us, which I was glad to hear about after he wrestled a .45 off one of the guards and tried to put it to the test. They were going to let him out after eight years for good behaviour until that little incident.

Mam and Dad would be horrified to know that I was going to pick him up after all that’s happened. Unfortunately for them they aren’t around to see it. Mam and Dad fell foul of Walter when he was let out of prison as a goodwill gesture one Christmas. He’d only been inside for a couple of years and the authorities seemed to think he had been making good progress. I made sure I was as far away from festivities as possible. I didn’t want to put a dampener on things.

It wasn’t actually Walter’s fault as the coroner’s official verdict was suicide. But I get the impression from some of the conversations I’ve had with him since, that he tormented them so much psychologically over the festive period that they locked themselves in the garage to get away from him. They sat in their Morris Traveler and asphyxiated themselves by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Walter was actually quite traumatized by it. He said that he was only trying to show them how much he loved them. The authorities did try to convince him that love and rape were not exactly the same thing. He failed to grasp this.

I’ve brought a packed lunch for us today. I thought it might be nice to go for a picnic after I pick him up. I’m sure he’d prefer to be out of doors in the fresh air rather than being cooped up in a cafe or a bar.

I freshly baked some scones and brought a jar of raspberry Bonne Maman. There’s peaches, Italian salami, French bread, German sausage, Swiss cheese, South African wine, (Stellenbosch chardonnay to be precise). I also brought a punnet of cherry tomatoes; Walter so loves cherry tomatoes. So much so, that once when we were kids he ate two whole punnets by himself. When I tried to take just one he forced my fingers into the door jam and crushed them. I suppose that’ll teach me for trying to pinch his cherry toms. Think I’ll leave well alone this time.

There’s a lovely spot near to the prison which has an old dilapidated monastery with a river running past it and some stepping stones. There’s a waterfall too, which we used to dive off when we were kids. One summer, Walter, my parents and I went there for a picnic. We had an inflatable dinghy which we would generally frolic about in. Walter dared me to climb up to the top of the waterfall and jump off. He said he would wait at the bottom to make sure I was alright and pull me out if need be. I was a little nervous and suspicious, but after seeing him do it twice already and the fact that our parents were in such close proximity I couldn’t decline the challenge.

I crawled out along the slippery rocks and peered over at the gurgling white water swirling beneath me. Cautiously, I got to my feet and shuffled closer to the edge. I breathed in as deeply as my lungs would allow and pushed myself off. As the water rushed toward me so did the sight of the upturned oar of the dinghy. Fortunately, it was blunt enough not to impale me, but it did break four ribs and rupture my right kidney. Hopefully, things will be different this time.

‘Happy birthday, Walter,’ I said holding out my hand. He looked at me briefly, gave a half smile and got into the passenger seat. I looked at my trembling fingers and sensed that our reunion wasn’t going to be as easy as I had first imagined.

Walter looked different from the last time I saw him. Sure, physically he looked the same. Same hooked nose, same down turned mouth, same receding hair line, same hollow eyes. But now he seemed to radiate something. Something I can only describe as inner peace.

I put a tape into the cassette player and turned up the volume a little. I knew from when we were kids that he always liked the Bay City Rollers so I bought every tape I could lay my hands on. ‘We ran with the gang while we sang shang-a-lang’ boomed out of the tinny door speakers. I looked over at him from time to time to see if he was enjoying the music, but Walter just looked out of the window and gazed dreamily at the passing countryside.
His tranquil state put me a little more at ease. This was certainly not the Walter I knew and feared of old. He seemed much calmer. Perhaps, I thought to myself, he has truly changed his ways.

‘Stop!’ Walter shouted. I nearly drove into a ditch with fright.

‘What’s up! What’s the matter?’ My heart was racing fifteen to the dozen.

‘You nearly hit that fox.’

The fox scurried across the road and into a hedgerow. I tried to calm my breathing as I stared incredulously at Walter’s angelic profile.

When we eventually pulled up in the monastery car park things looked pretty much the same as they had done twenty years or so ago. Except that the monastery was missing a few more stones and the stepping stones across the river didn’t seem quite so daunting. I took the picnic basket and blanket from the boot of the car and headed down to a spot by the waterfall. Walter walked a little behind me and I couldn’t help glancing over my shoulder every once in a while to exchange nervous half smiles.

I unfolded the red and green tartan blanket at the foot of the waterfall just out of reach of its spray. I placed the picnic basket between us and began taking out the contents. I offered Walter the wine to open but he shook his head gratefully telling me that he didn’t drink but that I was welcome to do so if I so desired. I placed the feast before him and held out my palms for him to indulge. He looked down at the smorgasbord as if it was the first real food he had seen in a long time and a tear came to the corner of his eye. I took the punnet of cherry tomatoes and offered them to him. He stared into them as if surveying a miniature treasure chest filled with rubies and tiny emeralds.

He picked out one of the cherry tomatoes between his thumb and forefinger, drew it close to his eye as if trying to penetrate its skin with his gaze then thrust it toward me. Tentatively, I took it from him feeling the firm warm flesh beneath my fingers and popped it into my mouth. I crushed it against the roof of my palette with my tongue feeling the juice and seeds explode into a sweet frenzy as they glided down my throat. He smiled at me.

‘Exquisite, aren’t they?’ he said. I nodded slowly as he popped another then another between my lips. After he had given me about ten or twelve cherry tomatoes he placed the punnet on the blanket and crossed his legs beneath him.

‘You know, Wilt,’ he said with a grimace. ‘You know that I’ve wanted to kill you all of these years? And I know you know that I was going to kill you today on the day of our thirtieth birthday. To be honest, I’m surprised you turned up. I don’t think I would have. Knowing that my insane brother was going to bludgeon me the first chance he got.

‘It’s just that I’ve had a lot of time to think since I’ve been inside. And, with the help of the clergy and councilors and doctors I think I’ve changed. Bottom line, Wilt, is I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I did to you. I beg you to forgive me for the pain I put you and our parents through. I don’t deserve forgiveness and I will understand if you won’t give it to me. But it was just important for me to tell you.

‘Last year, I had a moment of clarity when I was polishing the vestibule in the chapel. I saw Christ up there on the cross with those nails in his hands and feet and the gash in his side and I wondered how much pain he was in at the time. Then I thought of you, older brother. And how much pain I have put you through. I thought of all the times I have made you bleed or scream in agony and I felt remorse. I felt guilt. I felt a need to atone.

‘The doctors call it something else of course. Primo-natal psychosis or something or other’, he said gesticulating quotation marks with his fingers. ‘Basically, they put my violent behaviour down to sibling jealously. The fact that I was born a full one minute forty eight seconds behind you makes them believe that I feel I was a mistake. That I wasn’t meant to be. Subconsciously I blame you for my oxygen deprivation. If you never existed I would have been okay and would have had a healthy relationship with our parents instead of them always thinking I was some kind of freak.

‘I’m not saying they haven’t got a point. Only that, whatever the reason, I am truly sorry and I beg your forgiveness, dear brother.’

Walter uncrossed his legs and knelt before me proffering his upturned palms for me to take. He gulped a little as if regurgitating something he had eaten earlier. Then a tiny trickle of blood spilled from between his closed lips and ran down his chin. He looked perplexed.

I looked at his blood dripping onto the back of my hand that was clasped around the handle of my carving knife. I thrust the knife up under his sternum and twisted it a full 180 degrees.

When he smiled, his teeth were crimson red and a great mouthful of blood splattered the cuff of my white shirt. The blade made a sucking noise as I wrenched it from his flesh. Walter fell forward banging his head on my shoulder. I moved to one side slightly so that he slumped onto the blanket. He lay there twitching for a few moments then stopped. I wiped the blood-stained blade on the shoulder of his threadbare black suit jacket then tossed it into the river.

I took two plastic teacups from the wicker basket and placed them on the blanket. Then I unscrewed the lid of the thermos and tilted it towards Walter’s prostrate form.

‘Shall I be mother?’

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Comedy, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Short stories, Writing

Shortest short story ever


“For sale: Baby shoes. Never used.”

Attributed to Ernest Hemmingway. Apparently he was tasked to write a short story in under 10 words. I don’t think you can get more gut wrenchingly evocative than this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Books, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Short stories, Writing

Dog Kinky


A synopsis of the feature film: “DOG KINKY”.

© David Milligan Croft

Based on the short story, ‘Woman’s Best Friend’, by the same author, which was shortlisted for The Independent on Sunday short story competition and published by Bloomsbury: IOS new short stories.

dog kinky, boxer dog, woman's best friend, david milligan-croft

What’s not to die for?

DOG KINKY

A black-comedy feature film set in a surreal rural community in the West of Somewheresville, about an 11-year-old boy who repeatedly tries to murder a retired Judge in revenge for him killing his beloved dog.

Inadvertently, the boy keeps “accidentally” killing other people in the village whose dogs have also been murdered by The Judge in the most bizarre and elaborate ways.

Whilst trying to reap his revenge, the young lad uncovers a salacious plot by The Judge to blackmail the love of his life – his schoolteacher, in return for kinky sexual favours.

TREATMENT

The film opens when JOE COSTELLO arrives home from school to find his father kissing and canoodling with a woman of ill repute. Joe’s mother passed away several years previously and has been left to be brought up by his dad, Walter, and his older brother, Brett. The only constant in Joe’s life is his relationship with his dog, Amber, a gift from his mother before she died. This relationship is brought to an early demise by Judge McGlinchy.

Joe has a crush on his teacher, Sarah. Though, she is only concerned for Joe’s welfare, which he mistakes for affection. He is heartbroken when he learns that Sarah is involved in some kinky fetishy affair with the very man he wants to kill. Sarah is forced into these lurid acts because of her husband’s attempts to embezzle money from the local law enforcement benevolent fund, which The Judge has evidence of.

Joe’s first attempt to murder the Judge ends in disaster when he accidentally electrocutes Mary Mac, a psychiatric nurse, who pays The Judge a visit in connection with the demise of her own dog, Sabre. Next, to meet their demise, is Robbie Flowers, whose dog only had to enter the Judge’s garden to meet his fate. Unfortunately, so does Robbie, at the hands of Joe, in the form of an elaborate Heath-Robinson type contraption with an axe at the end of it.

Unfortunately, Joe’s father is implicated in both the murders and is duly whisked off to jail leaving the two brothers to fend for themselves. That is, until the fearsome, Aunt Catherine arrives on the scene to lick the boys into shape.

Next on Joe’s list, is his Dad’s defence attorney who’s in league with the bad old Judge. Fortunately, this does mean that Walter is innocent of the spate of serial killings as he was ‘inside’ at the time of the latest crime.

Joe professes his love for his teacher, Sarah, but is gently knocked back. Though, not so gently by his brother, Brett, who finds the whole thing highly amusing and proceeds to humiliate his younger sibling.

Sarah’s husband, Pierse, decides to put an end to all the blackmailing shenanigans by topping himself. But The Judge has one more trick up his sleeve to get Sarah into her cat suit one last time, and that is to kidnap her dog, Mitsy.

The stage is set for the final showdown. Sarah arms herself to the teeth and pays The Judge one last visit, where he unveils his piéce du resistance: a suit made up of all the dogs he has murdered. Oh, and an electric chair he managed to pick up from an old prison.

Joe, meanwhile, is also about to pay The Judge a final visit. He too, arms himself to the teeth, but this time with a less contrived weapon of mass destruction: Molotov cocktails. He duly torches The Judges crib, accidentally torching the love of his life in the process.

Joe manages to rescue Sarah and the pair try to outrun the pursuing Cops. Cornered in the local dog pound, Joe creates a diversion for Sarah to escape, by releasing all the caged hounds. Unfortunately, Joe is captured and sentenced to 15 years for arson and murder.

All turns out rosy when Sarah arrives on his release with a little surprise for the best friend a woman could ever have.

Drop me a line if you’d like to see the first draft of my screenplay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film, Screenplays, Writing