My Hornbill, My Only Hornbill – SHORT STORY


   HE STARTED CALLING me ‘Hornbill ‘ recently. Probably for a couple of months now come to think of it, about the same time he started work on the basement. I never went down, it gave me the creeps. Can you believe that? A woman of forty scared of some stairs and the dark. Well it kept him busy – isn’t that what a good wife wants?

He carted buckets of bricks through the house along with bags of cement and sand. Curiosity killed the cat didn’t it? So I let him be, traipsing dirt across the floorboards, running the cement mixer until the early hours, it just seemed he was happy, I couldn’t ruin that for him. ‘A surprise’. That was all I’d get if I asked about his secret project.

One day on the toilet, I was doing my business. Reading while going wasn’t very ladylike, but I saw the pile of magazines Barry kept in the bathroom, some years old. I could’t help myself. Flicking through I read a couple small sciencey pieces. The pictures were spectacular, all sorts of exotic animals and tropical habitats. Then I saw a title, Hornbills, Truly Devoted Partners. Nature throws up some of the weirdest things but this was extraordinary. In the paragraph it said that male hornbills imprisoned their female partners in a hollow tree trunk, patching up the entry with mud and debris so the female cannot escape. Then through a deliberately small gap, she can breathe and receive food. Animals! Whatever next?

A few days later around eight, shortly after dinner, I was sitting quietly reading in the living room when I heard Barry come in. A great big smile was spread across his face. ‘Come on Hornbill! I’ve got a surprise!’

Putting the book down I duly followed. I hesitated at the top of the stairs to the basement. ‘Come on!’ Barry said, encouragingly. The lighting wasn’t great. When I got down there all I could see was the cement making equipment and various bits of junk Barry had stashed down there over the years, but then I saw, in a corner he had built up a box shaped room. There was just enough room for a person to squeeze in. In fact I doubted my Barry could even fit. ‘Go inside!’ he said gleefully. ‘What’s in there?’ I asked..


lion around 2


  1. I enjoyed it, but can someone be that stupid. She’d just told us she hates the stars there and the new ‘pet name, not, and the article… those are huge dots…to not join together. All in the same afternoon lol.

    1. People know no boundaries of stupid lol
      It was over a few months to be fair, but I could have written it a bit tighter, as to the reader it seems entirely obvious, so we’re ahead of the characters knowledge.

      1. Ok I was trying to do two other things,maybe I should concentrate and read. I have found tough that can easily happen the shorter the story, the distortion…but if you think you could tighten it then I can blame you ..all is good. lol. But do try an d see some b&w Twilght not the later colour, which to me should have been banned.

    1. I read an article about hornbills, and instantly thought it would make a great story.
      In the bird version, I am not too sure about the comfort of the lady bird, but they are kept with plenty food. I think it is to stop any males having access.

  2. Great idea – death by Reader’s Digest is the new rock and roll! It comes across (to me at least) as being played for laughs more than horror because of the fact that the reader isn’t given a lot of chance to feel sympathy for the wife – but either way it’s a good read!

  3. Don’t go in! Gah. This is that scene in a horror movie where I’m helplessly screaming at the screen at the characters and watching between my fingers as she dutifully goes in anyway. Fantastic writing, Fionn. Seriously, you have a talent for the creepy and the suspenseful, and I’m a little envious!

  4. and now I wish I haven’t read this… at the top of the story next time say suspense or something… creepy stories are not on my list of things to read lately… however imaginative…

  5. Oh man, that is a creepy husband and a seriously oblivious wife! This story is so disturbing but it’s kinda fun and I feel bad for being so entertained. That poor woman! 😄😳

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