Friday, February 24, 2017


She watched it fall in waves gracefully down to the floor. She’d always been told that it was her best feature, thick and luxurious with a single streak of white. It was natural, she insisted. A reminder of her busy life with four children. That streak was a trophy, the spoils of battle on a field of teenaged angst where more than once she’d had to pick her hill to die on.

That battlefield had changed over the years. Now she was waging a war upon her own body as the chemo worked its gruesome magic. Her life was a whirlwind of doctor’s check-ups, follow-ups and throwing up. Now those very same teenagers were riding into battle alongside her, lances raised and armor ready to fight off the latest onslaught of her disease.

Breast cancer. A large tumor that had grown in the single year since her last exam. She’d lived the past months in suspended animation, going through the motions as they rallied around her. She worked at an elementary school, the kids all making get-well cards, wishing her well as the first treatments began.

She watched the white streak finally float by, the remnants of her once prized mane waiting to be swept away. She was Joan of Arc at last, sword held high, her army raised behind her. She would not die on this hill, not today.

Artwork: Joan of Arc by Ngan Nguyen

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Audition

This is the story of man who can’t begin to think or question why the unfathomability of all that is good or bad is even comparable to the unending nothing or why the chances are slim or why one would even try and change or what needs changing and how it can even be possible to see the entirety; the plusses and negatives, pros and cons, arguments and counter arguments, or is it even in those terms and if so how and what can be done; about right and left, religion, greed, altruism, nature or what is our nature and why can’t there be more than one, how many times have people been over the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the circular - back to the began; is there more than one person (me?) who thinks this and if so would it be rude and why would it be, why can’t one talk to those dead souls on the train and if one can what would they say (speak souls speak!) would they make their excuses and leave, is there any excuse good enough or what is important to him or her and her and him, if it’s important at all then why no talking, in the deep moments, full of solemnness, why is that so much different to the club and dub and beats and lust and sweat and booze and drugs and smoke, is that what people want, would you choose to (if you had the choice) and if so does that mean we are all the same as the one who thinks it’s good to gratify and solidify urges and splurges of cash… what is this thing that makes me stand in the rain, that makes me wipe water from my eyes, that makes me scorn at loved ones, why did I love her, did she make me happy, what happy, I was miserable surely, but where am I going and if it’s where, I think, is it worth the trouble to go to uni, to learn the ways, the papers, the mortgage, the nice areas, the movies, the coffee, the art installations, the 5 yearly vote for him or him or the other one, do they have human conversations, punctuating with the telly remote hand, speaking of the values and dignity and freedom but does it translate to the world and if it does why can’t I see it when others can? Why are they all the way over there, and I here; encased away, folding inwards from all the life that permeates the edges of my feeling and vision and…

On second thoughts, this man may not be very good company. 

Move along now. 

Artwork: The Audition, by Maureen Monteath

by Stephen Durkan

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Anti-Ode to Social Media

The zeitgeist you’ve created
Is a pox of epic reach,
A free-for-all of vitriol
Via one-way posts and tweets.

Trolls and bullies lurk
Behind your anonymic walls,
Without a shred of decency
(Or any guts at all).

You abet the human tendency
To cluster into groups
Whose members feed each other
And regurgitate their tropes.

Opinions trump established facts;
Lies outshout the truth;
News that’s false gets more applause
Than news that’s backed by proof.

We can castigate each other
With a mouse-click-turned-down thumb,
And a friend is just a notch
On someone’s cyber radar gun.

by J. Craig Hill

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Women In Horror Month

Do you like horror fiction? Is that your writing genre?

February 2017 marks the 8th edition of Women in Horror Month (WiHM), an international initiative showcasing the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. 

At you can find information about fun events in your area.
These range from art projects to meet-ups, film screenings and performances taking place in various countries all over the globe including Australia, Japan, Germany, England, Scotland and the United States.

Of course there are also literary projects dedicated to Women in Horror Month, such as the 5th annual WiHM issue of The Sirens Call.

Check out last year's issue including a story by one of our Cafe Aphra baristas, B.E. Seidl.
And - worth knowing - if you want to promote your own horror writing project which will take place in February, simply use the hashtag #WiHM8 on Twitter or Facebook and take advantage of a readership of approximately 35,000 readers worldwide!

Feel free to post your comments below - we look forward to learning about your experience of writing and reading horror fiction.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Poker with the Lads

See the fight last week? Oh yeah
Brutal, kid's got a chance - I like
The Mexican fella that should be
Some scrap who's ordering the
Pizza? That new girl in work? Fucking hell Barry'll be on it like gravy o’er a tattie! A flush beats a straight you
Daft twat - hand us a beer Stan!
Good man.

I don't know why
We are here or what we
Are supposed to be doing
But we are here and doing it
For some shared reason though
We don't know one another or
Really wish to and there's no
Money on the table.

Why do they play 
Poker for matches
In prison
On TV?

by Alex McMillan

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sunday Breakfast

The waitress, a smallish girl with heavy makeup, came with the menu to take my order. She dropped it and made to turn away. If she was familiar with me, she would know I place my orders immediately. I’m a regular here. 

“Please, wait. I am placing my order straight away.”

She had the figure of a runway model. I didn’t recognise her. I opened the menu and ordered Purr Double Breakfast.

“But, please, make it omelettes instead of eggs.”

“This is a standard menu, sir. It has to be eggs.”

I peered at the nametag on her blue polo shirt. 

“Kathie, please check with your chef. I’ve had it that way before here.”

“OK, sir. I will check and be back.”

She strode off. Cyndi Lauper crooned Time After Time from the speakers hidden in the ceiling. I shut my eyes to savour the richness of her voice. The waitress came back.

“I apologize. You can have it your way, sir.”

“It’s OK. With coffee and water. All to be served at the same time.” 

That instruction was important. I didn't like drinking coffee without eating something first. It churned my stomach.

“With brown or white sugar?” she asked.


“Cold or warm milk?”


She jotted on her order slip. 

“White or brown bread?”


“Butter or jam?”


She confirmed my order by running through her jottings and ending with “All to be served at once.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Did you enjoy your meal, sir?”

“Yes,” I said, belching.

I flipped out a credit card. She asked shyly if I was tipping. I asked her to include a tip the exact value of my meal. She flinched. 

“Go ahead. I enjoyed your service.” 

“Thank you, sir.” 

“Pay by contactless ok?” I asked, casually.

She nodded. I waved the card over the POS terminal. A blip, and the transaction went through. I slipped the card in my pocket and strode to the door. Joy by Teddy Pendergrass blared from the ceiling. Kathie stood at the exit to see me out. She smiled and genuflected, “Thank you for coming.” 

I could afford to be that generous; it wasn’t my credit card. That would serve that wanka on the bus right.

by Ozimede Sunny Ekhalume