The Perfect Day

It had been the perfect day.

Her white dress was immaculately pressed and fit perfectly. Her hair and makeup were exactly as she had envisioned. The cars were on time and her bridal party followed their steps precisely as she had instructed.

The groom as well-dressed in the suit she had selected, and he repeated the vows she had chosen. She was proud to be his wife and as they travelled to the reception venue, she thought that everything would go just as smoothly as the ceremony.

Everything went according to plan, right up until the cake cutting. She had told him she would not abide him trying to shove cake into her face. He had told her he understood. He had promised he would not. But in that moment, egged on by relatives, he dabbed it on her nose.

It had been the perfect day until that moment. Ever the perfect bride, she had laughed and excused herself to clean up.

Later that night, in their honeymoon suite, she used strips torn from her once-pristine dress to wipe up the mess. Their honeymoon luggage was now packed full to bursting, its original contents placed in the rubbish bags the concierge had brought up. She hoped that the bags lining the inside of the luggage would not leak. Blood was so hard to clean.

She had been so close this time. She was certain that the next time it would be perfect.


This was not where Sara was supposed to go.

She had missed the turn, and her new GPS had told her to continue straight. Every time she glanced at it, there were no turns coming up.

She had entered the brightly-lit tunnel five minutes ago. There were no exits signposted, and no other cars in sight.

As she drove, the lights ahead turned on. Looking in her rear-view mirror, she saw that the lights in the distance seemed to be shutting off.

Sara looked again at the GPS. There was an alert, which she immediately swiped away.


There was a noise outside the car: a voice echoing.

“Accident ahead. Reduce speed immediately”

She began to slow, but a flicker caught her eye. The GPS was now a white screen with large black letters:


The voice came on again.

“Accident ahead. Please pull over.

Sara continued to slow down, notiving that the lights now turned on further in the distance, while the darkness behind her grew closer.

The GPS screened changed.


Sara gripped the steering wheel and sped up while peering ahead. If there was an accident, surely she would see emergency lights in the distance?

She looked down at the GPS


“Accident ahead. Pull over immediately. Turn off your engine”


Sara sped up to stay in the light. The darkness was gaining despite her returning to her original speed.


Sara focussed on the road for as long as she could, uncomfortable with her increasing speed, before glancing again at the GPS



Claire hated catching the lift alone: there was something off abput the mirror. Almost every time she entered, she found herself pausing, waiting for the figure inside the lift to exit, before realising it was her reflection in the mirror on the back wall. She supposed it was due to the light: it was just slightly too dim to make out any details. The mirror must have been tilted too, because the silhouette was slightly too tall and slightly too wide.

As she rode, Claire often found herself steadfastly staring at the door, aware that she had her back turned to an unfamiliar reflection.

It was always a relief when someone else was already in the lift. It gave her something to focus on other than her reflection.

That morning as Claire left for work, she was surprised to find that the inside of the lift was covered in tarp. Someone must be moving in, she reasoned. It would just be so terrible if that mirror got damaged. It was harder to reason why she could hear a gentle tapping behind the covering. It was seemingly in time with the lights flickering overhead. She exited at a sprint in almost complete darkness as the tapping grew more rapid.

Over the course of hours away from the event, Claire convinced herself that it must have been a loose clip from the tarp being knocked around as the lift moved.

There was someone in the lift when Claire returned home from work. As a matter of habit, she kept her eyes on the floor and shuffled in. She was surprised to find that the figure moved aside for her. Of course, she remembered, the tarp was still covering the mirror.

They stood in silence for a moment once the door closed, when Claire realised that she hadn’t pushed for her floor. She stepped around the figure and pushed for her floor. As she shuffled back into the corner, she realised that the person in the lift had not already selected a floor. They stood in silence as the lift slowly began to move.

Claire pushed herself into the corner and tried to listen for the tapping. She found herself hoping that the light would flicker and the noise would begin again, so she would have a witness.

The figure laughed quietly.

“It’s gone now”

The voice was raspy and quiet

“What is?” asked Claire

“The thing behind the tarp. You can see it yourself: it’s not there anymore”

Claire was immediately grateful that the mirror had been removed, but as she moved the tarp aside, she saw its reflection move as well. What she didn’t see was her hand moving it.

As Claire stood, staring at a mirror that no longer showed her reflection, she saw a shape behind her. A silhouette that was slightly too tall and slightly too wide.


It was a disgusting habit, but Renee just couldn’t help it as she clicked on the next video.

There was something inherently satisfying in watching popping videos. Seeing people evicting the parts of themselves that were not meant to be there. As a result, Renee often found herself looking resentfully at her own growth.

She was certain she’d seen every video available online in just the last few weeks, watching them under covers so that the roommate lying next to her wouldn’t see. Renee knew she would be upset and repulsed.

Still, she needed to see more. She watched more serious removals. People gouging out larger pieces and repairing the patches left with stitches or filling them with superglue. Salving pieces until the flesh burned and pucks fell out. Her roommate noticed how tired Renee looked, but when she claimed to be feeling fine, her smile was very convincing.

Eventually she found herself watching surgery videos. People had operated on themselves before, in desperate circumstances: caesareans and appendectomies in remote locations with no other options. She felt along the edge of her growth and made a decision. She began gathering the necessary materials in secret.

The hard part was making sure that her roommate wouldn’t disrupt her. A blow to the head sorted that easily.

With all the tools at her disposal, Renee looked at the flesh that connected her to her growth, which was now mumbling as blood pooled from her head.

It didn’t matter what the doctors had told them. She could do this, she repeated as she made the first cut.


It’s been weeks since I saw a human face.

I can still feel them, sometimes. When I walk through streets that should be busy, I feel figures knocking into my shoulders. I tripped over a warm space on the ground and landed on a towel and backpack that looked well-used.

I heard my roommate in the windowless bathroom yesterday, but when I broke through the locked door, no one was there. I tried to feel around for her, but then I heard the front door slam. Her towel was gone, and there were wet footprints on the carpet.

I’ve been using the self-checkout at the store, but I don’t have much money left. It’s not like there’s any point showing up for my retail job.

I tried to walk out of the empty store without paying once, but felt hands on my shoulders. I had to shake them off and hurried home.

I don’t know where everyone went. If I look out of my window for long enough, I swear I can still see shadows moving along the empty streets. Sections of darkness that cross the roads when the empty cars stop.

There was a pounding on the front door this morning. I answered it in blind hope, but there was no one there. Then I was grabbed and led roughly to an empty car outside.

I am in an empty room now. Meals appear through a door that opens by itself. The sheets change themselves whenever I go outside for a walk.

There is a TV high up on the wall. There is no one at the newscaster’s desk, but the scrolling headlines still appear. Something about a disease “manifesting as solipsism”.

It’s a shame there’s no one to explain to me what that means.

Two Sentence Stories (Part 16)

As the MRI machine started up, he hoped they would finally put their finger on the cause of his digestive issues, so that his spouse would stop bothering him to get tested. Hours later, the workers cleaning the viscera from the machine scraped together dozens of tiny ball-bearings.

She had bragged to everyone about her well-stocked bunker, so it was no surprise that when the sirens rang the entire neighbourhood piled in. After the sirens shut off, they realised one-by-one that their benefactor was not among them and that the door was locked from the outside.

He ran through his list once again: doors locked, windows shut, alarm on, family in bed. This house would be a challenge, but he’d crack it.


She had arrived earlier that day
Weary and lost, exhausted and nervous
They had kindly offered her a place to stay
Provided she came to their service

She agreed and happily met the preacher
Who showed an icon of their God
A statue of a dripping creature
She laughed at what she thought was fraud

The boat is gently pushed from the dock
She sits still in her seat, face grim
Terrified as the boat gently rocks
Her limbs tied so she cannot swim

The boat floats to the centre of the water
Following a deep and unseen tide
From the shore she hears chatter and laughter
And there is torchlight on all sides

She had sought safe harbour
but knows now she will never leave
And as boat rocks harder
she sees something stir beneath


Pete had never been a slim man, so when he gained a few kilos he hardly noticed. A few more and he started to blame Christmas and New Years celebrations. Weirdly the only physical change was a swollen stomach, but that was not large enough to justify the extra kilos on the scales.

A few more weeks and even his most polite friends started expressing their concerns. He just slapped his expanding gut and joked about needed to run off some baby weight at the gym.

In private, he chose to ignore the growth. He hardly looked in the mirror, walking directly from the shower to cupboard to find some previously baggy clothes to wear.

He had convinced himself that it could not be too bad, as he had felt no pains, although he could swear he felt it shift sometimes. He refused to see a doctor, telling loved ones not to worry, that he would go if it got more serious. In his mind, the uncertainty that only flared up when he thought about it was better than living with the constant reminder of a death sentence that a doctor might give him.

The pain started below dawn. It was quick.

Pete lay in his bed, on his side. His stomach had burst, but he was unable to moved. He lay in a pool of his own cooling blood, paralysed by the pain. He looked at the phone on the nightstand, and impossible arm’s reach away. He heard skittering beneath the bed and saw a glimpse of something that stared back at him, before hiding again.

It had his eyes.

Two Sentence Stories (Part 15)

It was absolutely mortifying, coming home from preschool with the wrong child. Still, looking at the label on their clothes, this one’s parents could afford the ransom just the same.

She wasn’t sure what kind of creature ate the scraps she left in the backyard, but she liked the gifts they left. Her favourites were the bones, spending hours comparing them against her mother’s human anatomy textbooks.

Hearing the echo in the cave had been fun at first, but now he was in loop: “Help!” “Help!” “Help!” “Help!”
He swore that as he stayed in the dark, his replies quieter and quieter, that the echo was now moving towards the exit.


Lucy had stopped leaving her flat weeks ago. The thought of what she might see terrified her, almost as much as who might be looking back at her.

It had started small, looking at her friends’ Instagram posts. Some had smoother skin, brighter eyes, whiter teeth. Old friends now wore unfamiliar faces, reshaped into symmetrical strangers. None of it was quite right. She had assumed they were trying new filters or programs to alter their looks, but they did not look quite right in person any more, either. Features highlighted in their photos were unnatural in real life.

As she sat in the restaurant with her friends, two began to debate on ways to improve their smiles. One, and she could not longer recognise who they were, wanted a wider smile. The other agreed and pulled a knife from their bag. A moment later, the other said she wanted higher cheekbones. The other gushed through bleeding lips that it would look great on her, and helped angle her head on the table, so that the force of her bodyweight being dropped on top would use the table as a chisel, pushing the broken bones into place.

Lucy was silent in horror at the sound and the lack of reaction. She stared at her food and tried not to look up at her smiling, weeping friends.

Lucy stood in the bathroom, days later, looking at the photo one of her friends had taken of the group at dinner. She was smiling, of course. It would have been rude to look sad in that sea of perfect faces. A friend she no longer recognised beamed widely with bright red lips. Beside her, another with high cheekbones smiled lightly, wearing too-dark rouge. She looked so out of place with her bumpy skin, yellowed teeth and uneven features. But between what she had gathered from her garage and under the sink, she had found everything she needed to fix it.