Wednesday, 29 February 2012


by John Xero

“I thought Private Jones was dead.”

“He was. Is.”

“Right, well, he’s looking remarkably awake for a corpse.”

They looked at Jones through the reinforced glass. Jones looked back. He was unusually pale and the whites of his eyes were grey. Black tears ran down his cheeks.

“Is he crying?”

“It’s a side effect, waste material.”

“Waste material?”

“He’s been colonised by alien bacteria that breed in necrotised flesh. The individual cells network. They only take a few days to achieve sentience.”

“Didn’t we send the rest of his squad home in body bags?”

“I’m afraid so, Colonel.”

Jones smiled.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


by John Xero

Burnt out, a building becomes an exposed corpse. Blackened ribs of brick and broken wood. Empty windows like dead eyes. Ghosts of ash drifting, dissipating on a mournful wind.

The Institute of Advanced Necrological Research had been our home; the place we were raised, so to speak.

Doctor Frankie told us this day would come, the pitchforks and torches of yore replaced by shotguns and gasoline. In the ruins of her office I find the charred painting of her infamous forebear and I am resolved. We are children of the grave and we will find the monsters that did this.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


by John Xero

Find somewhere high, somewhere safe. Hide.

The white noise of the monsoon-born storm transcended anything Simon had experienced in England, it was deafening and terrible, biblical. The walls rattled and shook and he feared the chapel would be torn apart.

The locals had warned him of such weather, and the things it drove above ground: things better left unseen, unimagined.

He shivered and pulled the blanket around himself. Superstitious nonsense.

He almost missed the rough shouting, half-stolen by the storm. Then there was a heavy, urgent thumping on the doors. He went to unbar them. Some company would be good.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


by John Xero

Billy wedged himself as deep into the narrow crevice as he could, sweating, shaking. The beast couldn’t get him here. But it tried, testing his sanctuary with a swipe of paw and extended claw, making his heart clatter.

Fibrous ropes of drool hung from its jaws and slid from its yellowing teeth. A cloud of damp breath rolled over him and he gagged at the smell of rotten meat. He felt wretched, and stupid.

Drink me, the label had said.

“Just a sip.” Alice had cautioned.

He should have listened. He should have shut Cheshire in the kitchen, at least.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


by John Xero

The Dark Cartographer sat at his desk, mapping taboos.

He had trouble, at first; one person’s taboo was another’s breakfast, fetish, or badge. Then he began imagining religions, generations, perversions as countries and continents and he discovered psychological tectonics... thrusting mountains of prejudice, vast spreading oceans of distrust, disgust.

And once he had the subjects – people, he means – codified: the islands, archipelagos, and peninsulas of taboo; he saw how simple it would be to foster little warzones of hate and violence, out there in the real world.

He rolled up his map, tucked it under his arm and set out.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)