Acquiescence by @UncleSpong (428 words)

"Over there, Mr Salt. Climb on to the table," she ordered, "And lie still."
Clive hadn't caught her name when she'd introduced herself at the door. The introductions had been unfathomably terse and had done nothing to soothe his nerves. He was new to this lark and had hoped he might be put at ease. Her name had sounded eastern European and was suitably laden with consonants. Clive had offered a handshake which had been flatly dismissed. Money can buy you many things, he mused, but not necessarily good manners.

So here he was, lying face down on a padded table, in a bright white air-conditioned room, at the mercy of a twenty-something woman on whom he'd never previously clapped eyes. And he'd paid forty quid for the dubious privilege.

In the stillness and quietness of the room his senses were exaggerated. The ticking of the wall clock sounded like a crashing cymbal, the sound of her footsteps on the slate tiled floor like a stormtrooper. Soon it would be begin, and the anticipation of the forthcoming pain was agony of another magnitude.

And then it happened. Strike one. His body rippled in abject torture as her hand made contact with his back and then withdrew. "Is the pain too much for you, Mr Salt? We can stop at any moment of your choosing".

"No. No. It's fine," he spluttered, burying his forehead into the table while fighting the urge to bring his knees up to his chest and adopt the foetal position. "Really, carry on."

"If you're sure," she stated with the cold, matter-of-fact tone of a woman who knows the limits of her power over a supplicant client. Clive's mind was racing. He couldn't think of a decision in his life he had regretted more than the one he had made ten minutes ago. Yet, lying bollock naked on a table in the presence of a woman he didn't know, he felt a compulsive urge to remain and suffer in silence.

Respite arrived four minutes and 21 seconds later. He'd counted every second as his survival instinct kicked in. The brutal, visceral pain of her every hand movement had turned the seconds into minutes and the minutes into hours. But now, as his skin responded to the prickly electric sensation of relief, he wondered if the pain had been actually been pleasurable. Could he possibly take any more of this? He was about to discover his limits.

"Turn over please, Mr Salt," she shrilled. "Your back is done. Shall I do your sack or crack next?"


The Collector (488 words)

"What's in the bottles Frank?"

Ah, so they have found the cellar. I knew it wouldn't take them all that long, now this is where it gets really interesting.

Before I flash officer Spencer my winning smile and tell him "no comment." I better introduce myself.

My name is Frank Clarkson, and I am about to be world famous, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Officer Spencer is asking me about my collection of bottles, so lets start there.

In the cellar of my house there are four wine racks, each has space for twenty five bottles, three are full and the fourth only has three empty slots left. I don't like wine, in fact I don't drink alcohol at all as I find drunks vulgar.

They are all waxed sealed and labelled by my own hand, they also appear to be empty at first glance. They aren't empty, they are full of the dying breaths of my girls.

My collection started entirely by accident, I was entertaining a lady of the night. I don't even remember her name it was that long ago. She was your usual sad case, drug addled, looking for the next hit type of girl. Not the classier lady I prefer these days but I was young and didn't know any better.

Anyway she died on me, I didn't kill her, those days were still yet to come. I leaned in to check if she was breathing just as she released her dying breath.

It felt like I inhaled her soul, it was beautiful.

After the high had passed I was of course left with her body, the sad empty shell of her former self. It was worthless and offensive, so I cocooned it in bin bags and threw it in the canal.

She wasn't found for months, any traces of me were washed away, no one mourned her.

After that I still saw my girls but the urge wasn't sexual anymore, I had tasted the divine, and I wanted more. On the anniversary of my first taste of life I treated myself to another.

I splashed out on a proper piece of class, she called herself an "escort" to me she was little more than meat. As my hands closed around her throat and her eyes rolled into the back of her head, I leant in close and sucked the life out of her.

It was everything I remembered it was.

After that I gained pace a little, that's the thing about addiction your last hit was never enough. 

It took me a few more to perfect my technique and even longer for the idea of bottling to hit home. Now I have quite the collection, and some truly beautiful vintages, 97 was a very good year.

So that is who I am dear reader, now if you excuse me I have an interview to give. . . 

"No comment." 


Last Of The Gang by L.B. Sharland (434 Words)

Jem looked up at the sign above the door and promptly received a massive splash of water to his face. The Bull. This was it. He pushed the door open and stepped inside to escape the rain. A shout came from across the room.
“Simon!” shouted Jem, crouching down and aiming a couple of playful punches at Simon’s paunch before the two long lost mates hugged in solidarity. Jem ordered a pint of lager for himself and another for Simon, who drained the last of his glass before the two retreated to a quiet corner. Simon took a large pull on his beer.
“So Simon, what you been up to mate?”
“Ach you know how it is. Bit of this, bit of that.”
“Do I ever. It amazes me where the time goes.”
The two exchanged small talk for a few minutes but the unease between them was clear. Eventually Simon brought the conversation to a head.
“It’s what 18 months since all of us were together”
“I know. There we were, not two years ago. Me, you, Pete, Ed, Shaky and Dan. Not a care in the world. Then it all went tits up rather quickly.”
“You’re not wrong” said Simon. “Pete didn’t surprise me in the slightest but Ed shook me. I didn’t think I’d ever get over that one.”
“Nor me. It’s always the ones you least expect isn’t it? Mind you, what about old Shaky! He said they’d only take him kicking and screaming but when the chips were down he crapped himself. What a wuss.”
Simon chuckled.
“Aye, was always going to happen with him. More mouth than balls that one. Was messy when he went though.”
The two men sat back for a moment, simultaneously drinking from their pint glasses, clearly remembering the comrades they’d loved and lost. It was Simon who broke the silence.
“You know what Jem? I think we should raise a glass to those that have fallen. There’s only the two of us let, but let’s celebrate like we were six once more.”
Jem shift uncomfortably in his seat for a few seconds, fingering the rim of his pint glass. Clearly he had something on his mind and was struggling to say it.
“Jem? What’s up mate? You okay?”
“Actually Simon.” Said Jem, a sudden note of seriousness in his voice. “Actually, that’s why I’m here. I wanted to tell you that I’m getting married in August and I’d like you to be my best man.


Genetics & The Man In The Bed (496 Words) by Willow Blake Green

Scientists have proven that half of your genes come from each of your biological parents. When he had been informed of that fact by his biology teacher during the course of his GCSE's, there was no doubt that he was the exception that proved the rule.

A conviction he felt more than justified in being loyal to, given that everyone who knew both him and his mother said they were so much alike. Yet standing stock still and staring at this man he began to have doubts.

When he first received the phone call he was tempted to hang up, but it had surprisingly taken less than twenty four hours for him to make the decision to go to the hospital to visit his, for lack of a better word, father.

His change of heart was simply due to the fact the man was technically quite pivotal to his existence, and had even managed to stretch himself to the point of being semi active in raising him for the first two weeks of his life.  After which he had fled at a speed that would have left the roadrunner impressed.

The rational part of his brain was aware that a lifelong separation meant that his relationship with this man was no more significant than the non-existent relationships he had with the men in the surrounding beds.

But despite all that, he caught himself looking at his face trying to find anything similar to what he saw in the mirror, but the tubes up his nose and grey pallor of his skin made it impossible. Upon giving up the endeavour he felt a sharp pain in his chest and the threat of tears building behind his eyes.

His whole life he had thought this man heartless to have walked out on him, and now the bittersweet irony was that he now knew that this man definitely had a heart as it was failing. There would be no more hope of things changing for the better, no matter how small.

Their separation was about to become all too permanent. So he made the choice; to sit by the bed, listen to what he had to say, and acting purely on instinct, he held his father's hand.

Years later, he would tell his little boy the bedtime story of 'The Brave Man in the Bed'. A story all about a man who was so brave that he was prepared to face any horrific scenario that his imagination could create in order to say sorry to his son for all the mistakes he had made where he was concerned, and tell him that despite what he may think he did love him.

Finally, as his son was settling off, he told him just how lucky they both were to have some of that bravery in their genes. Because as any scientist would say; he had gotten it from his father and he had in turn passed it on to him. 


T.O.A.D (460 Words)

A hush falls over the auditorium as a nervous looking young lady with wild eyes walks to the rostrum in the middle of the stage.

She clears her throat and taps on the microphone.

"Good morning gentlemen, my name is Zara Pentonville, Doctor Zara Pentonville, and today I will try to answer the age old question. Pj and Duncan and Ant and Dec, why do two men need four names?

Pj and Duncan first burst onto the scene in the early nineties as the stars of the children's drama Byker Grove. Their cheeky personalities shone through and won over the nation. They had a chart topping hit with 'Let's get ready to rumble'  a few mediocre albums and then . . .  Nothing.

They just vanished off the face of the earth. Normally we would attribute this to the age old fifteen minutes of fame rule but then they came back and not in the quirky 'whatever happened to such and such' fashion that befalls the cast of Grange Hill."

She pauses here, expecting a laugh from her audience then spies Luke Gardener in the front row and silently curses herself for not double checking the guest list.

Clearing her throat again she ploughs on.

"Anyway, they came back only now they were known as 'Ant and Dec' the duo were still inseparable, still cheeky rapscallions but they had a slightly more serious air to them. They no longer sang or danced and soon carved a niche as irreverent game show hosts.

We have seen similar behaviour from other Byker alumni but nothing on this scale. When you dig a little deeper into children's TV a lot of the young stars burn out and fade away. T-Shirt, Edward Fidoe, Simon the young lad who befriended a witch, Melanie and Martina Grant. The list is endless and tragic.

There is however an apparent get out clause, if you ditch your 'slave name' and are willing to face the public under your so called 'birth name' you stand a glimmer of hope of recapturing the fame of your youth. Ant and Dec are the trailblazers in this field and it is still very experimental. For every Tracy Beaker / Dani Harmer there are at least four Donna Air."

A ripple of laughter spreads across the crowd and Zara allows herself a smile and a sigh.

"There is however one very worrying individual who has ignored this pattern, someone who I believe presents us with the sort of threat we haven't seen since Lisa Riley's unexplainable rise to power."

Doctor Pentonville clicks a button on her key fob and an image of an emotionless blonde is beamed onto the rear wall. A shocked gasp envelops the crowd.

"Gentlemen I give you Fearne Cotton."


The Operation by @UncleSpong (325 words)

Gerald was sweltering in the bright light and humidity. Underneath his green garments he felt a bead of sweat creep down his spine, like an abseiler frantically descending a cliff face, depositing a blob of moisture between his bum cheeks. He needed to work quickly so that he could return to the sanctuary and cool air of his office.

He surveyed the patient. She was in a bad way. The phrase "making a silk purse from a sow's ear" sprang to mind but he had never shirked a challenge and was not about to begin now. He set out his tools on the table, all of which had been meticulously washed and sterilised the night before. "Godliness is next to cleanliness," he muttered to himself. "Or is it the other way round?"

He notched up the volume on the radio. He had seen a BBC4 documentary a couple of years ago in which the power of music had been claimed to help patients during the course of surgery. Radio 2 would suffice this morning, and the patient would just have to suffer the buffoonery of Jeremy Vine and Sally Traffic. His operating theatre, his rules.

The scene was ready. His hands were scrubbed, the table was clean and the implements sparkled like a collection of Royal silver.

"Scalpel," he ordered, looking straight ahead and reaching out his hand behind him to his colleague.


"SCALPEL!" he barked, turning around, frantically gesticulating with the air of a hot-headed Vatican priest. "Won't someone, anyone, pass me the fucking scalpel?"

He turned back to the operating table. His wife, Margaret, having rushed to the scene, stood behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder, reaffirming her loving gesture by placing her other hand on his hip.

"Gerald, they are secateurs, my love, not a scalpel. And the geranium is dead. There's nothing more you can do. Come on, close the greenhouse and I'll pop the kettle on."


The Eternal Sleeps (338 Words)

The unspeakable curled up in its lair and contemplated the deeds done that day. Its maw wouldn't allow a smile, the concept of pleasure was as alien as the being herself, but it was . . . content.

It was fed and warm, and little else mattered in its life. Heavy lids dropped across eyes as black as its soul. It was almost time to sleep again, just a few more feeds, and it would be strong enough, full enough, to hibernate.

Stretching out, trying to ease its tired, ancient bones, it hopes the imminent century long sleep will ease its pains. even if it means not waking up. It isn't afraid of death, it only understands fear as a flavour.

In a time before time itself, it used to hunt at night, silently slipping inbetween the shadows, snatching its prey at will. It was only when it was first seen that it tasted fear and, and it was a taste it grew to crave.

Fear changed its entire life cycle, it no longer prowled in the darkness. It hid in the shadows before revealing itself in all its majestic, horrifying glory. Attacking convoys, fleets or passenger ships. It cares not for its victims, it only lives to sate its hunger for human flesh.

As it grew bolder it also grew more careless and the odd survivor escaped its wrath and tales began to spread. Over the ages its reputation grew and the cycle was noted. Entire fleets refused to sail on "blood years" But as is the human way, greed, money and foolhardiness ensured the creature was still fed.

Legend has it that some even tried to hunt her, but none ever came back to tell their tale. Seeking glory they only found death.

Its eyelids growing ever heavier, she shakes away the thoughts of sleep and slides, silently out of the cave and into the ocean. Whipping her tail behind her, driving her ever deeper, ever further away from the shore.

Maybe one more feed will see her through? 


Dinner With The Dwarves by @NeilSehmbhy (495 Words)

Petunia opened to the door and smiled at Kevin nervously. 

"Hi err honey." she said awkwardly. 

Kevin stooped walking through the door and kissed her cheek, laughing as his lips touched her whiskers."Sorry I'm late. My spell backfired. Your beard tickles. Alright?" 

Petunia was jostled as her younger sister bundled past. Getty stood there arms folded, her expression stern. 
"So you're the boyfriend," she said flatly,"Human errgh."

"Getty. Bugger off. Or I'll turn you into a gecko again," Petunia snapped at her sibling.

"Yeah, okay dwarflock," she retorted. With a final appraising look she darted away.

"Sorry about her. She's horrid. Full of it since she got her axe." Petunia looked down at the floor in embarrassment. 

"S' Okay." Said Kevin swallowing his temper. 

"Come on. Dinners ready." Petunia grabbed Kevin's hand and led him down the hall, wincing as he bumped his head. 

The dining room table was already set when they walked in, and a boar roasted over the fire place. 

Petunia's parents sat next to Getty opposite them and she felt awkward standing there. 

"Mom. Dad, this is my erm boyfriend Kevin. Kevin this is my mom Hetilu Gemforger and my dad Gogli Wizardbane."

"Please to meet you, Madam, Sir.

"Kevin is it?" Gogli said his brow furrowing, "Your late. " 

Hetilu frowned at her husband "Never mind that dear. Kevin please sit. I hope you like boar."

They both sat down and she reached out and squeezed his hand reassuringly, momentarily forgetting her strength. 

"Ow. Petunia." Kevin moaned waving his injured fingers. "Sorry Kevin. I didn't mean it."

Gogli chuckled deep in his chest as he stroked his beard. Hetilu smiled fondly as she served up hunks of black bread and slices of steaming meat.

"Don't see many humans. Especially wizard's. Pet told you where we get our name from?" her father's dark eyes sparkled and she knew  trouble was brewing.  

"No it didn't come up funnily enough. But I suppose your gonna tell me." Kevin was going red and she could hear anger edging his voice. 

"About 900 years ago, at the Battle of Brebaroth, my great grandfather shattered a wizard's head with his axe, Binder. Grandpa Norar trapped his power that day and we became the only dwarf family to become warlocks. To stop you wizard's from ruling again."

"Really. Well that's just lovely." Kevin said his teeth gritted. "Look old man. Warlock or not they only thing stopping me from turning you into a turd covered toilet brush is your daughter. So let's stop flirting and eat this pig."
Kevin glared at her father as she gasped. Nobody spoke to her dad like that. 

Gogli thumped his fist on the table making everything jump. 
"By Thorins shield! I like you boy. For a human you've got fire in your belly." 

Petunia's mother frowned at her husband and then smiled at them both, 
"Let's eat dear. You'll need your energy. Gogli wants to show you his axes later."


Crying by @JamaaLlamaa (174 Words)

She cried again, and even though she knew it was pointless she couldn’t stop. It was becoming a habit, she felt like some kind of addict ~ waiting until she was alone before she let the tears go, so hot they scalded her cheeks as they escaped her eyes. No one should see this ~ it was her private shame, hidden behind a wall of cheerful smiles and witty comments; the snivelling, snotty wreck was kept for her totally private moments.

Her public face was so very public, she couldn’t let them down ~ her job was to smile, amuse and enchant people, what would they make of this bug eyed, blotchy faced harridan, gushing tears and stinking of booze? They just wouldn’t understand, surely someone as bright and witty as her couldn’t be so devastatingly alone and unhappy..

Standing up, she wiped the tears away, furtively blotting her cheeks with powder to hide the trails of loss that marked her face.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome Aboard today's flight from Manchester to Alicante..”


The Memory Remains (313 Words)

I smile lovingly as my grandson clambers up onto my lap and snuggles in. His chubby little fingers trace over the faded green lines of the tattoos that cover my arms. He has done this since he was tiny and at five you could argue he is getting too big to nap in his granddaddies arms. The day will soon come when he won't want to and truth be told I'm savouring every minute I can with him.

He follows the snake down my forearm, writes the numbers that I've tried to hide. Runs back up across the flowers and scrolls littered with the names of my parents and children. Then he finds it, his favourite. He has loved Lions for as long as I can remember and with a touch like a feather he draws it and all its finery.

Looking up at me with the innocence of youth in his eyes he finally asks the question I have been dreading, "What was the war like Granddad?"

In the blink of an eye it all comes rushing back, the smell of blood and cordite in the air, the screams of the fallen, the constant never ending pounding of the artillery and the fear.

I remember the fear.

I remember shooting blindly into the night, hoping I missed but was close enough to scare them off. I remember hiding in a ditch, the water running red, bloated rats fighting over the human carrion.

I remember walking for days, weeks on end,our numbers dwindling by the hour. The dead left where they fell. I remember being so hungry we ate a dog.

I remember my first tattoo, no design, no name, just a number.

I remember all this and yet I look at my grandson, see the love in him and the future ahead of him, and I say.

"It was worth it."


Cottage of safety by @Theminidandy 500 Words

It seemed like he'd been running for days.  The snow was getting deeper and the trees were getting closer together.  He'd not heard them yelling for a few hours, maybe he'd lost them; maybe they were just chasing him silently.  Had he ever been that lucky before? No, not that he could remember.

He slowed down, and suddenly he realised just how much the hunt had taken out of him.  His legs ached and his lungs were on fire.  He needed to sleep; he needed to find shelter.  But mostly, he needed dry shoes.

Ahead, in the distance he saw a thin wisp of black smoke curling up into the sky, as if a fire had been started and then hastily put out.  Fire meant people and people meant help. 

Running again, through the knee-deep snow, he was getting closer to where the smoke had come from.  The trees were now that close together that you couldn't see more than five yards in any direction.  It was nearly sunset, and behind him, the unmistakable howl of a timber wolf echoed through the forest.  This served to give him a second wind and he gained pace for a mile or so.  He was on the verge of collapse when he finally arrived at the cottage, the door swung open as he leaned on it and he just had time to register the glowing embers of the fire before he fell, unconscious, to the floor.

He awoke with a start, unsure as to what had woken him.  He couldn't remember closing the door, but it was closed now, and there was no trace of snow on the floor.  The wind must have blown the door closed, perhaps that was what woke him.  He removed an oil lamp from the wall, lit it with one of his few dry matches and instantly regretted doing it.  The walls of the large room were lined with portraits, each intricately detailed, each one more freakish than the next.  Where one depicted a human face, larger than life, with sharp teeth and red eyes, another featured a creature that reminded him of an octopus, with every tentacle covered in vicious claws.  There were paintings on the ceiling; the faces in these were less clear, but the detail was still remarkable.  Each one had a solid, black, background.

He managed to find a blanket, and curled himself onto the table. He found it difficult to stop looking at the paintings.  He saw one of a timber wolf, its long tongue lolling from the side of its maw.  He could see the amazing detail in every individually painted hair.  Eventually though, he could not stay awake any longer and sleep took him.

Many hours later, the warmth from the bright sun shining on his closed eyelids woke him, and his first thought was of the wonderfully horrific paintings.  He slowly sat up, and looked, but what he had thought were paintings were clear, glass windows.

The door swung open. 


Infinite Monkeys (489 words)

Steel cages, stacked two high, line the cavernous shed as far as the eye can see. A uniform seven by seven by seven, a full square foot bigger than the industry standard allowing the house to class themselves as one of the friendly sounding "barn systems".

With the front side covered in a reinforced mesh and the remaining surfaces made up of thick steel the barn looks like a cruel pet shop. The inhabitants have a meagre workspace with a tatty mattress tucked under their desks, giving them somewhere to try and grab some sleep in the six hours the harsh floodlights aren't beaming down onto them.

A lot of them were born here, have never seen natural light and know no different. The rest stupidly volunteered for this, countless rejections had broken them but still they soldiered on growing evermore desperate with each manuscript. Then they had read the adverts and thought it was either their dream job or the opportunity they had been waiting for.

"Reputable publishing house, looking for new and exciting writers to expand into the growing markets! Contracted writing with no deadlines! Comfortable living quarters provided! Work and socialise with your peers! "

Each exclamation mark that little further from the truth but more pleasing to the eye than the last.

The socialising wasn't technically a lie, every Wednesday the writers were free to roam within the barn for a few hours while their cages were hosed down and searched for contraband. The searches had become mandatory after Salinger had slit his wrists with a shiv made out of paperclips.

Life in the barn follows a strict schedule. The lights come on at 06:00 sharp and the writers are allowed fifteen minutes to wake and make themselves ready for work. At 06:20 the coffee pipes are activated and the gallon drums attached to the wire mesh are filled for the first of three times during the day.

If the writer is hungry they can press the button and the food chute rewards them with a handful of nutritious oat based, bromide laced biscuits, this button can only be depressed three times per day to stop the writer outgrowing their cage.

At 07:00 the tannoy announces the days aim, this is determined by a complex series of sales trends monitored across the literary spectrum. One day the writer could be writing supernatural teen romance, the next bondage themed love stories. There is of course an allotted time for what the house likes to call "Free thinking" allowing the writer a scant thirty minutes at the end of the day to write a piece of their own creation.

Most of these are of course rejected, but it gives us hope.

And without hope dear reader, we are nothing.

My name is James Josiah and I have wanted to be an author since I was a child, I haven't seen the sun in six months.

Remember me.


Hunter Becomes The Hunted by Muddy Circles (184 Words)

The vibrations travelled across the web catching the attention of the spider, poised in the centre waiting for the right time to pounce. It’s two long, black hairy front legs outstretched, intermittently touching the web aware that the vibrations were becoming more frequent, signalling to the spider that its prey was getting closer with every second. It began moving its black body towards the prey careful not to disturb it.

This was it, this was the moment that it was going to attack, wrapping its sticky web around the body of its prey. The spider reared up on to its hind legs, positioning itself for the right moment knowing, one false move and everything would have been lost. 

With its full attention on its prey it hadn’t noticed a black shadow cast upon the white walls  moving carefully, stalking the spider. Suddenly, a giant paw descends with its claws glistening in the light; catching the spider, knocking it to the floor.

All that remained was the reminiscent cries of a cat wanting to play and tease this fascinating object darting in different directions “meeeoooww”.


Ante Natal by @Lucy_Magnuson (493 words)

I feel the butterflies as we pull up to the hospital entrance except they aren't nerves, they are the small kicks of the life growing inside me. Our creation. Our miracle. The future.

I should be nervous, previous scans suggested abnormalities but you, as always reassured me. Even if there was a growth on our sons spine it wasn't affecting his development in any other way.

The consultant had agreed. All subsequent scans had shown that the baby was strong and developing fine. That I was healthy. That although they wanted to keep an eye on things they were happy that this was one of those things, a blip. The tail bone that usually vanishes in the first few weeks gestation hadn't in our case and at the worst they would operate after our son was born. An inconvenience, a small scar for baby and a fun icebreaker for years to come. They had the technology.

They're running late as always. The radio playing to distract the waiting victims of the sonographer from just how late and how much they really need a wee.

I try not to listen to the news. Its too depressing. Makes me wonder why any sane being would bring a new life into this world. The chaos. The fighting. Violence. Poverty. War. Humanity could only go so much longer before it imploded and one faction invaded another for a few extra square miles of land.

But of course we are young and idealistic. Our child will make a difference. He wont just be another mouth draining the planets resources. He will be a catalist for change. An inspiration. But all parents think that don't they?

On the couch. The cold gel. The pressing on my over full bladder. You just have to chose this moment to tell another one of your stupid jokes that make me laugh like a drain. Fuck I need the loo.

Measurements, muttering, concerned looks. Our usual scanner has company. This isn't going to be quick.

You take my hand and kiss it, and instantly everything's better. I can lie here for hours with the idiots squashing. Well maybe not. But I'm not being beaten by them.

'I'm not sure how to put this' said the consultant trying not to show the concern he was barely hiding 'but there's some more abnormalities.'

You squeeze my hand before the panic sets in. Of course there are more growths.

'I'm sorry to say its the skull. I cant say how much of an impact this might have on your sons quality of life at this time....'

But we knew there would be. We knew before the first scan. The Antichrist would have the start of his horns and tail in utero just like his father holding my hand, but paranoid first time parents want the best prenatal care for their child. And you pitiful humans give it even if hes here to destroy your meaningless existence.


Mind Fucking (493 words)

Mike switches the lights off and knocks the car into neutral, coasting into the car pack. It is far busier than he dared hope, and there are at least a dozen cars dotted around the otherwise deserted car park. Some of the cars are partially obscured as people crowd around them trying to get in on the acts of depravity inside.

Gliding into a free spot he switches the car off and steadies his nerves, does he really want to do this? Has he really sank this low? 

He closes his eyes and a low guttural moan involuntarily escapes from him, he has come this far. He is as guilty as everyone else here, he may as well get his kicks now.

With a trembling hand he flashes his headlights showing one and all he is ready and willing to play.

His first flash gets a few curious glances but most of them are too engrossed in their sordid acts to drag themselves away and risk disappointment on the new arrival.

After a few minutes Mike tries his luck again, this time opting for a quick double flash. He knows he probably seems desperate, but he is, he isn't getting any at home. His wife has really lost interest of late, bitch just lies there and lets him get on with it.

There is a taker this time, one of the crowd surrounding a battered old Nissan Micra shuffles towards him, lecherously adjusting himself as he approaches. 

Remembering what he had read online, Mike locks the doors before his pursuer reaches him and winds down his window.

His heart is pounding as his paramour leans against the car, his crotch at eye level, a greasy stain spreading across the grey jogging bottoms. "you're new, what are you looking for pretty boy?" The stranger asks breathlessly.

This is it, this is the moment that has kept him awake at night. 

"I-I-I-I ..." Mike stammers.

"Get on with it sunshine I haven't got all night, the wife thinks I'm at darts."

"I don't think the moon landings really happened." He blurts out, the ecstasy of the release is immense, stars dance across  Mikes vision, he tries to savour the moment but the joy is fleeting.

"You dirty bastard," replies the stranger fast approaching his own climax, "I think 9/11 was an inside job." he moans, eyes rolled into the back of his head.

"You disgust me." Mike shouts, shuddering with revulsion. Tears are forming at the corners of his eyes as he struggles to wind the window back up. The moment has gone and now he just feels dirty. Giving up on the window he starts the car and guns the engine. 

The stranger shouts over the racket, "You'll soon be back! Your sort can't keep away!"

Pulling off in a cloud of dust, peppering his spurned partner with gravel Mike knows he is right, he will be back. 

This is who he is now.


Horner of the G.A.A. by @chimping_Dandy (453 Words)

The room is swathed in dark toned hardwood forested from the Gilbert Islands, transported to Australia via a rowing boat, hewn from a single Joshua tree by cannibal tribeswomen. The wood was then dressed and sawn into boards by a blind, German, ex-Waffen SS officer, who had fled to the town of Coober Pedy to abortively mine the rare cats-eye opals whilst avoiding capture by the authorities.

Rich tapestries hung from every roughly horizontal surface, their bright colours stemming from the rare ingredients in their dyes.  Ground turquoise, the ink of the colossal squid, the tears of newborn baby marmosets.  They depicted moments in the life of Bruce Campbell, or moments in the life of other people, where those people were replaced by Bruce Campbell.

All the electrical fittings were solid brass, taken from the coffin furniture of the eight members of Manchester United football team, killed in the 1958 Munich air disaster, but melted down and fashioned into fanciful representations of popular wild animals.  Their design had been originally formulated by HR Giger, but had been re-imagined by JJ Abrams, so as to be more Avant Garde, yet also accessible to the masses.

He looked out of the window into the driving rain. It was a dark and stormy night, and the wolves were howling.  The Grey Wolves were from the Carpathian Mountains, they wore collars of Malacca wood, sliced into thin strips and woven to resemble the illumination in the Book of Kells. As they had grown and lost their milk teeth, he had had these mounted in platinum tiaras, which he required the wolves to wear at all times.

He closed the shutters, their heavy boxwood marquetry catching the desolate golden rays of light from the Honduran beeswax candles that had been hand-rolled by Polish missionaries.  Their motion was silent; they had been greased with the blubber from the last albino Elephant Seal to be accidentally shot in captivity by a Dutchman.  He had its eyes in a jar, somewhere in the basement.

He was a member of the Gentleman's Adventuring Authors, he had traveled the old world collecting stories from local ethnic tribes, ruthlessly killing them straight afterward so that they couldn't share their stories with anyone else.  He recorded the things that other men would not, things that other men could not, things that other men should not.  But he had no fear.  He was Horner, of the G.A.A.

Pulling out his carved human bone drafting pen from its walrus skin and ebony case, he nodded gravely to his strangely androgynous manservant, pulled down his hand carved Ugandan writing helmet and wrote in his own blood.... 'The room is swathed in dark toned hardwood from the Gilbert Islands...'


A Child Of Our Time (424 Words)

By the time I make it to the delivery suite she is already six centimeters dilated and chewing on the gas and air as if her life depends on it.

It probably does.

I smile at her before I realise I have my mask on, so I calmly, warmly say "Jasmine it's Doctor Connors, now you're doing really well but I need to ask a very important question."

Her pain addled eyes roll towards me, I think she sees me so I carry on.

"Jasmine, I know this hurts and we'll get you some proper pain relief in just a tick but I need to ask this. Have you been taking the hormones every day like we discussed?"

She blinks slowly at me through the pain. I hope to god this silly little girl has been able to do the one thing I asked of her.

"Jasmine, this is important ..." 

Her head lolls back and a low moan falls out of her mouth.


This snaps her back to reality and I can see the fear in her eyes as she begs, "Doc you've got to help me ..."

"Have you been taking the hormones Jasmine?"

"Of course I have." She says between sobs.

"Every day?"

"I might have missed one or maybe two but that's all I promise."

The stupid bitch can't be trusted to do anything on her own. I storm over to the cabinet, find the Biosol and load a syringe with 1000 IU. "Better safe than sorry", I grumble to myself.

She has the audacity to smile at me as I come towards her with the needle. "Thanks Doc, just a little something to take the edge off that's all I need."

I say nothing as I find a vein and push the plunger home. She sighs as the drug starts to flow through her, I could let the placebo effect do its job but she has annoyed me so I say "It's too late for pain relief Jasmine, that was to try and help save the kid."

She spits at me and starts to cry "You bastard, you promised ... you promised."

"Yes and you promised to take your meds didn't you? I'm afraid you've only got yourself to blame for this. Now lets have a look at how we are doing shall we?" 

She is fast approaching ten centimeters and my heart starts to race, I look up from between her legs and offer her another mask hidden smile.

"Good girl Jasmine, you're doing really well I can see the Hooves!" 


You Couldn't Make It Up by Slick Hellbastard (478 Words)

Mervyn pulled the front door closed behind him, turned the key and double checked to make sure it was securely locked. It was. He walked down the garden path and pressed his key-fob as he approached his Vauxhall Astra, it was 7 years old, but with only 50K on the clock, it had not let him down yet. The car alarm chirruped agreeably as the doors unlocked and as he settled himself into the driver's seat and turned the ignition, the engine started satisfactorily and he started the 5 mile journey to work.

The car radio was pre-set to Radio 1. The latest song by Professor Green was just finishing and was replaced by the gormless, nasal northern whine of Nick Grimshaw. Mervyn turned the radio off as he can't stand Nick Grimshaw. The roads were quite clear for a Wednesday and whilst he drove, pondering whether to have Chicken Casserole or Corned Beef Hash for tea that evening, the only heavy traffic he encountered was in the usual spot by the traffic lights, close to the hospital.

He arrived at his workplace a whole 3 minutes earlier than normal and so allowed himself a self-satisfied smile. His early arrival meant he was able to get a place in the car park a bit nearer to the office, meaning he could gain a precious few seconds on his journey home. Little victories count. He again pressed the fob, this time to lock the car and smiled as the alarm again chirruped and the locks engaged with a satisfying clunk. He crossed the car-park into the office building.

He nodded his head to the security guard but didn't greet him. The security guard was relatively new, having replaced Brian some nine months or so back. Mervyn didn't feel enough time had elapsed for them to be on familiar terms with each other, not yet anyway, so he walked on through reception and through the doors to the stairs. There was an elevator but he only had to go up two flights of stairs and so as far as he was concerned, these stairs were part of a daily exercise routine that he would not benefit from if he took the elevator.

After a brief stop off at the water cooler to get his morning drink he arrived at his desk, sat down and logged onto his terminal. He noticed that one of his colleagues had left a book on his desk for him to read. They frequently shared books with each other and Mervyn  was slightly disappointed to see it was the latest Dan Brown. Mervyn always found Dan Brown books to be a bit too far- fetched. Imagine, thought Mervyn as he chuckled to himself, if someone were to write a story about what life was really like for the average person. That, he mused, would be amazing.


Epidermis of a Deity by @Chimping_Dandy (498 Words)

‘So, what you’re saying is that you really think the world isn't flat?’

It always started the same way, you know? Someone would wander up and say ‘You’re the guy who thinks we live on a huge ball – So why doesn't it roll away?’ or ‘Why don’t we live on a big spiral like a spring? That would be much more fun!’ And I have to smile politely and walk away, because if I argue it just gets worse.

They threw rocks at me once, actually threw rocks because I thought something different from them.  I wonder what would happen if I told them that it wasn't God that caused floods and quakes and typhoons, but they were all a normal part of the system that we’re a part of.

I can’t lie, that’s my problem I think.  If someone asks me for my opinion then I give it to them.  It’s a curse.  Our world’s round, all of my experiments show that it is, it only looks flat because it’s so huge. It’s incalculably big, you can’t walk the entire circumference in a lifetime.  And no-one’s ever seen an edge have they?  Well, some sailors say that they have, but I don’t know if I’d trust someone who floats around in vast expanses of salty water in what amounts to a big splinter of wood.  Some even say that they've visited the next world, where there are people who are like us, but a slightly different colour – But I think they've just floated all the way around until they've got back to where  they started.  

People of a different colour indeed!

Keeping my own theories to myself is getting more and more difficult, when someone says that the warmth we experience is because our planet is lying on Gods warm body I have to bite my lip and stop myself from saying, ‘No, it’s because our planet is heated and lit from a huge fire in the sky.’

Although, as I come to say that out loud, it does sound a little bit odd, even to me.

Maybe I shouldn't blame them, they’re not all like me, I’m a singular kind of person. Maybe I should try working on something to shelter us from the storms and the floods?  But they won’t help, they say it’s Gods will, and we should be thankful that he’s paying us any attention at all.  They tell me that if I carry on, God will hear me and slough us off and we will fall away for ever until our planet cools and dies.

Actually, thinking about it, everyone has been saying that it’s been getting colder since that quake last week.  The ground has lost some of its pinky luster – It seems to be getting paler, as if it were drying out.

There have been some reports that the miners are having to go deeper to find the moist, mineral rich veins.

It can’t be all my fault… Can it?


One Hundred And Eighty One Days (498 Words)

Six months, that's what doc said after she had poked and prodded my disease ravaged body. One hundred and eighty one days. Any other point in your life this might sound like a lot as a countdown towards the grave it's painfully short.

I wasted the first few days retreating to the internet, reading up on different diets and remedies to extend my tenancy on this realm. Looking to Google to for the answers that conventional medicine couldn't give me.

I found confusion, fear and prayers. I never had any room for Jesus in my life when I had a seemingly unlimited amount of time left, there was no way he is playing gooseberry now.

After that I lost the plot a little, I spent weeks in bed. pretty much just waiting to die, thinking I had accepted my fate. I was already writing the tributes to myself that my friends would trot out, I had lost my battle, I was so brave, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Then one day it hit me, this might be the end of my life but it doesn't mean I can't go out on a high. That was the day I decided to stop being the victim and became the hero of my life story. 

It's my story I may as well be the main character right? 

So I got my ass out of bed and got me some guns. Legally of course, three weeks later I was armed to the teeth with less than one hundred and fifty days left on this mortal plain.

I stalked the bad parts of town with an itchy trigger finger just looking for trouble.

Thankfully I didn't have to wait  long and while I still had over a hundred days left I killed for the first time. 

It was brilliantly cliched and a pure accident.

I was out and about in the wrong part of town when I started to feel sick. Doc had warned me about this and I ducked into a 711 to go spew my ring up. Wiping my breakfast off my chin and feeling more than a little sorry for myself  I walked out of the can at the back of the store to find some kid pointing a gun at the poor chap behind the counter.

He had no idea I was there and I was trembling when I pulled my piece out, I crept down the aisle thinking of something witty and action-hero like to say. I didn't get chance to deliver a killer one liner as he turned around and saw me coming.

His last words were "Jesus you look like death Holmes."

This made me giggle and I blurted out, "Its funny you should say that " and shot him.

 I tagged him in the throat, sending him sprawling to the floor. Where he lay kicking and gargling. Approaching warily, gun still trained on him I leant over and asked him.

"Whats it like? Are you scared? Because I am"


Right Before My Eyes by @NeilSehmbhy (499 Words)

Grandpa disappeared one day. He popped in for lunch, made me a tuna sandwich and laughed when I wrinkled my nose at my glass of milk. I wanted blackcurrant squash, and told him so. He ruffled my hair, before heading to his garden to pull weeds out of the flower beds. Watching Grandpa was one of my favourite things to do. It felt safe and secure, even though he lived three doors down from us.

At first Grandpa just got smaller and smaller. He'd always seemed a giant, but now I was 8, he'd shrunk. Clothes he once filled now hung off him, as though borrowed from an larger older brother. It made him seem frail and ancient. But Grandpa was 'The strongest man in the world,' he told me so, and when he lifted me onto his shoulders I felt so tall. At least I used to. It had been ages since he'd done that. Even his head looked tiny, white hair wispy like candy-floss adorning his skull.

I tried to tell my parents.
“Mom, Grandpa's shrinking."
"Simon, away with you. I've dishes to wash.“ A soapy fist chased me out the kitchen.

"Dad. Grandpa's so small now. I'm worried, he's my only one."

"Jaysus, I'm watching the football, go do your homework. " He didn’t even look up at me.
“I’ve done it all Dad. But he…”
“You’ve finished it already? I never finished mine till Sunday night,  no wonder you don't like sports with your nose stuck in your books. Go do something else, but leave him alone, d'ya hear me boy? He's been through enough.”

Grandpa had told me, we had no secrets. My uncle had been lost in a war that wasn't ours.
Granny had left him years ago and his siblings had all gone. His sister of pnemonia and his brothers scattered around the four corners of the earth. Earth didn't have corners. Mrs Johnson had told us.
"It's round," I said pointing at my globe, "Surely if you went in a straight line you'd eventually find em." He chuckled, eyes sad. 

Even when he came to dinner, he seemed alone, Mom hardly spoke  and Dad played on his phone. 

That afternoon I watched him from my bedroom window, working in his garden. As he watered his roses he seemed to shrivel within himself. With each step, he slowly shrank until his clothes dragged along the grass. Just the wisps of his white hair stuck up where his head had been. Air scattered the leaves, blowing him about like blossoms on the wind. Grandpa turned to look at me, except I couldn't see his face. Waving back I noticed his empty sleeves had stopped moving and the watering can had dropped to the floor, spilling onto the lawn. His shirt and trousers joined his shoes on the floor, crumpled in a heap. Grandpa disappeared and I was the only one who saw him. I was the only one who cared. 


EFM (311 Words)

From the outside Kyle Kemp looks like every other wage slave in the bustling metropolis of Steelport. By day he is a pen pusher at Henkel and Cornfield but by night he stalks the streets looking for his next victim.

It all started two years ago . . .

Kyle and the love of his life Diana Dorkins were on their weekly date night. It was Kyle’s turn to pick and he wanted to go ice-skating. He grew up playing hockey and missed the ice; Diana lacked confidence and had the coordination of a drunken young Bambi. For the first few laps they shakily circled the rink hand in hand until a frustrated Kyle broke free and proceeded to lap everyone. Diana nervously staggered her way around, clinging to the side as if her life depended on it.

She should have clung tighter, because it did.

Kyle was cockily skating backwards, filming Diana’s shaky progress on his mobile phone “this is so going on YouTube.” he taunted. She flashed him a look of loving contempt and in a moment of madness let go of the side wall to flip him the bird. This act of petulance threw her off balance and she fell face first onto the ice.

“Epic Fail Man! Epic Fail” Roared Kyle triumphantly, not noticing the rapidly expanding pool of blood leaking from his beloved. It was only when he zoomed in to capture her face and recorded her cold dead eyed stare that he realised something was amiss.

By the time the paramedics arrived poor Diana was frozen solid and the fire brigade were called in to help chisel her off the ice.

Kyle was never the same after the night. He has never loved again and stalks the night recording strangers every move hoping, praying, he can capture someone else’s demise.

He is Epic Fail Man.