HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Gods and Monsters Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the print magazine! So we offered some shortlisted writers and artists the chance to be published here on the website instead.(We’ll hopefully have a positive update about the printed magazine soon!) Keep an eye on our social media for other great work like the piece below… 


Probability Neglect

Mark Reece



“It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. As big as my hand. At least. With dozens of eyes. All glowing red. When it climbed on her shoulder – this is no word of a lie – it paused to stare at me. I couldn’t believe it. She just stood there as if nothing was happening. Its fangs were almost touching her neck. They were enormous, like scythes. It flared up as if…as if…it was sizing up to attack me.”

          Sam stopped talking as he reached a set of traffic lights and adjusted his hands-free device. It was of an old-fashioned design, having been built into the dashboard years ago, and was always coming loose. He jumped when hearing beeping behind him, and almost stalled the car in his rush to speed off. His colleague Rachael, who he was speaking to, started giggling.

          “Why did she let it out for?”

          “I really don’t know.” Sam sighed. “Maybe just to put me on edge.” He rubbed his forehead. “You should see the hairs on its legs. I’ve never known anything more grotesque. I can’t sleep. The lid doesn’t fit its cage properly. The way it scuttles… I keep imagining that it’ll get out at night, and I’ll wake to find it crawling over my face. The way it crunches through the crickets…did I mention that she’s keeping crickets now too, to feed it? God. They’re almost as bad. The smell, the horrible scratching they make, their beady little eyes, the way they hop on her fingers… It’s like something out of a nightmare.”

          Rachael snorted. “She can’t watch them all the time, why can’t you have an ‘accident’ when she next works late?”

          Sam sped up as he joined a motorway. “She’d never believe me. And I don’t want to touch it. She keeps saying that a tarantula’s bite is only as bad as a bee sting, but who keeps bees in their house? It’s like having a loaded weapon under the bed. I’m really pissed off, she doesn’t seem to consider my safety at all.” He adjusted the hands-free.

          “What about—”

          Rachael’s reply was interrupted by a heavy thud as Sam’s car, which had drifted into the middle lane, clipped a lorry. It skidded into the central reservation, and he slumped over the steering wheel in a tangle of metal and blood.



MARK REECE has been writing short stories for many years, and has been widely published in literary magazines, anthologies, and competitions, including ‘Here Comes Everyone’, ‘Orbis’, and ‘Structo’, amongst others. His book ‘The Dreams of the Eternal City’ is out now and available to purchase from Troubador Book Publishing. He has a website or you can find him on goodreads and Twitter.