Napkin Story : Around the Door by Steve Toase

Steve Toase is our next Napkin winner, with his eerie Halloween story ‘Around the Door.’

Around The Door

Steve's napkin story "Around the Door"

Steve’s napkin story “Around the Door”

Taking another nail from between his teeth, Daniel hammered it into the bare wood of the doorframe until little more than the head was showing. Nine iron nails now ringed the top of the door. Some had bent as he knocked them into place, but that didn’t matter. Only the number and the position. From a bag by his feet he took out nine lengths of horsehair, splitting each and knotting it with a single piece of rowan at the centre. Careful not to dislodge the twig he pressed each knot onto a single nail. He glanced at the clock. Dusk wasn’t far away and he needed to be finished before the sun started to set. His house sat on the edge of the fen, and at Hallowe’en the edge of the fen was not a safe place to be.

Bag now empty he reached into his pocket for three ribbons, one blue, one green and one red. Moving clockwise Daniel wrapped the ribbons around the nails then wove the loose ends together, letting them trail on the floor.

Finished, and with the sun not yet down, Daniel rubbed his cat Fernando behind the ears and went upstairs, happy the house was protected against the fen.

Annoyed to be woken Fernando stretched and leapt from the radiator. Seeing the ribbons hanging free he walked across the stone floor and gripped the loose ends with his claws. From above, nine knots of horsehair pierced with rowan fell to the ground, followed by the three colour plait. Bored after a few moments Fernando left the mess on the floor and stalked back to his radiator.

Outside dusk came. Underneath the thick, pungent, sphagnum moss something started to shudder, slouching itself from the water toward the house.


Steve Toase is an author, archaeologist and journalist living in North Yorkshire and occasionally Munich, Germany. As an author he writes mythic fiction, weaving elements from folklore and legend into a contemporary setting. In Steve’s work, Gods are found in boxes, trees hitch-hike and bears play chess in sunlit plazas. Over thirty of Steve’s stories have been published.

In addition to writing fiction Steve works as a freelance journalist, with articles regularly appearing in BSH The Custom Motorcycle Magazine and Fortean Times. He produces accessible, informative articles drawing on his specialist knowledge of archaeology, motorcycles, the British motorcycle scene, vintage culture, myth and folklore.

In 2013 Steve worked on his first writing commission, a collaboration with photographer Lucy Carolan, for the Runs On The Board Project. You can read Steve’s work for the project at

Steve can be found  at ; ;

Fiona Gell

Fiona is a lifelong reading enthusiast and book lover. Her career started as a bookseller and has never really veered away from the written and spoken word. It was a dream for her to be a founder member of The Leeds Big Bookend and the Northern Short Story Festival. She continues to be its Director.

You may also like...