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

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51 thoughts on “My Hornbill, My Only Hornbill – SHORT STORY

  1. Yeah! Yeah! This one is fire. The pacing, The hints and set up. Nicely done, Fionn!

    1. Thanks again. Now, if a woman starts calling you hornbill…

      1. Ha! Ha! She wants me to brick her in.

  2. 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.

      2. No worries ☺
        And I am watching one just now To Serve Man…old and quirky, but good.

  3. The wife ain’t all to bright! 😀 You do dark humour well (just my two cents, in case you were ever forced to choose a genre).

    1. Thanks magarisa, I’ll take the title of dark humourist ☺ They seem to blend so well to counteract one another.

  4. love it…reminds me of the old B&W twilight zone. 🙂

    1. Thanks. And the more I see Twilight Zone mentioned the more I want to watch it, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

      1. lol dude!!!!!!!! You gotta watch it, it’s the shit, for real! lol

  5. BOOM.

    Instant divorce. No lawyers. No hassles.

    Good one. Sick mind. Perhaps we can get group rates for therapy if we sign up together.

    1. Haha! That pitch is catchy.
      And group rates discount? Sure! 😃😅

  6. Somehow I feel she should be better prepared… I hope there she has a bill ready to defend herself…

    1. It was largely about a naive obliging wife, she just accepted what was happening, and din’t connect the dots.

  7. That’s quite foreboding :/
    What brings this onto your imagination?

    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.

      1. Well, if you want another creepy as anything idea…
        Try the relationship between male and female angler fish.

      2. Cheers for the tip 😃
        Anything in those murky depths seem to be either magical or totally horrifying.

  8. 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!

    1. Lol. You have it in a nutshell really, it wasn’t intended to be that dark, and she is naive as he is distant.

  9. Loved this! Is it true, about hornbills?

    1. Thank you. And it is, one of those quirks of nature, really bizarre.

      1. I can think of some human beings who must have been hronbills in a previous incarnation…

  10. 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!

    1. Many thanks Jade, kind words,
      And I’m glad the ending was a decent enough pay off. Also if creepy and suspenseful is my calling, so be it lol

  11. Another slam dunk. Posts like this are the reason this is one of my favorite blogs.

    1. Many thanks SD, I’m glad you think so ☺

  12. You have a real talent for creepy and for storytelling

  13. Seriously, that woman needed to grow a pair. And reading on the toilet? If he hadn’t locked her in the cellar, I would have done it myself.

    1. Haha, yeah pretty much 😅. One of them anything to please the husband types, fairly benign, unassuming, nearly scared to breathe.

      1. Well she’s nice and safe now.

  14. 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…

    1. I’ll keep you in suspense. You never know what you’ll read on here. Cheers for dropping by ☺

      1. I think I’ll stick to yout 6 words post for now… lol

      2. They are pretty safe…usually 😉

      3. the keyword there is… usually ^_^

  15. VictoryInTrouble August 29, 2016 — 3:50 PM

    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! 😄😳

    1. You got it. It’s daylight horror, nothing too sinister, fairly easy going lol ☺

      1. VictoryInTrouble August 29, 2016 — 6:08 PM

        Yes, for me- not the wife, lol.

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