{Isolation Tales} The Mayor Of Newville By Madeleine Swann

These are the most testing times the human race have faced since World War II. This time the enemy is unseen, an enemy so powerful it’s forcing many of us to retreat back into our houses. It’s here that people will try to continue to live as normal a life as they can and it’s here that the wonderful art of storytelling may blossom. Be it, young children sitting in front of a parent, or a person sadly on their own listening to the radio, stories will be spread and remembered, to be told to future generations once this horrible virus has faded.

I wanted to be able to share some stories with the fiends of Kendall Reviews, stories to help people get through these difficult times.

If you have a tale you’d like to share then please contact me via email

Today’s contribution to Kendall Reviews Isolation Tales is another from the brilliant mind of Madeleine Swann. It’s always an honour to feature Madeleine on the blog. I’d recommend you go grab as much of her work as you can, especially Fortune Box. Her latest work features in a new collection of British Bizzaro which will be reviewed shortly here on the blog. All proceeds from this book are going to Mermaids UK, the charity for gender diverse young people. So please support a good cause.

The Bumper Book Of British Bizarro

Welcome to the Bumper Book of British Bizarro.

Please read said book to experience the wondrous weird. Featuring some of the best Bizarro fiction writers, artists, poets and fourth-dimensional beings the UK has to offer!

Stop awhile and delve deep into the strange why don’t you?

Featuring: Stories from: Madeleine Swann, Die Booth, Neil Dinsmore, James Burkes, Leigham Shardlow, Tom Over, Greg James, Anthony Mercer, Chris Meekings, Gem Caley, Bill Davidson, Frank Key, Luke Kondor, Matt Davis, Duncan P. Bradshaw, Chris Kelso, DJ Tyrer, Peter Caffrey, Craig Bullock, Jay Slayton, Doris V Sutherland, Preston Grassmann & Dani Brown

Poetry by: Anthony Mercer, DJ Tyrer & Chris MeekingsArt and Photography by: Bill Purnell, Will Mcdaniel, Quentin Smirhes & Lo-Fi Guy

With an introduction by: Mandy De Sandra

You can buy The Bumper Book Of British Bizarro from Amazon UK & Amazon US

So fiends of Kendall Reviews, give this tale a read, digest and please tweet your thoughts on ‘The Mayor Of Newville’ #IsolationTales #TheMayorOfNewville

The Mayor Of Newville

Exclusive Flash Fiction By Madeleine Swann

The shacks on the remote Highlands were cobbled together from bricks, wood and metal sheeting. They slanted to the side, or were full of holes, or had almost returned to ruins. “Those won’t need much work,” said David, pointing to a cluster by a hill, “some reinforcing and they’ll be perfectly fine.”

“You don’t think they’ll be dangerous?” said Ester, thinking of the inhabitants. So far everyone they’d met was desperate, hungry and violent.

David shrugged, “we’ve got the knife.”

“One knife against all those?”

“We’ll offer them bread.” Ester gripped her backpack straps and lowered her head.

“OK.”

Exhausted and bloody, they limped towards the village. Nobody was on watch and no one emerged from the shacks. “It’s abandoned,” Ester whispered. She suppressed a smile. She pictured David in furs, both of them hunting, building fires outside a shack. They didn’t need London or other survivors. Her bones had been cold for so long and she was exposed without her hijab. It could be over soon.

“Ah, there’s one.” David waved. Ester followed suit, hating the man walking towards them. He was average; average height, average build, brown hair covered in a muddy bandana, watery blue eyes. Ester sometimes wondered what survivors had in common, whether they were quicker, faster, cleverer. So far there seemed to be no rhyme or reason, some just got lucky. “Hi, we have food to share. Could we… is there maybe…?”

“Yeah, come on in,” the man bellowed. “Welcome to Newville. Name’s not too imaginative but it’ll do.”

Ester regretted her judgement. The man’s face was endearingly pink as he pointed to each shack, “that’s where Jayden and Tom live, and the one way over there is Gill, he’s kind of a crab but he’s harmless. He pulls his weight but he likes to be alone.” The names washed over Ester like a hot bath. She pictured happy people doing Medieval jobs. Blacksmiths, maybe, or basket weavers. Maybe there were clean clothes somewhere, a scrap for a hijab. “That hut is free,” he said, and Ester regarded her new home. There were some holes but they could be fixed. “And this,” he continued, pointing to a large shack with metal rooftop and walls, “is the Town Hall.”

“Oh, cool,” said David, “you guys seem really organised.”

“We are. I’m Jonathan, the Mayor.” Ester giggled, stopping when she realised he was serious. David grabbed her hand. It was the signal; prepare to run. “I know, it’s silly, but we had a big fight over who should do what and it seemed easier to pick a leader.”

“That makes sense,” said Ester, feeling guilty again.

“And the Gods chose me.”

“…Right.”

“Why don’t you guys rest and we’ll all meet here in a couple of hours?”

He handed them blankets and they stuffed up the worst holes before huddling together. Ester held on to the knife.

The sky was darkening when they emerged, the shacks casting long shadows over the grass. A barn owl emerged from one, shrieking as it flew. “Everyone must be in the Hall,” said David uncertainly.

He knocked on the door and Jonathan answered. Ester held back a nervous laugh when he grandly stepped aside for them. “You could have left your bags at home,” he said.

“Where is everyone?” said Ester. Jonathan cocked his head, confused.

“W- they’re all here.” He gestured to the empty space. David squeezed Ester’s hand.

“OK,” said David placatingly, seeming to search for words that wouldn’t come.

“Come in, meet everyone.” Jonathan’s cheeks were pink with pride again. Ester’s temples throbbed with pity and embarrassment. “This is Jillian and Michael, Bingwhen and Ling, Bill…” he pointed to space after space then spread his arms, “welcome to Newville.”

“Th-thanks,” said David, “hi everyone.” He gave a small wave and glared at Ester until she followed suit.

“Aw, your girlfriend is shy. That’s good. The folks here before were so angry and loud. And the women never took care of their appearance. I think that’s a shame, don’t you?”

“Uh, yeah,” said David. Ester pursed her lips.

“I mean, all it takes is a little effort, maybe draping your outfit just so. We’re all still human, after all.”

“What happened to the other folks?” said Ester. There was a long pause. The tension expanded against the metal walls.

“One morning, they were just … all gone.” Jonathan was pale, his gaze distant. “I knew it was them.”

“Them?” David croaked.

“The Gods. All their stuff was still there. Clothes, blankets, weapons. The shacks were like abandoned ships.” The hut creaked loudly in the wind. She and David tightened their grip on each other.

“I hear them sometimes, at night, when it’s too dark for me to see. The Gods. They whisper in my ear. I don’t know why they chose me.” Something moved in the dark corner. Jonathan’s voice was high, not his own. “I think they can tell when people will be awkward. When they don’t want to do things properly.” A fox screamed and Ester pulled David after her. He was slow to follow but soon they were tearing across the grassland and up the hill. Ester turned, certain something was behind her, its oily fingers almost on her shoulder, but there was nothing. Gasping, she looked down at the makeshift village.

“Huh?”

“What?” David followed her gaze. A lone figure twirled and whirled, weaved and danced between the shacks.

“Go, fly, bring them to me.” Jonathan’s cackle echoed across the night sky. He reached up to stroke something, touching nothing but air. Ester burst into tears.

“We can’t help him,” said David gently.

“I know,” Ester snapped. “Sorry. It’s just…” David cradled her shoulders.

“We should go.”

“You’re right.” They trudged on, leaving him to his Gods.

Madeleine Swann

Madeleine Swann’s collection, Fortune Box, was published by Eraserhead Press and nominated for a Wonderland Award. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and podcasts including Splatterpunk Award nominated The New Flesh: A David Cronenberg Tribute. She likes bright colours and funny noises, much like a baby.

You can find out more about Madeleine by visiting her official website www.madeleineswann.com

You can follow Madeleine on Twitter @MadeleineSwann

Fortune Box

No one knows where or what Tower Ltd Surprise Packages is or why it’s sending gifts to complete strangers across The City. All they know is that each package is the best thing that’s ever happened to them…or the worst.

In one box is a packet of seeds that allows you to grow your perfect date. In another there’s a cupcake that causes anyone who eats it to grow eyeballs all over their skin. There’s also a parcel with a mousetrap that turns all your enemies tiny. Or you could receive your autobiography, which when signed, makes your every thought famous. Or maybe even a key to a secret door that leads to another dimension where all your unfinished and abandoned projects exist. But with each package received comes both fortune and misfortune that will surely result in unexpected consequences.

Like a season of episodes from The Twilight Zone or Friday the 13th The Series, comes a collection of dark and humorous stories from the premier British female author of bizarro fiction.

You can buy Fortune Box from Amazon UK & Amazon US

The Bumper Book Of British Bizarro

Welcome to the Bumper Book of British Bizarro.

Please read said book to experience the wondrous weird. Featuring some of the best Bizarro fiction writers, artists, poets and fourth-dimensional beings the UK has to offer!

Stop awhile and delve deep into the strange why don’t you?

Featuring: Stories from: Madeleine Swann, Die Booth, Neil Dinsmore, James Burkes, Leigham Shardlow, Tom Over, Greg James, Anthony Mercer, Chris Meekings, Gem Caley, Bill Davidson, Frank Key, Luke Kondor, Matt Davis, Duncan P. Bradshaw, Chris Kelso, DJ Tyrer, Peter Caffrey, Craig Bullock, Jay Slayton, Doris V Sutherland, Preston Grassmann & Dani Brown

Poetry by: Anthony Mercer, DJ Tyrer & Chris MeekingsArt and Photography by: Bill Purnell, Will Mcdaniel, Quentin Smirhes & Lo-Fi Guy

With an introduction by: Mandy De Sandra

All proceeds from TBBOBB are going to Mermaids UK, the charity for gender diverse young people.

You can buy The Bumper Book Of British Bizarro from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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