Love Burns Brightly (385 words)

By the time she officially arrived at the scene the blaze was all but out and the ashes were being dampened. What was once a large warehouse had been reduced to twisted skeletal remains carved from melted and warped steel. The power of fire always impressed her in a morbid way.

Even though they were all dressed identically she spotted him a mile off, her heart skipped a beat and a smile raced across her face. She flashed her badge at the officer setting up the perimeter and ducked under the flimsy blue and white police tape.

She tapped him on the shoulder, "We have to stop meeting like this." She beamed with a jollity that betrayed the situation.

He turned around slowly; her heart melted when she saw his powder blue eyes, seemingly brighter than ever peering out of the soot and grime that covered his face.

"Third one this week, "He said sadly. "We think it was being used by a few homeless people as we have found some …"

He paused as he searched for the right word. "Remains." Was the one he finally settled on.

It would be different later on at the station house, the sick humour coping mechanism would kick in and bravado would overrule the raw emotion you always experienced on site. Once the official processes kicked in and the humanity of the situation was removed he would be able to carry on as normal but these first few hours were always the worse. You never forgot your first one, that was a given. Every fire-fighter she knew could name the first body they pulled out, no matter how long your career. He was different he could remember each and every one, the shock and sadness never lessened.

She placed a hand gently on his shoulder, offered a warm smile she hoped was reassuring. "We'll catch them you know, we always do in the end."

"Doesn't help them though does it?" He said angrily, gesturing at the smouldering carnage in front of them.

She knew then she truly loved him; she also knew she would have to stop starting the fires and start looking for some way to wash the blood off her hands, but not yet maybe one or two more would make him notice her properly?


The Voices by @neilsehembhy (486 Words)

Afternoon. Best take a sit down, rather than collapse on the floor. Don't get excited. And you bloody well best not get scared either. We're not having that again. Not another episode like Aunt Gertrude.

You knew this day would come. Your an intelligent boy. After all if you didn't expect this , why the hell do all that research into the family tree? It's hereditary after all.

Yes it is exactly who you think it is. 

We are the voices in your head.

Yes, we realise that we have left it late this time before getting in touch. Until now you've been pretty much. Well together. We felt you didn't need our intervention.

You know? We didn't need to step in, take control as such. It was all pretty smooth. We're surprised you hadn't guessed that because – well never mind.  

Anyway I bet you're wondering why I sound like you. Well there's a good reason for that one. It's to make you feel more at ease. More at ease at the prospect of someone sharing your consciousness. Someone's actually. There's a few of us here but I'll get to that another time. 

Listen, we're sorry to have thrown this on you. Please come out of the corner and stop rocking back and forward it's making us nauseous.

The control you've had has been extraordinary really. Kept the demons at bay as it were with your routine, your schedules, your laborious habit of setting up domino's all uniform in a line.  They really are beautiful patterns you create.  We all enjoy them.

Well, anyway, today that reason, that control flew away. It slipped out your grasp. That's the reason we're here to help you.
You see, everyone else didn't have your intellect, your reasoning. You can only work with what you've got. Previously its not been much but now we can do what we were born to do. Together. 

Look you take a rest and sit this one out, please let us intervene – its our pleasure.

The madness was always going to find you. And she asked for it. Really she did. I mean you treated her nicely didn't you?  Like a princess. But still she betrayed you, stabbed you in the back. Just like you stabbed her. We will clean this up. Really it's no trouble

No that's fine, let's not worry about the whys and wherefores – not if it upsets you.

To be honest after Gertrude it's a pleasure to working with someone of your calibre. It really is. We could be part of something great.

Excuse me a moment.

What's that? That's preposterous! Really? His sister? Well that's awkward!

Look there's been a mistake. Someone must have sent the wrong forms through or something. We're awfully sorry.

We're not the voices in your head, we're the voices in someone else's. A relative of yours, not that it helps much.

Apologies. Your on your own!


Three Card Blag by @neilsehmbhy (495 Words)

The stranger walked into the saloon, Smith and Westons jangling and spurs clinking, his hat pulled down low. Weaving through the tables and chairs, he made his way to the bar with a languid grace.

Anywhere else in Texas, a stranger tooled to the hilt entering a saloon would have instantly silenced the room, but here no one  paid him any attention.

The bartender poured out two fingers of drinking whiskey and wordlessly accepted the silver dollar placed on the counter.

Leaning against the bar, the stranger sipped his drink whilst calmly looking around. After a moment he noticed a game of three card brag and sidled over to watch from the shadows.

The game progressed for another half an hour, until the pot at centre of the table was one of the largest he had ever seen.

This game would go down in history. All the greats were here  Calamity Jane, Poker Alice, Bat Masterson, Lottie Deno, Bob Ford, Mustache Maude, Doc Holliday, Big Nose Kate Elder. All here to win the big prize and title of Poker King,or Queen.

On the last hand there were only three players left, and angry words rose sullenly in the air as a hush came over the saloon.

'Cheat'. Everyone heard the whispered word.

Bob Ford pushed his chair back and rose from his seat.

Scowled so that a slantwise  scar across his upper lip twisted his face he said "You callin' me a cheater, Alice?" "Looks like it."

People scrambled away for shelter.

" I ain't afreed to kill a woman, Alice. Take it back."

Alice smiled. "Nope."

Bob went for his gun.


Alice calmly blew the smoke from her single shot Derringer and put it back in her sleeve.

Bob staggered and fell to his knees clutching his blood soaked chest. In between ragged gasps he asked, "How'd you… know?"

Alice smiled glancing at the table  where his full house lay spread out splattered with blood on the green felt.

All the other players were making their way slowly out the door, only Calamity Jane had the foresight to slip some of money into her bodice as she left.

Walking up to him she whispered sweetly "Cause those weren't the cards I dealt yah."

Bob collapsed to the floor dead as Alice turned to collect the winnings. Only to be faced by the stranger.

"Alice Huckbert aka Poker Alice, by the powers vested in me by the US Gambling Commission, I'm arresting you for murder and cheating. I'm taking this money as evidence "

Everyone was quiet as the stranger cuffed Alice and took her outside. Within minutes they were talking about the hard eyed stranger riding out of Reedswood town with Poker Alice prisoner.

As they reached the outskirts the stranger let Alice down on to the ground.

Alice looked up confused "I thought I was going to prison? "


A gunshot echoed out over the plains.

"Wrong. I just came for the money!"


Saloon by @Lucy_Magnuson (489 Words)

It was the last straw. The last time she would be pushed. She was tough, she was a fighter but there came a time when even fighters packed up, cut their losses and rode the hell out.

So that was the plan. But first. One last drink. For old times.

She grabbed her hat and pulled it down low over her head. Took a breath, put her game face on.

The second she opened the door the noise of the saloon was over whelming. While her room had felt safe, the bar, well that was a different story. Here she wasn't seen as an equal, here she was something to entertain, to serve, to be at the whim of the men who drank there.

But she wasn't theirs, wasn't a toy, wasn't cheap entertainment. She was highly skilled, highly regarded back home. Her skills with a rope and horse were borderline legendary, but this town, these people, they didn't value ability. They wanted cheap drink and a cheap thrill.

So she scanned the room, found a safe corner. Near the door, no obstructions, clear exit. No one between her and escape.

A drink. If you could call it that. The prices here were cheap but the liquor cheaper. But for the sake of appearance, she had to have one.

It burned her throat. Another. More burning. It might be cheap, probably mixed with God knows what, but it burned.

She loved the burn.

Another. Wise? Maybe not, she needed to keep her senses keen, but she needed the warmth. The wind was picking up, a storm brewing and it was a long over night ride to the safety of the next town.

Another. More burn. She dug in her pockets for matches. Lit them. Let them burn down to her fingers. Each time getting closer, holding for longer. The combination of alcohol and burn making her smile, making the men watching her nervous.

One last drink. One more. Then she would ride.

It was on the table, she reached, held the glass, span it in her hands. The liquor sliding up the sides. One last match. Her fingers, her throat, waiting for the burn.

The spark. Bright in the gloom. She watched the flame move towards her fingers.

And then it all moved quickly. Too quickly for the men at the bar, the ones at the stage, the ones upstairs, in the rooms, waiting for the girls who had no choice. But they did. They knew. She had told them.

Wordlessly she stood, the drink thrown, the match dropped.

The flames spread too quickly, but she was already out the door, mounting the horse, leading the Saloon girls out of the town that had wronged them.

The flames rose rapidly, licking at the stars like the forked tongue of Satan himself dragging the souls of the men inside straight to the hell where they belonged.

And the girls rode.  


Taking Back Liberty By Nathan Spong (498 Words)

Word was out. The sheriff had been out of town and outlaw Ned James had taken control. He was holding Liberty City to ransom. But Marshall McCready was back to save the day.

McCready was your typical comic book cowboy; square jawed, blonde haired, suntanned. His beige shirt had a six pointed star pinned his chest and he wore matching silver revolvers.

"We're here today because of that no good varmint Ned James. And we're not going to stand for it! Are you ready?" He hissed.

I looked around at my fellow cowboys as we cheered nervously.

"I said. ARE. YOU. READY?"

We roared approval.

"Then let's move out!"

McCready reared up on his white steed before turning towards Liberty. We rumbled forward, slowly at first but gathering speed as we charged down the hill; the hooves and cartwheels drowned out by the baying crowd.

As we entered the city boundary, I felt something change in the air. If anything, the oppressive desert heat felt hotter. Nerves can play all kind of tricks on a man.

Out of the saloon came an outlaw, shooting blindly. He never stood a chance. We turned as one but McCready had already shot him without a second glance. High on a building in the distance stood a gunman with a rifle taking aim. We dived to the left as his gunshot hit the ground as a volley of gunfire came from the rear of the party, the man falling face first to the ground. Outlaws appeared seemingly at random and from behind stowed barrels and shop doorways, bullets rained in. The smell of cordite was thick as we cut a swathe through the baddies, on to our meeting with Ned James and a meeting with destiny.

James stood in the centre of the town square, hands poised at his sides. McCready was imposing, but James even more so. His black hat and shirt offset his thick stubble and he was casually chewing a matchstick.

"McCready! You ready to draw?" but before the sheriff could answer, James had drawn his gun and fired at the sheriff. McCready hit the ground, he'd never lost a gunfight and couldn't afford to now. James ran towards the far end of town with us in hot pursuit.

Sensing he was now alone, the outlaw stepped from cover with his hands high. McCready lowered his hands but it was a bluff – James reached for his gun. But Marshall McCready was the fastest gun in the west and he drew both pistols and shot James clean through. The outlaw had been defeated, the town had been saved. The sheriff turned to and shouted triumphantly to us.

"We did it men! We just took back Liberty!"

McCready turned back slowly and started walking towards the town, disappearing into the distance.

"And CUT! That was super darlings, but can we go again from 'McCready! Ready to draw?' Thanks lovelies!"

Sometimes being a film extra was just like being a kid again.


I Remember When This Was All Fields by @Chimping_Dandy (493 words)

I looked down into the dwindling flames of my campfire, all around me I could hear the low murmur of the cattle as they grazed on the mossy vegetation that characterised the 'The Big Sulky'.  I'd often wondered why it was called that, it wasn't a particularly depressing place, maybe it meant something in the locals' language. 

I'd never bothered to learn it, the few times I'd had to interact with them I'd managed to get away with hand signals and saying everything loudly.

'Where nearest water?' I'd ask, waving my hands around and miming taking a drink.  They'd look at you as if you'd banged your head on a rock and then point all around them. In fairness, you couldn't move very far without putting your boot in a stream.  That's what made these plains good for cattle; plenty of plants for them and the occasional fruit bush to keep my rations interesting.  The potted beans they gave me at the cattle station were good, really good in fact, but you'd get bored of anything if it was all you had.

Boredom was the real problem.  The cattle knew where they needed to go, we moved them south in the winter and back north in the summer, years of running as a herd had ingrained the route into them. Calves were born, old stock died.  Nothing ever really changed.  The rain didn't help things, it could last for days; The cattle didn't mind, they didn't seem to able to feel it through their thick hides, but it just made it dismal, and damp, and even more boring.

The cave I'd chosen as my shelter for the night was roomy and I'd made sure I could see the herd as clearly as the rain would let me.  It'll give me the opportunity the dry some of my gear before moving on in the morning.  I hope it will have stopped raining by then; I hate riding in the rain, despite my new hat, which was a Birthday present from my beautiful Beth, the rain still managed to find its way down my neck and into my pants.

There were much worse things than having a wet ass I suppose, some of the guys were fighting in the south, seems that some of the natives were protesting.  Saying that the land couldn't support our lifestyle, the amount of cattle we ran, the farmland we diverted streams to irrigate.  It sounded like it was getting pretty rough.

I settled down onto my pack, and was soon lulled to sleep by the rain and the noise of the cattle.

Hours later, I was woken by the sunlight creeping into the cave; I stretched and checked that the cattle were still there and marvelled at the beauty of the sun rising over Olympus Mons, the natives were worried about us ruining the land, but looking at all this lush greenery, how could Mars ever become a desert?


Search for Salvation by @neilsehembhy (402 words)

 Crows circled softly overhead dogging his footsteps as he staggered onwards.

  He was near the town now, not far to go but maybe too far for his tired legs. The rest of his posse had been rounded up one by one leaving just him, alone to bear the burden. The prickly heat beat down upon his head as he adjusted his hat, for better shade. The tipping motion was in the direction of a nearby bush, emaciated under the sun and he chuckled to himself then addressed the foliage 'Howdy there Ma'am. Nice day for a stroll out.'

All the provisions that had been carefully prepared for the journey were now gone, his limbs burned and his head pulsed as his throat longed for just one drop to slake his thirst.

The landscape was so desolate and devoid of life that he dared not hope to find a stranger on the road that could help him. Without his reliable steed to speed his journey he felt as though he was slowly dying, struggling to breath, dehydrated, and suffering from malnutrition.

    But this game of suffering in the sweltering heat was know to him. The dusky plains of the range had not beaten him yet. And they would not today. Slowly he braced himself then concentrated on placing one booted foot in front of the other, whilst simultaneously  ignoring the beating heart of the heavy sun.

    " I'm a gonna make it," he croaked as the small town came into view.

    The crows had grown in their number compared to a few miles back, beginning to caw. They were barely audible at first over the wind blowing ,but they soon grew loud, a rising crescendo of wails that hurt his ears.
Lethargy forgotten he broke into a run to avoid the crows continued barrage. Their shrieks were more piercing than bullets from a six shooter.

Finally he got to his sanctuary, Jacob Hunts saloon bar. Pushing open the swinging doors he
stumbled inside, his eyes blinking as they adjusted to the dimly lit interior.

A roar broke out as he entered.

"Davie boy. Davie boy. Oi Oi. You took your time didn't you. Got the text then did you ? Come on ova kidda, Lee has got the round in!" His friends crowded round shaking hands and greeting him warmly.

Yes it was always good to meet the lads for a beer on Saturday.


The Man With No Name (500 Words)

Riding into town his horse blacker than a moonless night, hat slung down low hiding the eyes from the fierce sun. He slowly trots down the main drag, people stop what they're doing and watch as he goes, looking at no one but seeing everything. He stops outside the saloon, hauls himself out of the saddle and hitches his steed.

The stranger walks into the saloon and everyone stops and stares at this new face in town, he walks up to the bar and says to the buxom barmaid "Need a room for a few nights"

With a tremble in her voice she replies. "don't want no trouble mister."

With the voice of a man who gargles tar in the mornings, he rumbles " aint looking for none, I want a warm bed and some hot coffee."

Somewhat reassured her voice warms, "well we can help you out with the bed mister, dollar a night. Coffee you  get at the Starbucks down the street."

Disgust crawls across his weather beaten and scarred face, he rummages under his poncho, pulls out a roll of dirty bills. Counts five off and tosses them onto the bar. "Figure I'll be here a few days at least, if I need to stay longer that's not going to be a problem now is it."

He stalks out of the bar, his spurs marking every step, the patrons following his every move.

Outside in the harsh sunlight he adjusts his hat and runs a hand over his greying stubble, he isn't the young man he once was. He looks up and down the street, sees the gaudy green sign, sighs and trudges towards his fate.

He pushes the door open with trepidation, waits a second, half expecting a shower of lead to be flung his way but nothing happens and the door gently closes.  He pushes it again, this time with more confidence and slowly walks in.

The overly friendly Barista greets him and tries taking his order in one fluid movement. "Hi sir what can we get you today?"

Staring from underneath the brim of his hat the stranger simply says "Coffee."

"Latte, espresso, cappuccino or Frappuccino sir?"

Not wanting to play this game he replies, "Latte."

"Large, Grande or Colossal? "

Gritting his teeth, desperately trying not to lose his patience he says, "Large … please."

"And would sir like a shot in that? We have Hazelnut, Banana, Baileys, Caramel …"

"NO!  I just want coffee." His voice a second away from madness.

"And what name is that sir?"

"No name." He grunts.

"If you don't give us a name sir how will you know it's your drink?" Grins the Barista, enjoying the power.

With the speed that gave him his infamy when he was still a young man he draws his revolver, the Barista still has the smug grin on his face as the back of his head decorates the wall.

"Guess I'll take that to go." Quips the man with no name.


Glenda by @jamaallamaa (417 words)

To say she wasn’t pleased was an understatement of enormous proportions ~ the Titanic of understatements you might say.

The house was wrecked, debris and rubble scattered everywhere, dust creating a grey blanket over her personal possessions. Gently she picked up a picture frame that she knew to be silver and wiped the glass tenderly on her sleeve ~ the picture emerged, shadowy and faint from the dust, and she saw her much younger self smiling broadly and clutching Vic’s arm as they walked out of church. She stopped and smiled, remembering Vic and the way he would say “Come on Gel, up and at ‘em” when she would have been prepared to admit defeat. “Come on Gel” she whispered to herself, “You can do this, just think what Vic would see if he saw the house in this state”.

Slowly she put on her housecoat, faded now, the brightly coloured sprigs of heather now a vague spray of pale blue, but as usual it was spotlessly clean and starched to within an inch of its life. Slowly she made her way into the kitchen to collect her cleaning equipment “This calls for the rubber gloves I think” she smiled, and set to, the radio softly accompanying her in her work.

Hours later she stopped and, with her hands in the small of her back, she straightened up and looked around. Fair enough, it was still far from perfect, but the rubble had gone and the dust has been viciously chased away. Time for a pot of tea and a sit down.

As usual her thoughts turned to Vic, she allowed herself to remember the good times, when Vic would come home with a wedge of cash and a sharp new suit. He would pick her up and whirl her round “Come on Glenda, get your glad rags on and we’ll go dancing”. He was a case, her Vic, and she closed her eyes to how he made his money, choosing to enjoy the fruits of his labours and the lifestyle it allowed.

That last day, just before he got banged up for a long stretch, he had gathered her in his arms and whispered “Come on Gel, it’ll be OK, Honest Injun”. “Honest Injun” was another of his favourite phrases.. normally signifying he was either lying or in trouble.

How ironic, she thought, that now her Honest Injun was away on the Island for 15 years she had fallen prey to the Cowboy Builders from hell…


The Written World by Neil Sehmbhy (497 Words)

Nervous. Yes nervous described how he felt, waiting for the door to open. Nervous and excited. After all not many reporters got the opportunity to speak to a world renown author. Miles Saunders had grown up reading his books for God's sake.

After being shown into a modest study come library he checked the dictaphone's batteries, twice, pulled out a fresh notepad and a pen.

Entering the room, David Grayson, a literary giant looked frail as he seated himself in a worn chair behind a desk.

"I didn't ask you here for an interview. I plan on making a confession."

"A confession, Sir?" Miles was surprised. He couldn't recall being surprised in his previous 20 interviews. Yet, this ancient man, icon to millions, surprised him.

Grayson smiled back wearily. The quiet rumors in the publishing world were that he had a blood disease and hadn't long left.
A long string of successful novels would soon come to an end.

Death will do that.

Leaning heavily against the desk, Grayson tapped an old typewriter, an antique remarkable in this age of technology. Remarkable yet 44 million sales Worldwide had arisen from its ribbons and keys.

"Once I'd planned on being a scientist not a writer."

"A scientist, Sir?" The statement confused Miles.

"Yes," he sighed. "I was reading physics at Kings college, but left in the first year after purchasing this accursed typewriter." Grayson wheezed softly.

Miles remained silent waiting.

"I suppose you'd like to know why this typewriter is cursed.
Well, it's quite simple really. It's possessed. Some spirit of a restless writer. It's quite sad. They can never find peace. I needed a typewriter back then you see. Money was tight, so I searched the pawn shops in Camden. I was warned when I enquired about its history and but stubbornness and my logical mind made me disbelieve. So I bought it and discovered its secret."

" Weeks after I quit Kings, to my parents dismay. I was obsessed.  Writing compelled me.
Physically I was sick if i didn't write. At night I dreamed of new worlds. My dreams became reality in the pages of my first novel.  All the time this typewriter urging me on."

"Sometimes I wouldn't eat or sleep. It wouldn't let me." As he talked his voice cracked . Then suddenly he slumped back into his chair.

"Sir, are you unwell?" Miles stood up.

"No, I'm simply dying." Smiling weakly he waved Miles away.

"So, you'll tell all? Reveal my dark secret. I'm not an author. The typewriter wrote for me."

"I will," Miles replied frowning.

Soon after he left.

Weeks later David Grayson died, whilst Giles received a parcel in the post. The typewriter.

The editor from his newspaper called leaving a message, asking for the last interview with the great man.

Looking at his notes Miles didn't want to write. It felt wrong to write the truth, a betrayal as such.

But the typewriter wanted to write, as always. So it did.


Ars Circumstans Nos (289 words)

Miguel stops sweeping, leans on his broom and watches as the leaves dance in the wind. In his mind he hears the soothing tones of Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Swans and smiles as his own private ballet unfolds before him. Shortly before the end of act two he is rudely interrupted by a shove in the back off his supervisor; Connor Reeves a man fifteen years his junior and only in a supervisory role due to the length of time he has been employed with Borehamshire council.

"Jesus wept Micky we haven't got all day; we've got to plant the Daff bulbs in the high street before we clock off. Now stop day dreaming and sort your shit out, you dumb Wop."

Miguel sighs as the music slowly fades away, looks at Connor and feels the contempt bubble up within him. "My name is Miguel not Micky or Mickey or pal or buddy and I'm not a wop, I am of Mexican descent so you may want to go for Spic as your chosen racial slur in future."

"I'm sick of your attitude Sanchez, don't think I won't report you." Retorts Reeves "Now get this lot cleared up, we don't have siestas over here Pedro."

Connor storms off grumbling about immigrants and stolen jobs leaving Miguel with the cast of his dead leaf ballet, he tries to pick up where he left off but the moment has gone. Letting out another sigh he resumes sweeping. He marvels for a second as he creates and then destroys a Rothko piece with the detritus and the smile creeps back over his face.

"Ars circumstans nos" he mumbles to himself as he makes his way back towards the van and his tormentor.


Brianna by @JamaaLlamaa (491 Words)

She had quietly slipped out onto the balcony to have a cigarette and was peacefully watching the throngs of tourists enjoying the Cypriot night. It was warm and the scent of Giant Orchids was strong on the night air, Brianna closed her eyes and leant back, it had been a long few days and she needed to relax tonight.

The voice in her ear was surprising, but not shocking, she had half expected him to follow her ~ he had made his intentions very clear over the past 48 hours. His fingers gently caressed her neck, softly stroking their way down her shoulders and back, she shivered slightly and enjoyed the feather light sensations radiating out from his fingers.

“Te quiero Querida” he murmured in her ear as he gently untied the straps of her halter necked dress and pushed it down her body, his fingers becoming more insistent, turning soft flesh hard with desire. He lightly trailed kisses down her back, following them with short nips and licks ~ she tried hard not to moan out loud, the other guests were only the other side of the doors and she did not want to be caught in such a compromising situation.

She arched back into his hands, allowing his head to fall onto his shoulder and concentrating on the amazing waves of feelings that were enveloping her, his lips and hands working together to bring her dangerously close to losing control, her breath short and ragged as he carefully peeled her dress away from her.

She stood on the balcony, naked but for her shoes and panties, deliciously aware of people very close but unknowing; the tourists below laughing and drinking and her, so very close to release only a few feet above them.  

His fingers searched out her desire, probing and dipping, drawing a sigh of frustration as they withdrew once again.. “Noooo” she whispered, “Don’t stop”.

She felt his smile against her back and he gently turned her around ~ the desire hooded his eyes and he dipped his head to pleasure her once more. Closing her eyes she moved forward to kiss him and was surprised when he wouldn’t let her. “No, Querida, this is for you” he said quietly and she complied willingly.

His mouth moved back up her body, pausing only to kiss and nip once again, he reached her throat and she sighed, quietly urging him on, begging him not to stop.

The sudden pain was shocking in its intensity, the feeling as his sharp teeth pierced her flesh while his fingers continued their erotic journey made her scream, but no sound came out and she simply slumped to the floor as he continued to slake the thirst that had enveloped him since he had first seen her.

Wiping his mouth on her discarded dress, he smiled ~ these humans were so easy, there was no sport anymore, the thrill of the chase most definitely gone.


Trolling Is A Art (445 Words)


He reads and rereads the message and shudders. Block capitals, bad spelling, text speak, poor grammar, it's perfect. He clicks send and it's done; now all he has to do is watch and wait as his work spreads across the internet.  

This isn't the first time he has done this type of thing; he is a master of spreading fear and confusion. It's him who advises people to wipe soda cans before drinking from them because of rat piss. It's him who warns them about lost children really being bait for gang rapists, about the kebab house closed down for using cat meat, about the make-believe missing dogs and the non-existent rewards.

He logs out of one account and into another to "like" the picture that would somehow send prayers to a dying a child of his invention. He logs into yet another account and comments on the same picture saying how it is fake and the child died years ago and every who shares this is sick and stupid. He repeats this pattern of chaos for a few hours, the same way he does every day. One minute he is commenting to cure Aids, the next he is a devout Christian condemning queers to hell. He has been playing this game for so long he doesn't really know who he is meant to be anymore, doesn't know what lies he has started and what truths he has supposedly debunked as hokum.

His eyes sting from staring at the screen for so long and his back hurts from being hunched over the keyboard so he decides to treat himself to a bit of fresh air and take a break from the stale Cheetos and fart stench that lingers around his bedroom. 

Opening the front door he has to wait a few seconds to allow his eyes to adjust to natural light, he can't remember the last time he was outside but he enjoys the feeling of the sun on his skin. He takes a few deep breathes and smiles, its good to be alive he thinks. Maybe he'll go to the park and feed the ducks. He read somewhere you shouldn't feed the Alka Seltzer as it makes them explode … or did he make that up?

He shrugs the thought off and makes his way down the path. He opens the gate and stares dumbly down at the white chalk X scrawled on the pavement.


Walk With Me by Neil Sehembhy (495 Words)

Here I am. Sitting in the dark staring at the raindrops on the window, dripping like tears. Like the World's crying, just as I am inside. 
The city awoke hours ago. 
People are walking up and down this street, ignoring what's around them.  

I tried to walk; I really did.  But it was just too much for me. I couldn't fit in.

So many people. Oh Man, the people. They permeate my soul, glazed eyes boring through my skin. They should drive me mad, you see. I won't let them. I won't be like them. I just won't. 

I see everything clearly.  Everything! All their sins, desires, unhidden.
They seeps into my soul like rain into the dry, cracked earth.

I can't be like them. Can't give up you see? Walking in droves following the same path like sheep. Driven by the same base desires. 

I'm alone , isolated with the memory of a thousand different stares glaring at me because I'm different. I'm prey to their predator. It is just too much! 

There is only one way to get rid of this torment.  I have to face it.  I have to let the tears bleed out of my skin.  I must release myself from the screams that haunt me and face my fears.

It is the only way…

There across the way I see it a sanctuary to me. It holds everything I need for my future.

The streets are quiet but if I delay, the masses will fill the pavements and I'll fail or be caught.

I can't afford that.

Checking my clothing to ensure I'm  fully covered I push open the door and cock the shotgun I'm carrying, ready just in case trouble raises its ugly head.

Swiftly I cross the street avoiding the gaze of the few walking mindlessly out in the morning air. Breaking the window as quietly as possible I rush into the store, filling my knapsack swiftly with what I need.

Giving the devastated store shelves a cursory last look I  opened the door cautiously checking if I've been spotted.

The street is teeming with them. They are everywhere. How? I've only been inside for a few minutes. Panic sets my heart racing and fear pours through me mixing the air with my pheromones.My stench is overpowering drawing them to me like moths to a light.

Swallowing my weakness I revel on the bitter taste and burst out of hiding gun blazing shot after shot laying waste to all and leaving a swathe of bodies in my wake.

Sprinting to the car I hurtle inside and close the door.
Moments later I'm speeding down the road uncaring of who gets in my way.

It's been 9 weeks now since the virus took hold, turning everyone into the dead. The living dead still walking the streets as they used to.

I'm not sure if I'm the only one alive but I do know I'm the only one not walking. 


Charlie by @Lucy_Magnuson (500 words)

She stood there. There was nothing. Literally nothing. Just white. She knew what it meant.

'Hello Charlie' came the rasping voice. The voice she knew although had never heard.

'So I didn't land the jump then?' She replied. Resignation in her voice.

'No. No you didn't' said Death. 'If it helps the crash was spectacular. You've already had 2,537,367 you tube hits' A flash of what would normally be described as a grin.

'Not really' She sighed. 'Is my bike OK?'


'Erm what?'

'Well, you and the bike might have become a bit, well, conjoined in the crash. You know. But a spoke through the eye really is THE look this season'

She looked around 'But I can see here'

'Oh yes' Said Death. 'You don't bring any illness or injury here. Its proper ace'

He was spinning his scythe.

'So that's why my kit is really, really clean?'

Death laughed. It wasn't pleasant. There were undertones of eternal misery.

'Oh God no. That was me. All that mud, you looked a right bloody state. Cant have you going 'there' looking like that'. Massive grin. Like looking into a black hole before it ripped you apart.

'Erm....Death? Erm...which 'there' exactly...?' finally she was nervous. The reality of the after life finally sinking in.

'Well that's the fun bit! You get to chose. I cant decide. Your life has been, well, quite evenly balanced in the good and bad stakes'

Excellent. This was a total no brainer.

'Well I guess the smart move would be to go 'up' wouldn't it? I mean who the hell would chose to go 'down'' she paused. He would have raised an eyebrow. 'Sorry' she said apologetically 'No pun intended'.

'Oh its OK. I get worse. Way worse. And hell, its better than those arseholes who come and 'challenge me' to a game of chess. I mean, I fucking hate chess me'

A rumble of laughter from under the robes.

'Look' he said 'If you want a heads up, its not quite what the fire and brimstone lot would have you believe'


'No. now. Just think back to your days of breathing' death giggled 'Sorry, that never gets old 'Anyhoo. Just think about the people who are certs to go up....and the ones who are certs to go down. Now think about who the hell you want to spend an eternity with'

His pause was timed intentionally...

'Up'...they don't have bars. Bunch of bloody tea teetotallers. In knitwear. And slankets. I fucking hate slankets you know. Get right in the way of a good swing of the scythe'

'Erm....so you're suggesting I chose down?' she was genuinely confused.

'Well, down has bars, rock music, drugs, fast cars and fucking. Lots of fucking. For eternity. I know where I would go if I could ever quit this damn job'

'Can I have hell then please Death?'


Swinging the scythe he looked up 'and I will keep spilling your secrets til you let me quit'


O'Hannigan (496 words)

So I'm sat in my office, trying to shake off the mother of all hangovers when the phone starts ringing. The way I'm feeling I don't want to pick it up but I need the work and the noise is like a drill to my skull. So I pick it up and say "O'Hannigan" because that's my name. 

Some broad is on the other end blabbering away about how she is being blackmailed over some skinflick she is in. This pricks my interest straight away and not because I'm a purveyor of the fine arts, if you know what I mean.

We agree to meet at Kats, I need coffee like a drowning man needs a lifejacket and they do great eggs. She is there before me but I'm twenty minutes late so it's no surprise. She is sat in a booth at the back with sunglasses on trying to look inconspicuous, I spot her straight away. She's a good looking broad; the type that needs looking after by a good man but always ends up with some schmuck who doesn't treat her right. This suits me down to the ground; I lost my halo a long time ago.

I slump down opposite her and start mainlining coffee, the waitress brings me my eggs, I've been coming here for years and they know what I like and I like eggs. The look of disgust the broad is giving me says she has never seen a man with a broken nose try and eat and breathe at the same time. She tells me I look like crap and she isn't wrong. I tell her she should see the other guy, he's down in the morgue with a hole in his head and I'm not lying.

I finish my eggs, wipe the yolk off my face and tell her to spill, she says she doesn't want to talk about it so I get up to leave. This works like it always does and she starts blabbering on about how it was just a party up in the hills that got out of hand, she didn't even know someone had a camera and that big Louie Marconi is saying that for the right price her hoo-ha won't be on the front pages.

I tell her they don't tend to put peoples hoo-ha's  on the front page, that is normally on page fifteen and ask her what price big Louie is asking for. She starts to cry and in between sobs manages to say twenty five big ones. I tell her not to worry about and that for just five of those big ones I can guarantee Marconi won't be bothering her again. She asks me how I can be so sure and I tell her I'm just that good, I don't mention that he is already in the morgue with a hole in his head, that's on a need to know basis and I know I need the money.


Dead Man Stare by Nathan Spong (485 Words)

I've always had this "look", apparently. When I was two or three, my parents were worried I wasn't developing and, fearing some kind of condition they took me for some tests. Everything came back fine; apparently my natural expression is to just look really serious. As I got older some of the kids at school used to tease me for it and locally I was well known to everyone as "Zombie". When I became a teenager, even some of the adults called it me and when you think about how horrid children can be to each other, I think I got away quite lightly. With hindsight it was probably pretty cool. Nowadays people simply refer to it as the Dead Man Stare.

Let me explain to you first of all that I don't "do" anything. I don't raise my eyebrows, I don't frown, I don't try and look angry. It's just my natural facial expression. People describe the Dead Man Stare in a number of ways and as it's their perception, who am I to correct them? Some people have said that I have the vacant look of the recently deceased, while others think that I carry myself with the solemnity an undertaker. My favourite though is the suggestion that I stare into the souls of people and see evil. That I only have to look at somebody to know they are out to deceive, and that I can see right through it. Yet for every one of those people that thinks these things, I think there must be countless others that just think I look, well, serious.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't play up to it. I've been doing this job for years now and I've seen all the excuses. From the desperate workshy, to the busy commuter, to the drunk who wants to fight, to the "don't you know who I am?" brigade. They've all passed this way and they've all tried to deceive me and as far as I know, they've all failed. I catch them all. Whether there really is anything to my stare or not I don't know, but I certainly use it to my advantage.

This brings us to today. The whole of human life is waiting for me. To catch me out. To make me look foolish. There are busy housewives, there are rich bankers, there are students, some lazy, some studious. Any or all of them has the potential to set out to deceive me and it's down to me to stop them. They'll fail of course. They'll all come face to face with the Dead Man Stare and something inside them will give them away. I don't even need to pressure people, I'll look at them, they'll know I know, and they'll crack. And so with a weary sigh I rise to my feet and open my door.

"All tickets from Nottingham please."


Lust in the woods. (495 Words)

The fire in her loins roared as she watched the stable boy saddle her steed up. He was only seventeen but she knew she had to have him. But not yet, he could wait until later. She flashed a lustful look at the stable lad who blushed and looked away. She knew he was hers for the taking. In one fluid motion she swung herself into the saddle making sure he got a good look at her pert behind as she did so. She had ridden horses since she was a small child and had thighs that could crack almonds, almonds being harder to crack than most nuts.

She kicked her heels into the stallion and thundered out of the stable out into the paddock and off into the distance. The stable boy watched in awe as the new found lust of his life disappeared into the distance and went on an early lunch to relieve himself.

After an hour or so of hard riding she eased to a steady trot, She came to the clearing where it had happened, the place where she first saw him, Jacques the lumberjack. That was five long years ago now and although she came up here every week without fail they had only met a handful of times. She hoped and prayed her luck would be in today.

Bringing her steed to a gentle stop, she dismounted with the same ease that she had earlier got on with, she stroked the stallions nose, reassured him and hitched him to a fallen tree.

All around her was silent and her eyes darted to and fro looking for any sign of life. She didn't have to wait long until she heard a rustling in the undergrowth and the sound of heavy footsteps approaching.

Unable to wait any longer she started undressing, wanting to be naked and ready for him as soon as he arrived. She was waxed, plucked and buffed to within an inch of her life. No sane man would be able to resist her. The footsteps finally burst into the clearing and they didn't belong to who she was expecting. In the place of her Adonis woodsman stood a short, chubby and rather sweaty fellow.

When he saw the beauty before him a lecherous grin crawled across his face. "Jacques said you would be here, I didn't really believe him." He said as he started pulling off his grubby overalls.  

Disgusted and embarrassed she collected her clothes up and trying not to cry she started getting dressed. The dirty little man, now fully naked cleared his throat to get her attention.  

"Where do you think you're going little lady?" He said motioning down to his ever growing and impressive manhood.

She let out an involuntary gasp and his smile grew even more. It was the biggest she had ever seen, like a toddlers arm holding an Orange.

"Just our little secret." She said as she started undressing again.


The Date by @Lucy_Magnuson (387 Words)

She ran across the landing in nothing but her thong. Its official. They were going to be late.

He sat on the bed watching her.

'I don't know what to wear!'

'I thought you were wearing your jeans? You know informal?'

'But they make my arse look huge!'

He couldn't help but giggle at this. She couldn't help but whack the back of his head.

'Baby your arse couldn't look huge if you stood next to a gnat. Its beautiful' he meant it of course. He was totally besotted with her.

'But jeans aren't special enough' she complained. 'I want to look good for you'

He sighed. Why couldn't she see what he did? What everyone who met her did? She was stunning. Totally and utterly.

'Honestly, you always do'

Standing up he cupped her face in her hands and kissed her.

'Now FFS hurry up we will be late. The car is going to be outside in 10 minutes and we are on a tight schedule today'

Just to make a point he slapped her arse.....and ducked.

'you bastard!but you're right. Again'

Sighing, she pulled her jeans on. Despite his assurances, her arse looked enormous in the mirror.

Sensing another delay he threw a top at her.

'If you wear that one, no one will notice your arse....'

He had a point. Tight fitting and very low cut, her tits would look spectacular.

'OK. Just for you. But next time. Next time I am going smarter. Fed up of looking a scruff next to you'

Another giggle. Another duck. He was going to be in trouble later. But not now. Now they had to move.

'Come on. Shoes. And FFS something practical. You know what happened last time you wore heels'

She did. It was rather funny afterwards but at the time...a bit inconvenient.

He stood up.

'Come on baby, the cars here'

'You sure I look OK?'

She was looking in the mirror again. Her self doubts kicking in again.

'Baby you look beautiful'

He pulled her close again and kissed. His soft lips on hers. Taking her breath away.

'Now....game face baby. We have work to do'

He pulled the tights over her face and grabbed the shot gun. Time to visit the bank manager


The Dating Game (494 Words) by @JamaaLlamaa

The divorce had been acrimonious and drawn out, not to mention bloody embarrassing ~ what IS the social etiquette for explaining your husband has run off with some slapper he met in a Swingers Club for God's sake?   

Now, a year after the Decree Absolute had hit the door mat Megan decided the time was right to take a step back into the world of dating. She had a look at what was on offer, spending an evening trawling dating sites (who knew you be so specific in your preferences?) and finally settled on www.happilyeverafter.com, despite the Disneyesque name she felt comfortable enough to pay her six month subscription and plunge into the murky world of internet dating.

 Three days later she was feeling like an old hand at this lark ~ sixteen winks, four nudges and two direct messages offering to take her to heaven and back, no strings attached, but don't tell the wife. She started talking with three different guys and, after a reasonable period of time agreed to meet one.   

Tom was about her age with shaggy brown hair, honest blue eyes and a respectable amount of emotional baggage. They had talked on the phone several times, and he seemed like a decent guy with a warm, slightly wicked sense of humour. They agreed a meeting, following the rules of internet dating it was a daytime meet in a popular coffee shop in a nearby town.   

Megan arrived five minutes early, secured a seat that allowed her a direct view of the door without being immediately visible. The coffee shop was quiet, a few couples and the obligatory mad eyed, toothless bag man in the corner who insisted on nodding and winking in her direction ~ sighing she ordered a coffee (Single shot vanilla latte, it sounded a bit quirky without going all out bonkers) and settled in to wait.   

Half an hour later she was quietly seething, it would appear she had been stood up, how bloody rude was that? Tom hadn't seemed the flaky type she thought, but then again her ex-husband hadn't seemed the type to run off with the tattooed tart he'd shagged on a plastic sheet in Southend, so what did she know?   

Admitting defeat she stood up and got ready to leave. Collecting her bag and coat she leant over to pick up her cup's "Megan?"  

The voice behind her was soft and warm, and she stopped in her tracks. So he had finally made it she thought, better late than never. She smiled as she thought of his blue eyes waiting anxiously for her to turn round. 

"Megan, it IS you, I, er, didn't recognise.. I mean, you look different to.." Tom's voice trailed off as he looked at the short, dumpy, unkempt woman in front of him, who bore no relation to the smiling slim brunette in the picture she had sent him. 

Megan smiled, "Old picture.. Now, do you fancy a coffee?"