Blessed Rain, but the Garden Does Need a Good Water

Raindrops on a window at nightIt was a dark and stormy night.

Well, it had to happen occasionally.

Father Brennan looked out of his window and smiled. It was June – that obstreperous month which English people, in denial of all prior experience, always expected to be dry and calm. And which usually contrived to be anything but.

In fairness, the morning had been sunny and blue-skied, with that cool, hopeful ambiance that so often followed sunrise. The priest, who had been paying attention to the weather forecast, had ridden to the reservoir. There, he had extracted his tartan blanket from his bicycle’s basket, along with a large thermos flask of tea, and settled down to a morning of enthusiastic prayer.

It had been rather lovely. He’d even had time to enjoy a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

By midday, clouds had begun to dim the sky. Not rain, not yet, but the air had lost its earlier clarity and become heavy and muggy. Clouds of tiny, black insects appeared as if from nowhere and were clustering around his head, leaving him with the uncomfortable fear that he might be unwillingly inhaling their tiny bodies.

Father Brennan packed up his things and made for home.

This time of year, of course, the days were long and the nights short, but the storm clouds had darkened the sky early and ensured there was neither moon or starlight. By eleven pm, it was black as velvet across the land at the back of the rectory. There weren’t even streetlights, here. Not that those would bother them.

They had been a nuisance, lately. Father Brennan wasn’t sure if his little experiment would work, but if it didn’t, well, it had only cost him a morning by the reservoir. Hardly a high price to pay.

He pulled a chair over to the window and touched the heavy, silver crucifix he wore around his neck. At that moment, the sky flashed. Not a filmic fork of lightning, rather a simple second of brightness, followed two beats later by a thick rumble that hit deep in his gut.

Heavy drops of rain began to splatter against the windows. The priest sat down in the chair and sipped from his cup of tea. The vampires tended to pass this way on their way out of the crypt. Not every night, but these conditions would, he thought, appeal to their sense of drama.

In the past they’d had a sort of agreement. An armistice, you might say. He didn’t bother them, and they didn’t bother the town. They didn’t really need human blood. They didn’t need much of anything, actually. They were, at the end of it all, immortal.

Well, mostly.

Some of the younger ones had been getting ideas lately, though, and things had become… messy. A strong message needed to be sent.

Lightning flashed again, and this time he saw, just for a second, figures in the darkness. Not moving with their usual lithe, unnatural grace, but rather hunched, contorted – as though in pain. And it was hard to be entirely certain, but… was that steam?

Father Brennan sipped his tea and sat back. Well, well. He really hadn’t been sure. If water evaporates in one place, is the same water likely to fall as rain nearby? And then there were really quite considerable dilution factors to consider. Astonishing, really.

He hummed to himself. It was truly a dark and stormy night, and there was a great deal of very blessed rain.

Author’s notes
It’s the last day of May as I write this, and flaming June looms ahead. Maybe it will not be quite so obstreperous this year. But if it is, perhaps it will at least take out a few vampires as it passes through.

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© Kat Day 2023

Free Doughnuts For All Who Venture Here

Free Camp Camper illustration and pictureSomething caught Ari’s attention as he washed his hands in the en suite bathroom of the Cornish holiday home his parents had rented for the week. The white door to the right, which had definitely been locked, was open.

His mother had said the room on the other side was probably for storage when he arrived, but he’d given the handle a try when she’d gone anyway – what ten-year-old boy wouldn’t? It hadn’t moved. And now it was open, just enough to reveal a long, enticing slice of darkness.

Ari glanced in the other direction at the book lying open on his bed in the adjacent bedroom. Chilly rain was splattering against the window, the space a cosy respite from the changeable spring weather outside. It was exciting to have his own bathroom – at home, he had to share the big communal one, with its broken toilet roll holder and the spider that liked to hide behind the radiator. He pulled a fluffy white towel off the towel rail to dry his hands.

Then he walked to the slightly open door and took the handle. This time, the door moved easily, without even so much as a mysterious creak. He dropped the towel in the doorway and stepped over it.

The space beyond did, indeed, have the aspect of storage. The only light came from a small skylight in the slanted ceiling, dust clustered in the corners, and cardboard boxes had been pushed up against the walls. Ari picked up a wooden sword that was leaning against one of them and gave it an experimental swish. He thought, again, of his abandoned book. One of the boys in that story had been given a sword.

Directly in front of him was a large wardrobe.

It was made of shiny, polished wood. Ari didn’t know much about furniture but, for some reason, he thought it might be walnut. It had complicated twirly bits all around its top edge, and it stood on four metal feet. Or possibly paws. There was something distinctly leonine about them, anyway.

He paused. Leonine. That was an interesting word. How did he know it? Had he seen it in a different book somewhere?

He pulled open the wardrobe doors. The space inside was empty, except for a clothes rail and a large mirror on the back surface. And that was weird, thought Ari. Why would you put a mirror in the back of a wardrobe? You wouldn’t be able to see yourself in it once it was full of clothes. Why not put it on the inside of one of the doors… or the outside, even?

He reached out to touch the surface, and… well, the light was dim, so perhaps it was his imagination but it seemed as though the glass… wobbled. Ari pulled his hand back.

Now something was definitely happening to the surface. It was shifting and changing. There were shapes in it that weren’t his reflection. Something flickered, as though it were flying across it. Was it his imagination, or was that a castle, in the distance?

He looked at his other hand. He was still holding the wooden sword, but now, it felt heavier. And looked… shinier.

Had one of the wardrobe feet just moved? He heard something that sounded like a roar and looked back up at the mirror. He was suddenly sure he could smell flowers. And woodsmoke? The sickly sweet scent of rotting apples. And… something that suggested cooked sugar and fat. He felt a strong urge to touch the rippling surface again. He felt sure that, if he did, he could step through it, into somewhere else. Somewhere with castles and magic and…

… free doughnuts?

Ari frowned and took a step back. From behind, he thought he caught the sound of his mother calling him for tea. Spaghetti, probably. Or cheese on toast.
Definitely not doughnuts.

But the thing was, the thing was… he had read a lot of books. And some of them had involved children wandering into magical lands, and although such adventures generally did end well – Ari was not, yet, quite old enough for the sort of book where it did not – as he recalled, there also tended to be a lot of getting cold and being uncomfortable, things going wrong, scary monsters and rather too much of things generally having to change at the last minute.

None of which sounded that appealing to Ari. Even with magic.

There was a sound like distant laughter, and a warm breeze began to swirl, picking up motes of dust and twisting them so that they caught the afternoon sunlight. Ari turned to look at the door behind him, and watched as it began to close, slowly at first, but then picking up speed.

It would have slammed into the frame, if someone hadn’t dropped a towel onto the floor just there. As it was, it bounced feebly off the soft material and then, a second later, off Ari’s right arm as he dropped the wooden sword and stepped through the doorway.

He rubbed his arm, decided that it probably wouldn’t bruise and, now back in the pristine, white-tiled bathroom, picked up the towel from the other side of the door, causing the sword to clatter into the dimly lit depths of the other room. The towel had a few dusty marks. Mum would scold him if she spotted them, so he folded it over so they weren’t visible. With luck, she wouldn’t notice. He kicked the door with his foot. There was a whine that might plausibly have come from the previously silent hinges, and then the satisfying thud of a door well closed.

His mother called again and, without looking back, Ari ran downstairs to his tea. The rain was still battering the windows, but it couldn’t reach him, not here, not right now. Maybe the sun would come out later and he’d head outside but, for now, he was better off inside with cheese on toast. And, of course, his book.

Author’s notes
I’m interested in calls to action. Of course, in longer stories, characters may refuse them for a while, but they’re inevitably drawn in. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve watched a horror film and thought, ugh, that’s a ridiculous thing to do, but I suppose they do
have to do it – it’d be a short film otherwise.

Well, this is a short story, so Ari can refuse. At least for now.

Right now, you can hear me hosting The Curious Case of Susan Styles at PseudoPod – so if you’d like to hear my voice, that’s the place to go.

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© Kat Day 2023

Mettlesome March

Painting of flowers around a doorI usually post a short story at the end of the month but, as the March Hare says, ‘I have an excellent idea! Let’s change the subject!’ (That is to say, I ran out of time.)

So… there’s a story in the upcoming issue of Flash Fiction Online, and I’ll update this when it officially goes live. (Update! It’s here: Gently Creaking Boards)

And, if you’d like to hear my voice, you can do that, too. I narrated PseudoPod 857: Of Dark That Bites, by the fabulous Jess Whitecroft.

I also hosted PseudoPod 859: We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers From the Dead, which is out today for 31st March, Trans Day of Visibility.

There will be more from me in April. Take care!

(By the way, in case you’re not familiar: mettlesome is a little-used but rather excellent word which means a lively display of strong feeling/having high-spirited energy and movement.)

The Faint Sounds of Music and Life in the Distance

A photo of a new moon, showing just thin, orange sliver in a dark skyThe vampire rang my doorbell at the new moon, when the sky was dark save for a scattering of bright points of light. There was the taste of ice in the air, the faint sounds of music and life in the distance, and Mars hovered on the horizon; its orange glow betraying its identity.

He didn’t show up on the doorbell camera, of course. That’s how I knew it was him.

‘Hello,’ I said, leaning against the side of my door and folding my arms. I didn’t invite him in. We both know the rules.

‘Hello, Jasper,’ he said. He looked almost shy. ‘It’s good to see you. I know I’ve been away for a long time. I haven’t been idle. It was just… easier. On my own. But I always promised you that I’d tell you if things shifted too much. I heard word yesterday and, well, and… I had to come. To tell you, to see you. I hope… I hope you’re well.’

He tailed off. I’d been studying him as he spoke. He looks a few years older than me, but then, he always has. When we first met – when I was eighteen – he looked like a man in his early twenties, with unlined skin and a face that still had a touch of roundness. In my thirties, his dark hair was shorter, crow’s feet starting to show at the corners of his eyes. Sometimes, he’d wear glasses. And the last time I saw him, in my mid-forties, he was greying at the temples, his lips thinner, and the glasses had become near-permanent.

Now his cheeks have hollowed a little and he’s no longer greying, but grey.

I don’t know why he changes. It seems unlikely that he needs to. I tell myself that he probably looks slightly different to everyone. I push away the thought that he does it to stay in sync with me.

The last time he walked away there was no explanation. That was always his way, but that time it hurt more than before. Real pain, like a stake through the heart. There were moments when I wanted to collapse into dust. But I couldn’t. I had to keep on living.

‘Why are you back?’ I asked, ignoring everything he’d just said.

‘Because I promised and I hoped—’

‘No, no,’ I interrupt. ‘That’s the halfway plausible story you hope I’ll accept because it’s easier. But I know you, and you ought to know me. Why are you really here, on my doorstep?’

He looked at me, his eyes dark amber in the light from the house. I wondered, suddenly, if light scatters off him. Perhaps he doesn’t appear in mirrors because he absorbs everything, like a sort of walking black hole. Then I realised that if that were truly the case, I wouldn’t be able to see him at all.

‘Must I say it?’

I met his gaze, the cold night air still and silent around and between us.

He pressed his lips together and, although he really doesn’t need to breathe, his chest rose and fell in something like a sigh. ‘I missed you. Very much.’

‘I was right here. The whole time.’

‘I know.’ Yes, he knows. And I know he knows. It’s a push and pull that neither of us have ever quite managed to balance. My life is simpler without him in it, calmer, peaceful. He wants that for me, who wouldn’t?

Honestly, I’ve always wanted it for myself.

And I’m old now. Too old to be running around fighting monsters and having adventures.


Maybe I’m finally old enough.

I stepped towards him and reached up. He’s a little taller than me. He’s a little more everything than me. That’s always been his way.

His lips are surprisingly warm and very, very gentle, as though he’s worried I might shatter if he so much as moves in the wrong direction. There’s no sharpness here. I don’t think there ever has been, not for me. He has never offered me that, and I wouldn’t want it if he did. I’ve not the patience for eternity.

‘Will you invite me in?’ he asked quietly, when we moved apart.

‘Not now. But,’ I stepped outside and closed the door. ‘I’ll come out.’

He smiled, and gave me his arm. I drew air into my lungs and tasted wintry ice. Mars was still shining brightly to the south, and somewhere in the distance, I thought I heard the notes of an old, yet familiar, song.

Author’s notes
I like a gentle vampire story. What can I tell you? This (well, a slightly earlier draft) was written for this year’s Codex Writers’ Weekend Warrior contest. I hope you like it and, if you’re a writer and not already a member, that you consider heading over to Codex and joining up. I also have a couple of narrations coming up at PseudoPod – so if you’d like to hear my voice, that’s the place to go. Here’s to March, and spring!

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© Kat Day 2023

I Feel a Click as My Skull Comes Back Together

An espresso cup with the suggestion of a heart in the cremaI feel a click as my skull comes back together.

My mouth is full of blood, metallic and salty. I run my tongue over broken teeth, almost enjoying the sensation of rough edges interlarded with bright sparks of pain. Connections snap together. Memories pile up in my mind.


The coffee shop is warm and dimly-lit, full of the scents of caramelised hot milk and vanilla and roasted beans. I curl into my favourite soft chair and sip my espresso, tiny and hot, warmth seeping through my gloves. Caffeine doesn’t really do anything for me, but I like the ambiance and I have to drink something. I pick up my book.

‘Do you mind if I share your table?’ someone asks. I look up. She has a smile that lights up the room. It’s busy, I realise, and I’m taking up too much space for one.

‘Of course not.’ I return the smile.

She’s drinking espresso, too. ‘I’ve never got on with milk,’ she says.

‘Me neither.’ It’s true. Even before.

After a while she pulls her own book out of her bag.

‘Oh, she’s one of my favourite authors!’ I say, looking at the cover.

‘Really? Mine too! I’ve read this three times already, but it always cheers me up.’

That was how I met Lucy.

I thought it was a coincidence.


Other fragments of memory flash through my mind, snapping into place as though a magician is riffle-shuffling my thoughts into order. I remember the weight on the back of my head. The sick crunch. Lucy in front of me, hand over her mouth. Greyness. Darkness. Black.


We’re at a fairground. Rainbow-coloured lights flashing in all directions, jumbled beats of music clashing and fighting against each other. The rumble of heavy machines and the smell of oil and candyfloss. We’re on a ride so fast it’s like flying. Lucy grabs my arm so hard it almost hurts. We both scream, and laugh.


A stand-up comedy act. Lucy laughing so much tears run down her face, making glistening trails on her cheeks.

The films. All our favourite films.

We quote lines to each other in the middle of conversations and no one else understands what we’re talking about, and we don’t care.


Bits of our favourite books.


We are so very different. But in a lot of ways we’re the same.


My eyes snap open. She’s there. Lucy is there.

‘I’m all right,’ I mutter. ‘It’s okay, you can’t—’ and that’s when I look at her and I see.

She’s holding a sharpened, wooden stake.

I draw in a breath and realise that the room smells of garlic. And that there’s a crucifix on the wall.

‘Oh,’ I say.

She looks down. ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was meant to, in the beginning, but… then…’

I lift my arm, wave my hand over my head where the dent is gradually pushing itself out. ‘Why the head? That would never work. You must’ve known.’

‘I do. That wasn’t me. Jason panicked when he saw us together.’


‘Never mind. He’s gone.’

‘Why not just stab me with that while I was down?’ I ask, nodding at the stake.

‘I… wanted to say goodbye, I suppose. And… that I’m sorry. Oh, hell, I’m sorry.’

‘Okay,’ I say. I suddenly realise that I don’t care. It would happen eventually, might as well be at her hand. I’m old and honestly? I’m tired of this world.

‘Is that it?’

‘What did you expect?’

‘I don’t know. Anger. Fighting.’

I snort. ‘Really? You expected that? From me?’

She stares at me. Her eyes remind me of sun-warmed earth. The room drops away. The world drops away.

‘Perhaps I expected the Spanish Inquisition,’ she says, biting her lip.

I should be angry. Well, I could be angry. But I am very old and the thing about being old is that you learn, sometimes very painfully, that hate is easy, but it turns on you in the end. No one gets through a lifetime without making at least one bad mistake.

I laugh. Maybe I don’t have to be done with the world quite yet.

‘Come on,’ I say, pulling myself to my feet and holding out my hand. ‘Let’s make like a tree!’

Author’s notes
I’m currently in the middle of the Codex Writers’ Weekend Warrior contest. This is, astonishingly, my fifth year. And the story you see here is, with a few minor tweaks, from the 2019 contest. I woke up with literally just the title in my head and decided to use it. It’s hung around on my hard drive ever since. Looking it over now, it’s funny to notice that some elements aren’t that different from ones I’m still playing with, despite everything that’s happened in between. Brains eh? Always riffling back together.

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© Kat Day 2023

Jack Frost, Jill Frost

A branch with small buds, covered in frost, against a dark blue skyI’m not much of an early riser, usually, but today I’m walking in the early morning light. Colours seem a little too vivid, shadows a little too dark, and the air has a crystalline feel – as though it might cut me if I inhale it too quickly.

Jack Frost trots up beside me, or perhaps it’s Jill. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. I certainly don’t think they care terribly much. Long fingers trail the edges of grass blades, setting everything to white.

‘Morning,’ I say.

‘Yes,’ Frost replies, breathing on a cobweb suspended between two branches of spindletree.

‘It’s very beautiful.’

‘Thank you.’ There’s a flatness to their tone that doesn’t match the sparkle in the air.

They draw ahead, and the sun paints long shadows, making their legs seem long, and the spikes of hair on their head seem, for just a moment, more like long ears. A red kite screeches as it soars overhead in the azure sky, passing a ghostly crescent moon.

I lengthen my own stride to catch up, and find Frost considering a puddle of water collected in tractor tracks left in silver-tipped earth. The water is surprisingly clear. Not enough to provide a perfect reflection, but I can see where I stand, a dark figure against a bright sky.

A pointed nail hovers above the surface. ‘Watch.’

Ice forms, running ever faster across the surface, changing what was reflective into a mass of white diffusion. It’s done in a snap. The ice still catches the sunlight, but now in tiny, fractured glints.

‘That depends how you define magic,’ says Frost, answering the question I thought had been spoken only in my head.

I blink in the bright light. I think about water molecules, moving more and more slowly. Gradually organising themselves, but not yet quite aligned. Needing one tiny nudge. Find the point of balance and just… give it the tiniest of pushes. Magic: influencing events by way of mysterious forces.

Even when you believe you understand it, it’s still magic.

‘The thing is,’ continues Frost, ‘it is beautiful. But it’s also still. No movement.’ They look at me, their eyes a striking shade of amber. ‘Nothing can live here.’


‘But!’ and now their voice brightens, silver bells in the crisp air, and they wave a hand towards the east, where the sun is slowly climbing away from the horizon. ‘My confrère will warm it. The ice will melt. Slush. Earth. Water to drink. That the plants can use, once their own cells have thawed. We push and pull. My cold stillness against her warm messiness. The world must turn.’

I breathe in, perhaps just a little too quickly. ‘And what if it didn’t? What if it stayed still, and beautiful?’

Frost shrugs. ‘There’d be nothing for me to freeze tomorrow.’

‘Maybe that would be good,’ I laugh weakly. ‘You could enjoy the peace.’

They jump then, up towards the blue sky, and laugh themselves – a clean, honest sound – before landing gracefully to rejoin their shadow. ‘And sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. For a little while. Sometimes a little peace is welcome, sometimes it is needed. But peace turns to ennui in time. The world must turn!’

They extend their hand. I pause before taking it. Frost’s fingers are not as cold as I’d been expecting. Or perhaps my own fingers were cooler than I’d thought. With their other hand they gesture, again, towards the rising sun, and I turn to look.

When I turn back, purple spots dancing in my vision, Frost is gone, although their work remains. For now.

It’s beautiful.

I crack the ice in the puddle with the heel of my boot. And I consider that perhaps I’ve made it less beautiful. And also more alive.

It’s time to put one foot in front of the other, and so I head for home, a half hummed tune hovering on my slowly warming lips.

Author’s notes
I recently learned – or perhaps was reminded, it can be hard to tell sometimes – that male hares are called Jack while females are called Jill, and also that, in certain mythologies, hares are considered gender-fluid, shifting with the phases of the moon. The winter solstice has passed, and the days are growing longer. The world must turn. Here’s to brighter days in 2023.

By the way, I recently narrated the wonderful Palette, by Jenny Kiefer, at PseudoPod. Give it a listen.

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© Kat Day 2022

That Isn’t What People Look Like When They’ve Seen a Ghost

A dimly lit room with ghostly shadows of hands on the wallsThere is a certain look to which we say, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” We say it when someone has the appearance of a mouse that has escaped the cat – something small and warm that’s managed to evade something much larger, and with much sharper teeth. Shivering and pale. But alive.

In truth, that isn’t what people look like when they’ve seen a ghost.

That’s what people look like when they’ve felt a ghost. When they’ve experienced the sensation of air a few degrees too cold slithering over their skin, and the fine hairs on their arms and neck have risen to meet it. The discomfort of something that is not of this world interacting with matter that is warm and whole, and changing it.

And it may be what people look like when they smell a ghost. The faint scents of decay and rot and freshly turned earth, but so faint and slight that you might think you’d smelled nothing at all. Perhaps you imagined it. And yet… there it is again, on the next in-breath…

It’s certainly what people look like when they’ve heard a ghost. As sounds crawl around corners and echo from all directions, disjointed and unmoored. Dark, greasy harmonics of notes that are heard, not in the ears, but deep in the belly, where they melt the bowels. Or crystalline sounds sharp at the top of the head, behind the eyes, that ice the blood.

Because, you see, the fear and terror of a ghost is all in the expectation. The anticipation. The creeping, mounting, building terror of the knowledge that it is coming, and it will hurt.

Yes, something is coming, and you should ask yourself: have I time to get away?

Because, as with the mouse and the cat, once you’ve seen the ghost…

… and it has seen you…

It’s too…


Author’s notes
It is the 30th of November, and December approaches. A time for lights and food and celebrations, and ghosts.
Always ghosts.

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© Kat Day 2022

When I Was Young, I Did Not Need Magic

Free photos of an elderly woman's handsSomething a little different this month: there’s no story here, but there is one at PseudoPod! Follow the link below to read, or listen to, When I Was Young I Did Not Need Magic written, and narrated, by me. And while you’re there, make sure you also check out Yes, Mother by H.B. Diaz and How to Make Homemade Marshmallows with Grandmother by Taylor Rae. What a fantastic line-up to be a part of!

PseudoPod 832: Flash on the Borderlands LXIII: Respect Your Elders

Author’s notes
This story was written as part of a Codex contest. If you’re a published writer but you’ve never heard of the Codex writers’ group, I urge you to go and take a look – it’s a wonderful community. I also need to encourage you to feed the pod. It gets so hungry, you see…

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© Kat Day 2022

There’s a Kiosk at the Back of Basingstoke Station

A glass sphere, with a woodland scene reflected inside itI looked up from picking my way down the steep, concrete steps that lead from the car park to the back of Basingstoke station, and was amazed to see that, today, the kiosk was there.

I walked closer, half expecting it to disappear in a puff of my own imagination. I’ve passed this way many times, and of course I always look, but it had never actually been there before. I took a deep breath of the dry, warm, faintly metallic air and looked around. It was quiet. The only other person in sight was a woman, prodding her phone as she stood under the plastic-covered waiting area where more steps lead down to the ticket desks and the entry to the platforms.

The kiosk was a wooden hut with wide open doors, their sides hung with overlapping magazines and newspapers. At the front, a counter festooned with sweets and snacks, and behind that, a man. Not especially tall, not especially striking. A cheerful smile in a checked shirt, easily unremembered.

He looked up from the newspaper he was reading. ‘Can I help you?’

‘Hello,’ I said, suddenly unsure of myself. ‘Er, sorry, someone told me you were here sometimes and, I just wondered…’ I tailed off.

‘Ah? Friend, was it?’

‘Not exactly…’

He smiled. ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry. Not the first time I’ve had someone turn up with this story. D’you want a snack or a newspaper or anything?’

‘Not particularly, but I’m happy to buy one?’

He waved the notion away. ‘No need, just checking. Doesn’t matter. One sec.’

He turned and reached into the back of the kiosk. It was gloomy back there, more shadowy than it ought to have been for its size – I had the feeling it went back further than its physical dimensions had any right to stretch.

‘Here,’ he said, handing me a small object. It was orangey-yellow, about an inch and a half across – not unlike the large marbles we used to call kings when I was at school – and slightly warm to the touch.

I turned it around in my fingers. ‘What do I do with it?’

The shopkeeper shrugged. ‘That’s up to you. I just hand ‘em out.’

I held the object up to my eye. For a moment, I could’ve sworn I saw a bright shape, like a capital O, in its depths. And then that seemed to flip onto its side, leaving something that looked more like a disc. I turned the object around in my fingers and thought I saw a turtle. I smiled.

‘Go careful with it,’ he cautioned. ‘They’re easily lost, and often better used fresh, although…’ he looked thoughtful. ‘Maybe not always. But still, mind where you put it down. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.’

‘Right, yes,’ I replied, still staring. Now I thought I could see lots of spheres of different sizes, clustered together. And… a pond, surrounded by trees. I looked up. ‘Thank you.’

‘You’re welcome. Enjoy.’

I considered putting the sphere in my pocket, but that didn’t seem right, somehow, so I simply closed my hand around it. Its smooth sides pressed against my skin.

He craned his neck out over the counter, looking up at the sky. ‘Getting a bit chilly out there, isn’t it?’ he mused, before withdrawing again. I watched him take a black fedora off a hook and place it on his head.

‘Will you be here another time?’ I asked.

‘Oh, maybe, maybe not. I move around, you know. You could try the warehouse in Croydon.’

I nodded. ‘Well, thanks again.’

‘Mind how you go.’

I had a train to catch, of course, so I after that I walked down the steps to the platforms, still clutching my gift in my closed fist.

He was right, though. It was getting chilly. A hat, now, that was a good idea.

Author’s notes
Terry Pratchett famously used to reply, when asked where he got his ideas, ‘from a bloke who runs a kiosk round the back of Basingstoke station’ and I, being me, couldn’t help wondering what that might look like. I hope he’d approve. And you know what’s especially perfect? I wrote most of this in my head, driving back from Basingstoke. GNU Terry Pratchett.

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© Kat Day 2022

How to Live in the Sunshine, and Other Advice

Evil vampire with scary eyes eating garlic stock photoGarlic: Friend or Foe?
Many of us find garlic hard to tolerate, but did you know it contains many healthy chemicals such as the antimicrobial, allicin? After all, once you’re dead, you could use the extra help! Garlic may reduce blood pressure, too, which might be something of a relief after a heavy night. If you really can’t stomach the smell and taste, why not try odourless garlic capsules?

One Small Step
Crossing thresholds is hard, isn’t it? We get it. But sometimes you have to make that leap, invitation or not – it’s literally the only way to move forward. Try it!

Cutting Back on Blood
We all love blood of course, who doesn’t? But moderation is key to everything. Have you considered the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, which involves fasting for one or two days a week? Many that try this find it’s challenging at first, but once they get used to the routine they have more energy than ever before. Why not give it a go? It might be easier than you think.

Getting Across Crosses
Do we really need to live in fear of religious symbols? Could you overcome your iconophobia? After all, how rational is it, really? When you think about it, there are crosses everywhere. Why not start by looking for these sorts of shapes in furniture – window frames don’t burn, do they? Type some † symbols into your word processor, or get a piece of paper and doodle them. Lay one pen across another pen. Start slowly, and you’ll be handling crucifixes in no time.

It’s All Sun and Games!
We’re traditionally told to stay out of the sun, but is old advice truly good advice? Some have suggested that vampires need vitamin D, too – strong teeth and bones are important for everyone! But if you do decide you’d like to try a smidge of sun exposure, build up slowly. Glass filters a lot of ultraviolet light, so you can begin safely by standing near a window in daylight hours. Once you’re okay with that, you can try a few seconds outside, but make sure you stay close to home and in the shade – at least at first. Experiment with sunblock (remember, even the highest factor formulations don’t block everything). Once you’re used to daylight you can venture further, but do be sure to take a dark-coloured umbrella, just in case. Give it a go – a little sun might just do you the world of good!

Author’s notes
A lot of similar advice for humans is nonsense, too. Biscuit?

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