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Showcase: Hole! + Within + The Past Where We Once Thrived And The Future We’ll Never Have + Dad’s Home

Hello everyone and welcome to my final week of Showcase for the month of September. It’s been a real treat to have the opportunity to host this page. I’ve been exposed to all kinds of stories – creative fiction and otherwise – and have had the chance to feature a plethora of writers whose works deserve to be shared with the world.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my Showcases as much as I have enjoyed pulling the pages together. I started connected with Write On! through my own Flash fiction and have shared some of this with you through the month as well.

To kick off this last week, I’ve saved the best for last. This story is a memorably surreal tale about a man who’s trapped in a hole, who can’t get out. As much a metaphor as it is a richly woven piece of fiction, I’ll try to keep spoilers light as we enjoy HOLE! by Gertcha Cowson…


I’m at the bottom of a hole, looking up at the sky!
I’m not sure how I ended up here.
I was simply digging away at the ground around me for no reason whatsoever, and now here I am: at the bottom of a hole while looking up at the sky!
I mean, no one asked me to dig a hole. No one said, “What you really need now is to dig yourself a hole.” Yet here I am, with a spade in my hand, wondering, ‘How did I get here at the bottom of this hole, looking up at the sky?’

Actually, when I say ‘no one asked me to dig a hole’, that’s not exactly true. There were these random voices telling me to get digging, because where I was standing left me exposed; even though I was in a space where no one could jump out or sneak up on me.
I was simply in the middle of a field, enjoying the vista, feeling safe and happy.
Yet here I am now, standing at the bottom of a hole while leaning on a spade, looking up at the sky!

Was there:
A pack of rabid hounds approaching me?
A mob of cross-wired cyborgs with murderous intent espying me?
Cannibal alien amphibians wanting to abduct me for experimental probing, maybe?

Despite racking my brain, I can’t remember anything of the sort occurring to make me think, ‘I really need to be in this hole.’ Suddenly, a voice breaks my ruminations, as I look up to see a stranger with a 3-in-1 set of ladders, looking down on me with a look of disquiet.

“I say, do you need any help at all?” they ask.
‘Do I need help?’ I think. ‘What do you reckon, Einstein?’ I bite my teeth frustratingly as I look up at them and say, “No, I’m fine, thank you,” in an apologetic tone, while forcing a fake smile in the hope they will bugger off and leave me alone.

“Are you sure?” the voice replies.
‘For goodness’ sake,’ I think. ‘Of course I’m not OK! Can’t you see I bloody well need help? I’m stuck at the bottom of a hole I dug and I can’t get out ! Bloody help me, will ya!’ I say.
When I say ‘I say’ what I mean is, that’s what I say in my head. What I actually say out loud to the voice with the set of ladders, is, “No, seriously, I’m fine, thank you.”
“Oh! Well, OK then,” the voice says, while picking up their ladders and moving on.

I stay quiet and still for a while, listening as the voice with the 3-in-1 ladders walks away. When I’m sure they’re some distance away, I let out a deep sigh and say to myself, “Well, they weren’t much bleedin’ help, were they! Could at least have left the flippin’ ladders behind.”
For about an hour, I resign myself to being at the bottom of this hole while looking up at the sky, when a child’s voice breaks my engrossed preoccupation.

“Excuse me ,” the kid’s voice says. “But why are you at the bottom of a hole you dug while looking up at the sky?”
I think, ‘How bloody rude,’ as I look up and reply, “Isn’t it obvious, Youth?”
“Not really, Sir,” comes the reply.
This is frustrating for me, as I’d really hoped his youthful honesty would tell me. After all, I’m darned if I know!
Thinking I’m being clever, I ask the youth, “What does it look like I’m doing?”
“Well, I don’t know, Mister. That’s why I asked you!”

Fighting the urge to rebuke the young scallywag for not having a PhD in neuropsychology, I delve deep into my imagination for a suitable reply, but the best one I can think of is, “This is an adult thing and I’m waiting for a fellow adult to come and help.”
“OK, I’ll stay here and keep you company until they turn up, then.”

‘Bugger!’ I exclaim loudly inside my head. “Won’t your mum be wondering where you are?” I ask, in the hope it will make the youth feel apprehensive, but they quickly reply, “It’s OK, Mister, she’s too busy with Baby to notice I’ve gone.”
My heart sinks. How can I tell this youth to go away now?

“You, er, don’t like your little sibling, Youth?” I ask him sympathetically.
“Oh, I love them, one hundred per cent. It’s just I don’t get to spend any time with my mum any more.”
I make myself comfortable in my pit and listen to the youth’s woes for a good ten minutes or so, then, when they have pretty much got all their issues off their chest, I smile and ask,
“Have you thought of trying to help your mum with the baby?”

The youth thinks about that for a few seconds and replies, “But what can I do? I’m just a kid.”
“First of all,” I counter in a mollifying tone, “listening to what you just said, it’s obvious you understand your mum doesn’t love you any less. She’s just struggling at the moment to find that special time for you.” The youth nods at this, understanding what I’m telling them.
I continue, “You can do little things for your mum, like fetching fresh nappies, or maybe keeping Baby entertained while your mum is changing a nappy or cooking dinner, etc. And when you see your mum flagging with tiredness while feeding or trying to soothe Baby, maybe just snuggle up to your mum and comfort her.”

The youth takes this in and smiles as they say, “I s’pose so,” while wiping their sleeve across their snotty nose.
Out of the blue, another voice calls out, “Youth!”
The youth turns and yells back, “It’s OK, Mum.”

“You had me sick with worry, disappearing like that!” the mum snuffles out, while taking the youth in her arms and giving them a big hug.
The mum then turns to me and apologises for the youth disturbing me, to which the youth tells her it’s no problem at all and they were just keeping me good company. The mum then looks at me quizzically, making me nervous she’s about to accuse me of something.

“Are you OK down there?” she asks with a look of concern, but before I can reply, the youth pipes up, “It’s OK, Mummy, he’s waiting for someone. I was just keeping him company until they turn up.” The youth smiles; knowing full well I’m waiting for no one really. It’s a good reminder to never underestimate the intelligence of youth.

“We’d best get back to your father before he calls in the police, the fire brigade, the army and coast guard for good measure,” the mum says to the youth, and also half to me. “I hope your friend turns up soon,” she adds, while slowly dragging the youth back home.
I can hear the youth telling their mum how they will start helping out with Baby, so she won’t be so exhausted and guilty about struggling to find time for them. Again, I remind myself to never underestimate a youth’s intelligence.

After a while, all is quiet again, as I stand there wondering why I’m in a hole looking up at the sky.

Well, when I say ‘all is quiet’!
The voices in my head are a mass of confusing noises, so I avoid looking there for any answers.
The clouds overhead seem to have a hundred faces looking down at me; all with a judging percipience in their glowering looks. I have to look away; the weight of everyone’s critiques is back-breaking, which is weird, as I can’t remember anyone voicing any personal critiques.

For a while, I sieve through all negatives and try to weigh them against any positives I can muster, all to no avail, so I just give in to the negative dissonance firing my synapses.
It doesn’t take long before another voice pops up: a nasally, patronising type that in any other place I would simply walk away from, but as I’m stuck in a hole while looking up at the sky, I have to bite my teeth and endure it.

“What are you doing in a hole? That’s not a good place, is it? Ooh no no, young sir, you want to be out of the hole.”
After taking a deep, calming breath, I go to reply, but: “Why didn’t you dig foot holes into the sides while you were digging yourself down?”

The voice jumps in before I can even begin to talk. And it goes on and on, with mindless, non-helpful questions and remarks:
“Have you thought about the backfill making a mess?”
“I hope you got planning permission before you started digging!”
“You shouldn’t have used a digging spade, you should have used a ditch spade.”
“Are you going to shore up the walls of your hole?”
“You should have worn steel-caps and dungarees while digging.”
“Have you checked what angle you dug your hole at?”
“I would have brought a set of ladders with me, personally.”
“Did you use Pi to the seventh digit when marking out this hole?”
“You should have planned this first, young man.”
“You’re digging it round when it ought to be square!”

Barrage after barrage of useless suggestions keep on projecting from this person. Not once can I interject between the rapid-fire propositions.
“Anyway, I can’t stand here helping you all day,” the know-it-all voice carries on. “They need me at the local parish meeting.” They stop to take in a breath. I’m sure that’s the first time they breathed in since they started.

“Can’t think why they didn’t remind me they had changed the time of the meeting. Still, it’s a good job I ran into Nervous Norman and wrung the time out of him, eh!”
With that, Know-It-All Voice walks off and leaves behind them a buzzing silence.

Within that sudden silent quietude is a chaotic caterwauling inside my head, as all of Know-It-All’s opining is stuck on a rapid spin cycle. They did nothing for me and now all I can do is constantly think on their every word, instead of the stuff I really need to think on.

I should be thinking about:
Using my spade to dig in steps to help climb out!
How to constructively ask the next voice to help me!
How to shelter myself from the sun or rain!
What do I learn from this to help make sure I don’t return to this situation?
Who do I need to remember to turn to when I have these peculiar and abnormal episodes?
And so on.

But all I can think is:
The mess made by the back fill!
Planning permission!
Did I use the right spade?
How can I order planks to shore the hole without a phone and being stuck in a hole?
Where can I get a pair of steel-caps and dungarees from?
What angle is the wall of the hole anyway?
Should I in future always have a set of ladders with me?
What the bloody hell is Pi to the seventh digit?
Why didn’t I plan before randomly digging this hole because of anxiety and fear of non-existent perils?
Maybe I should have dug this hole square!

The annoying thing is that I totally appreciate they meant to be helpful, but in their eagerness to help, they have made me worse.

I’m not sure if I spend hours or minutes wholly engaged in all of Know-It-All’s noise before my own thoughts start to slip through the cracks.

I take deep, slow breath after deep, slow breath as I try to re-engage with my coordinated and systematic part of my mind. Trying to think and plan my way out of this hole with logic and reason, rather than desperate trial and error. The problem with being in my coordinated and systematic mind is that a lot of self-truths start to hit home. This in turn stops me from concentrating on being coordinated and systematic and starts a cycle of self-loathing and denial.

“How the hell am I ever going to break out of this bloody hole?” I say, through biting teeth.
Blood seems to wash through my eyes, my ears and my cheeks.

“HOW! The bloody hell am I really going to get myself out of this stinking hole?” I exclaim louder, somehow thinking that will pluck an answer out of thin air. But no answer exposes itself to me; making me even more frustrated and angry.

All I can think to do is try and shout out my query at the top of my voice:
Silence follows the echo.


“Bleedin’ hell, Introvert-I, you trapped yourself in a hole again?” A voice interrupts my raging inquiry.
I look up to see Extrovert-I looking down at me with a wry smile on his face.

Shame, embarrassment, annoyance, inadequacy, helplessness, misery!
All these emotions and a few more merge into a single unit that forms a painful knot in the pit of my stomach.

Of all the people to see me like this, Extrovert-I is the last person I wanted.
I can hear the insults now that will pop up forever and a day!
Extrovert-I never leaves me alone; appearing just when I find my safe places where people cannot find me with their peopling. Whenever I finally feel safe and comfortable, along comes Extrovert-I to drag and nag me out into society.
And it’s not like I go around unnoticed with Extrovert-I. No matter how bland and drab I adorn myself, there is Extrovert-I in his loud, almost psychedelic attire, letting the whole world and sundry know where we are; meaning I am forced to do peopling.

It suddenly and finally dawns on me why I started digging this hole in the first place. It was so he couldn’t find me and drag me out into the midst of everyone.
Of course, digging this hole didn’t work! For starters, no matter how much I try to hide and avoid people, they somehow always find me: Ladder Voice, Youth Voice and Know-It-All Voice being prime examples.
But mainly any attempt to hide from Extrovert-I is always going to be impossible, as we seem to be tied together eternally by an invisible tether.

“Come on, Inty me darlin’, we need to go and do a reading at the poetry festival,” Extrovert-I says to me, while using his ridiculous pet name for me.
“Why do you need me for that, anyway?” I retaliate. “You’re the one with all the bounce and fervour when performing.” I take a gulp of nervous breath before I carry on: “Me, I just stand there in your shadow, out of view of the audience.”
I look Extrovert-I straight in the eye, hoping he will just agree and leave me to my hole.
“Are you kidding me?” is Extrovert-I’s response. “Can you imagine the chaos I’d cause on stage without you to anchor my boots, whispering in my ear to calm down before I do something I regret?” he continues.
I let Extrovert-I’s words sink in, while admonishing myself for letting Extrovert-I’s words sink in.

“There is no me without you and no you without me, Inty, and I know you know that,” Extrovert-I pushes on.
And yes, I know it full well. I surrender to the inevitable. Of course I will go with him – though how, I’m not sure. After all, I’m stuck in a hole, looking up at the sky.

But then Extrovert-I throws down a knotted rope for me to climb, while he anchors the other end.
Once I’m out, Extrovert-I and I walk off together, making our way to the poetry festival.

From their kitchen window, Youth Voice looks out to where the man in the hole is; feeling good about themselves after helping Mummy with dinner. They want to go and visit the man to thank him, but when they look, they see a similar-looking man helping him out of the hole.

Putting paid to any plans they had, they simply watch the man and the similar-looking man walk away, feeling happy for the man because his friend really did turn up.
As they watch, a peculiar thing starts to happen.
While Introvert-I and Extrovert-I walk together, they slowly but surely blur from two separate beings into one whole being, becoming Ambivert-I.

(c) Gertcha Cowson, 2023

Connect: X (formerly Twitter) @Gertcha_Cowson


For contrast with such a long piece, we’ll delve back into short-form poetry for our next submission. Elaine Hickman-Luter brings us this heart-warming poem, Within, writing about the joys of life and friendship in prose that’s simple, yet beautifully quaint.


Hold a rosebud in your hand
and put it in your pocket
that’s a friend who understands
cherished in a locket.

From the seeds from which it grew
it’s a friend, who’s sun shines through
whether skies be gloomy, clear
roses bloom when a friend is near,
even far, in life’s-bouquet
a friend is never far away

(c) Elaine Hickman-Luter, 2023


Next, the penultimate piece from Liz Keohane’s Stages Of Love series. This entry delves into the aftermath of a long-ago relationship and, while written from the heart of the author, I have no doubt many of you will find your own stories nestled within her words.

The Past Where We Once Thrived And The Future We’ll Never Have

a simple buzzing phone,
relief the notification
wasn’t from a recent ex,
and a lecturing professor
that I barely listened to afterwards

a simple curious question,
eagerness for a new connection,
and a night spent getting no sleep
to learn and memorize your soul

a simple flirty remark,
an overwhelming feeling of butterflies,
and a date set for the following week
to potentially
intertwine more than just our souls

a simple phrase of three words,
the tense buildup of silence that followed,
and a night filled with love and passion as
we collided our bodies and lips, while
swapping and embedding slivers of our
souls into one another

a simple lack of effort,
confusion and aggravation,
and numerous phone calls filled with worry,
arguments, and devastation

a simple desire for more,
laziness and amusement,
and a very long letter written to rehearse calling
things off

a simple empty tissue box,
a heart fractured into
many pieces,
and many nights spent
on a tear stained pillow

a simple event of silence,
a feeling of anticipation for
contact and an apology,
and days turning into weeks,
turning into months,
turning into years

a simple tube of mascara,
serenity and peace,
and a mind that has not thought of you
in a very long time

a simple conversation with a mutual friend,
surprising bitterness at your name,
and hours spent fantasizing what could have been

a simple wedding announcement,
a pang of pain that was unwelcomed,
and infinite time spent wondering
what made her different from

a simple supermarket trip,
alarm at brushed fingers,
and two shocked faces as we make eye contact
after all these years

we checked each other’s hands
for rings, our eyes
wandering over to the
baskets the other held

you had baby food,
i had diapers,

and i know we are both happy,

but we wonder what it would be like
to pay with one card
and drive to the same home,


(c) Liz Keohane, 2023


Putting this Showcase together has been a bit of a rollercoaster, combining arduous climbs  alongside many skirmishes with passion, excitement, and even a little bit of fear. 

I thought it would be fitting for our final entry to be a piece of flash fiction from myself. The piece has been illustrated by the very talented 14-year-old Lauren Callis. You might have already spotted her illustration in the page header as well.

It may not be a guilty pleasure but, for me, writing is a passion that has gripped me much like this showcase has: with strength and warmth, and it has revealed to me many times over how it can lift the human mind and spirit. I bid you all farewell and leave you with Dad’s Home…

Dad’s Home
(c) Lauren Callis

Rachel never mentioned her dad’s visits. Since the funeral, she was scared of the looks, of what people might think.

“Two sugars?” she called from the kitchen.

“Aye, love.” Dad’s voice echoed, but Rachel knew she could never look. Once she saw the empty chair, the spell was broken. “Weather’s barmy, innit?”

“Oh yes,” Rachel walked through, eyes clenched, holding the mug out before him. Her breathing stammered then, its weight leaving her grasp.

“Ah, that’s lovely,” he sighed. “Nothing like a good cuppa.”

A tear fell beneath Rachel’s eyelid. She reached out to touch him, but there was nothing there…

(c) Thomas Nixon, 2023


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

Issue 18 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here.

Hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

Advice & Support


(Note to editor: Please include the audio file of A Doctor’s Secret here)

The patient leaves the consultation room. The door slams loudly. The consultant slams one fist desk.



Whisper: I can’t bear this anymore!

Loud: I can’t bear this anymore!

Shout: I can’t bear this anymore!



He starts sobbing, stands up and begins pacing the room.



(loud stern voice): Ten years – ten years of studying allopathic medicine and practising for four.





They wanted me to be a ‘doctor!’ They wanted to tell their friends and family that their only son was a ‘doctor!’



Holidays, clothes, toys, I had them all… And the best education.



They gave me everything – everything, but freedom!



They made all the decisions. What we did on holidays, what clothes I wore, what toys I played with and what subjects I was to like at school.



Deep male Iranian voice: ‘You like science, maths and biology, Ravi! These are good subjects to like!’, he said. ‘You will be a doctor – a medic – like myself and your mother – she a pharmacist, and me a surgeon. We are medical people and we save lives,’ he said.



High pitch Iranian womans voice: ‘He’s been accepted by the best UK university! Yes! Yes! Ravi is going to study medicine in the UK!’ She boasted to her sister over the telephone.



Deep male Itanian voice: ‘We hear Ravi is going to study medicine in the UK! You must be so proud of him,’ the uncles said.

‘Proud! I expected nothing less from him! I near on sacrificed my life for him! Giving him everything – and the best! And, I expect the best grades from him!,’ he said.



(Loud stern voice): They wanted me to be a ‘doctor!’ They wanted to tell their friends, colleagues and the family that their son was a ‘doctor!’

I didn’t want to be a ‘doctor!’



(Quiet, pitiful voice): Why didn’t I just say ‘No… I’m not studying medicine. I don’t want to be a ‘doctor!’

I should have told them I didn’t want to be a doctor. Then, I wouldn’t have asked my cousin to do that – I shouldn’t have asked him.



(Loud stern voice): But it wasn’t my fault. No, they made me do it! I wouldn’t have, if they didn’t bully me!



(Quiet, pitiful voice): Still, I had a choice – I didn’t have to ask him to do that.



(Loud stern voice): But, he should have said ‘No!’ – he had no morals!…



(Quiet, pitiful voice): But, then, I had no morals!…

He did it for money – I did it for the love of my parents.

We were both wrong!…



(Loud stern voice): Ravi, stop! You sometimes ‘save lives’, so you’re a doctor. Yes, Ravi! You sometimes ‘save lives’, so – you – are – a – doctor!



(Quiet, pitiful voice): Still, I wish, I hadn’t done it. I wish I hadn’t asked him to do that.



(Loud stern voice): But, it wasn’t my fault! Stop blaming yourself – Ravi!…



If only they didn’t browbeat me to do – what they wanted me to do!



(Quiet voice): But… You did it – Ravi! Not them – You made the decision to ask him – a stupid one!



But it wasn’t my fault! They should have allowed me to make my own choices, when growing up.



Then, I wouldn’t have made such a stupid one!



(stern loud voice): I am a stupid man!



He walks and sits, slumped at the desk, rubbing his forehead.



(Quiet voice and sobbing): A very, very stupid man.



(Whisper): If they knew what I’d done! If anyone knew what I’d done! I’d be finished –

as a son – as family – as a friend – as a colleague…



And… If, I truly admitted to myself – what I’d done…



My Spirit would die… And, I’d have nothing to live for.

Sam Shakes (2023)

Now for the return of this month’s featured writer, Liz Keohane continues with her unique sonnet on the 4 stages of love, with this next piece, titled more-than-simply: Should i be bitter or should i keep loving you?

should i be bitter or should i keep loving you?

“it’s better

to have


than to

have never

loved at


the biggest


i’ve ever heard,

because after

the honeymoon

fades and

we’re left

staring at

the rotting


of what

was shining

and a beautiful


all i can

feel is pain

would i

feel this way

about you

if we had

never loved

at all?

i would

still know

you, but

i wouldn’t

know what

i was missing

out on

i wouldn’t

have experienced

the late night

drives during

the summer,

your right hand in

my left,

your hand

on the steering


i wouldn’t have

experienced the date

nights where

we bowled,


or just bought

takeout and watched

a chick-flick

or the time we dressed

up, and went


ballroom, of course…

you could never

handle the charleston,


or samba

despite all these


and the lovely

feelings they


without loving,

i never would

have experienced



i wouldn’t

be lying

in a ball,

surrounded by

tissues and photographs

of memories

i would be


but without

the memory

of you

so were they

really right?

or is nobody right

at all?


it’s meaningless

because either


i don’t have you. 

Elizabeth Keohane (2023)

Now onto something a little different. Throughout this month we’ve talked a great deal about literary passions, but I’ve felt personally that our co-theme Guilty Pleasures has been a little neglected. To rectify this, I’ve enlisted the help of fellow writer Claire Cooper to write about her views on exactly what it means to have a guilty pleasure. Turns out, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Take it away, Claire!

Guilty Pleasures

There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure!

Guilty pleasure. A phrase I see a lot. In fact, I’ve just read it in a music memoir, with the author apologising for some of his (perfectly acceptable) song choices, grrr.

Where does this ridiculous self-judgement come from? You like something, you like it. End of. You don’t have to apologise for it. Why are we not allowed to feel good about our choices? Do we not have enough people telling us how to live our lives as it is, judging us and exerting control over us, be it our families, bosses, the government or religion, without impinging on our precious free time as well?

In my previous job, I was always perfectly happy to give “Maeve Binchy” as my go-to response to the question I was often asked: “Which authors do you enjoy reading/can you recommend?” She wrote engrossing plots, with likeable characters (mostly) and satisfying endings. Isn’t that what we all want? A bit of name-dropping here: I was lucky enough to meet Maeve when she judged a writing competition for us and she was as warm, chatty and engaging as you would expect.

I think people were surprised I wasn’t recommending the Brontes, Dickens, Austen, Hardy, or any of the other more accepted ‘literary’ writers. Truth is, I’ve never been able to completely lose myself in their writing – however good it’s judged to be. There’s no shame in preferring Jackie Collins over Wilkie, Monica Dickens over Charles, Leslie Thomas over Dylan, or Jilly Cooper over James Fenimore. It’s not a test, or a competition. I refuse to apologise for my taste in books, music, or anything else.

Someone (I forget who) once said we should all re-read the classics every few years. Speaking as someone whose to-be-read pile never goes down (currently standing or, more accurately, toppling, at 22, with more to come), life’s too short. Don’t make things more complicated. Go easy on yourself. 

So stick the kettle on, crack open that chocolate bar, kick back in your favourite chair and get stuck in. Be it Fifty Shades, Mills and Boon, Jackie Collins or Maeve Binchy, I hereby give you permission to read away to your heart and mind’s content. With absolutely ALL the pleasure, and strictly NO guilt allowed!

Claire Cooper (2023)

Circling back round from non-fiction to creative fiction, our final entry comes to us from Luke Nichols. A short, striking piece, it subverts expectations from the very first line. Enjoy this gothic horror piece with a pinch of garlic at your side, but be careful how you use it, as not everything is as it seems…

Red Angel

Elizabeth’s father was dying before her eyes. Ropes held her to her bed, keeping her at the mercy of the beast that had invaded their home. Her father thrashed on the floor, slipping in his own blood as he fought weakly to free himself, yet the beast pinning him down would always reassert its grip on him, forcing its teeth back into his throat as he struggled. Though she had seen little of the world since her mother’s passing, Elizabeth knew a vampire as well as anyone. It was the only thing this invader could be, and she was helpless to escape from it. Her father’s struggling finally stopped, the creature dropping his body to the floor, where it lay in a graceless heap. Elizabeth was crying now. She began to scream as the creature stalked to the bedside, running its claws along the ropes around her ankles. The beast was now close enough for her to see it clearly in the moonlight. A grim face looked down at her, gaunt and deathly yet somehow youthful, kept young by the blood dripping from its lips. Elizabeth whimpered as the claws grazed her ankles…

…Then started as the ropes were suddenly cut.

Elizabeth pulled her legs up to her chest, a painful motion after months of inactivity. A moment later and the creature had moved to her wrists, cutting them loose for the first time since her father had restrained them. She was free, for the first time since her mother died and her father had begun his abuse. She looked to her father’s killer, the two staring silently at each other until Elizabeth forced out two words.

“Thank you.”

The creature smiled, the grin warm despite the razors in its mouth, then vanished through her window into the night…

Luke Nichols (2023)


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

Issue 18 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here.

Hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

Advice & Support