Horla Flash Fiction (March 2021)




‘THANK you for letting me stay,’ I say.

She smiles and changes the subject. ‘Do you know about this estate?’

‘Not really.’

‘The developers bought the old psychiatric hospital. Remember? Of course you do. Sorry. They used a lot of the original materials.’

We are outside.

‘See! On that brick. Still some cream paint. And some blue.’

‘Corridors. It was in the corridors.’

‘Let’s not dwell on that. Shall we go for a walk? There’s a Nature Reserve nearby. Get some fresh air into your lungs. Lots of wildlife now. It was derelict before.’

‘So peaceful. But I’d like to go back. I’m still not used to being . . .  you know.’

She takes my hand.

We are in her living room. I feel warm, protected.

‘I know it’s early but I’d like to go up now, if that’s all right?’

‘Of course. You need your sleep. Sweet dreams.’

I wave goodnight from the door.

I am in bed. It’s dark. My bladder is full. I don’t turn on the lights. Don’t want to wake her. There is soft carpet under foot, cool tiles in the bathroom, cold plastic seat. I finish.

I pat along for the silky wallpaper outside my room. Further than I thought. No carpet yet. Lino. At last my bedroom door. The handle. Stuck. I try again. Must not panic. I rattle the handle loudly. Behind me soft footsteps.

‘Let’s get you back to bed,’ she says.

Her torch illuminates a corridor stretching far into the distance – cream and blue.




James Rose is originally from Northumbria, England. He is a retired physician, recently moved from Scotland to Coventry, in the English Midlands. His short stories have won several prizes and have appeared in The Word on the Streets and Under the Radar as well as an anthology, newspapers and community magazines. His poems and reviews have been published in magazines and online. Just So, a children’s musical, has also been staged on a number of occasions. Previous stories by him for Horla can be found by entering his name in the search engine at the top right of  any our pages.

Title photo credit –  matthew Feeney on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer – image has no direct connection with the fiction