A selection of opening lines and paragraphs from some of G. H. Finn’s short stories.
The Hidden War On Terror
If you asked me the most useful thing I learnt while working as a part-time library assistant, my answer might surprise you. I suppose you could call it an arcane secret but it’s not the kind you’re probably expecting. It’s just this…There’s a simple way to find out about people, and all it’ll cost you is a large pizza and the time it takes to play a game of Scrabble. If you’re lucky, someone else might buy the pizza. I’ve met people who will attempt to use an individual’s choice of pizza-toppings as a method of divination and character reading. In my opinion that’s baloney. Unless they’ve chosen mozzarella, sacrificial goat entrails and anchovies. Never trust anyone who orders anchovies. Actually, the pizza is virtually irrelevant. It’s the Scrabble that matters. We used to play sometimes, during lunch-breaks or after hours when the Miskatonic University library was closed. Almost all the people who worked part-time in the library were students of some kind. I say almost all, because some were only pretending to be students. And a few were only pretending to be people. But let’s not go into that just now.
She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when she decided to summon the devil and sell her soul for fame. As you do. Hell, we’ve all been there… Of course, things didn’t go according to plan. Never have, never will…
Once there was a little old lady who lived next-door. I was eleven when I decided to kill her. But I didn’t. As an eleven-year-old I was shocked, upset and angry enough to take the life of the frail-looking, white-haired woman, but I lacked the ingenuity and resolve to put a plan into action. It’s easy to want to kill someone but hard to actually do it. Especially when you’re a kid. That’s why I waited until I was eighteen.
She was awakened by a strange buzzing sound coming from somewhere nearby. Her stomach ached. She felt sick. Her head was spinning. Slowly, she half-opened her eyes, squinting against the sunlight streaming in through a window. She was naked apart from her socks. The weird buzzing came again. She lay on her back and looked up, seeing a large revolving ceiling fan. She tried to remember where she was.
The Perfect Crime
Sunday, 8th August 1937. While the spires of Oxford may not have been dreaming they did seem to slumber lazily as they basked in the sunshine. Edwin Fitzackerly, sticky and rather hot about the face as he pedalled his bicycle toward the university, was firmly wishing he hadn’t habitually followed his mother’s parting advice to always wear a vest – but it was too late to worry about that now. He was already perilously close to missing his appointment and undergraduates did not keep senior lecturers waiting – at least, not if they hoped to one day become faculty members themselves. Steering his bicycle one-handed, Edwin glanced at his watch. He grimaced and muttered ‘I’m late!’, feeling more than a little like the White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Then he couldn’t help but smile, as it struck him this was remarkably apt considering he was currently on his way to examine some effects of the late Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Caroll, author of the ‘Alice’ books.
God-King Of The Living Dead
Magyarország – Hungary. 884 A.D. From atop his baleful tower, beneath a storm-racked darkling sky, the bloodily resurrected Izcacus, self-crowned King of the Living Dead, declared war upon humanity. Shaking his angry fist of gristle and bone at the uncaring heavens, the Undying King addressed the massed ranks of deathless revenants below.
The Burial Plot
India. Maharajapur Cemetery. The Beggar’s Quarter. 1.37 am. Last Tuesday.
A blood-red crescent moon shone through the dark and cloudless sky. Hidden in its lunar shadows, he squatted beneath the overhanging branches of a twisted bodhi tree. The cool night air was scented delicately with jasmine and lotus, the heady, earthy smell of patchouli, and the gentle aroma of fragrant frangipani blossoms. Moonlight revealed the scene before him. His large eyes opened wide in surprise. He’d rarely seen anyone so eager to dig up a corpse.
The Halloween Party
Death was coming. The season had changed. The leaves had gone from green to shades of red, yellow, orange and brown. Soon they would fall, leaving the tree branches bare, as the world turned from light to darkness. From life to death.
“The chances of anyone colonizing Mars are a million to one!” Or so the newspapers said. But still we came.
It was the worst of times. It was the beast of times. It was 1888. A time of hammered steel, arcane runes and ivory towers. A city of steam. And ghosts. Such was Londome. A place filled with Angels of despair and Daemons of delight.
Scales Of Injustice
There’s a lot more money in fossils than most people imagine. Not enough to die for. But enough to make murder a serious temptation…
R. I. P.
It was as though my dreams had come true. Really it was. My dreams had come true at last. I always thought they would. Eventually.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Cape Wrath. The most remote point in mainland Britain. To get there, Clive had driven to Northern Scotland, inflated a dingy, rowed across the Kyles of Durness, then hiked twelve-miles to Cape Wrath Lighthouse. He’d travelled all this way because of a tip-off, in a direct message via an invitation-only Pokémon-Go on-line forum. Letting him into the secret…
He crouched in the darkness of the graveyard, beneath the overhanging branches of a snow-covered yew tree. He had heard something. An unexpected, out-of-place sound… This was an ancient place, older than the stone church which now stood at the centre of the cemetery. Once another church, made of wood, had been built here, well over a thousand-years ago – the first of its kind in this area, dating from the time when Christianity began to establish itself amongst the heathen Anglo-Saxons. But before even that first wooden church, an earlier shrine had stood on this ground. A temple honouring the ancestors. The original mothers and the fathers of the tribes. The old gods of England.
The Gibbering Lord In The Burning Mist
The Holy Empire of Æfenglóm, MDXLVII years after The Trump Cataclysm, Shortly Before The Fall of the Winter Equinox. From atop his ebon tower, beneath a scarlet snow-filled sky, Yugric, Hierophant of the Sanguine Priests, had declared that it was no longer theologically appropriate to sacrifice one-in-every-seven children by throwing them upon the flaming altars. Now it had been decreed that first each infant should be stuffed with herbs and sweetmeats, all the better to please the Elder Gods. ‘Or,’ the Holy-High-Executioner of the Papal-Druids thought privately, ‘if not to please them, at least in the hope that this time they might notice.’