Exuviae: A Mother’s Interest 

There’s a secret scratching beneath the surface of this town.  A secret that Annie Bishop and “Big Al” Halifax are going to split open for the whole world to see.  A secret powered by my completed EXUVIAE rules, within two and a half hours and with no preparation whatsoever.

Annie Bishop works the taxidermy store at the top of town.  It’s a stuffy job, but she’s got the stomach for the work and the intermittent deliveries of Big Al.  So, Big Al pulls up outside her house one morning, having “hit something” on the freeway again, but there’s something up with this moose.  Intricate patterns have been carved into its skin — though clearly not by any knife or claw that Al’s familiar with.  He hauls the carcass into her house — the symbols are weirdly familiar both to south American ancient cultures, but also European and Asian paganism too — though what’s less than familiar is the fact the moose’s liver has calcified into a lump of granite.

The two are both hot up on their conspiracies — Annie reads a ton of occult books and their authors tend to take too much seriously, and Al is a regular listener of those radio stations where you’re allowed to speak out against the vampire lizards.  This stoneliver is clearly a sign: and probably tied to the fact that the florist opposite Annie’s taxidermy shop was broken into a few days back, but still no cops have turned up to turn the place over.

So the two hit up the florist: Al taking his usual subtlety with a heavy kick to the door.  Inside is dark, and the place stinks of rotting lilies and bloating flesh.  There’s a body on the floor and someone rooting through the pockets, but this guy stands up and holds his hands into the air.

But then, see, the body on the floor, it sits bolt upright.  Al spooks, throws his wrench at the guy with his hands up — guy whose head snaps back with a flailing proboscis.  Annie flees the scene, but is barged to the floor by some heavy who steps into the doorway.

The clearly-not-a-corpse has gotten to its feet by this point and grabbed Al, who stares transfixed at the empty eye sockets of the thing.  By the time he breaks free, a steady stream of mosquitoes pour from the sockets, and Annie’s looking through Al’s truck for something to lever open the nearby hydrant.

Except that she sees someone over the road and is promptly interrupted by her mother, who’s not only clearly friends with the brute who knocked Annie to the floor, but also friends with Al’s ex-wife who also crosses the road.  The brute grabs Annie, Big Al runs into the brute’s mate out the back of the shop, and the pair wake up tied to chairs in a dockside warehouse.

This first act of the game led to the players uncovering almost half as many truths as they needed to win: and after escaping the warehouse and resting up at Al’s contact, they researched an abandoned truck-stop at the edge of town.  Eventually leaving that in flames and with the corpse of a hybrid human insect in the back of a truck, the pair fled along the coast road to Annie’s father, where they eventually learned the truth of her mother’s involvement…


EXUVIAE is currently in the run-up to a Kickstarter later this year.  I’m organising artwork, layout, printing, &c.  However, if you want to get access to the beta reader rules then send me an email at SEANatBOOKSEANSMITHdotCOdotUK.


Exuviae: A Mother’s Interest 

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XVI, for #smalltales

Sure, I was cuffed to the chair. And sure, the chair faced over the open quarry. But if Cold wanted to kill me, he had ample chance. Either way, it wouldn’t do to be completely slave to his whims – and there was a little play in the cuffs. They were clearly cheaper than a swampland sauna.

“It’s not like you to leave a stiff in the cold, Al.”

“Had to send a message, Kurt.”

“Yeah, well Luce put a gun in my face.”

“Luce is more on the looking end of a piece… She came?”

I nodded. “Yeah.”

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XVI, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XV, for #smalltales

When I came to, the hangover was hitting harder than the headwound. I could feel that I was cuffed to a chair – we stared out into the gaping maw of open quarry.

Digits? I’d waste that fucker for playing this game. Though this was a little brutish…

Pebbles dropped like my chances of a good morning’s sleep, clanging off the quarry wall with an echo weaker than a hooker’s waistband.

“Long time, Kurt.”

“Don’t sound like a dead man, Al. Last I heard your throat was cut this morning.”

“You ought to watch your news outlets. We need to talk.”

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XV, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XIV, for #smalltales

Time I left Roy’s, my head was a swirl of liquor and the lattice of leads stabbed harsh into my temple. Figured that’s what brought the frown until I noticed that I was staring at the open hood of my car.

I kept nothing in it – but the lever is beneath my dashboard.

I took a few steps towards it like wading through shit and placed my hand on the wing. Empty darkness.

My vision blacked out before I registered the blow.

My head reeled as if falling back but I could feel strong arms tipping me into the trunk.

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XIV, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XIII, for #smalltales

She sat with her back to the room, curled brown hair trapped loosely beneath a scarlet beret. Vicious red nails on bone-white cigarette; long, deep draws into delicate smoke rings.

As I crossed the floor, her chiselled calf pushed a chair aside for me to sit. I sat beside her. We each watched the leather back wall of the booth.

“Mr Ansa. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Who are you?”

“That’s not important right now. But you can call me… Awely. Miss Awely.”

“Why are you following me?”

“There’s a ship, Kurt. Well, a derelict. Out beyond the third buoy.”

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XIII, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XII, for #smalltales

The sun had set long past but Roy’s joint lived in perpetual twilight. The décor looked like it’d benefit from a night out in a storm, but the atmosphere was comfortable enough if you didn’t mind the stench of suspicious eyes on you. There were booths – I made it a professional courtesy to stay out of them. Roy’s was rest, not work.

“You look tired, man,” Roy growled as he served my third top-up. “The candle burns the brightest burns the shortest. And you’re burning so very, very bright.”

“Folks discerning?”

Roy tipped his head, looked towards a booth.

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XII, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XI, for #smalltales

He must have seen the apathy pooling at my feet like it was cigar smoke.

“I know who you’re after, Ansa. I could make things… difficult… regarding Higgs.”

“You’re in no position to blackmail me, Digits.”

“You’re.. you’re right, Kurt. Look, you gotta help me out. Suzy called me up this morning all screaming to high heaven that there was a body in her bed. Not the kind of stiff she knows, you get me?”

“Don’t care, Digits. You want to hire me, come by my office.”

He spoke some more but I got in my car, shut him out.

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: XI, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: X, for #smalltales

Jimmy Digits’ hat was low so it was hard to see his eyes but the crook looked uneasy nonetheless. His driver did his greatest impression of an absent man and I guessed Digits wanted to be frank.



“This ain’t your MO, Digits.”

“How perceptive of you to notice, dick. Sure you don’t need to look for more clues at the beneath a lake of liquor?”

“Don’t get cocky.”

He looked up at the revolver on the roof of my car.

“Hey, I’m sorry, man. I’m feeling pretty tetchy. I’ve dropped the ball on something. I need your help.”

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: X, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: IX, for #smalltales

The door swung open and a thickset man stepped out. He paced to the rear door, held his hand near the handle, then looked expectantly in my direction.

I switched off the engine and stepped from the car. I laid my revolver on the roof.

The driver opened the door and a tiny man spilled out. He wore his large hat like a frown and with an expression to match. They called him Jimmy Digits after what he took when he offered a cigar, but really he had a plethora of intimidation tactics.

This wasn’t one of them.

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: IX, for #smalltales

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: VIII, for #smalltales

By the time the sunset was just a lipstick smear on the ocean’s collar, I noticed I’d picked up a shade.

Was a wonder I’d not seen him sooner, the car was pretty conspicuous: filing-cabinet grey sedan with a mismatched hood. Still, it was being driven calm and safe behind the darkened glass. All I could see were leather driving gloves sensibly gripping the wheel.

I noticed he was indicating off as the road pulled up to the old quarry. I didn’t bother to signal but swung the car into the quarry anyway.

He parked up a good distance back.

The Hunt for Higgs’ Bos’n: VIII, for #smalltales