Friday, December 3, 2010

The Great Chocolate Conspiracy Part 14

Welcome to The Great Chocolate Conspiracy! Chocolate Digestive biscuits have disappeared from the shelves right across the eastern seaboard of the USA, and now the shortage has spread to London. Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and his international team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police's Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) have been tasked to solve the mystery.

This is the penultimate installment of this multi-part flash fiction story that originated during a chat between the authors on Twitter. You can read how it all began here (links to all the installments will be added to the author list as they are posted).

The final installment will appear on Friday, December 10th at Nishi's (@cafe_nirvana) blog, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.


Before Dr Nishidi could close the gap between herself and the CCU’s finest, the thumping ‘wokka wokka’ and sharply thrusting downwinds of a large helicopter blasted the foul smell from the air as the large beast came to a graceful landing on the tarmac.

A dozen agents dressed from head to toe in cocoa brown battlegear swarmed from the sky machine like a swarm of bees. In no time at all they had Dr Nishidi and her henchwomen surrounded.

PCs Fox and Bourneville leapt from the helicopter and hit the ground at a trot, dashing over to Adamson and the team.

“Sir, we are glad to see you’re in once piece!” It was Fox. She looked rather happy to see him.

“And, I, ladies, am more happy to see you than I care to admit. I must say your timing is rather impeccable. I think you saved me from a rather painful end. But, how did you get here?”

Fox and Bourneville were grinning like fools.

“We did what you always told us to do, Gov!” said Fox, who was looking pretty proud of herself.

Adamson was perplexed. He didn’t recall ever having told the youngsters anything much of value.

“We followed where the evidence led us!” Bourneville recited as though she’d heard it a thousand times.

“To Grimsville, Idaho?”

Fox and Bourneville looked at each other and giggled.

Agent Ling, with not a hair out of place on her head, strutted over to the happy trio, reporting with aplomb that FRAPPE had been iced. Adamson raised an eyebrow.

“I do allow myself a quip or two once the case is closed,” she admitted, with what came perilously close to a twinkle in the sparkling green eyes framed beneath perfectly arched brows.

“Agent Ling, allow me to introduce you to two of the Met’s finest up and coming detectives. PCs Fox and Bourneville.”

“It’s always a pleasure to meet new colleagues so far from home.” Agent Ling was all charm, although perhaps a little amused at DCI Adamson’s all-female posse. Agent Bronyaur was still skulking in the background, a little intimidated by his European cousins and their lurid underwear.

“Come on boss, I think we’d best get you all out of here.” said Fox. “Our lovely, warm friends from COCOA will explain everything once we get you lot out of here.”

Adamson shrugged his shoulders as he and his crew climbed aboard the Chinook, which rumbled up into the air and spirited them away. FRAPPE, TEA and now COCOA. The DCI doubted anything else would surprise him today.


“This is one briefing I think I want to hear,” said Adamson to La Paglia and Marier as they sat down either side of him.

They were seated around a large conference table in the US Headquarters of the Confederation of Chocolate Organisations and Alliances in Chicago. Several large platters of chocolate biscuits were placed strategically around the table, in easy arm’s reach of the assembled guests. Steaming mugs of coffee sat atop coasters and there was a pleasant aromatic blend of scents filling the air, a combination of sweat, perfume, coffee and chocolate.

Adamson rocked back in his chair, continually impressed by American ergonomics, thinking that right about now might be a good moment to consider retirement. He could go out on a high, having played a major role in foiling an international conspiracy. Hell, he’d probably even get a medal of some description. He could almost picture himself at Windsor Castle, waiting in line to receive a gong from the Queen. DI Hawthorne would be able to watch it on telly. The thought of it made Adamson grin like a madman.

The smile died on his face when the boardroom doors opened and in strode Angelina, she of the olive skin and tight skirts.

“Buongiorno tutti,” purred the Italian.

“What the flock is she doing here?” stammered Adamson. “I demand an explanation!”

“Relax, my little English dumpling. You are among friends, is that not right, Vice Ispettore Mari Juniper?”

“Si, Angelina.” Juniper turned to Adamson. “I’m sorry I could not tell you before, Sam, but Angelina here has been deep undercover as an operative infiltrating FRAPPE. She has been our woman on the inside, as it were. If it were not for her, you may well now be... how do you say? Ah, si, toast.”

Adamson was reeling. He could feel his gong slipping through his fingers.

“Who is we, Juniper?”

“I am sorry I could not tell you that either, Sam. I have been on loan from the Italian State Police to COCOA for three years now. Angelina and I are part of a team that has been tracking a number of hardline underground chocolate groups for the past five years,” explained Juniper.

Angelina took up the narrative. “Some of these organisations have been threatening the world’s supply of flavenols, which, as a connoisseur of chocolate digestives, you will understand keep the world on an even, how you say, kilter. Without cioccolata, nation states around the world would begin to crumble. You saw yourself in Idaho what can happen.”

“You mean,” said Adamson, playing for time while his brain caught up with the implications of what they were saying, “there are more organisations than FRAPPE out there trying to steal all the chocolate and coffee?”

“Sam, what you have seen is the tip only of the iceberg. In fact—“

The boardroom doors were thrown open by a man in a hurry.

“What is it?” asked Angelina.

“We’ve had a coded call from London. A mystery buyer has just purchased Europe’s entire chocolate supply!”

Angelina looked with alarm at Juniper.

“Oh no, Dr Eno!”


I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Great Chocolate Conspiracy. Don't forget, the final installment will appear on Friday, December 10th at Nishi's (@cafe_nirvana) blog, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

#fridayflash: I Have Ten Fingers

Now for something completely different. A poem for a friend.

I have ten fingers
I have ten toes
My limbs connect to my body

I have two arms
I have two legs
My brain connects to my body

If I have ten fingers
If I have ten toes
Why don’t they feel like my body?

If I have two arms
If I have two legs
Why don’t they move like my body?

I have no pain
The pain is gone
In its place is nothing

If I have no pain
If the pain is gone
Then why can I not feel something?

I have to eat
I have to drink
Neither hungry am I nor thirsty

If I have to eat
If I have to drink
It’s not to slake my desire

I cannot feel
I will not touch
This body that is not mine

If I cannot feel
If I cannot touch
Then why have this body that’s mine?

I have ten fingers
I have ten toes
Growing inside of me

I have two arms
I have two legs
A foetus whose need is me

I will have pain
And when it’s gone
A baby there will be

I will want to eat
I will want to drink
For both my child and me

I will want to feel
I will want to touch
My baby’s pure soft skin

I will count his fingers
I will count her toes
I will caress those arms
I will stroke those legs
I will love the pain
And when it’s gone
He will eat
She will drink
Together we will feel
Together we will touch

Together we will be.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chinese Whisperings: The Yin and Yang Books

The Yin and Yang Book eBook(s) have been published. Go and buy them now!

22 fabulous stories from 22 writers from around the world, including yours truly - my story 'Double Talk' appears in The Yin Book, but I would recommend you buy the combined anthology for the full effect.

More details about Chinese Whisperings and the anthologies over at my website.

Friday, September 24, 2010

#fridayflash: Skin Therapy

Congrats to all the #fridayflash crowd whose stories made the 50 Stories for Pakistan longlist. Mine didn't, so here 'tis - it's been a while!

Skin Therapy
Lily Mulholland

Dr Harold Kinsella, Harry to his friends, was a well respected plastic surgeon transplanted from America to London, where he’d earned a number of gongs in recognition of the pro bono work he did with burns victims. Internationally renowned for his skill with the surgical blade, Dr Kinsella was in hot demand, with a waiting list longer than a conga line in a retirement village.

Dr Kinsella’s dedication to the job earned him plaudits from his peers in the UK and around the world, although it had cost him his marriage and the company of his two lovely daughters. He saw them irregularly, what with his patient load and constant travel on the international lecture circuit.

Which was where he was returning from just now. A member of a high-profile panel at Plastic Surgery 2010, held in Toronto, Canada, he had held the audience in thrall with details of the latest advances in tissue engineering. The panel discussion had run smoothly until Randall Weiss started sticking the knife in. Despite their long-held rivalry that dated back to Stanford, Harry had been thrown when Randy questioned his surgical approach to challenging reconstructive cases.

Harry cringed at the memory of their heated and unprofessional argument, where they had both tarnished their reputations and left the other panel members embarrassed. Two of the world’s top plastic surgeons duelling over technique. Worse, the panel was one of only a handful open to the world’s medical and mainstream media.

He imagined the headlines; they weren’t going to be pretty. Harry knew he would have a ‘please explain’ from the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, which had funded the trip. The stewardess moved past as he groaned.

“Everything all right, sir?”

“Yes, fine, thank you. Actually, I could do with another whisky.”


She returned with his drink. Twelve-year, single highland malt whisky on ice. In a real glass. Harry enjoyed his frequent upgrades to First Class.

“Is there anything else, Dr Kinsella?”

“No, I’m fine.”

He watched her sashay across the aisle and stop to attend to a female passenger he hadn’t noticed during the previous three hours of the flight; he had been buried in a medical journal, trying to forget the humiliation. The woman was attractive, although he only looked at women the way a conservator sizes up a damaged canvas.

The angle of his seat afforded a reasonable view of the woman: late forties, sharp hairstyle, and a large diamond earring dangling from her visible earlobe. He noted the developing buccula beneath her chin, the creases that formed at the corners of her eyes as she chatted with the hostess, and the pigmentation spots on the skin beneath her cheekbones. That she had good bone structure was clear even in the artfully dimmed light of the cabin’s interior.

Harry thought about slipping his card into her pocket as they exited the plane. After his Canadian ordeal, he felt the need to cut away some ugliness and make something beautiful again.

(Image: Bestlin Plastics)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dog Days of Summer competition winners announced

Flasher extraordinaire Michael J Solender (of Not From Here, Are You? fame) has announced the winner of his Dog Days of Summer 2010 competition. Future Nostalgic‘s Sam Adamson took out the Grand Prize, while yours truly was one of a number of authors who received a Special Jury Prize. Congrats to all the Special Mention recipients and the other nearly 100 writers who participated.

You can read more about it here, including an interview with the winner. The eChapbook, including my story ‘Shimmer Shift’, is available to read below and also as a PDF download.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best of Friday Flash Vol 1 - out now!

It's a big day for flash fiction! Today marks the release of volume one of Best of Friday Flash - a collection of the best flash fiction on the internet in the first year of #fridayflash. I am thrilled to have one of my stories, 'Dental Check', included in such fine company.

Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy - the ebook is only $2.99. The paperback will follow soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#fridayflash: Just Drive

Well hello there. After a short break, I have finally written a piece of flash fiction. This one was inspired by this week's [Fiction] Friday prompt over at Write Anything: Pick two established characters, either from your own work or others’. Now write the scene/story of their meeting.

Just drive
Lily Mulholland

Cresting the hill, an ocean of red tail lights confronted Caroline, who brought her car to hard stop. She reached out and tapped the AM radio button and switched over to the local station.

And you’re on Triple Six Drive with Louise Maher. News just in, there’s been a three-car pile-up on Hindmarsh Drive near the hospital. Try and avoid the area if you’re heading through Garran.

Glancing at the clock on the dash, Caroline swore under her breath; she would be late.

‘Fucking wonderful.’ Caroline flicked the radio off and reached over to fish a phone from her handbag, as well as a letter from the hospital.

‘Good afternoon, genetics, may I help you?’

‘Yeah, hi, this is Caroline Walker. I have an appointment at 3pm but I’m running late – there’s been an accident on Hindmarsh and I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper hell.’

‘Okay, I’ll let Jennie know you’re running late.’

‘Thanks. Bye.’

Twenty minutes later Caroline turned into the hospital carpark and found a spot. Dashing to the ticket machine, she fumbled around the Tardis-like bottom of her bag for a two-dollar coin, narrowly avoiding turning her ankle on the broken concrete path.

Ticket in hand, she darted back to her car, pulled open the passenger door and tossed the slip of paper onto the dashboard. She slammed the door shut and took off for the main building.

‘Hi Caroline, thanks for coming in again,’ said the counsellor as she bustled into the suite where Caroline sat waiting. ‘I just wanted to run through the results with you.’

Caroline smiled nervously; she had been expecting to receive a letter containing her assessment, not to have to come back to see the counsellor again. It took a huge chunk out of her day travelling across town and back and she had deadlines looming.

‘Well,’ said the counsellor sitting down and opening a file, ‘the good news is you’re not in the extreme category. The bad news is your family history and your history of drinking places you in the high-risk category.’

‘What does that mean, exactly?’

‘Well, the average woman has a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer over her lifetime – your odds are one in four.’

Caroline sat silently, remembering to breathe.

‘Do I qualify for the test?’

‘Well, what we would ideally like to do is run the test on your aunt. Because she has had breast cancer already, and it was pre-menopausal, there is a strong chance she might have the mutation. If she were to have it, then we would be more concerned about you. At this stage you don’t meet our criteria for a test – they’re very expensive and we have strict benchmarks in place. You don’t quite meet them. But if your aunt agreed to be tested, she would qualify. So, it’s really a matter for you to discuss with her.’

‘Oh. I see.’

‘Don’t be too concerned. You’re young and relatively healthy. At this stage we recommend you start having mammograms when you turn forty. You should also reduce your alcohol intake.’

‘Yeah, I’m trying.’ It’s been a shit of a week lady.

‘Right. Well, you’ll receive a letter in the next few weeks confirming your screening regimen. Also, don’t forget to let us know if your family history changes.’


The counsellor stood up, signalling she had no more to say. Caroline lingered, unsure.

‘Was there anything else?’

‘Ah, no. It’s just that I thought I’d just have the test and then I’d, you know, have some kind of certainty.’

The counsellor looked at her with sympathy.

‘I know. I wish I could give you a measure of reassurance. Unfortunately, we just don’t know enough about how genetic mutations interact with the lived environment. You should take heart that you are not in the high-risk category and you have no signs of cancer. You may be one of the lucky ones.’

She held out her hand. Caroline shook it.

‘Thank you for coming.’

Caroline took the stairs down to the foyer, feeling like a fraud as she passed dozens of patients wearing flimsy white gowns, some being pushed in wheelchairs, others pushing IV drip stands along in front of them, an assortment of men hobbling on crutches and pale women sitting dazed in moulded plastic chairs. Guilt tugged at her for feeling so sorry for herself when others were so much worse off. She shuddered at the thought of being sick enough to have to stay in such a depressing place, She hurried out the door into fresh air, hurrying down the path to escape the oppression as soon as she could.

Returning to her car, Caroline pushed the button on her key remote, only to realise she had left the damned thing unlocked.

‘Idiot,’ she chided herself. ‘After all that’s happened this week, that’d be the icing on the fucking cake.’ Teetering on the edge of tears, she forced thoughts of Tom from her head.

She yanked the door open, threw her handbag across into the passenger seat and slid in. Turning the key in the ignition, she froze when in the rear view mirror she spotted a black shape on the seat behind her.

‘Don’t panic,’ said a female voice, as black cloth unfolded to reveal a woman in her late twenties.

‘Who the fuck are you?’

‘I am a federal agent. Keep moving or we’re dead.’

‘Is this your idea of a joke?’

Caroline, put your foot on the accelerator and get us the hell out of here. Head for the Yamba Drive exit and turn right – Hindmarsh is jammed.’

Caroline did as she was told; she had seen the woman’s handgun.

‘How the hell do you know my name?’

‘Get moving,’ she said, turning around to check the cars behind them. ‘We’re heading to an apartment in Braddon. We’ll be okay once we get there.’

‘We? Who the fuck are you?’

‘My name’s Jo – Jo Carter. Nice to meet you, Ms Walker. Now just drive.’


Caroline Walker is from my three-part flash serial, 'The Taming of the Shrew'; Jo Carter is from my six-part flash serial, 'Betrayal'. You can find both stories over at The Penny Dreadful.

Friday, June 4, 2010

#fridayflash: Butcher's Apprentice

I have a little story, 'Butcher's Apprentice', appearing this month at Negative Suck, which is doing double duty as my #fridayflash this week! While you're over at Negative Suck, don't forget to check out the other authors, including fellow #fridayflasher Karen Schindler, who once upon a time kindly edited 'Butcher's Apprentice' for me - so it's nice to see we're in the same edition.

Friday, May 28, 2010

One-year anniversary of #fridayflash

From little things, big things grow, said Paul Kelly and no, he wasn't actually describing #fridayflash - but he could have been! The Friday flash fiction movement, kicked off by Jon Strother has celebrated its first year and Jon's present back to us all was to list all participating authors' debut story. You can read them all here, including my story 'Snowgate'.

No new flash from me this week, real life keeps getting in the way of writing at the moment...

Monday, May 3, 2010

#fridayflash: Across the Ocean

For this week's #fridayflash, I most happily direct you to Laurita Miller's blog for my Seaside Flash contest-winning entry, 'Across the Ocean'. She and I are separated by many oceans - actually I think we couldn't live further apart! She lives in Newfoundland and I live in Australia. The water that separates also inspires us.

While you're there, why don't you check out her flash fiction and poetry?

Friday, April 30, 2010

#fridayflash: The Insurance Policy

I wrote this short for Laurita's Seaside Flash Fiction Contest over at Brain Droppings. It didn't win, so here's a ready-made #fridayflash for this week.

P.S. I loved her competition so much that I entered two stories - my other entry, 'Across the Ocean', won! You can check it out at Brain Droppings on Monday, 3 May.

(Image: William Murphy)

The Insurance Policy
Lily Mulholland

Song as sweet as his mother’s floated around Fletcher’s ears as he placed the tray on the musty passageway floor.

Oh I cannae tell ye of my name
Ya see to you we be all the same

Carried away o’er seven seas

Bringing good fortune to all but me

Half crouched in the dim, cramped space, he closed his eyes for a moment, savouring the clear, high notes. Remembering Curly’s warning, he rose abruptly and fumbled for the fob secured to the sash at his waist, iron keys clinking in his hands.

The singing stopped as Fletcher inserted the key into the lock and turned the rest of the bunch over itself. Retrieving the tray, he pushed the door open with his foot and entered the chamber. Seated at the wooden table taking up most of the room was a woman so beautiful she forced the young breath from his body. Taking a brush to her hair, she did not speak to him as he placed her meal on the table, instead fixing his gaze with lapis eyes. He nodded, stepped backward and left the room quickly, locking the door on the way out.

Oh I waste not sweet talk or charming smiles
For I ken my fate for the next t’ousand miles

Ye’ll save me up till the storm sets in

And then over ye’ll toss me for one final swim

He leaned back against the heavy door, closing his eyes and allowing the honey voice to wend its way into the vulnerable, hidden parts of his soul. A male voice jerked him from his daydreams.

‘Tell me ye dinnae look ‘er in the eye, lad.’

‘N-no, Curly. I did exactly as you said.’

The chief cook peered at Fletcher through squinty eyes.

‘Och, good lad. Ye ken there be no place for a bird on this ship. She’ll bring us bad luck. Now git along wit ya. There’s work ta be done.’

Fletcher scooted back to the galley, busying himself with a tub full of dirty plates and pans. The action of scrubbing the dishes was hypnotising and he was soon fantasizing about the woman.

Oh I cannae tell ye of my name
Ya see to you we be all the same

Carried away o’er seven seas

Bringing good fortune to all but me

She was snatched at the last port. Curly would not tell Fletcher where the first woman had gone, but he found out from the messman she cast a spell upon the bosun to aid her escape. Under captain’s orders he had been flogged senseless for it.

Almost as soon as the new girl came aboard to sell her perfumes and handkerchiefs, the order to make sail was piped. She was dragged below by the master-at-arms, her bosom having been judged to be ample pacification for the savage seas they would encounter in rounding the Cape.

Fletcher prayed for a mighty storm.

Friday, April 23, 2010

#fridayflash: Shop of Horrors

And now for something completely different...or light and easy at any rate!

Image: Jim

Shop of Horrors
By Lily Mulholland

Carly looked down at the shopping list, wondering why John was always so goddamned specific.


And on it went. Why couldn’t he just write ‘sugar’? Eggs? Milk? Red chilli? She wasn’t stupid, but he was treating her like a child.

‘I’m pregnant, not broken, you moron!’

‘Beg your pardon?’ asked a man behind her.

Carly wheeled, her cheeks scalding. ‘Oh! Sorry, nothing. I was talking to myself.’

She pushed the trolley viciously, determined to finish the shopping and get home. John was always bugging her to keep exercising. For the sake of the baby. But tonight he could lug in the bags; she was stuffed.

‘And tell me again why I’m the one doing the shopping? Eight and a half months pregnant? Doesn’t he have LEGS?’

Crushing the list, she tossed it behind a row of tinned peas and turned her trolley around. She pushed it toward aisle nine, the one aisle she never ventured down. Lollies were forbidden by John, who had been on a health kick since she told him they were pregnant. Saliva erupted as she tossed packets of chocolate coated raisins, musk sticks and liquorice allsorts into the trolley.

‘Feed me Seymour!’

The mad cackle died in her throat as she felt it – warm fluid dribbling slowly down the insides of her legs. She was leaking. Carly looked around, panicked and froze. Then the trickle became a flood.

Friday, April 16, 2010

#fridayflash: No way out

(Image: Nevit)
By Lily Mulholland

It winds down upon itself, doubling back, coiling and uncoiling, seeking out an alternative path, all the while descending relentlessly. Probing, searching for light in the oppressive dark like a subterranean engineer, it tests the circuit, ensuring the current holds strong. Turning back is impossible; on it drives unremittingly, its destination preordained. The pressure builds until it becomes unbearable, like molten flow behind a magma plug. Up and up the needle of the gauge rises into the red. The tipping point is reached and the words surge up his throat, perching, pausing momentarily on the precipice of his tongue. He can hold them back no longer; the lie must be lived.

‘I love you too.’

Friday, April 9, 2010

#fridayflash: Fire dance

(Image: Espencat)

By Lily Mulholland

Please contact me if you would like to read this story. I have pulled it to rework for submission.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#fridayflash: Sacrilege

Warning: this Fridayflash is not for the easily offended.

By Lily Mulholland

It's kind of ironic that I ended up in the job I'm in. I have a very low pain threshhold. But, someone's got to do the dirty jobs no one else wants to do. For a so-called 'civilisation' we're surprisingly uncivil in some of our collective choices, don't you think? So anyway, my mum hears of this job. Great pay, flexible hours, health plan. Can't ask for more than that, I say. She reckons I might even get a woman out of it. Being employed by the government and all. It's a job that gives me status, although I'm not the kind of person that gets invited to dinner parties. If you ask someone what they think about my job, they kind of shudder. I think I'm up there, or is it down, with politicians and journalists. But, hey, it doesn't bother me. I know that I'm needed and that's enough reward for me these days.

So, anyway, today's a big day. My team and I have been preparing for for weeks now, ever since the courts handed down their verdict. And it's not just any execution we're doing today, it's the harshest form we have available in our inventory, and we have some pretty gruesome ways to kill you. I'm not necessarily a supporter of capital punishment, but it does send a message and keeps the marginally good in our society on the right side of the ledger. The bad guys, well, they keep me employed, so I don't complain.

Like I said, today we're making history. We've planned it down to the last detail and have a great risk management plan (just in case something goes wrong, we're working in pretty unique circumstances here). Everything's ready, so we're just waiting for the prisoner to arrive. I hear Mr Pilate ordered a spot of flogging and and the slow walk, so we're not sure when he'll get here. I hope he's not too shattered. I've got a few questions I'd like to ask him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In good company

I'm thrilled to have one of my stories published in a real-live, used-to-be-a-tree, crisp-when-you-turn-em-pages book! Not only is that very exciting (it's my first), but some of my writing friends are also in Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1, as well as some great Australian writers (fiction and non-fiction), including James Bradley, Alan Baxter, A S Patric and Angela Meyer. My lovely friend Amanda also has a poem in there. It's good to be included in such company, I must say.

Also a big shout-out to writer and publisher Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Press - she conceived the idea for this project last year, when debate was raging among the intelligentsia over whether anything published on a blog was any good. Karen seemed to think it was and, voila, the idea for a book was born. She put a call out for Australian bloggers to send in their best work and I was fortunate to have 'No Sanctuary' selected for the anthology.

The press launch will be held at Readings in Carlton, Melbourne on 14 April.

You can order the book here. Postage (within Australia) is free on purchases before 1 April. While you're visiting Miscellaneous Press, check out Karen's book for kids - Surprise - my little ones love it.

#fridayflash: The Crystal Set

Image: Badseed
By Lily Mulholland

Jessie scraped at the verdigris on the bronze art deco sculpture with her thumbnail. Visiting granddad was like going to a museum, only this time she could touch. She traced her fingers along the objets d’art stuffed into every spare space in the large walnut bookcase. Her granddad was a fossicker and collector, born between world wars, when reusing and recycling weren’t the latest fad but a simple matter of survival. She had never respected his need to keep everything, just in case. A kid of the disposable generation, she sneered at his frugality.

Jessie remembered the time she’d been messing with granddad’s prized crystal set. He had picked it up at an estate sale and, when he discovered it wasn’t working, pulled it apart, fixing it with patience and determination. Strictly forbidden to touch it, she had dared one day when he wasn’t looking -- a resin knob came off in her hand. Having never confessed, she still felt the guilt.

Her mum came out of the main bedroom, her face raw with emotion. Jessie was shocked – Sarah had always been stoic, her father’s daughter.

‘You’d better go in,’ said Sarah. ‘There’s not much time.’

Jessie stepped into the room, the bed was as she remembered, but the bedside tables had been replaced by beeping, whirring machines. The nurse sat on a low chair near the wall, not looking up from her knitting.

Settling upon the bed, Jessie took the dying man’s hand, cradling it in hers.

‘I’m sorry granddad,’ she whispered.

‘I broke your radio.’


This week's #fridayflash story is a slightly modified version of an entry into Every Day Fiction's String of 10 Two contest. (It didn't win, clearly!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

#fridayflash: Not a single ripple

(Image: Common-pics)

By Lily Mulholland

The surface tension of the dark pond pulled the small, upturned yellow leaf toward others similarly caught, hostages of Mother Nature. Hunched on a coal-black rock at the water’s edge, Alisha watched the leaf-boat collide with the rest, the cause of its doom a breeze so slight it created not a single ripple.

Worlds away, Alisha did not notice the wispy clouds coalesce into grey cotton balls until they passed between her and the sun and the afternoon grew cool. Before the wind’s breath corrugated the pool, Alisha glanced at her reflection. Not since she admired her youth in the iridescent dew drops decorating the forest on a cool spring morning long ago had she really looked at herself.

Gone were the dazzling coats, the lustrous fibres that adorned her silky limbs. In their place were tattered, dust-encrusted rags. Her face, once smooth and pearly, was dun-coloured and parched; the bloom of youth was short. Alisha was not worried for her children – she had made them a home, they had food to eat. She knew their lives would not be easy, but they would survive without her.

Stretching her wings, her antennae quivered in the strengthening late afternoon breeze and Alisha knew it was time to go, to find a place to rest, a place to die. She lingered a few moments longer, watching an eddy corral the leaves on the pond. They would circle the pool endlessly until, at last, they submerged and drowned. They had served their purpose.

Friday, March 12, 2010

#fridayflash: She might just disappear

Image by SatuSuro

By Lily Mulholland

She thinks if she stares long enough at the sea she might just disappear. Beautiful once, the tides of loss have hollowed her skin with the painstaking care of a taxidermist. Grief’s handmaiden, she’s been taken apart like an Escher drawing, pieces drifting just beyond reach. Though the tears have run dry, she can taste the salt on her lips; he is gone but love's pain lingers. She stares at the sea, hoping she might just disappear.


For Kate.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Published: Positive Words

I'm very happy to report that one of my early pieces of flash fiction, The Waiting Game, has been published in the February 2010 edition of Positive Words (ISSN 1447 3720), a little writing magazine out of regional Victoria. It's nice to see my name in print!

Friday, March 5, 2010

#fridayflash: Nellie's Web

(Image: Luc Viatour)

by Lily Mulholland

Nellie was becoming a little tired of Wilbur. Take, take, take. He never gave her anything except a growing list of words he wanted her to weave. Well she’d fix him. The country fair was coming up and Wilbur was pegged as the star attraction.

The day of the fair arrived and the Zuckermans transported Wilbur in his five-star trailer. Nellie still had to ride in the truck with the other animals. They were installed in a curtained exhibit and Nellie went to work.

Crowds arrived for the big unveiling.


The crowd gasped. Charlotte’s daughter smiled.


Published earlier this year at Flashshot. Also published at Short Humour.

Friday, February 26, 2010

#fridayflash: Act Normal

(Image: Ayena)

By Lily Mulholland

It was eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning and Andie was lined up at the dispensary counter of a pharmacy at her local shopping centre, waiting to be served. Doing her best to blend in with the other customers, mostly elderly folk who cashed their pension checks each fortnight to do the prescription shuffle, she pretended to examine the merchandise crowding the shelving under a sign that read ‘Foot Solutions’.

Who knew there were so many kinds of dressings available? Or foot problems, for that matter? Bunions, corns, planter’s warts, calluses, in-grown toenails, heel spurs, fungal infections, hammer toe, chilblains – the list was seemingly endless. In her imagination she had a brief but lucrative career as a podiatrist. Gross, but a money-spinner for sure. Maybe she should look into it. She had good scores in Year 12 biology and they had mature age entry schemes these days, especially for battlers. Or something like that. She vaguely remembered hearing it on the radio the other day, the education minister banging on about getting more people into university.

With the old dears jostling for the few available vinyl chairs, Andie maintained a respectful distance, observing queue etiquette with patience and a poker face. It would not do to be drawing attention to herself. Getting ready this morning, she had chosen her clothing with care: neat jeans, not too faded, not too tight, a clean grey t-shirt, and a red wool coat, a hand-me-down from her grandmother. Fortunately it was a timeless cut and Nan had taken good care of it. Andie had even lucked out on a decent pair of shoes from the Salvos Store (although she told her husband she had bought them from a department store and pocketed the difference).

Finally it was her turn. She moved up to the counter and asked for four boxes of Mersyndol caplets. Eyebrow shooting skyward, the sales assistant looked suspisciously at Andie.

‘Are they for yourself?’


‘Are you taking any other medication?’

‘No,’ replied Andie. It was the truth. Mersyndol was the only drug she needed.

‘Any other paracetamol or codeine?’

‘No, none,’ she lied.

‘Have you discussed taking this medication with your doctor?’

‘Yes.’ Andie’s rising irritation levels were manifested by the prickle of sweat on the skin above her top lip.

‘I’ll have to talk to the pharmacist.’ The woman disappeared up behind the three-quarter wall separating the chemist from the massing hordes. A full-blown hot flush was sweeping through Andie’s body; she could feel her face burning as the heat ascended and tried to escape out through her hair. The sweat was making her wish she had chosen a lighter jacket, but at least Nan’s coat would hide the dark patches infiltrating her t-shirt. Gripping the edge of the counter helped still the tremors in her hands.

The disapproving saleswoman returned with the blue and gold boxes. Andie’s heart leapt while her head pounded. A headache was crashing down on her and fast.

‘You are not to take more than two at a time. No more than eight capsules in a twenty-four hour period. Do not consume alcohol while taking this medication. Stop taking them as soon as they start working then switch to paracetamol. Do not drive after taking this medicine...’

Andie zoned out as the woman sounded like a robot, reciting by rote the instructions she knew so well. She could have listed the side effects, in order too, but that would have been a dead giveaway.

‘I understand.’ Andie’s hand stretched out to take the boxes, but the woman with her cat’s bum mouth and bad highlights had not quite finished.

‘You must advise your doctor you have taken this medication.’ She glared at Andie through slotted eyes.

‘Okay,’ nodded Andie. Anything to get the woman to release nirvana from her garishly painted claws.

‘Pay at the front.’ With that, the magic boxes were placed on the counter and Andie was dismissed. Scooping them up, she threaded her way to the front of the shop. A long queue of pensioners was waiting at the checkout; no doubt their fumbling for small change in the bottom of bags was causing the hold-up.

Hit by a wave of nausea, Andie closed her eyes and leaned against a crown end display at the end of the ‘Sensational Skin’ aisle. The tabs ran out the day before and the withdrawal was already hitting her hard.

‘Next please!’ Andie’s eyes snapped open. Lurching forward like a learner driver missing first gear, she fumbled the box onto the counter and handed a twenty-dollar note to the cashier. Andie took the proffered change and receipt and stuffed everything into her bag.

Escaping into the chill air was like diving into a deep, cold pool, invigorating and cleansing. Almost as good as the dreamy post-pill slide. But that would have to wait. She had her rounds to complete: the other three pharmacies and their scrutineers to withstand before she could abscond with her bounty.

If she timed it right, the first tabs would kick in before the children arrived home from school.

Friday, February 19, 2010

#fridayflash: Ravine

This is the sixth and final instalment in the Jo Carter series, Betrayal, which I've really enjoyed writing and I hope you enjoyed too! Click here for previous instalments.
(Image: Kate Webb)

By Lily Mulholland

Taking a deep breath, Jo pressed the intercom buzzer and waited, eyes centred on the one-way camera. A beeping noise signalled the frosted glass door had been unlocked, so she pushed it open and entered the safe house.

Waiting for her was the caretaker who kept the place humming and looking normal from the outside. Jo smiled at the plump, middle aged woman she had never met before.

‘You look just like your file photo, my dear,’ said Marjorie, giving Jo a hug. ‘You must be starving. You’ve been off the grid for four days. I don’t suppose you’ve had anything to eat?’

‘Not for a while, no. But what I really need is a shower and possibly a change of clothes,’ said Jo, looking down at the crushed white doctor’s coat and red flip flops. ‘How long have I got?’

‘Spartan will be here in twenty minutes. Why don’t you go and freshen up? I’ve laid out some clothes upstairs. Just head up there,’ she said pointing at a staircase leading up to the next floor, ‘and aim for the first room on the right. I’ll let you know when he arrives.’

The shower was heaven. Jo placed her palms against the tiled wall and let the hot jet cascade over her face and rain down her back. She closed her eyes and breathed.


Dressed in black pants and a black top, Jo was pulling on socks and a stylish yet sensible pair of boots when there was a gentle knock on the door.

‘Jo, he’s here. Please come down into the conference room when you’re ready,’

‘Be right there.’

Jo tossed her borrowed clothes in a laundry basket and checked her reflection in the dresser mirror before opening the door and heading downstairs. It felt like weeks since she’d last seen her handler, yet, according to Marjorie, it had only been four days.

With an encouraging nod, the older woman directed Jo to a large room down the end of a passageway that ran alongside the stairs. Knowing the clacking of her heels on the tiled floor would announce her arrival, Jo adjusted her posture, swung open the doors and entered the room.

Seated on the opposite side of a large wooden boardroom table was Spartan.

Jo smiled. He didn’t.

‘Jo, it’s good to see you back.’

Jo stood there, not knowing what to say. Suddenly feeling very young and inexperienced, she wondered what she had done wrong – his demeanour was anything but reassuring.

Spartan indicated the swivel chair in front of her and, as she sat down, he picked up the handset of a telephone on the table and spoke quietly into it.

Hearing the door open behind her Jo turned around.

Jeremy entered the room, followed by the man she had last seen sprawled unconscious on a concrete floor.

‘Hello Josephine.’

Fighting the urge to vomit, she slowly spun her chair back around as the two men took up positions at either end of the table. Betrayal, shrieked her brain as it tried to assimilate too much new information. She thought about the scalpel and syringe she had left upstairs. Too hard, too far. She was checkmated. Face set with stone, Jo locked eyes with the man she knew only by his code name.

‘You must be feeling a little bewildered, Jo.’ He was Spartan to her Athena. Someone at the agency had a sense of history, if not humour.

‘Not really, but you could say I’m feeling a little PISSED right now.’

‘What do you think is happening?’

‘Honestly? I have no fucking idea.’

At this unexpected answer Spartan’s face exploded. It was the first time she had ever seen him laugh.

‘Good girl. That’s why we selected you.’


‘Jeremy, why don’t you explain?’

Jeremy rocked his chair back and rested his left ankle on his right knee as he locked both hands behind his head, bent arms framing his well coiffed head. The prick looked very relaxed.

‘Josephine, George here recommended you for my unit. I wasn’t sure you had it in you so he suggested a little challenge.’



‘Yes, Stephen and I are recruiting for a special activities branch.’ Stephen, so that was the good doctor’s real name, after all.

‘You mean this whole thing was a set-up?’

‘We prefer to think of it as a recruitment test,’ said Jeremy, sarcasm curling his lips.

‘You bastard.’ She was trying to calculate possibilities and permutations in her mind, but the conversation was moving too fast for her to cross-check the facts as she understood them ... if she understood them at all.

She looked at George, wondering if she had been wrong to trust her mentor unquestioningly. ‘And you were in on this for how long?’

‘We’ve been planning it for a couple of months. Relax, Jo,’ he said, seeing the livid look on her face, ‘we’re the good guys. We planted that ID card in Stephen’s wallet deliberately. Think about it.’

While still not convinced, Jo was beginning to get a handle on the situation.

‘Gentlemen, we need to wrap this up. I have to be somewhere.’

Jo shot the third man a fierce look. He wasn’t smiling either.

‘How’s your arm, Stephen?’

‘Careful now, Josephine,’ warned Jeremy, ‘he’s your new boss.’


‘Yes. Congratulations, based on your test results, you’re our number one pick for the position. You're moving up in the world, my girl.’ He was still a smug bastard, good guy or not.

The three men stood and began making their way to the door. Jo remained seated, head reeling from information overload.

Stephen stopped next to her and flipped his Attorney-General’s Department business card onto the table, his sleeve riding up slightly, revealing a bandage.

‘See you in my office, 9am Monday. Don’t be late. We’ve got work to do.’

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FLASHSHOT story up: 'Nellie's Web'

I have a nanofiction up at FLASHSHOT today. Called Nellie's Web, it's my sequel to a well known children's favourite!

Friday, February 12, 2010

#fridayflash: Reprieve

(Image: Antonov14)

This week's #fridayflash is part five of the Jo Carter series. For previous instalments, click here.

By Lily Mulholland

Hunkered down in a booth, Jo scoped out the room from beneath her cap and sunglasses. She was ravenous and inhaled the carbohydrates and sugar without tasting them. It was the first food she had eaten in she didn’t know how long. She had been on the road for a couple of hours, taking the back roads to Canberra, staying away from the highway monitoring cameras that would be sure to pick up the purple van she’d escaped in.

With the fuel gauge nearly on empty, Jo had taken a risk and pulled into the roadside services just outside Yass. The hundred or so vehicles parked outside gave her pretty decent cover. She had found a pair of thongs and an obviously pre-worn pair of lacy ladies underpants in the back. Flipping them inside out, she had pulled the knickers on, conscious that the doctor’s coat only just reached the top of her thighs. Jumping out of the van, she had shut the door behind her, not sorry to leave behind its fluffy dice dangling from the rear view mirror.

Wolfing down a second burger and fries, Jo dismissed the family seated at the table nearest her. She didn’t want to leave them stranded. A trio of insouciant young guys slouched in the next booth along. Jo could hear them bragging about sex, quietly confident that at least two of them were probably still virgins. The third, a quiet one, she wasn’t so sure about. It’s always the quiet ones. They looked like P-platers and young blokes tended to drive shit boxes, so she wasn’t game to lift their keys. Then she spotted a couple canoodling in a booth along the opposite wall. They looked like they were eating each other instead of their decidedly unhappy meals. The guy’s keys were on the table next to his wallet and phone. Perfect.

Licking the salt off her fingers, Jo stood up, adjusted her makeshift dress and belt and headed toward the ladies toilets – a quick pitstop before she grabbed the keys and located her new car. Checking herself out in a speckled mirror, she understood why the girl behind the counter had given her an odd look. Jo looked like a homeless person who’d ransacked a charity bin for clothes. She went into one of the cubicles, put the cracked lid down and sat on the toilet.

Opening Dr Engadeen’s wallet, she pulled out the remaining bills and put them in her coat pocket. The credit cards went into her pocket too, as did his Medicare card. It was the identity card that made her stop cold.

Stephen Mackenzie
Attorney General’s Department

With his photo on it. Yet the credit cards had Engadeen on them. Were they a plant? Or was the ID card a fake? A sudden headache descended upon Jo like an avalanche. A metallic taste roared into her mouth and she felt faint. Was he a double agent? Who was he working for? Who was Jeremy working for? Jo’s train of thought was interrupted as a pair of girls giggled into the toilets. She waited for them to bang their doors shut before she tossed the doctor’s wallet and the van keys into the sanitary bin and hustled out of her cubicle and back out into the restaurant.

The canoodling couple was gone. Shit. Plan B.

Jo took a side exit, crossed the car park and headed into the service station. She grabbed a magazine from the rack and started flicking through it, surreptitiously watching the customers in the inside reflection of the window. She spotted a guy in a nice suit wandering through the toy section, talking animatedly on his mobile phone. His keyring was swinging from the little finger on his left hand, punctuating his sentences, with the BMW badge making an occasional exclamation.

As the man wandered toward a row of refrigerated drinks, Jo ditched the magazine and made her move, deliberately bumping him hard as she opened one of the doors. He dropped his phone, the newspaper that had been tucked up under his arm and, most important, his keys. Making a pretence of being shocked and sorry, she helped him pick up his paper and phone, pocketed the keys and walked out the door.

Aiming the remote at the nearest Beamer she pressed the switch. The black sports coupe rewarded her with a flash of orange; she opened the door, jumped in and started the engine. From behind her sunglasses, Jo could see the man run out of the shop just as she whipped out of the bay and hightailed it down the service road and onto the highway.


Jo had plenty of time to think in the forty minutes it took her to reach Canberra’s outskirts. She thought through every possible explanation for the doctor’s double identity – if he really was a doctor. Was he was an agent, like her, with Jeremy his target? Maybe he had been sent to free her and she had attacked him? Or, was he working with Jeremy and had infiltrated AG’s? It all came back to Jeremy. She needed to access more information before she could work it out and that meant getting back on the grid. Priority number one was to set up a contact with Spartan. Cursing herself for not grabbing the car donor’s phone too, Jo trawled the northern suburbs for a pay phone. She finally found one that was working and still accepted coins. She dialled the number for Control.

‘Control this is 3-2-1-5-niner. Patch me through to Spartan.’

‘Wait one...connecting you now.’


‘It’s Athena.’

‘Jolimont safe house. One hour.’ The line clicked dead.

Jo placed the handset back in the cradle and climbed into the car. It felt like a cocoon. With her forearms draped across the top of the steering wheel, she rested her head on her arms and closed her eyes for a few seconds. The tears came faster than she expected. She was almost home.

Friday, February 5, 2010

#fridayflash: Adrenalin

This week's #fridayflash is part four of the Jo Carter series. For previous instalments, click here.

by Lily Mulholland

Jo inhaled deeply as the doctor prepared to inject the barbiturate into her neck. She felt the sharp point of the needle prick at her skin and breathed out. Relax, don’t panic. Wait.

As the needle started its slide into her vein Jo took another deep breath, flicked her head to the right, at the same time lurching violently toward the doctor. Before he could react, she opened her jaw and clamped her teeth down on his wrist with the force of a bear trap.

The doctor screamed and tried to shake her off. Like a dog with a bone she held on tight and bit down harder. Dr Engadeen backpedalled, dragging Jo and her gurney with him. He crashed into the trolley holding his instruments and they showered around him down onto the concrete floor as he careened backwards, pulling Jo down with him.

Landing with a thud that knocked the wind out of her, Jo lay on the floor panting, still strapped to the sideways gurney. Dr Engadeen, she was pleased to see, was out cold.

‘Right, let’s get this show on the road people.’ Jo was talking to herself but she didn’t have the time to care. Jeremy would have seen everything on the camera feed and Jo knew she had only a couple of minutes before the cavalry arrived.

Jo kicked her legs as hard as she could. Nothing. She tried her hands and felt the bindings give a little. She heaved. A little more give. This is it Josephine. You either break it or Jeremy’s going to break you.

Drawing on her inner strength, Jo gave one more heave. She was rewarded with a great rending of metal as the buckled legs of the gurney broke. Jo unfastened the straps and released her wrists, chafed and bruised. She could taste salt on her tongue and knew the blood wasn’t hers. She looked down with distaste at the sprawled body of Dr Engadeen.

‘Mate, you’d better not have bloody Hep A.’

Jo looked around for something to cut the straps still holding her legs. One of the doctor’s scalpels glinted under the industrial lights. She grabbed it and sawed through the leather. Freed at last, she was able to sit up and take stock of the situation.

‘Well I need some clothes as a starting point. And a weapon. But first I’d better do something about that door or I’m toast.’

Jo pushed the trolley over to the door and flipped it on its side. She jammed it up underneath the handle and hoped to god it would make opening the door from the far side a tricky enough proposition that it would give her a few extra precious minutes to escape.

Jo moved as quickly as she could, stripping the coat off the body. She was shivering now – the adrenalin was dissipating. Next she whipped off the doctor’s tie and retrieved his wallet. Thrusting her arms through the lab coat sleeves, Jo looked around. She spotted a door in the far wall she hadn’t been able to see when she was horizontal. Please don’t be locked.

She wrapped the tie around her waist and cinched it tight. She popped the doctor’s wallet into the coat pocket and snatched up the scalpel and the loaded syringe. Heading towards the door Jo took one look back at the carnage and noticed the gurney legs lying on the floor. As she moved back to grab them she heard running footsteps coming. She could hear Jeremy’s voice, strident and authoritative.

‘Open the door and get the fucking bitch. NOW!’

Jo bolted for the second door and tried the handle. It popped open and she slipped through, closing the door behind her and thumbing the latch.

Groping around the doorframe she found the light switch. Christ! A fucking janitor’s closet. No wonder it wasn’t locked. Tears threatened to overwhelm her. Not yet! Hold it together for fuck’s sake. Cry when you get out of here. Now think!

Jo looked around. Chemicals in plastic containers filled the shelves that lined the walls. Mops, buckets, cleaning cloths and a bunch of other crap took up most of the floor space. The ‘Hazard 2’ placards on the boxes on the bottom shelf caught her attention. As did the bleach on the next shelf up.

Working quickly, Jo heaped a bunch of cleaning cloths on the floor and doused them with the bleach. She ripped open one of the boxes and pulled out a couple of bottles of ammonia. Removing the tops as carefully as she could, she placed the bottles against the door.

The commotion on the other side of the door was getting louder. They’d be on her in seconds. Jo clambered up the shelving and popped the air vent in the ceiling. She climbed in and began leopard crawling as quickly and silently as she could, with the scalpel and syringe clenched between her teeth. She came to a T junction and turned left. It was dark, but Jo could see a feeble light up ahead. Behind her she could hear the sound of wood shattering. The closet door.

Jo moved as fast as she could – she knew her gas bomb wouldn’t hold them for long. Finally she reached another intersection in the ducting where there was a large intake vent. With great difficulty she squeezed her body around in the small space so she could kick out the vent. She dropped down and was relieved to find herself in a vacant room.

She opened the door; no one was visible in the corridor and she could see a set of glass doors leading outside. She was about to dart towards the doors when she spotted a guard’s room – empty. She stuck her head through the door and spotted a set of car keys, a cap and a pair of sunnies on the table. Grabbing all three, she raced outside, pressing the button on the keychain remote. A purple van bleeped at her. Jo wrenched open the door, started up the engine, threw the gear shift into drive and gunned it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poem: Symphonic Symbiosis

This poem wrote itself though I cannot tell you how
It spurted, sprouted forth and planted roots in my ground
Fertile, luscious soil fertilised by my brain
Subconscious bubbled forth, blood and bone doused with rain

This poem wrote itself though I do not recall when
It drove shoots from my fingers and drew leaves with my pen
Symbiotic pulse realised through my hands
Delicious symphony that only we understand

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ka-POW! The Prisoner is up at Pow

There's a fab new flash fiction zine called Pow! Fast Flash Fiction and I'm honoured that they've accepted a slightly reworked (and better) version of 'The Prisoner'. Go and check it out and make sure you read the other fab flash while you're there, including from fellow #fridayflashers!

Friday, January 29, 2010

#fridayflash: Dickless

This week's #fridayflash is part three of the Jo Carter series. For previous instalments, click here.

by Lily Mulholland

Jeremy rose smoothly to his feet, face set with a stiletto smile.

‘Dickless bastard? Josephine, we both know better than that now, don’t we?’

He approached the gurney upon which Jo was shackled and ran his index finger up the inside of her naked thigh, pausing in the dark patch of hair that was the only privacy she had.

Jo realised she was supposed to be scared, scared of being raped, abused, tortured. But she wasn’t; she felt empowered, strong, angry. She stoked the fires of rage with memories of their time together. How he'd strung her along, taking her out to the coolest places in town and showing her off like a pet peacock. By now she’d figured he’d targeted her at university, no doubt to get to her father. Jeremy had been a guest lecturer in one of her international relations classes and had invited the whole class out for drinks that night. She’d gone along with a dozen or so of her classmates and had felt so mature and intelligent when he’d singled her out for attention. She’d been drunk on ego and felt the shame of it still.

Her cheeks must have coloured; she felt Jeremy’s fingers thrust forcefully between her legs, threatening the soft skin lying bare beneath the fuzz.

‘Just like old times, my dear,’ he said with a leering note, 'except I see you've had a haircut.'

Jo met his look with one of sheer hatred; recoiling, Jeremy pulled his hand away. He regained his composure almost immediately, but not before Jo notched up a win to herself. She had him. He still wanted her. He was a dickless bastard and now she knew it.

‘So. It’s time to do business. Tell me who your handler is.’

‘Or what?’ Jo was feeling feisty.

‘Or I’ll kill you. But you must appreciate that Josephine. You’re not as stupid as you look.’

Was he playing that old game? He must think she was still that silly young girl, easily impressed by an older man in a flashy car. He’d done the training; he must know that she’d be impervious to these basic tactics. But, there it was again. He wasn’t thinking straight – he wanted to fuck her. God, men can be so stupid sometimes!

‘Well you’d better get it over and done with, Dickless, ‘cause I’m not telling you anything.’

‘Fine. In that case, I have someone I want you to meet.’

The door opened and in walked a man in a white coat. A white coat? You’ve got to be shitting me. So fucking stereotypical.

‘Josephine, I’d like you to meet Dr Engadeen. Dr Engadeen, this is Josephine.’

Dr Engadeen didn’t bother to look at her. He merely laid his case on a steel table adjacent to the gurney, opened it and began removing a number of small items with the care of a surgeon.

‘You’ll forgive me if I don’t get up, doc.’ Jo couldn’t help herself. The sarcasm hung in the air.

‘I’ll leave you to it, doctor. I’ll come back in ten minutes – I trust that Josephine will be more cooperative by then.’

An affirmative nod passed between the two men. Not a talker then. And I’m being watched. There must be a camera in here somewhere. Jo made a quick scan of the room. She couldn’t find the camera – it had to be hidden in the ceiling or wall somewhere. There was nothing for it. She was going to have to fight her way out.

Dr Engadeen, or whatever his real name was, approached Jo with a large syringe filled with what she could only guess was sodium pentothal. Aim for the neck you bastard.

Microfiction up at FLASHSHOT

I'm thrilled that my little piece 'The Curse of the Common Name' is up as today's FLASHSHOT. If you miss it, it'll be up for ten days, after which I'll post it on this blog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Poem: Shouting to be heard

On a box
Stands a boy
Who’s not a boy
But a man

On a box
Stands a man
Who’s not a man
But a people

On a box
Stands a people
Whose time to
Cry has come

On a box
Stands Haiti
Shouting out
To the world

On a box
Stands everyman
Will we let
Him be heard?


Inspired by a contest prompt at AllPoetry.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Infamous at Short Humour

The funny folk at Short Humour accepted one of my flash pieces, 'Infamous', for their zine. They obviously have an excellent sense of taste as well as humour :)

('Infamous' is a slightly reworked version of my #fridayflash piece 'Infamy', which I posted on 8 January)

Friday, January 22, 2010

#fridayflash: Combustion

(Image: Góra Zoltán)

This week's Fridayflash is a continuation of the Jo Carter series. Well, it's number two, so I'm not sure if that qualifies as a serial, but it's planned to be an ongoing thing, therefore it probably does! If you missed the first instalment, you can read back (go on, it's less than 300w, you can do it).


By Lily Mulholland

Jo was awake before her eyes opened. She could hear a low hum but couldn’t identify its source. The dandelion hairs on her tummy were dancing to a gentle breeze; she was stark naked. Without moving, Jo understood she was strapped down to some kind of bench. Metal, she thought, judging from the way it cradled her body; cold, like a mortician’s slab.

Breathing evenly, Jo concentrated on her surrounds. She wasn’t ready to let her captor know she was conscious, so she let her hearing and sense of smell do the work. The hum might be some kind of refrigerator or heater; that meant the room had power. Her nostrils picked up faint traces of chemicals: ether, chloroform, ammonia. She was probably in some kind of industrial building. That meant she was probably still in the city limits. Escape was a possibility, if she could break her bonds and get out of the room without being seen. That was a big double ‘if’.

After five minutes of silent observation, Jo relaxed a little; she couldn’t feel anyone else in the room. If there was someone with her, he or she had probably figured she was coming around – they’d been very quiet. Jo opened her eyes. Above her were metal racks, with meat hooks spaced evenly down their neat rows. Large industrial lights flooded the room, which looked as though it was made from whitewashed concrete. Jo turned her head to the right to get a feel for the size and layout of the room. She gasped. Meeting her eyes with an impassive face was her target. And her target was Jeremy.

‘Josephine. How nice to see you again.’

Not willing to let him gain the upper hand for a second time that day – was it still Monday? She couldn’t tell how long she’d been out for but she wasn’t going to let him know that. Jo turned her line of sight back to the meat hooks. Time to toughen up girlie. Feeling her training take over, she was able to still the slight chill that had threatened to invade her body. Jo willed concrete into her veins, steel into her bones, fire into her belly. She was not going to let him win.

‘I’m going to break you.’

He’d broken her once before and he knew it. But that was back then, back when she’d been green as a nursery sapling. Back when she’d misjudged sex for love. Back when she was ripe to be plucked by an assassin. And that’s what he was. She hadn’t known until today who Jeremy really was: an enemy of the state, her target. She suppressed a small laugh; control obviously hadn’t done their homework. And all this time she thought they knew everything about her, right down to her brand of nail clippers.

She turned back to Jeremy and shot him a look of insubordinate contempt.

‘Not if I break you first, you dickless bastard.’

Friday, January 15, 2010

#fridayflash: Willpower

By Lily Mulholland

Sarah had saved the new skin for a special occasion, growing it with the obsessive care of an orchidist. Determined to keep it blemish free, she had kept her left arm encased in cotton for the past two weeks. She wanted nothing to spoil its pearlescent purity.

But today had arrived and after school Sarah locked her bedroom door. She prised up a loose floorboard, revealing a cavity housing a small black tin, from which extruded two long tails of scarlet ribbon. She grasped a tail in each hand and gently pulled up the tin from its repository. Sitting on her bed, Sarah placed a black towel across her lap and opened the tin, selecting the new scalpel she’d stolen last week from art class.

Today was the day she’d been dreading for weeks and she’d used up all her willpower just making it through the day. She’d been holding on tight, knowing release would come as soon as she could escape home. Laying her left arm upon her lap, Sarah drew the surgical steel across the milky white skin of her inner forearm, pinking pearls of blood in its wake. As the red lines began their scarlet dance, she breathed out the tension that had been consuming her for weeks.

Sarah had performed at the school concert, been showered with praise and told what a clever girl she was. ‘Such a beautiful, confident girl’, she’d heard the teachers say to her parents. ‘Oh yes, that’s our girl.’ She laughed bitterly. They knew nothing about her. And she liked it that way.


(Photo: Peg Essert)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Not really, but I am rejected. Well, three stories have been, at any rate. By Every Day Fiction. I had high hopes for one of them in particular, but none of the three passed muster.

On the positive side, the editors at EDF give great comments and feedback as to why the story/ies was/were rejected. And I am consoling myself with the fact that they can only accept 365 stories a year from the thousands they are offered. I suppose I am in good company.

Another positive is that I now have three stories in the can for #fridayflash!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Forthcoming in FLASHSHOT

I'm totally stoked with the news that one of my micro-fiction pieces will be published by FLASHSHOT on 28 Jan. If you don't already subscribe, you can do so for free via this website.

Friday, January 8, 2010

#fridayflash: Infamy

By Lily Mulholland

You had always wanted to be famous. At thirty-seven, with two kids and stretch marks, you thought you’d missed your chance. That was until a chance incident made you the most famous woman in the world in the short space of forty-eight hours.

What had started as a headline beloved by sub-editors of newspapers quickly became the story of the year, with interview requests rolling in from around the country. As exponents of new media awoke to their multiple news feeds, you started receiving calls from all over Europe, and, several hours later, the United States, Canada, and a ragtag bunch of South American countries. You even took a call from a news outlet in Karachi. You were big news on the sub-continent! Fortunately your melting mobile phone was saved by a call from Max Wiltshire, mega-PR to the stars. He offered to take you on for the special cut-rate fee of twenty per cent of your earnings. You were clearly out of your depth and Max offered to handle everything on your behalf. Although you later discovered his fee structure was reprehensible, you were nonetheless pleased to hand over your media responsibilities to someone of his vast experience, and girth.

You shudder at the mention of body shape. That’s what started this media hurricane. You were walking along the street on one of your rare days away from the kids, swinging your shopping bags containing loot from an even rarer retail therapy session when bammo! Looming before you was a man wider than he was tall, his belly bulging against the yellow cotton of his polo shirt, attempting a daring escape. This was a belly that moved to its own rhythm; a tummy that could influence tides. As he lumbered closer, you saw it. He had an outtie. You were swept away with the moment and before you could stop yourself your free hand reached out, forefinger extended and you poked that protruding belly button.

The man’s face registered shock and surprise for the nanosecond of time that hung suspended between you both before he exploded. Fleshy shrapnel coated you, your shopping bags, the pavement and buildings to the left of you. The duco of cars parked against the curb would never be the same again. And neither would you, forever more known as the Belly Button Bomber. You always wanted to be famous.