Stuart Turnbull, Writing


The Beast on the Moor (extract – story in full on

Francine was not a follower of theories on crypto-zoology. However you couldn’t live and work in the south west without coming across numerous stories of wild cats living on the moors, and seeing grainy photos or indistinct and shaky camera phone clips as space fillers at the end of the evening news.

Having no firm opinions on such matters herself she had never really considered the prospect of seeing one, and now having done so her mind was busy trying to convince her that it couldn’t have been a big cat, but was in fact a fox, that’s right, a fox; after all they are nocturnal and roughly the same shape. She sat for a moment reconciling in her mind the shape she had seen, before finally shaking her head and speaking aloud in the empty car,

“Altogether too much coffee and stress you muppet,” before completing in her head the thought “Amanda will laugh her socks off if when I tell her tomorrow.” and then aloud again “But now I want to be in bed.”

She reached her hand down to the gear-stick and smoothly slid it into first, felt the clutch start to bite and clicked off the handbrake.  Mr Innes really had been a thorough driving instructor and she could hear his voice in her head as she went through the routine.

Before she could complete her moving off rituals a noise came from outside.  Low and menacing at first it moved up into an angry growling snarl that made her jump in fright and as her legs jolted off of the pedals the car stalled and with the engine stopping the noise outside also stopped so that the only sound was the faint hum of the heater on its lowest setting.

Francine leaned her elbow back and up, using it to trigger the door lock and as both doors and the rear hatch clunked the snarl and growl came again, but now louder and closer, somewhere off on the left. She looked around but there was nothing visible in the swirling fog: To her left the bit of moor visible showed a drainage ditch with rough ground disappearing beyond it, while to her right she could barely see where the camber of the road fell away onto the moor. Her heart beat a solid tattoo although it felt as if it was in her throat instead of her chest and she closed her eyes to help clear her thoughts and calm a little: It worked, until the noise came again, closer still and as she re-opened them there in front of the car stood the creature.

The part of her mind not involved in preventing her from screaming managed to identify it as ‘not a tiger nor a lion, but a panther or jaguar or something, a cat, a big cat’. In the headlights the colour of its coat was indeterminate but the halogen head-lamps made the green eyes fluoresce unnaturally and the exposed teeth glistened with saliva. They watched each other for a few seconds and then the creature growled and roared, exposing its teeth filled maw. Francine did not, could not move, but watched fearfully as the beast walked around the car, its shoulders were level with the bottom of the window and although the doors were locked she now managed to pull her torso into the middle of the car leaning uncomfortably over the handbrake and gear-stick, while wondering if the glass was strong enough to cope should the beast attack it.

The creature watched her, sniffing the air as it did then leaning its sleekly powerful head forward to sniff first the handle and then up the side of the door, places where Francine touched the car regularly and that held her scent. It lifted a paw and seemed to be testing the door frame looking for a gap, suddenly it snarled and lashed with the paw, claws extended, and the small car rocked under the blow, it struck again and Francine screamed with terror, holding her arms across her face where she expected the glass to shatter and shower her with pieces.  However no such shower came as the beast stopped and turned to look up the road. It gave a last defiant yelling roar before it turned and in just a few steps had faded from sight.


The Maker (

“Make me something”

“Make you something?”


“Make you what?”

“Anything you want, anything you can.  Just make something for me, my maker.”

So he made, for that was no challenge, a maker makes; she called him a maker so he made.  He made dances and dreams and wishes and little wooden artifacts carved with exquisite, deft fingered skill.  He made books and afterthoughts and the end of the final sad sonnet.  He made walls and clouds and the time when expectation is overwhelmed with realisation.

He made and made and made.

Finally he stopped, for look, everything had been made.  Then the maker looked at all he had done, at the things made for anothers wishes.  He looked, and in his heart was a sense of defeat that came from having made everything but the one thing, the unknown thing, the mystery.

Failure weighed upon the maker heavily and instead of presenting his made things to his commissioner he left.  He went to his navel and contemplated.  Then after untimed ages he resurfaced, smiled a greeting to his favourite stars and made his way through the infinities of reality to where his made things had been left.  By the light of an oval moon he gathered them to his arms, piling taxis on trees, tucking whispers and whistles into the deep pockets of Wednesday mornings.  Soon everything was gathered together, ready to be made into one final thing.

The maker travelled again, until he came to she who sent him forth.

“I have made for you.”

She looked far into the quietness of his eyes and smiled a smile of gratitude.

“Show me.”

So he showed her all.

He showed her butterflies and winter skies, he showed her the rainbows end and the smile of friends and he showed her krakens asleep in the deep and he showed her where stars and their satellites hold pride of place.

She looked at these, at everything made, and in all the variety and difference and change she saw but one thing, the unknown thing, the mystery thing.

“My maker in truth I love you.”

The maker heard, and from being maker he now became made, formed by the love of his lover.



Eight  (

I dreamt a dream of daisy chains,

They were a lei made just for you,

But they perished as I picked them up,

And then you vanished too.

Sad tears they welled from my very heart,

Then dropped and fell to the ground,

To pool and there to form a sea,

An ocean deep as sound.

Across this sea I swam away,

Until the swiftly rising sun,

Dried up my tears and made to grow,

A mountain full of joy.

O joys and smiles and bright sunshine and happiness that’s true,

Look upon what I have made, a daisy chain for you.




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