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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-seven THE BROKEN WORLD



he shudder of the bomb and the surge of the earth and the scorch of smoke. I learned, in that second, that the thin shell of things can crack, and you can be laid down in a whole other world, where different things might happen. I was alone, and that made no sense, but this was not a place where sense belonged.

I lay sodden, tasting the burning tin of my helmet and watching the smoke against the blue, ten narrow feet of trench above. The enemy was there then, slithering and blood marrying towards me, holding himself in.

He came on, pleading me to hear, but my ears held only one thin note, so we lay till his face quietened, the painful center of our own strange space. I unclasped his hands, gentle, spreading his mess like eels. Changed it round for my own good strong kit-bag, pushing and folding its stiff straps under his breast and closing skin and tunic over all. I waited, but he lay unmoved.

The world still trembled, dropping burning earth and bone, so I went in his breast with my bayonet, throwing his used-up heart to the sky like a blood grenade. I bundled barbed wire in my hands, blooding it into shape, pushing it firm into his chest.

Still, he would not rise.

I took my last two candle stubs, best tallow from home, and pushed them deep into the sockets of his face. When I struck my match and lit, his barbed heart sounded out, beating like pennies shook hard in a tin. He gained his feet and bid me follow into the broken world.

I have followed since.




Bill Davidson is a Scottish writer of mainly horror and fantasy. In the last three years, he has placed stories with around forty good publications around the world, including Ellen Datlow’s highly regarded Best Horror of the Year. Find him on billdavidsonwriting.com or @bill_davidson57

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