'Horned Devil' (detail) by Jethro Lentle

‘Horned Devil’ (detail) by Jethro Lentle

The Millennium Bug was hungry again; Skylark could feel it in her stomach. They were linked, the Bug and the girl. Last night’s shopping sat still-bagged on the table. Quietly, she took food from there: bread, tinned peaches and other things she knew it liked to eat. Her parents were in the living room, arguing, TV turned up loud to mask the sound. She hated them. They were like pet dogs – big, unwieldy, useless. They thought she was asleep.

She went out the kitchen window onto the fire escape. The cold picked at her, made her breath feel brittle. Her footsteps rang hollowly against the metal stairs. As she reached the roof the Bug unspooled itself from the shadows of a vent stack. It was getting easier and easier to make it come. In the beginning she’d had to strain for it, stretching out on the tiptoes of her mind. Now she could call it before she’d even reached the roof and it would be there waiting. She liked that. With every day that passed she was only getting stronger.

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Krishan Coupland lives in Norwich, and studies Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. His writing has appeared in Voiceworks, Aesthetica, Ambit and Fractured West. He won the Manchester Fiction Prize in 2011, and in his spare time he edits a literary magazine. More of his work can be found at www.krishancoupland.co.uk.

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