Tag Archives: Short story


Yes. He sat back and looked around at the house. Neat and tidy. Clean. Swept top to bottom and left to right. Nothing… he jumped, and peered at a lamp. No, not done.

He sprang from the chair and flew to the table on which there stood a small desk lamp. Clicking the power off, he reached in and unscrewed the bulb. Few years ago, he thought, I’d have burnt my fingers.

He held the bulb up to the window and turned it over. What was he lookiing for? Hard to tell these days, but he knew he woud know it when he saw it. He swiped at the bulb with a duster, then ran a finger round the socket. It came back dusty but otherwise there was nothing to see.

Can’t be too careful, he thought, screwing the bulb back in. Never know who’s listening and to what. Don’t give them a chance to hear, Still, a clean sweep for devices meant no-one was trying to listen to him. But… Wait.

“He find the device?” asked the man in the truck parked just around the corner.

“Nothing,” his female partner looked pleased with herself.

“Dammit, he’s got to find SOMETHING, he’s expecting us to be watching everyone. He’s a mole, he’s going to be EXTRA paranoid,” He thought about it. “With reason. No dummy?”

“There’s a dummy! He just hasn’t found it. I think,” she added quietly. “He’s not as good at cleaning up after himself as he thinks.”

No presents?

No presents. Something needed to be done, so here I am in the back yard of a house far from home, dressed in black and carrying a crowbar. I wait. I’ve been here three nights in a row and I know to wait. The lights on the tree switch off and still I wait. Give them half an hour, 45 minutes to be sure.

In at the window, splintering the wood to wrench up the sash. In. No light but a streetlight a few yards down, doesn’t matter. Everywhere is the same in suburbia. I roll the balls of my feet across the parquet floor, balloon my legs silently across to the tree. There, gifts. Too many for this small family, they sha’n’t miss a few. I pull off and pocket the tags. Someone shifts upstairs. A child sighs in their sleep. I think of Jo, sprawled on the rug, hollow-cheeked and sad-eyed. No presents. Could I disappoint her?

The presents are wonderful. Jo will be happy, maybe she will smile for the first time in months… but something nags at me. A sigh. A tag sat in my pocket. Something needs to be done, or I will never feel well.

So here I am again, in another yard. Waiting for the lights to go off, waiting to go in and take not so many gifts. No need to replace like for like. Then tomorrow; another house, a few less, to make up for this. And then tomorrow.


John shivered in the damp. It was July, but had been raining so long that the heat of any Summer sun was long forgotten. Every tree in the grey mist of the morning looked like the looming head of some giant figure, hauling itself across the landscape on its belly. The birdsong cut sideways through the glum, a cheery reminder of a season that should be happening. Was maybe happening elsewhere.
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