Molehole (published 2012)

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Short Stories

Forward to Molehole (published 2012)


London, August 2012, a blisteringly hot day without even the comfort of a breeze. While the city is glued to its television screens watching the bloated extravagance of the Olympic opening ceremony, across town in a small basement flat one man is having a closing down sale of the soul. The aged carpet is strewn with empty wine bottles and Post-It notes and the small prison style windows are crowded with flies revelling in the humid stink.

A sudden vibration sends them bloated and buzzing off the pane before landing again sweaty and exhausted. For a second time, another kick that seems to lack a certain conviction rends the front door from its hinges and an ambulance crew falls into the room involuntarily holding their noses.

He’s slumped in a chair at the centre of the room, one hand still clutching reading glasses which scrape on the floor in a pendulum motion, as the wind from the violent entrance whips round the stale room – to let out a soul or a fart no-one dared tell.

In her shift notes on finding him, the nurse remarked that…

“…silhouetted against the window like that, you know, with his hair all spiked up in a pointed crown he reminded me of a tragic Shakespearian king. King Lear, railing against his madness on the blasted heath, unheard, unloved.”

As if to sublime her thoughts, a sudden clap of thunder releases a huge cloudburst onto the city, and within seconds the flakey ceiling begins to drip.

Rainwater hits the saucepans strategically placed round the room with a sharp jungle beat rat-a-tat-tat, repetitive in its Chinese water torture inevitability. The radio on her shoulder sounds off with a crackle and for a moment it all mixes together to form some futuristic symphony,

For a reason she couldn’t fully explain she felt the need to pick up his arm and rest it on the arm of the chair in a last act of dignity. She looked into the corpse’s already greying face and was sure the dilated pupils registered life as they expanded in the periodic swoops of the ambulance’s blue strobe.

She leans in closer almost expecting to hear a last confession, and that’s when the stench hits her. Fighting her natural instincts she remains close, speaking through clenched fingers:

“I don’t like to think of him dying here, you know, all alone?” she scans the room before pulling a dirty curtain from its dusty rails and placing it solemnly over the dead man’s face.

A whiney voice over her shoulder breaks the moment’s compassion.

“Anything of value?”

She fights the urge to cuss, simply saying, “Maybe to his family!”

Her eye is caught by a stack of papers next to the chair, the top few pages spilled by the drag of the dead man’s arm like the trunk of a dying elephant.

She gathers up the papers into her florescent jacket:

“I found this manuscript, it’s handwritten…must’ve taken him years… any family to send it to?”


“Do you want it then or shall I toss it?

She flicks through the pages with a surgical gloved hand waiting on a response from Whiney Voice.

The voice isn’t long in coming, sounding like hissing steam from a hob kettle:

“What’s the dead guy’s name?”

The nurse searches the tattered manuscript stained with unspeakable horrors like a dentist looking for fillings, her eyes quickly register the rotten tooth:

“Michael G Zealey”

Whiney Voice splutters in disbelief, vocal chords contracting in shock until only a dog’s whistle like a Scanner’s nose-bleed is audible:

“My god, do you know what you have there?!”



‘Molehole’ – a collection of essays and fist-shaking at the universe is now available for download. Please contact for pdf version, or put a brick through your local good bookshop window and steal it.


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