Dead Man’s Handle

…is the name of today’s story on Fictive Dream.

Throughout the month of February 2021 I will be showing you illustrations I did for Flash Fiction February 2021 at Fictive Dream, an online short-story magazine. For more information about FFF21 and my artwork process, look here.

Here’s the image editor Laura Black chose for this story, Dead Man’s Handle, by Sam Payne.

And here is the artwork with the banner. Take a look at this image. And then…

Read the story at Fictive Dream.

6 thoughts on “Dead Man’s Handle

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I found that story to be very dark and somewhat upsetting. I have been on a train involved in a fatality three times and found myself haunted by thoughts of the trauma experienced by the driver. I suspect, therefore, that my more visceral reaction to the story is because it conjured up those thoughts and feelings from those experiences.

    I do, however, love your artwork. I am glad that I pondered the illustration and thought about it as a separate entity before my perspective was clouded by the actual story. I really like the use of the strong primary colours against the black and I like the strength of the mark-making. It actually made me think of fireworks.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I am sorry about the train situation. I think your account underlines for me the ripples that such an event make in the world, affecting many more than it might at first seem. I feel bowed down after reading this story at the cruelty of life, and its indifference to whom it strikes. Having said that, I did like the story, and for some reason in this context I noticedthe dark underside of the painting as being something I have always noticed about commuter trains (for about 40 years, this is not new) how dark they are underneath the car with all the machinery, and for some reason that has always sort of scared me. No idea why. Anyway, I like your idea of the painting as being fireworks. I can see that, and to me they are reflecting on water or the ground, on a rainy night.

  2. Laura Black

    In my mind no other illustration could have complimented today’s flash, Dead Man’s Handle by Sam Payne, so well. In this context, the strong colours, and the red in particular, represent the trauma that the narrator has experienced. More specifically, I felt that artwork was exactly right because the yellow rectangles, and indeed, the darker rectangles in the lower section, are reminiscent of train tracks. Thank you, Claudia, for such a dramatic piece of work.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      You’re welcome. I liked this story a lot. The train driver’s presence on that route on that particular day, the junction with another person’s decisions made in the context of a life unrelated to the train driver, and the effect it has on the driver – reminders that fate is mostly cruel, I think, and how hard it is to come back from something like this, if it is possible…I have many years of train commuting in my past and though I have not experienced such an incident they are not uncommon, sadly, and I thought of several stories. I’ve also known someone with a child killed by a train. The illustration to me is dramatic and kind of dark tones to the colors. I interpret the dark space as the area under the train wheels, which, in real life, I don’t like to look at because to be honest the wheels have always scared me.

  3. memadtwo

    This reminds me of a story I read in the paper about subway drivers involved in people jumping on the tracks in front of their train–it happens all too often. And more than once to some. It can never be forgotten, only dealt with. The domino effect of the illustration echoes the way, as you say, an incident like this expands from the original act. (K)

Comments are closed.