Michael Callaghan

Finalist 2017

Excerpt from 'Snake Bite'

Everyone knows that noise is a baaad thing in a library.

It’s the first time I’ve been here. I like old buildings, especially old library buildings. I like the high ceilings and the big arched windows and those grainy white wall tiles. I like the stillness and the quiet and that rich, dark-brown smell of wood and leather and old paper.

Maybe that’s why the kids at school think I’m weird.

As I walk on I see three posters on the left wall. The first says what to do if there is a fire alarm. The second gives the opening hours. The last one that catches my attention. It’s a POLICE NOTICE, warning people to be on alert. It shows a hand drawn picture of a man. He has a mean, thin-eyed, expression and a stubbly chin. It’s not a very good picture – it doesn’t look like any real life person – but before I can read the notice I hear a cough. Not a real cough, like when you have a cold or something catches in your throat. It’s a can-I-have-your-attention cough.

I turn and see the librarian. He’s standing behind a long, horseshoe-shaped wooden desk, staring at me. I wonder how long he’s been looking at me. He has a grey, scraggy beard that looks oddly patchy -  like someone has pulled bits out of it - and silver rimless glasses that are too small for his face. He smiles, but in an odd way. Like something’s going on in his head. It strikes me that he might be the sort of man that my dad tells me to be careful of.

Excerpt from The Poppy Season

The room was elegant but sparsely furnished. There were no pictures on the wall, no vases of flowers on the table, no books in the mahogany bookcase. The resonating ticks from the pendulum clock above the unlit fireplace were the only sounds disturbing the silence. Beside the fireplace was a sweeping bay window that overlooked the driveway and garden.

In the middle of the room were two chesterfield sofas. On the larger of these sat a woman and a little girl. The little girl sat back, arms folded in a self-hugging gesture, eyes fixed straight ahead. The woman sat leaning forward, hands on her knees, alert; like she was waiting for something.

Finally the woman stood up. Tutting irritably, she walked towards the window.

“It really is too bad of them.” she said. She pushed back her glasses and glanced at the clock. “If they consider that security may have been compromised, Henderson should be here. Now.” 

Read the whole story


About Michael

Michael Callaghan is a lawyer who lives in Glasgow with his wife, two children and far more pets than a non animal lover really ought to have. Having previously dabbled in writing, he has taken it more seriously in the last few years. In that time has had stories published via Writing Magazine (after winning their monthly competitions), and either won or been placed/shortlisted in several other national competitions, including the H E Bates competition and the short story section of the Yeovil Literary prize.

 Since being a finalist last year with Snake Bite he has been published three more times via Writing magazine, including in the October 2018 edition for winning the 2018 Swanwick Writing School short story competition. His medium / long term ambition is to complete a novel.

Coming soon

Our first anthology of short stories from The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition 2014-2018