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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

Michael put the knife and fork down on his plate and looked over the table. Sally was already on her phone, texting.

“Is she coming?” he asked.

“Yep,” she replied. “Going to be late, though.”

“Well, so long as you know where you’re going to meet her.”

He stood up, took the plates and placed them in the dishwasher.

“Udo not around?” she asked, looking up from the phone.

“Don’t know where he’s got to recently,” Michael shook his head. “Not really speaking to him much.”

“Oh dear.”

“Yep,” he nodded. “Thinking I may need to find another flatmate. He owes me three months of his half of the rent already.” Read more

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the short story “Xenon”. To avoid spoilers, please read the original story first.

Of course the name came first. I’ve been doing them in alphabetical order all year, so naturally the name came first.

Instead of the idea coming to me through inspiration, it came to me through ignorance. I’m not really that good at cubic metres compared to litres, although I should be – one of the earliest lessons I remember from school was to show how a litre fitted into a ten centimetre cube. Because that’s how arithmetic works, obviously. But when I looked at Alibaba to see how much xenon is worth (spoiler: not that much), I came up with the idea of a scam – one of the characters knowing about as much about xenon and how cubic metres worked as I’d done before I looked it up, getting duped, and then being made an unwitting stooge for counterfeit money. Read more


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/06/16
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“You put our money into what?”

“Xenon,” John replied, grinning, wiping his hand on his paint stained overalls.

“What, exactly is xenon? Don’t they make photocopiers?”

“It’s a gas,” John said. “Not a photocopier maker.”

Shannon sighed, turned round and took off her coat. It was enough to deal with having to try to make ends meet with John working only now and then as it was, but this was absurd.

“How much?” she asked, hanging her coat on the back of the door.

“Not too much,” he said. “Just a bit.” Read more

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for “The Woman In The Water“. Please read the original story first to avoid spoilers.

This story was the first idea that I had and tried to write for this year of short stories. For some reason, it wouldn’t come then, and it wouldn’t come a few weeks ago either when I tried it again.

My initial plan this time was for there to be an actual ghost, and for the whole thing to leave Eric alone and bemused on the pedalo. About halfway through, when I was writing very slowly and getting distracted every few minutes, I realised this wouldn’t really work. So I decided to change things around and came up with the ending we have here. Once I thought of it, I couldn’t wait to get there. Read more

“It’s hot today,” Megan said.

“Hmm,” Eric managed to say, the melting ice cream occupying most of his attention. “It’s quite nice, really.”

“You only like hot weather,” she replied. “I’m sure you were a lizard in a former life.”

He took his attention away from the ice cream and flicked his tongue at Megan, who giggled.

“Besides,” she said. “You’ve got a sun hat.”

“You could have had one too,” he countered. “They weren’t expensive.”

“They were too small, though,” she replied, stretching an arm over the back of the bench. “It would have blown away by now.”

Eric crunched down the last pyramid point of the ice-cream cone and nodded.

“How about a boat ride?” he asked, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his hands. Read more

This is the “Behind The Scenes” for Veronica. Please read the original story if you want to avoid spoilers.

Veronica came to me while walking the dogs, basically while looking for a story to write for the week. The idea came to me more or less fully formed, and all I had to do is to follow the characters through, so the writing was fairly easy.

One of the things I wanted to try and do was to maintain the surprise until the end, and try to make it so that nobody knew where exactly the story was going until it got there. Read more


Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/06/02
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Mitch first saw her at the hotel bar. She was a little shorter than him, maybe early twenties, short bobbed dyed blond hair, miniskirt, black high heels and legs that brought out the animal in him.

Hello, he thought, the wife’s away, and when the cat’s away, the mice will play, right?

He summoned the waiter over, pointed to the girl at the bar, and then made a drinking motion. The waiter nodded, and went up to the her. He talked to the woman, who ordered something – he didn’t see what – and they whispered conspiratorially. She clearly asked where it came from; the waiter pointed in Mitch’s direction. He raised his whisky glass and smiled and she grinned back and waved.

Half-way there already Mitch, he thought. This delicious little piece is going to be so nice. Read more

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the latest story, “Underground Supporters“. If you haven’t read the original story yet, I advise you to do so as this post is more spoiler-laden than usual…

First off, an apology for this instalment of “Behind The Scenes” being a day later than usual. That’s simply because the release of the podcast yesterday meant I either tagged it onto this post, or delayed it for a day. Since I never really even committed to writing one of these every week (even though that’s what I am doing), I decided that it would be a good idea to delay this a day, so my apologies if you’ve been waiting for this post since then.

“Underground Supporters” was an attempt to write a story set in a not-too-distant, and plausibly wretched, future. Having watched both “Where The Wild Things Are”, as well the qualifying for the Monaco GP, in the days before writing this one the name Max was stuck in my head so I used it for the protagonist. The name Max is pretty well associated with dystopian futures, of course, not only Mad Max, of course, Max Headroom, and (my favourite) Max Damage from the brilliantly bonkers Carmageddon series (although avoid TDR 2000 if you enjoy staying awake). Read more

Walking Home

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/05/30
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So here’s some big news!

I know that when I said I was going to write a story for every week of the year, it was going to be fifty-two. Well, it looks like it’s going to be fifty-three…

The Story Guide Podcast if you’re not familiar with it, is based around writing autobiographical (or at least semi-autobiographical) stories around key incidents in life and explaining how they related to you. I went into the process feeling a bit skeptical, but ended up not only enjoying it, but also feeling that I’d written something that was actually slightly better than I’d hoped.

The podcast is presented by Alysia Seymour, and you can listen to the episode online, or subscribe on the podcast page.

The story Walking Home will appear as a bonus item in one of the collections of stories from this site, which will be published later this year.

The post “Walking Home” first appeared on simoncollis.com and is Copyright © Simon Collis 2018. All rights reserved.

Max’s watch pinged, and the screen of his phone lit up. He groggily reached over and held up the phone to look at the screen.

MAIL: 1m ago

Government Social Media Team

Dear Max,

It is our sad duty to report that this month your grade has dropped one level to grade D. This is because…

“Oh man,” Max blearily brushed the hair out of his eyes, and opened the phone to read the email.

“Tweets contrary to government policy…” he muttered to himself. “Criticism of a foreign government… Sheesh. They’ll be busting me next.” Read more