This month saw the release of Grimdark Magazine #1. Here’s my awesome review! SHADOW HUNTER Adrian Tchaikovsky’s opening story takes deep into the Insect Kinden world of Shadows off the Apt. Gaved, a freelance, fire conjuring Wasp teams up with two bandits to seek out the Moth, a scholar of dark arts in a time of logic and machinery. All thw grimdark stable are there. A damaged hero in a violent world. Magic, double crosses and a giant… OK OK no spoilers! It’s a taut, impeccably balanced tale that sets the tone for the rest of the magazine. THE NEUTRAL Grimdark of a more contemporary bent. Mike Gelpin’s The Neutral is part action thriller part existential crisis. After losing his wife and daughter our protagonist joins the Brotherhood. A group …

Read more →

  Written by Naomi Fogarty The panicked cry of a mobile phone alerting its owner it was reaching the last of its life echoed through the cold clinical hallways of the discarded building. A vibrant electric blue emanating from a solitary fish tank was the only light in the darkness. There was a time when it would greet people as they walked into the entrance. Lewis was drawn closer to the beauty of the blue illumination that the sleek modern piece of jellyfish art displayed. He bent down to rescue his phone off the floor and was struck momentarily by a sudden onset of dizziness. As he waited for it to pass he noticed a crumpled up ball of paper that had been carelessly tossed away. Leaning against the glass …

Read more →

  The Window I walked on the street and my heavy boots, a few sizes larger, flapped on the gravel. I borrowed them from a friend. I had to borrow the worn out jeans, the old jacket, the woolen sweater with leather elbow patches, and even the winter socks. When I was crossing the border of the country I couldn’t carry much. I took a bite from my sandwich toasted with a piece of bacon and cheese. I chew slowly. I had to make the most of it. This would be my only food until lunch. I chose narrow, back streets, away from crowded places, with less traffic lights and crossings. I counted the blocks as I walked on my way to the garage. From there, in the back of …

Read more →

The fish swims around and around in its bowl, never changing pace, never changing direction. Around and around. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was on a track or was some sort of wind-up toy. The small weeds in the bowl tremble rhythmically in the water, the constant movement of the fish making them seem alive too. At the very bottom of the tank, nestled amongst the tiny grey pebbles is a single plastic castle. It has turrets and hard flags permanently frozen mid-flutter. The goldfish has seen it every day for its entire life in that bowl and never approached it. It just swims above it in that single, tired circle. Outside I hear the rattle and thump of my bus hitting the pothole outside my house. …

Read more →

  By Manasvi Firing had stopped and thick smoke covered the sky. The sound of the planes, trucks and footfall of men in the desert around the well had died. Inside the well there were four soldiers. Two of them were dead and and the other two pointed weapons at each other. Since Karim had stumbled into the well and the standoff had begun, its insides had turned from that evening’s murky golden to pitch black. A few feet below Karim, on the opposite side of the well, Erich was perched on the edge of a stone stair, ready to jump if Karim started firing. Below them, the water was dark, and two dead men floated in it. “Hey asshole”, Erich cried. “Ever heard of a Mexican standoff?” He shifted …

Read more →

  Theo sat on the edge of the bed; shoulders slouched and head bowed. He rubbed tired eyes before replacing his glasses. His wife walked over and laid comforting fingers on his shoulder. “It’ll be okay.” “I’m not ready for this.” She opened her mouth but at that moment Elsie ran into the room squealing “Daddy! Daddy!” He looked up, eyes pained. “What is it Elsie?” “Is it time to go yet?” Her face was covered with a huge grin and her eyes were alight as she bounced up and down with excitement. His mouth twitched into a smile. “I don’t know. Have you packed your bag?” “Yes.” “Did you remember your hat?” “Yes.” “Sunscreen?” “Yes.” “Lunchbox?” “Yes, yes, yes!” “I guess so then.” Theo looked to his wife. “Unless …

Read more →

  Waking takes a little longer this morning. Your eyes open slowly to the ribbon of light sneaking into your bed through that gap in the curtains. It’s early, but you smile. You roll around for a moment in the warmth of the bed. They’re beside you, breathing heavily. You think of last night and the day before. Then you think of the night before that and the years of companionship and love which brought you to this place. You try to forget the moments of anguish and anger. You want to wake them, but you don’t. The chill only teases you for a minute before you step into the warm shower. The heat sails around you in the steam and you can only just see the bottle of bubble …

Read more →

2 beep..5 bip.. 5 bip.. 2 beep.. 4 barp..#blip. The bolt clunked open and was held there by whatever device it is that makes that buzzing sound. The subject, head down, hands in pockets, pushed the door open with his hip and walked into the foyer. He didn’t notice the lady watering the aspidistras, but she saw him. Later to be known as witness D, she was often fussing around in the foyer, and she didn’t miss a trick. “They always wore those hooded jackets and they always had these wispy beards.” She could single out this one though. “He always opened the door with his hip and he never ever looked at me. All the others looked and smiled. And yes he was definitely wearing a blue hoodie, black …

Read more →

  “They’re getting closer.” Tabitha was standing on the end table to peer through the vertical blinds, a slice of late sunlight across her eyes, tension in her posture. Her cousin Jim lay in the bed, eyes closed, his injured arm pulled close, wrapped in some old shirts Tabitha had found in the last house. The pain made him sweat, even though it was cool inside. “That’s great news,” he mumbled. “Maybe they can bring us something to eat.” Tabitha looked down at him, eyebrow raised. “Something to eat?” “Yeah.” Jim coughed a little. “Does it look like they’ve got a cooler? Something wrapped in foil?” He sniffled. “Kebabs? Cupcakes?” He shifted. “Waffles and syrup?” Tabitha sighed and hopped down from the table. She pinched the bridge of her nose …

Read more →

I didn’t know why I was there. I guess that day, I was feeling moody. I walked in a daze and ended up going to the aquarium. And then I saw you. You stood in front of the gigantic display, admiring the jellyfish. Your fingers glided over the railing. You seemed like you were in your own world. Why did it have to be you? Even now, I still don’t know. Perhaps it was the summer cologne you were wearing, it reminded me of fresh linen. Or perhaps, it was your fluttering skirt that gave you an air of elegance. ‘Miss,’ I called you. If you hadn’t looked at me, I would have walked away. I would have walked back home, feeling down and dejected. And I would’ve forgotten all …

Read more →

“Bring in the accused.” I was pushed forward and stumbled into the room. Two strong hands grabbed me before I would have actually fallen, and escorted me to the stand. “Accused, state your full name.” “W-Wilson, Barry Wilson,” I stuttered. “Barry Wilson, you are brought to this courtroom today to be judged for your crimes. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?” I couldn’t answer him right away as I was still trying to understand what was happening to me. Minutes before, I had been brutally awakened by the same two security guards that had tossed me into this courtroom. I had no recollection of how I had gotten into my prison, and the guards had refused answering my questions. “Your Honor, what is the crime laid against me?” …

Read more →

“Okay.” I say looking down. “You will come? You will help me?” I kiss her bumpy forehead. “I will do whatever it takes.” I answer. The pregnant clouds above can’t hold onto their weight any longer. They release heavy pieces of snow that begin to cover the corpse we leave behind. The earth will soon be white and new. Described by one of our judges as “A solid story with a savage little twist I stumbled into like a solid right jab,” these are the final moments of our winning entry. In Crimson Hope author Jewel Shkandriy has delivered on the promise of a story where bad things are done for good reasons.  Congratulations Jewel. It’s great to see a regular contributors undertaking something new. Crimson Hope and two others will …

Read more →

We just dropped the Grimdark short list in coordination with GdM’s first issue, but what else is going on at NITH? Well just like the title says, there are two new awards up on the site. Firstly, the THREE DRAFTS YOU’RE IN Award asks you to show your work buy writing three drafts of the ‘same’ story. We’ve also just put the NORMAL SUCCESS! Award, which has much simpler criteria. Just don’t forget that white picket fence! No less important, Needle In The Hay makes it’s first foray into the ‘real world’ at the Wollongong Writer’s festival this Saturday. I’ll be sitting on a panel about Art in Isolation from 10-11am. It’s early, but if you’re in the neighbourhood please come by and check it out. Full details at the …

Read more →

Congrats to all our short listed authors for the LORD GRIMDARK Award. We received over 25 entries most of which were a very high standard. Impressive given the genre requirements usually mean we get fewer entries. It’s great to see a mix of old hats trying their hand at the genre and new blood no doubt drawn by the visceral nature of grimdark fiction. We chose a short list that hopefully runs the wide gamut of potential for grimdark. There is villany, fantasy, criminals, theives and the underworld. There  is Anger and Hope, and a little bit of wry humour in there as well. As always we look forward to your comments so check out the full short list here. Finally a big thank you to Adrian Collins and the …

Read more →

  “Damn bureaucrats!” he said slamming down the phone. “They can’t run a project to save themselves but they want to tell me how to run mine! Why can’t they just leave me alone to do what I need to do?” “What’s wrong Mr Bob?” asked Stephanie, his Chinese secretary. “Bloody Ministry of Forestry in Beijing again. Can’t stop sticking their fingers into everything. Worse than the bloody Asian Development Bank and the World Bank put together!” He rubbed his chest. Damned indigestion. He popped a pill from his top drawer. He’d barely got back from a big lunch with the local ministry officials when the phone had rung from their bosses in Beijing. He’d thought he’d fobbed them off but obviously not. He’d have to get them drunker next …

Read more →

The rope chafed the skin of Farrow’s neck. The fraying strands twisted around each other, weak worms making up the strong boa that would crush his windpipe and snap his neck when the trapdoor beneath his feet was released. More rope bound his hands together behind his back and his legs just above the ankles. The five garda hadn’t deemed it fit to give him the blessing of a blindfold. Their captain stood a few metres away, down on the ground, his back straight and his chin high. His eyes glimmered as he caught Farrow’s gaze and returned it with a rise at the corner of his mouth. Farrow lowered his face, blinking rapidly as he pretended to examine the splintered wood beneath his feet. His bowed legs were shaking …

Read more →

The sun rose, filling the horizon, spreading a scarlet glow over the world. The aftermath of the battle – the earthly remains of two armies – lay silhouetted, stark black against the bloody background. The dust-laden wind moaned as it laid its soft blanket over the newly dead. The muted calling of birds drew his attention to the lack of other, more human sounds. The bitter iron smell of blood mingled with the fetid odours of death and decay. Alaris stared, remembering the bright, joyous army that had marched out of the city gates less than a week earlier. He slipped off Blaze, leaving him snatching mouthfuls of sparse grass in amongst the rocky outcrops, a little way back from the devastation. Blaze was content to rest from the hard …

Read more →

‘I never liked crowds.’ – that was what he told me when I asked why the mansion was so quiet. ‘I value peacefulness more than anything, Father.’ I nodded and continued eating the soup. But that wasn’t the case. No one wants to have anything to do with the family, let alone work for them. Those who stay are faithful servants that have been working for generations. Everyone else in Paris avoids them like the plague. They believe that any contact with an executioner would bring a dark shadow into their lives. ‘Even for someone like you who has angels on his shoulders, try not to involve yourself with them,’ – a well-meaning friend had told me. ‘You shouldn’t be judged by your profession,’ I said. The young man dabbed …

Read more →

  Azime grunted in pain. Getting stabbed hurt. A lot. The blade had been left behind, and its cold steel grated against her flesh. Warm blood trickled down her leg. “Bastard,” she muttered. She was wearing her favourite pants. Azime was Angry, but she didn’t use it. Anger could be… unpredictable. She rolled onto her back to get a better look at her attacker. The beefy man loomed over her, reaching forwards with monstrous hands. At least she’d disarmed him. Sort of. She drew her knee to her chest and kicked out hard with the leg that hadn’t been knifed. Her heavy boot connected to her pursuer’s face with a meaty crunch. She knew she wore those ugly things for a reason. He stumbled and slipped, roof tiles cracking under …

Read more →