Sunday, January 18, 2009

Clearing the Air

by Bill West
free horror fiction

Martha sprinkles a generous amount of bicarbonate of soda into the bottom of the large plastic box, scoops the whole disgusting mess in on top of it and snaps shut the blue air-tight lid. After a few months in the cupboard-under-the-stairs the vile smell will be gone for good. Bicarbonate of soda is great for eliminating smells.

She picks up his horrid pipe and ashtray and drops them into the kitchen bin. The lemon coloured rubber gloves snap as she pulls them off her hands. She folds and smoothes them and puts them with the mop and bucket, scrubbing brush, disinfectant, dusters and forest glade scented polish into the utility cupboard.

The kitchen looks immaculate, everything spick-and-span. Surfaces gleam with lemony freshness. Even the blood down the back of the kitchen chair, on the table and across the floor is scrubbed clean away and disinfected. His clothes are laundered, mothballed and bagged ready to go to the charity shop. The meat is shrink-wrapped and labeled, stacked in uniform rows in the freezer.

A pot of brawn bubbles on the stove.

It isn't as if he hadn't seen the same programs as she had; about what tobacco does to your lungs. And now she knew for certain, confirmed it with her own eyes. All that horrid black gunk that had made such a terrible mess when it belched out and splattered the front of her second best housecoat. More disgusting than she had ever imagined. Well, she had to check, confirm her suspicions. If only he'd listened to her. Hadn't she warned him every day for thirty years of their married life, every time he lit up?

Smoking kills!


Bill West always wanted to be a mortuary technician but when he failed the interview he took a job in IT instead. He's met a lot of odd people working in IT.

Bill lives in a remote part of rural Shropshire, UK. He likes to explore ancient ruins, which is where he found his wife. He has two sons who tell him they are a) a Rock Star and b) an Avant-garde Film Maker. He suspects they may be either confused or exagerating as he has never heard of them.

Over the past five years Bill's Flash Fictions have been published in a wide variety of print and on-line e-zines and been included in a number of anthologies. See further details of his work at his website,


A special recipe for brawn from Bill West:

How to cook brawn:

1. Cut the cheeks and ears off the head and place everything in a large saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for 24 hours then leave it to cool in its cooking liquor.

2. Drain and remove all the meat from the head. Chop the meat finely and transfer to a bowl.

3. Add fennel, carrot and shallots.

4. Stir in herbs, season with celery salt.

5. Put bay leaves in a serving bowl and spoon the meat onto the leaves.

6. Drizzle lemon juice over the meat then ladle in the cooking liquid. Refrigerate overnight until set, then serve.


Cate Gardner said...

I am so glad I don't smoke (except my fingers when I'm typing of course). I loved the extra recipe after the credits.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Great story.

Michael Stone said...

Thanks for the story and recipe, Bill.

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Excellent story - and lovely recipe!

Inkpot said...

I always knew smoking kills. I think they should put this story on the back of cigarette packets. :) Excellent story Bill.

jonathan pinnock said...

Excellent stuff. And the recipe was an inspired touch. I can see a whole themed cookbook coming on.

Rob Brooks said...

Funny. I love a little macabre humor.

Fox Lee said...

Now THAT'S an effective anti-smoking campaign ; )

BT said...

Sorry guys - I still smoke and in a previous life I was a nurse so I'm fully aware of the consequences.

Now if family members were allowed by law to check the progression of the gung within a smokers lungs - then the quit rate would skyrocket!

Excellent story, Bill.

Jamie Eyberg said...

time to get he lung brush out.

Anonymous said...

I hereby vow to never, ever cook brawn.


Bill West said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Felicity Dowker said...

Another great contribution. And yes, the brawn recipe at the end really topped it off nicely.

Rich said...

Nice job. Great recipe!