Fiction: ‘The Shoemaker Who Made Toys’

Another amazing story by the incredible Ekaterina Tretiakova. Third and last part of my story El Duende will be out tomorrow.

Writing on Tangents

54 - The Shoemaker Who Made Toys Image Source:

Finn Dreyer was a shoemaker who didn’t really like shoes very much. No, he didn’t like them at all. Every day he would rise early in the morning, walk across town through the slushy snow to his master’s workshop, and spend hour after hour, day after day, year after year, making shoes.

First he would carve the soles from sections of willow. Then he’d trace his master’s patterns into strips of leather which he collected from the tanner, and stitch these pieces together over the wood.

The process wasn’t so dull when he first began at the age of fifteen.

But after years of following the same method, he began to feel that it wasn’t quite as interesting as he had thought when he first purchased his apprenticeship with the little coin he had.

Each day after the sun had set, Finn packed away his tools, cleaned…

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The Apple Grove

On this date one year ago I published my first post here on It was dark and violent. Here it is.

Fictionspawn Monsters

The Apple Grove

A boy and a girl are running through the forest. Down a slope, looking back as if someone is after them. She stumbles, he stops and runs back for her. He takes her hand, about to pull her up. Then they burst into laughter.

They had been on a boat trip and disembarked on an island. They had come across a large apple grove by a house in the woods. Bountiful apples, tempting as hell. They jumped over the fence and helped themselves greedily. Then they had heard: Who’s there? An angry voice. They had ran.

Ole got Tina on her feet. They ran down to the boat and cast off. He started the engine and they set off away from the island full speed. They looked at each other and burst out laughing again.

A sudden slam.

Tina was lying in the water. The boat was upside down…

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Fate by elbycloud

Featured Image -- 4291

Short Stories from Elby Cloud

Clang! The sound reverberated throughout the hall as Faith made her way down the ladder. Her metal foot was slippery on the iron rungs. She resisted the temptation to point her toe as she descended; she physically couldn’t and the effort caused her calf to cramp above the prosthetic. The sound was a reproach. Before, in the other life, she would have reveled in the acrobatic opportunities of the ladder, trying tricks like reaching her legs into the splits while she hung suspended from her trustworthy hands. She would have gloried in her strength and her fearlessness, entertaining herself on this long climb down. Now she had a syncopated reminder to stick to the route, no deviations.

At the bottom she spotted the plinth right away. She walked to it, carriage proud in spite of the limp. She placed her hands on the indentations on the side of the pedestal…

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Bloody Mary by Alyssa Palombo

Skewed Lit

Bloody Mary photoshop

It got quite boring after a while, hanging around all these mirrors, waiting for someone to call. This afterlife business wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, that was for sure. She sometimes wondered if death—the other side, Elysium, beyond the veil, heaven, hell, purgatory, the underworld, whatever—was like this for everyone. But that couldn’t be—after all, in all these years she’d spent running from mirror to mirror whenever she was summoned, she’d never run into anyone else.

The first time she heard her name, she’d thought it was him, the last voice she’d ever heard. She went running, hoping that it was, so that she could have her revenge. It wasn’t him, though—it was some total strangers, people she didn’t know and had never seen before.

So she waited.

In those early days after her death, whenever she heard her name, she thought that, if it wasn’t him…

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Quantities Of Alteration 

This week has become, almost by coincidence, my classic elements week. As many of you already know, I’m quite good at reblogging. This is a beautiful post from a fantastic blog I found yesterday, which even gives an extra dimension to my theme-week. Please stop by tomorrow for the grand finale.

koko boocro

​Quantities Of Alteration
With all that was to be

Every increment gained

Was aimed at the target

To be reached eventually

Each small step ahead

Had in it the momentum

Of what propels souls

To be consistently uplifted

The gaps would be bridged

With the hearts certainty

Of how things must become

By implementing knowledge

Unwavering and determined

Taking what life has to offer

Making the alterations needed

And enduring its pace and timing

While chance continues to change

There is no earthly undertaking

Which with focused effort

Stand to fall outside the range

When at full concentration

The elements and their potency

Are beyond all capacity to measure

The exact quantities of alteration
Ria 2017

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Beyond Faith and Reason

This is one of my own favorite stories here on Fictionspawn Monsters. It’s about quantum mechanics, metaphysics and death. Reblogged today not to be forgotten, hope you enjoy it.

Fictionspawn Monsters


Roger came into the laboratory. He had had quite a hard time getting out of bed today, they had been working long days for weeks.

He was quantum physicist. He studied the smallest parts of the universe. Particles. Quarks and all that stuff. Complicated shit. He had been interested in physics all his life and quantum mechanics intrigued him like nothing else.

Sometimes his scientific knowledge fell into conflict with his religious views. He then went to church. Meditated. Prayed. And he got back on the right track again. One day, he said to himself. One day the pieces will fit.

He was working in one of the biggest laboratories in Science Are Us Corporation. He was in charge of a smaller section, and his crew, three of the finest scientists in the world, were doing their jobs perfectly. They were secretly working on a project on the possibility of…

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No One Laughs at the Duckbill

No One Laughs at the Duckbill.jpg

Duckbill was a platypus. Everyone laughed at him. Always. Every day. Beaver made fun of his beak. The ducks giggled at his strange tail. He didn’t fit in at all.

The snakes didn’t laugh, though. The snakes looked at him, and they knew. This guy had potential.

One day he was out in the pond, and the other animals were running around doing their stuff. Beaver stopped by.

Hey, beakboy! He shouted, arrogant as always. How do you cut trees with that neb? He laughed. The crocodile and the koala laughed as well. Beaver kept chopping down the eucalyptus standing by the riverside.

Duckbill swam away from them with tears in his eyes. The platypusducks were swimming around.

Quack! Said one of them.

Quack quack quack! Said the other. Then they all laughed.

Duckbill went home, sad and lonely. He didn’t know what to do. He was the laughing stock of the pond.

Tomorrow he had to go out there again, and they all would tease him again. He hated going to work. He hated the ducks, and he hated Beaver. He hated himself. At least they hadn’t seen the little spur he had in his foot. Then they would bully him even more. Disgusting little needle. He didn’t even know what it was for.

A snake came by.

Ssssshhhssss…. It said. Why are you sssssssoooo sssssad?

Everyone laughs at me, he answered. Always. I suck.

Everyone laughed at me oncccce asssss well… Said the snake.

Why did they stop? Asked Duckbill.

You got it in you… I can ssssssee it…. I can tasssste it in the air…

She disappeared into the grass. Duckbill had no idea what she had been talking about. He had it in him? He shrugged it off and went to sleep.

The next day he went back to the little lake. The ducks came by. Beaver. The crocodile and the koala. They all came at once, they all came to pick on him.


Quack Quack!

Duckbill was crying now. It just made them laugh even harder. They were roaring, rolling around, slapping their hands in the ground. Duckbill couldn’t handle any more.

Enough! He turned to swim away. By accident his hind paddle foot slapped Beaver in the face.

The little spur went in through Beaver’s skin. Some kind of liquid came out of it. Poured into his blood. Duckbill was scared. Now they’ll beat me as well!

Beaver fell into the water. He shook for a while. Then the shaking stopped.

Beaver was floating face down in the lake. The ducks paddled hastily away from the scene, exchanging confused quacks.

The snake was floating around in the lake. I told you, platypussss…. She said. I told you you had it in you.

So this, dear reader, is the story of why no one laughs at the duckbill any more, and why there are no beavers in Australia.

Death to the Metal Monster


A Cure For Loneliness

Another great story by Orchid’s Lantern.

Orchid's Lantern


A gust of wind slaps my freshly shaved head as a metal door swings back to release me. Suddenly the world feels aggressive and alien. The lights are too bright yet the shade is too dark, the air is too harsh. It’s only because the wound is so fresh, I remind myself. I will adjust, I know.

A fool on the hill is muttering something about quantum theory only existing since we admitted to killing our own god. “You are living on waves of decay!” He rants, furious that no one is listening to him.

It has been years since these streets were packed full of commuters and consumers. A pang of nostalgia hits me whenever I think of the days when human contact was a near constant occurrence; such a juxtaposition to the desolate state of modernity.

With my fingertips I feel the row of stitches that…

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Do You Think I Look Fantastic?

A fresh and promising blog for us fans of the dark. Check it out. The illustrations are original, too.

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Edgar Arron Poe

The early hours of the morning aren’t a time that you want to be getting ready for a funeral. I had only just woken up, and my miserable husband was already rushing me on, so he could see his sister’s dead body. He didn’t even want to be at the event. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to spending time with the family members that you only ever see when somebody has passed away, but I needed to make sure that I looked my worst for all of the people that were attending the best day of his sister’s life.

“Stop taking so long to put on your face,” my husband screamed from the bottom of the stairs. “I know those new cosmetics that I bought you are fantastic, but I really want to get out the house.”

“I’ll be down in a minute,” I replied, knowing that…

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Fiction: ‘The Starlight Princess and the Lightning Prince’

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of flash fiction I’ve ever read.

Writing on Tangents

40 - The Starlight Princess and the Lightning Prince Image Source:

Once upon a time, a beautiful star fell in love with a flash of lightning.

She was twinkling merrily in the sky, watching over the world from her position in the constellations, when a brilliant flash lit up the darkness. He was brighter than any star she had ever seen. The electricity in the air rushed around her. It lit a spark within her heart and left her tingling with a strange new energy she had never felt before.

Her mother, the Moon, frowned when her daughter told her about this prince.

‘You are sweet and faithful. Each night you return to your place in the sky, watching over the world with love and patience. But he is not constant,’ she warned. ‘He comes and goes as he pleases. He’s unpredictable and impulsive. He’s not a reliable prince.’

But the princess didn’t listen.

Every night she watched…

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The Voyage of Tomas the Carpenter

Frederick Anderson

“Pleasant, is it not?”

Tomas frowned at the intrusion of the voice, because it had visited him from time to time over the last few hours, and he feared he was going mad.   There was no-one else aboard his self-built boat, no-one to talk to; but more importantly, no-one to help him.  He sighed, his elbows propped upon gunwales which bucked in leisurely fashion to the rhythm of the waves, staring out at a featureless, seemingly endless sea.   Yes, the view was beguiling in its way, he supposed:  wavelets capped by the pink reflection of a rising sun, a placid seascape in all of its might and glory.   Only one prospect might have excited him more.   Where was land?

“I don’t understand it.”  Tomas murmured, keeping quiet as if he was afraid the author of his inner voice might hear.   “I couldn’t be more than an hour from shore.”


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Tony’s Lucky Day

Orchid's Lantern

Tony could forget his troubles and elusive credentials for the day, for he had won big on a discarded scratch card. Celebration was giving his grey roots a fresh coat of green, having a posh shave, and buying a tailored pinstripe suit he had been admiring for weeks through a store window. Reaching into the pocket of his new trousers, he pulled out a strawberry lollipop: this truly was his lucky day! He walked out with the confidence of a winner.

The street looked different that day. It was more colourful, and Tony felt different in himself, like he could smile back at strangers instead of dipping his head in shame.

A beggar was laughing in an alleyway. It was a cruel laugh, but Tony felt a pang of pity anyway, believing the poor woman to be delirious with hunger and exclusion. He pulled out a £10 note and handed…

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The 1Mortimers

Would you erase your memory?



Mr Semile walked across the busy street with an errant confidence which portrayed a man who had accomplished all that he had wished to accomplish. His briskly measured strides and a prim, upturned nose gave him the appearance of a hawk only to be accentuated by his crisp black suit. He ignored the oncoming traffic with the nonchalance of a Traffic Inspector and waved away the exasperated honks of the interrupted. He took out the grey, metallic card from his breast-pocket and glanced at it. This was indeed the appropriate street and the appropriate time. Whatever doubt he may have had in his mind was dispersed by the glass plate over one of the lobby doors, on which were written the cryptic words – “Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit”. Mr Semile promptly proceeded to push the red button on the door and waited as he had been instructed.

“Welcome to 1Mortimers…

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The Clockwork Demon by Lee Russell

The Machinery - A literary collection.

Illustration by Stephen Pikarsky Illustration by Stephen Pikarsky

Garrick Mayflower was the only man sliding down the alley that summer’s evening; his shadow the only moving thing. He had a bit of Western blood in him, so his skin was a juicy orange-brown the colour of tanned hide that never failed to prompt a raised eye from his full-Orient neighbours. The sun stared, half-dead, with a bloodshot eye that flooded the cream beige walls of the city with vermillion highlights spilling into the slanting brick roads between them.

Approaching the buildings to his left, he appeared within the shadows beneath the eaves; eyes glowing almost as much as his silhouette had been, half-shut. He stopped, and sniffed.

Makal’s Trinkets: Bags, bugs or bargains? Whatever you are looking for, you shall find in here! Note: No haggling with the shopkeeper.

The words were traced with unnecessary serifs; drafted in gaudy pink on a miniature blackboard…

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