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An excerpt from'Phosphorescence'

The two men left the apartment at 7 Rue Honoré Ugo just before sunrise, dressed identically in black shorts and muscle shirts, walking up the slight grade to the eastern end of Rue Rosetti to the gateway placed there by the City of Nice, the opening for which was cut into a stone wall topped with ornate and perforated wrought-iron in green and gold, reaching four metres high, and there they entered and turned and headed upwards, beginning to run, shoulder to shoulder up the switchbacking staircase, taking turns to the inside, nine steps, nine steps and so on, up and up into the semi-manicured pine forest of the “chateau” as it was called (though no chateau was there), up through dawn crickets and the slip of pine needles covering the upper reaches of the stairs until they came to the road which ran in from the north, and empty was the road in the expected coolness of the hour and now they were going faster, still breathing easily, until they reached the crown of the hill, a paved parking lot concealed or embellished by an irregular ring of low bushes, and on they ran, circling now for their return, settling into the rhythm they had come to know as theirs, past the lookout on the western precipice from which, had they stopped, they would have seen, beyond the darkness of the sea, the airport Côte d’Azur, its runway lights a-glitter like a low constellation flattened onto the horizon, but they’d stopped for that view once, the first time—three nights ago—so now they passed on, shoulder to shoulder, from the parking lot down to the forest, to the dawn crickets, the stairway, the gate, Rue Rosetti again past stray cats shying away and cafés shuttered, running dead-centre now in the narrow streets and the half-blind alleys of the old city until they broke out into the Place Masséna, where black-and-white squares had been inlaid everywhere like giant chessboards, geometrically conjoined, the squares of the chessboards a-blur at the pounding speed of their passing, to the Promenade des Anglais where they turned westward, and already there was traffic, taxis, the first bus, and at last they stopped at the intersection of the Boulevard Gambetta and crossed to the sea-wall and looked down to the beach, their eyes accustomed to the dark and now, anyway, the first light was glimmering in from the east, and there they saw the two girls, they watched them as they came out of the water, swimming as early as they had been running, returning to their bundled clothes or sleeping-bags, lying down, somehow uncaught by the gendarmerie who swept the beaches till 3 AM—so, presumably, they had arrived after that—and the two men thought, wordlessly, simultaneously, that maybe these girls would do.

If so, it would save them a lot of trouble.

A little bit about Nicholas Ruddock

Shortlist

Nicholas Ruddock trained in medicine in Toronto, Montrael and St John’s Newfoundland. He has worked as a G.P. since 1971. He lives in Ontario with his wife, artist Cheryl, and four children.

His recent publications include “The Parabolist” published in 2010 by Doubleday Canada and “How Loveta Got Her Baby” a collection of stories published in 2014 by Breakwater Books. His new novel “Night Ambulance” will be published in April 2016 by Breakwater Books.

Nicholas has had repeated success for his short fiction. His stories have been published by Exile Quarterly, Fish and Bridport anthologies, and he won the 2005 Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize, 2013 Bridport Flash Fiction prize and the 2015 edition of Exile’s Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Competition.


See the full Shortlist