Title – Post Midnight Blues
Author – Rae Toonery
Genre – LGBTQ+ / Post Modern / Literary Fiction
Publisher – Kindle Direct
She’s a neurotic non-binary seeking forgiveness; he’s a heartbroken hound desperately seeking his master: together they are… dysfunctional.
Con is living in self-imposed isolation after an accidental death that she blames herself for. Her only contact with the outside world is the occasional midnight trip to the local supermarket and her visits from loyal colleague, Sandeep. Deadpan companion, Heathcliffe the Lurcher, has his own issues: most notably an inexplicable fixation with post boxes.
Can these two social misfits find a way to readjust and make peace with the past?
Mr Harding’s face turns from pink, to crimson, to purple. He appears to be metamorphosising into a bunch of grapes: boils pop out of his cheeks, nose and forehead until his eyes and mouth are no longer visible. He starts to clutch at the collar of his paisley pyjama shirt, wheezing and gasping for breath. A pair of concerned nurses rush in from stage left and right to assist, each wielding EpiPens. The dome of Mr Harding’s head is now inflating like a balloon.
“Look what you’ve done,” hisses the nurse on the right.
“Poisoner,” spits the left, glaring at Con with Old Testament choler.
“Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh!” Comes the battle cry from the right.
But at the last moment, they both adjust their aim at the patient’s crown, which has swollen to such an extent, they have to climb up onto the bed to reach. On impact Mr Harding’s head bursts in a scarlet explosion of cerebral matter. One of the nurses scoops up a handful of motor cortex from the bed and tosses it at Con. Bullseye. It slaps her in the face, warm, wet and sticky.
“If YOU had half a brain –“ the nurse fulminates.
“You’d have read the fucking notes!” The second nurse scathes, removing the clipboard from the foot of the bed and thrusting it into Con’s face, which such force that she –
Wakes up. With a sharp intake of breath and a small yelp. “Mr Harding! Poor Mr Harding,” she sobs.
O not this again. Heathcliffe is a hound of notable sensibilities. But he’s warm and comfortable and it’s raining outside.
He clambers up the bed and onto Con’s chest, licking away at her tears.
“Heatcliffe,” she strains under his weight. A lurcher is a formidable bedfellow; an elbow or paw in the wrong place can leave bruises that take weeks to heal.
Go back to sleep. Please go back to sleep. Do not turn on the lamp. Do not pick up the book. Do not put on your specs. Lick, lick, lick. See, it was just a bad dream. You’re OK. Mr What’s-his-face didn’t get chased and eaten by wolves, or lions, or –“
“Oh, it’s no use,” Con, reaches for the lamp switch and throws the small bedroom into a chiaroscuro of light and shade. In daylight hours, the room has a quaint cottage-like charm; being so tiny and yet so busy with trinkets and candles and picture frames and rugs and cushions and all manner of other kitsch. Since her withdrawal from the land of daylight, Con feels the need to pad out her environment. She exists in a fortress of soft furnished denial. But in this light, it’s perfectly monstrous.
No use? You didn’t even try. What was that? Like 30 seconds?
She reaches for her reading glasses and picks up the battered copy of Wuthering Heights. Where were we, Heathcliffe?
The bit where the dog bites her. Heathcliff retreats to the foot of the bed…
(exclusive to Amazon)
Rae Toonery is the author of a collection of genre-defying novels, such as The Livingston Theory and Post-Midnight Blues. Their fictional landscapes are inhabited by a cast of oddballs, obsessives and officious ogres. Before turning to longer form writing, they dabbled in poetry, studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. Before that, they had a myriad of uninspiring jobs, from folding socks to labelling dog meat, to selling pasties.
Rae lives in the Midlands with their beloved companion, Jess the rescue dog. They are non-binary, vegan and a 365-days-a-year cyclist.
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