Seabirds haunt an area where the contents of a bucket have been tossed. I see fish-heads. Entrails. Farther along, I almost step on a dead jellyfish. Its skin is transparent. Ghostly. Reminds me of the clear plastic bags they issue at security in the airport. I can see all the wiring inside it; looks like telephone cord. Like it has a circuit board inside it. I used to think people were like that. That I could see right through into the heart of them. That I understood them. Thought that was what made me a good social worker. All it took was one misreading and everything fell apart.

A. J. Kirby is the award-winning author of six published novels (Sharkways, 2012; Paint This Town Red, 2012; Perfect World, 2011; Bully, 2009; The Magpie Trap, 2008; When Elephants Walk Through the Gorbals, 2007), two collections of short stories (The Art of Ventriloquism, crime shorts, August 2012; Mix Tape, 2010), three novellas (The Haunting of Annie Nicol, 2012; The Black Book, 2011; Call of the Sea, 2010), and over fifty short stories, which can be found widely in print anthologies, magazines and journals, and across the web in zines and writing websites. Paint This Town Red has been shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize 2012. His short fiction have won numerous awards at UK literary festivals, and his novel BULLY recently charted as an Amazon genre number 1. He is also a sportswriter for the Professional Footballers’ Association and a reviewer for the Short Review and the New York Journal of Books. A. J. Kirby lives in Leeds, UK.