Tag Archives: free fiction

Lenin’s Nurse – New Stories 3

The third recent story was a little darker than the others. It appeared in the online magazine ‘Electric Spec’ towards the end of last year. The title was ‘Lenin’s Nurse: Notes for a Dissertation’.

electric-specThis features the mysterious Elizabeth, from my novel ‘Among the Living’, but takes place a few years after that story ended. It was great fun to write. Not just because of the pleasure of renewing acquaintance with an old character, but also because the story features extracts from a range of historical documents. All made up, of course!

Here is a taster, of the opening paragraphs. You can read the whole story (and plenty of others, all for free) at Electric Spec online.  You can also read a blog post, about the writing of the story, here.

Lenin’s Nurse: Notes for a Dissertation

Chris Barnham


       ‘. . .it was said and printed that the Red Guards. . .had killed some of the ministers in cold blood. . .An astounding jumble of rumours, distortions, and plain lies. All these stories were swallowed whole, even preposterous tales of sacrifice and fanatical Bolsheviks who bathed in or drank human blood, such as the notorious revolutionary fighter referred to as Veta B. . .’
–John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World, New York, 1919 (uncorrected draft)

“Priceless stuff. Now I see why you stuck at it after Moscow.”

Daniel drapes his flamingo body across the train seat while he reads my notes. He looks like he could be in his usual perch in the senior common room. We are fifteen minutes out of Croydon and already rattling through open countryside beneath steep hillsides furred with trees.

“Everyone said you were losing it. But I told them, don’t underestimate Will’s creativity.”

We shoulder our packs and step out of the train at Penshurst station, descending a ramp onto a quiet country lane. Daniel says, “Your little detour isn’t going to take too long is it, Will? You promised me lunch in the Spotted Dog.”

“The path goes right by the cottage. It won’t delay us much. Even if there’s anyone there.”

“Pity if they’re not. I’ve been looking forward to hearing you explain your, ah, quest.”

It takes us half an hour to walk to the village. Daniel keeps up a constant stream of chatter. Next week he’s playing golf with the chairman of the research grants committee, has he told me about his invitation to that reception at the House of Lords, pity I didn’t get invited, but never mind, it will come.

“Shame your Zoe couldn’t come today,” he says. “Always lovely to see her.”

Lovely, I think.

A hot wind blows into our faces. Whenever we step out of the shade, I feel my skin evaporating in fierce sunlight. I drank a whole bottle of water on the train but my mouth already feels as if it is lined with dry denim.

We don’t pass anyone, which is good. I thought it best to keep away from the roads. We approach Penshurst across fields baked yellow by the August heat and finally through a churchyard. Most of the gravestones around the church are old and faded. Daniel can’t resist reading aloud from the stones. He stops at one and squats.

“Christ! Look at this: the children of Frederick and Martha Cowell. Three of them, all died between May 1876 and February 1877, aged eight years, ten years and six months. Nothing like a bit of history to make you glad you live in the present.”

He walks on and I read the lines of verse at the foot of the Cowell children’s stone:
‘Blessed are the dead, no weal or woe
Can touch them when from us they go
And we that are left long more and more
To join the loved ones gone before’

We emerge into a narrow lane. On the far side there is a wooden gate in a high hedge. Beyond, a gravel path leads between rose bushes to the front of a two-storey house. All of the windows are blind with internal shutters, throwing back the sunlight as if from a mirror.

This is it: the childhood home of Charles Oates….

(Read the rest at Electric Spec.Com)



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PUSHING – new story

Another of my short stories has just been published, this time in Anotherealm – the online magazine of speculative fiction. The magazine is well worth exploring. After you have read my story – Pushing – of course.

Here is a link to the story and mag.

And here, to whet your appetite, is a taster of the story itself. Described by the magazine as a bit ‘edgier’ than most stories they publish:

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Special Promotion – Among The Living free for three days

angel among the living editedMy novel, Among the Living, shot up more than 100,000 places in the charts last week.

But there’s still a way to go, so for three days from  the early hours of  Monday 1st April it will be available as a free ebook from Amazon. That’s right, completely free.

If you haven’t read it yet, give it a try. I suspect you’ll enjoy it. And if you do, please put up a review.

And please feel free to pass on news of the promotion. Can’t go far wrong with a free book, now can you?

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still have the book. Check out the Apps on the Among the Living page on Amazon, which make the book available on PC or iPad/tablet computer.

(Despite the date, it is not an April Fool’s jape. More a chance to celebrate the cruel joke that is British Summer Time.)

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Urban Occult Limited Pre-Order


The fine author and editor Colin Barnes has been good enough to pay me actual (if modest) money for a story in his latest anthology, ‘Urban Occult’. The story is a tastily nasty little piece called ‘The Other Woman’.

I am of course delighted to have the chance to cling to the coat-tails of the fourteen other (better, sexier, scarier) stories in the book. So it’s the least I can do to bring to bear the mighty marketing power of my nine and a half readers to help the book find its place in the world.

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Spiderman’s Sister

Here’s a story. It’s a bit sad. It’s called…


From the street, a sudden silence. I am at the back of the house, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, preparing an early dinner. I look up and stare at the door.

I hear nothing.

But there is always some noise in our road: cars passing, people talking as they walk past. The rumble of those council trucks taking a short cut to the depot.

Not now. For a few seconds there is silence. The kind of silence that makes you strain to hear the sounds it has replaced, a silence with things buried in it. 

Then someone is shouting from the street.

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