The Doctor Will See You Now (500 Words)

Pulling on another pair of gloves, I smile at Mrs Kolinsky. "If you could just slide your knickers off, I'll take a quick look."

Lying on her back with her legs at ten to two, she glares down at me and says the words that will stay with me for the rest of my life. "I already have doctor."

"Mother of god!" I murmur to myself not believing my eyes. Instinctively I reach behind me for another pair of gloves before starting the examination. Not wanting to get too carried away I pat at her monstrous thatch gently with an open palm. There isn't much resistance and as soon as I reach flesh I pull away, leaving a hand print behind that slowly disappears. "It's like memory foam!" I blurt out.

"Is everything ok?" Kolinsky asks with a slight air of concern creeping into her voice.

"It's amazing!" I tell her. I mean it as well; I've never seen anything like this before.

"Just I was a bit worried, you know  . . .  about the smell."

It does smell like a wet dog down here but I don't care, this is too good an opportunity to pass by. Rummaging around in the pockets of my lab coat I find a biro. I slowly wind it round and round and round until it's taut. Letting go sends the makeshift propeller spinning at an impressive rate of knots but I'm a little disappointed she doesn't actually take off.

Curious to know what it feels like, but not brave enough to take the gloves off I nestle my cheek in. It reminds me of sleeping in the hayloft when I was a kid. Soft, warm, and more than a bit fousty. I'm just nodding off when the old bitch sits up and asks what the hell I'm doing.

Thinking on my feet I say "I was just listening." And start pulling my stethoscope from around my neck.

For good measure I scowl at her as if she is to blame and not all the Valerian I necked before she came in. She apologises and makes herself comfortable on the bed again. According to her legs its now quarter to three and I'm running late. So I prod about with the stethoscope.

"Most odd" I exclaim, more to myself then to her. "Tell me Mrs Kolinsky do you have any pets?"

"I used to have a hamster but he escaped and we haven't seen him since."

"Do you sleep naked?"

This makes her blush so I take it as yes.

I go over to my desk and pull my sandwiches out of the drawers. Cheese and tomato, my favourite. Plucking out a chunk of cheese I go back to Mrs Kolinsky and place the cheese on her stomach, there is a rustling in the undergrowth and out scurries and malnourished looking rodent.

Kolinsky faints, so I try to see what I'd look like with a beard.

It's going to be a long day.


Guilty Secret by Claire Brown (355 Words)

She entered the kitchen, tentatively placed the carrier bag on the table and slumped into the hard wooden chair.  Her eyes wandered over the array of dirty dishes scattered on the worktop above the dishwasher. So near yet so far. She would have to sort that before he came home.  She didn't want him to wonder how she had spent her day.  She didn't want him to ask about her day although that shouldn't be a problem, he rarely did. 

She risked a momentary glance at the carrier bag on the table then sprung up to get a glass of water. She tried to focus on the stale liquid flowing down her throat, but it was futile.  Why was she prolonging the inevitable? She knew what she was going to do, she had known as she handed her money to the smug cashier with his sly smile.  As she pushed the receipt into the carrier bag she knew there was no turning back. 

And there it was, sitting innocently inside its carrier bag on the kitchen table.  She reached for her phone to check the time.  She had an hour before he came home.  One hour without having to explain or excuse herself.

Of course she would hide the evidence after it was done.  She would keep this from him as long as possible.  Her own guilt and self-loathing was enough to shatter any remaining self-confidence without his disgust and anger.

She looked at the bag and then down at her own body. Her podgy stomach would give her away; soon the whole world would know her guilty secret. For a moment she longed for a different life, where she was happy and carefree, a life full of confidence and promise. It only lasted a moment. Reality came bounding in and reminded her of the carrier bag. With sullen resignation, she reached for the bag and removed the box.  She slid her finger between the layers of cardboard to free the contents. And there it was. She reached into the drawer, pulled out a knife and started to carve up the family size chocolate gateaux.


Dream Date (488 Words)

The grin she flashes me as the waiter brings over the 65 Bordeaux threatens to split her head in two. For a second I see her lay in the bath. Wide eyed and screaming, clawing at the shower curtain. Tap-dancing, trying to find some purchase amongst all the blood.

The waiter's impatient cough snaps me back to the here and now. He's holding a glass with a splash of wine it for me to try. I smile and take it off him. Sniffing at the glass as if I know what I'm doing, I take a sip and swill it around my mouth. "Tastes like shit." I grin at him, before adding "We'll take the bottle!"

He gives me that practised insincere thin lipped smile his type are so good at and floats away. As I watch him ghost his way across the room, my date for the evening, I think her name is Penny? Giggles and slurs at me "Bruce you're so funny!"

I stare blankly at her and ask "Who's Bruce?" this makes her giggle even more. People are starting to do that thing where they make it obvious they aren't looking at us as we disgust them. "I don't feel like a Bruce." I add sadly.

"Poor baby." She purrs at me, "Who do you feel like?" She opens her eyes wide trying to look all seductive but I just see her in the bath again, dead eyes staring at the ceiling.

"Jenny, I'm a lion."

More laughter, she tilts her head back and I want to bite her. I want to leap across the table and rip her throat out.
Before I give into my animalistic urges the ghost is back with our wine.

"How do you do that?" I ask him. "Are you a ghost?"

He glances round, makes sure nobody is listening and whispers, "None of this is real."

And away he floats again.

I'm sat trying to digest what he has just said when I feel something brush my leg. I look across the table, Penny raises her eyebrows at me, I glance down at my crotch and see five little piggy's all capped with blood red nail varnish. They start worming their way, rubbing and tickling on the way up.

I look from her toes to her; she smiles and licks her lips. I look back down at the pigs they get ever closer; I look back to her and say "I want to eat your feet."

This makes her squirm in her seat. She flashes those come to bed eyes at me again and say's "Call us a cab Tony."

I turn to look for the waiter but he is already floating next to me, "Your car is here sir, don't forget to wrap up now."

As we float out of the restaurant Jenny leans her head on me and says "I need a bath Wayne, I'm feeling dirty."


Many Happy Returns by @UncleSpong (453 words)

It had been 13 days since he was last here, on the corner of Park Street and Arbory Lane, where the hustle and bustle of the high street gives way to the more gentle plodding of suburban life and the Victorian three-storey houses set behind defensive black-painted railings. This small section of York stone pavement outside No.1 was where Norman Greaves had breathed his last. Jason had been first onto the scene, witnessing the pool of blood haemorrhaging from behind his head onto the pavement and into the gutter.
The paramedics had arrived soon after. How soon, he couldn't honestly recall. His life had been playing out in slow motion at that point, and it wasn't until his head hit the pillow at 4am - some six hours later – that he'd had the chance to piece the events together in any sort of chronological order.
The police had grilled him at the scene. Had he seen anyone? Had he noticed anything unusual? Had he heard any speeding cars or shouting voices? Nothing. He'd seen and heard nothing. Just chanced upon poor Norman Greaves lying in a pool of blood as he was returning from the snooker hall.
He had watched helplessly as the paramedics had worked on Greaves and, after the futility of their efforts had become obvious, shook their heads at each other before checking their watches for time of death. He had stood, motionless, as they lifted the lifeless body on to the gurney, placing a red blanket over his face before hauling the body into the ambulance. He wondered how long it would be before the next of kin would be informed; the ill-prepared words coming from the ashen face of the police constable who had drawn the short straw among his colleagues down the station; the wife sinking to her knees in the hallway and the children, dressed in their pyjamas and peering down the stairs, staring into a world of emotional delirium, confused and scared by their mother's tears.
The funeral had taken place last Thursday at St Bride's. He hadn't been invited but the details had been posted in the In Memorium section of the Bugle's website. He'd watched the interment from a distance, far enough away to be inconspicuous but still close enough to hear the sobs.

He wondered how long the guilt would last. Stood here at the crime scene, the only clue that something had happened was the difference in the colour of the stone where the pressure washer had been used to clear the blood. But Jason knew he would be drawn here for the rest of his life. That much was certain. The perpetrator always returns to the scene of his crime. 


Kevin's Big Day (463 Words)

After the years of torment and frustration that Ballyforth had inflicted upon him, Kevin was surprised to find himself feeling nervous as he pulls on his new uniform. Nervous and disappointed, he expected a cloak or at least a pointy hat. The maroon jumper over a crisp white shirt and grey trousers weren't exactly awe inspiring; he could have been a normal schoolboy going to a normal school.

Only he wasn't.

"I'm Kevin McIntosh . . . I'm a wizard." He says to the reflection in his wardrobe door. "Hi I'm Kevin." He says trying his introduction again "Sup? I'm Kev." No one had ever called him Kev and he wasn't sure he wanted people to start now. With a sigh he picked up his school bag and his cauldron and trudged downstairs.

In the kitchen Valerie McIntosh is watching the news. An unremarkable man in a hi-vis waistcoat and impeccably clean wellingtons is walking through a building site. Hearing her son approaching; Val tries to turn the TV off but presses the wrong button on the remote and instead turns the volume up.

Looking directly into the camera, trying to be sincere the hi-vis sporting man delivers an obviously well practised speech.

"Kevin McIntosh isn't the mindless vandal the prime minister is trying to portray him as here. He isn't a terrorist who needs to be punished and locked away for our protection.

Kevin McIntosh is a child; he is a victim of institutional bullying and the prime minister is singling out this child, making him a leper in our community and I won't stand for it! I will be voting against the proposed anti-magic bill. Wizards and Witches are people too!"

The TV cuts back to the studio where the catalogue perfect couple are sat on a lurid sofa. The middle aged man's eyes flick up and down as he reads the autocue, "That was Martin McVeigh at Ballyforth Comprehensive where rebuilding work is due to start next week after last month's magic based incident. Now over to Sian  . . ."

Mrs McIntosh switches the TV off and smiles at her son. "Sorry petal, so are you all set for your big day? "

Kevin smiles back at his mother trying to hide his nerves, "I think so yeah, Mum  . . ."

"Yes darling?"

"What if they don't like me?"

For the first time in as long as she could remember, Valerie McIntosh didn't see an adolescent with powers he couldn't handle. She saw a little boy, her frightened little boy. Ignoring the fact he was now at least a foot taller than her, Valerie pulled Kevin in for a hug and ruffled his hair.

"Of course they'll like you petal. They'll love you; you're my special little boy."


The Charger (495 Words)

Checking the time and my speed I’m about four hours away, meaning I’ll get there with plenty of time to spare. My reputation is on this one, I can’t afford to be late. Not if I ever want to work again.

A sign promising the best cup of coffee in the state flashes by, the diner just a blip on the horizon. I umm and ah as it grows ever closer before deciding I can afford a stop. I pull off the highway and into the deserted car lot. Picking up my hat off the passenger seat I leave the car to click and hiss itself cool. It’s seen better days but I wouldn’t trade it in for all the oil in Texas.

The place is empty save for the pink tabarded waitress and the fat cook who’re chewing each other out through the serving hatch. I slide into a booth near the window so I can keep an eye on the car. Without even turning round to acknowledge me the waitress says “I’ll be right over hon.”

She finishes her conversation with the cook with a snotty “well I’ll ask him then” and sidle’s on over to me. Her name badge says Jolene, the slink in her hips and the bubble-gum she’s chobbling says she’s young at heart, the crow’s feet say young was quite a while back.

“What can I getcha hon?” She drawls at me.

“Coffee and a slice of pie ma’am.” I say, adding a bit of twang to my voice, trying to throw her off.

“Apple ok? Fresh baked this mornin.”

“Sounds good to me.” I smile at her from underneath the brim of my hat.

“Sixty nine charger eh? Don’t see many of them about no more.” She says as she scribbles down my order. “ ‘Specially on Dakota plates, y’all a long way from home hon.”

Still smiling I ask her where the rest room is; she nods her head towards a door at the back but keeps yabbering at me. “Earl used to drive a Daytona; he said you was in a 500. Boy’s as dumb as a brick, but he makes good pie.” She smiles at me and says she’ll be right back with my order and slinks off towards to the counter shouting. “I told you it was a sixty nine, you don’t know jackshit.”

I get up out of the booth and head to the restroom.  I take a leak and splash some cold water on my face, trying to calm myself down. Looking in the mirror I’m shocked at the tired old man staring back. “They don’t know nothing” I tell him. “They don’t know nothing.”

There was a time I’d have slaughtered them folks, I’d have enjoyed it too, but like the car my glory days are behind me. Besides I’ve got the state’s best cup of coffee and a warm slice of pie waiting for me and a deadline to make.


Reminiscence by @LisaW83 (489 Words)

The old lady was rocking silently in the chair, she was reminiscing about the life she once had. The streets were her sanctuary going to play in the streets, playing hoops with friends; Running around the fields in the early morning breeze and swimming in the brook on a hot summers night. She laughed with friends and chatted with her parents and siblings every meal time. She remembers Sunday evenings going for a tin bath that her siblings also had to share with her, and rushing to be the first one in before the water got dirty and cold.One summers day she remembers seeing a man who made her heart flutter and her cheeks flush; he was stood leaning against a bridge wall looking over the canal at the narrow boats passing by.

She later married him and had a beautiful son Andrew who grew into a successful estate agent running is own company "home comforts". He had not met the ‘one’ yet which she was slightly sad about although still young and plenty of time for him to settle down and have a family of his own.

Has she reminisces about her life she is watching her flowers grow out of the front window, oh how she loved the garden in its pretty colours and the blooms filling the morning light. Thinking of the times her husband use to go out and cut the lawn and trim the hedges on a Saturday afternoon, sadly he had passed away a few years earlier but she still had her son who would visit regularly at various times of the week, she enjoyed the visits from him.

As she quietly sits watching her flowers out the window she sees Andrew come up the path bringing with him a couple of friends who he’s chatting away to blissfully unaware that his Ma is watching him. He takes a while coming in but she’s not worried she just waits patiently for him to come through the passage and carries on rocking peacefully in her handmade rocking chair.
Andrew finally walks through the house with his friends and walks into the living room that he once shared with his parents for many years as he grew up, sitting in front of the fire whilst his Ma sewed her projects and his Pa sat reading the afternoon news or watching the cricket on television, as he reminisces about this he has gradually made his way to the front window where is Ma has been looking and simply says "These flowers have bloomed for years with tender love and care, they fill the summer sky with some bright colours and fragrances. Once my parents, now they are yours" as he passes over the deeds to the house ready for the young couple to sign, he then says “please take the ‘home comfort’ name and enjoy your new start in life with my love.


Everything Is Going To Be Ok (222 Words)

Close your eyes and relax.

You're on a beach, the sand is brilliant white, the ocean turquoise. Listen as the waves lap gently in and out, in and out. The breeze rustles the palms, a lone gull calls out.

This is heaven on earth, nothing matters, you're at peace.

Everything is going to be ok.

Sssh, no, no, no, keep your eyes closed  . . . You're on the beach, the beach. The sand is, the sand is white, and everything is going to be ok.

You're going to be ok, everything is going to be ok.

The sea is blue, you can hear the waves and the wind in the trees.

And you're going to be ok."

" Come in Bravo Zulu this is Mike Alpha Four Niner Two, repeat this is Mike Alpha Four Niner Two ... can I get an eta on this Evac? ... I'm in hell of a mess down here over."

KXKXKXKXSH Mike Alpha Four Niner Two.  Evac is on route, repeat Evac is on route. eta is four minutes over."

"You hear that? 

They are on their way,  we're going to get you out of here. 

Everything is going to be ok. 

Now this beach, the sand is white .. you can see it can't you? 

Feel it between your toes. 

You're going to be ok.

Everything is going to be ok."


Incandescence by Joe Bradbury (357 words)

A cigarette burns quietly whilst slotted precariously into the groove of an ashtray. The room is dark, there is nothing visible to the naked eye but for its dulcet amber glows. Saying nothing of it's owners whereabouts for now, the cigarette remains silent and waits in quivering anticipation for their next return. It embers impatiently until it's moment to shine and declare. Once touched by fingers it can no longer hold it in and folds under the pressure. So once picked up and placed between two unknown lips it's to be expected that the cigarette panics and indicates the owner's position exactly. It subtly glows as it is inhaled, just enough to reveal the owners identity before once again returning to its original position on the desk in a glass ashtray where the remainder of its life will be short lived; soon extinguished and forgotten. Over.

The smoke however has only just begun its journey. It dances gracefully and with benevolent conviction across the tongue, over the pallet and down the oesophagus where it worms deep into the body and slithers sinisterly within the lungs, where it lies dormant and discreetly damages. The satisfaction from this sensation is bittersweet, an almost Machiavellian approach to seek enjoyment. A momentary action that takes but a few seconds will affect you now for years to come. The smoke can't help but smile snidely. It likes the power it has over you. Ominous and barely noticed. A protégé to the cigarette, carrying out its dirty work internally, long after the demise of its origin. Sneaky.

The body accommodates the smoke. It knows the extent of the smokes capability and yet it still welcomes it in with open arms for a tour around the veins. It relishes in the smokes presence and eagerly awaits a revisit, shivering with excitement and dancing as it waits. In no other context does a victim entwine with such intricate synergy with its captor as that of the illicit love affair between a human being and the cascading smoke from the tip of a lit cigarette. There are infinite examples of love. This is but one. Tragic.


The Butcher Of Suburbia (479 Words)

With his last breath he said her name and regretted all he done with his life. Death came quickly and the judgement was no more than he expected, no more than he deserved. The few survivors and the families of his victims could now rest easy. Their pain was over, justice, true justice had been served. Victor Branson, the butcher of suburbia, was burning in hell.

Only that isn't exactly true. Victor did indeed die alone, afraid and full of remorse in his cell. He was also delivered to the gates of hell by Death himself. Who had looked forward to the day of reckoning for an awfully long time, he had even sharpened the scythe specially.

One of the bigger flaws of logic in the bible is the assumption that hellbound souls are punished for their crimes. While the Devil is an imposing figure and puts on a good show when Death comes knocking. What happens behind closed doors is an entirely different matter.

So as Butcher Branson is led into the fiery depths of hell, the Devil introduces himself. "Hey I'm Lucifer, "he says offering a clawed hand.  "But you can call me Lou, everyone calls me Lou. We run a very loose ship here. Before we too carried away can I just say . . . Big, BIG, fan of your work. The way you skinned them was pure art."

Victor nervously shakes the Devils hand, wary of being tricked. "Aaah come on Vic, can I call you Vic? Don't be shy. You've made it! It's time to party down with the greatest people who have ever lived!"

Victor smiles even more nervously, he was never one for parties when he was alive, maybe this is his punishment? Enforced merriment for all of eternity? A cold shiver runs through his body at the thought. Lost in his nightmare day dream he doesn't hear the Devil shout "Think fast!" and misses the ice cold beer heading his way before it hits him in the face.

"Shit Vic! I'm sorry dude, I was just trying to lighten the mood a little."

"Dit's dine." Grumbles Victor through a broken nose. "Die don't drink danyway."

"You don't drink?"

"Do dits de Devils dork"

"Damn right it is!" Huffs the Devil proudly, "Now come on, let's fix that snout of yours."

Lucifer reaches out and cracks Victors nose back into place. "There you go good as new"

Victor offers the Devil a smile. "So what happens to me now? What circle am I destined for?"

"Pfft forget that, you're a guest of honour here Vic! The underworld is your oyster, anything you want you get."

"I want to be punished, I need to be punished."

The Devil sighs dejectedly, "Fine, follow me. You can keep Mr Fish entertained until you change your mind. Eternity is a jolly long time you know"


The Forever Machine by @Chimping_Dandy (375 Words)

The lifter set down in its reserved space just outside the doors of the facility, I killed the engines, powered down the reactor and one by one, the lights on the panel went dark. Leaning over to the other side of the capsule, I grabbed a re-breather from the emergency locker and pulled it over my face, checking the seal against my cheeks and chin.

I opened the lock and stepped out into the biting, methane wind. Indicators on the 'breather's visor told me that the temperature was minus 160C and my life expectancy in the current conditions was a leisurely 38 seconds. I ran over to the doorway, pulled up my sleeve and jammed my forearm into the locking mechanism, the biopsy needle needle took a sample.

Happy that, according to the genetic database at least, I was an authorised visitor, the huge meta-plas doors ground open. The display on the 'Breather read 9 seconds, and I vaulted through the slowly opening gap, punched the emergency door close stud and tore off the mask.

The trip through the deserted corridors took longer than last time, it always took a little longer, every fifty years I made this trip and every fifty years I noticed. Maybe I was getting old. My laugh echoed through the empty corridors and a cloud of my frozen breath followed it.

The lights in the room came on as I entered, all except one, which fluttered and then died. I'd have to report that to the curator when I got back, but for now, I had work to do.

Taking out my tool-roll, I cleared the glass panel of frost so that people could see the face of the hero and his wife entombed within and carefully chipped out the ice from the engraved letters. Once cleared, I read them aloud as I always did.

16/08/1979 - 01/09/2162

I reached into my pocket, pulled out the single lego brick and placed it on top of the sarcophagus as I had done every visit. It joined its thirteen brothers in silence. I gave the glass one more polish and left.

At the door I turned and called, 'Happy Birthday Dude, see you in another fifty years.'

The Times They Are A Changing (411 words)

The rumble of thunder echoing across the valley reminds me of the old man. "There's a storm a coming son." That's what he used to say, claimed he could smell it coming. I never doubted him for a minute.

He lived in these fields, used to say he had been in them since before he could walk, played in them when he were a boy and worked them relentlessly after leaving school at fifteen. The longest he had been away from them, the only time he had been away from them, was during the war.

He never spoke about his time overseas, but sometimes, when the poppies came through in the hedgerows you would catch him staring out to the horizon, tears streaming down his face.

He was a product of a different age, preferred the old ways, working the harrow by horse, harvesting by scythe. "Hard work'll keep you honest son." That's what he always told me. He was a man of few words, never claimed to be a thinker but he always had a piece of advice for you. I liked that about him.

I miss the old boy, sure he infuriated me at times but he taught me a lot over the years and I've tried to pass that down to my son. I guess he looks at his old dad the same way I did mine, a relic, a fossil, an antique, surplus to requirements.

He talks at me about gps, crop yields and long term forecasts, and all I can think is "Them clouds look awful heavy."  Maybe the old man had it right; we don't even got a horse anymore. I shouldn't have let that happen, the harrow is at the back of the barn. The kid reckons to sell it, says it'll make a fortune on ebay. People don't even go to real life auctions these days, how do they meet folk?

I can't even remember the last time there were a dance round these parts. That's where the old man met ma and that's where I met Lily, god rest her soul. The kid met his wife at college. Proudest day of my life was when he graduated, I know it hurt him to come back and work the fields with me but that's what we do and that's what his boy'll do as well.

God only knows what the future holds but the farm will always be here one way or another.


Through The Haze (491 Words)

Smoke hangs heavy in the air of the small flat and ash clings to every surface. Vince is sat in his tattered armchair blowing smoke rings at the ceiling; the tv is showing old Tom and Jerry cartoons with the sound muted while the stereo plays a static thrum as the needle bounces off the end of the record.

I don't know how long we've been sat like this, it could be hours, could be days. Time doesn't really count for us anymore. We stay up all night drinking, smoking, watching trashy movies and spend the days snoozing with the curtains closed, blocking out the sun.

I rub my eyes and run a hand over a good few days' worth of stubble. My mouth is dry and tastes like shit, last night must have been a long one.

"Hey man, what time is it?"

Vince doesn't answer; he just sits staring at the ceiling.

I try a bit louder this time, wary of bursting his mellow bubble "Vince, what time is it man?"

In slow motion he turns his head my way, his eyes are hardly open and every movement seems like a chore. "Hey man, you're awake! You want a hit? Betty was right this is great."

Betty, oh god Betty was here, things are starting to make sense now. He's just got back from a few months in the 'Dam and promised us some top notch blow. When was that? Last night? The night before?

"Na I'm good man, what time is it?"

Vince blinks at me a few times. "Dude I don't even know what day it is, is it Wednesday? Two secs."

Turning his back on me he pries open the window. Fresh air comes streaming in, the smell of the bakery a few doors down reminds me I haven't eaten in a long while and my stomach grumbles pitifully. Vince, half hanging out of the window yells with the plumy tone of a Victorian gentleman at some kid in the street. "What day is this?"

This makes me giggle for some reason I can't quite put my finger on and I miss the answer. The window slamming closed snaps me back to reality and with the fresh air gone the staleness of this hovel really hits home.

Vince has a stupid smug grin plastered on his face. "I fucking told you it was Thursday!" he announces triumphantly.

I let it slide, there is no point arguing with him. There is no point to anything in our lives these days. If it really is Thursday, and there is no telling in all honesty, it's not like Vince is exactly reliable. I have missed my court date meaning I'll end up back inside for a while. With a heavy heart I tell Vince to chuck me the pipe, I don't know how long I have left so I may as well fog out reality while I still can.


Factory Fortnight (428 Words)

Fat rain drops spatter against the windscreen only to be lazily batted away by the wipers. I love the way they drum on the roof, it reminds me of being a kid. We used to go to this caravan park in Wales, last week in July, first week in August. Same time every year, factory fortnight they called it. I remember the first year I didn't go. The year I moved out and got a place of my own. I remember it being like a ghost town, felt dangerous and wrong to be out, felt like the end of the world.

They don't do it anymore, since they closed the plant there is no need. The lucky few who still have jobs can't afford to go away anymore, can barely afford to live. Town is still deserted, just for different reasons. The market went six month back now, the high street is a collection of boarded up windows, pound shops and bookies.

I swear some days you can smell the desperation in the air. People queue outside the foodbank avoiding eye contact with eachother through the shame of it all. A proud community reduced to staring at their tattered shoes while waiting for a free loaf of bread. It's enough to make a grown man weep.

Every now and then we get some grinning suit of a politician promising us jobs, urban renewal, giving us false hope with their empty words. None of them has ever delivered. Regardless of the colour of their rosettes or how far they have rolled the sleeves of their crisp white sleeves up.

The only time you see anyone in a suit round here they'll either be getting married or going to court. There hasn't been a big wedding for a long while. Most of us have to settle for the quick in and out of the registry office. Photos taken on mobile phones, nervous smiles betraying the fear in the eyes. Crumpled shirts and the bride not drinking because the baby is already on its way.

I don't know where Terry got the gun from, he swears it's a replica, all I know is if it was pointed at me I'd do as I was told. He promised me this would be easy, in and out with a sackful of cash all I have to was drive and not ask questions. My mam didn't raise no thief, but desperate times call for desperate measures, Sandra has seen a ring in Cash Converters she likes and the last scan said we're having twins.


The Death Of Barnaby Jones (498 Words)

"You die before you hit the ground!" That's what they always said but as I hurtle passed the Forty Sixth floor, I'm calling bullshit. My life isn't even flashing before my eyes; this experience is as disappointing as my entire life was.

As I can't distract myself from my fast approaching demise with a flashback of my first kiss. (Vicky Matthews at the year eight Christmas disco, she put all of her tongue in my mouth and I gagged.) I may as well tell you my sorry tale.

My name was Barnaby Jones; it's ok to laugh, it was a horrendous name. I ended up with it after my dad lost a bet in the pub. So you could say I was a loser before I was even born.

I worked on the hundred and Eighth floor of the Nakatomi tower with the grand sounding job title of data control manager, but as I was the only one in the department being manager didn't really amount to much. All I really did was sit in my cubicle above the clouds for ten hours a day and put numbers into a spreadsheet. To be completely honest I wasn't even sure what the numbers meant. I'd come in to work in the morning and there would be a ream ready and waiting on my desk, I'd fill the template in and email it off at the end of the day. A monkey could have done it.

One morning I came into work and there was no pile waiting for me. After an hour or so of twiddling my thumbs and still no paperwork, I emailed the person who I send the template to saying I hadn't got anything to send them today. A few minutes later my phone rang. My phone never rang; I had forgotten I even had one.

The voice on the other end was a menacing whisper. Telling me not to fuck things up for everyone; to use my head and just make something up. They assured me none of it meant anything anyway. I was just a small cog in a much bigger machine.

So I did, then the next day I came in and there wasn't any paperwork waiting for me, so I made it up again. This went on for six years and then last Monday I came in and there was a pile of paper full of numbers for me to fill in. I was relieved to be honest; I missed the routine. So I filled them in and sent them off and thought no more about it.

And then it happened, Black Tuesday. The market collapsed and a lot of people, a lot of important people, lost a lot of money. No prizes for guessing who was inadvertently responsible for the record breaking period of prosperity.

Far as I saw it I had two options. Confess to being a simpleton or go down in history. Least this way people will remember me.


The Great Outdoors (481 Words)

"Did you know space scientists have found a gap in the universe that's like a billion light years wide?"

Oh Jesus, it's going to be one of them nights. Out here in the middle of nowhere I thought we could, I don't know, get back to nature or something I guess.  Maybe even bond a little? A few nights sleeping under the stars, mallowdogs on the fire, bit of fishing, foraging for mushrooms. This is meant to be idyllic for fucks sake.

I knew it was going to go to shit when he pulled the reefer out, hopefully he only has the one so this stoner waffle will be short lived and tomorrow we can get on with the serious business of hunting, eating and relaxing.

"Honestly, think about that for a second would ya. A billion, A BILLION, light years across. And there is nothing there, NOTHING."

Guess I better humour him, "Yeah man, it's amazing. That universe is a big old place."

"Nothing, zip, nada, zilch  . . ."

"I get it dude, there is nothing there."

"There is literally nothing there; it's not like having an empty box that is full of like oxygen and stuff. There is NOTHING there. Your mind can't accept that."

Don't bite, don't bite, don't bite.

Too late.

"I am aware of the concept of nothing Kal."

I swear he is smirking at me.

"But you're not Mat, look at all them stars, now look at the gaps between them. That's further than we'll ever travel in our lives. Each star is a sun with its own solar system, maybe even with their own Earth. And this gap, this void in the infinite could swallow most, if not all of it."

I'm going to be honest as I sit here gazing into space, he's got me. We all get so caught up in ourselves that we forget just how small we are. Somehow we are smaller than nothing, Kal's right I can't get my head around it. I'd never admit that to him of course. Nor will I admit that thinking about the size of the universe terrifies me. Maybe I'm over thinking all of this, maybe I need to be more like him. Kal doesn't worry about anything. I always thought as the older brother I was meant to be the leader, be the wise one. Maybe he can teach me a few things?

"Hey Kal, pass the joint man."

With a grin of pure mischief he more than happily passes me the joint. I take a deep drag and hold it in before coughing it all back up. This amuses him no end, so I take an even bigger drag before blowing it out his way. I pass it back to him, lay back on the ground and marvel at the sky.

"Say Kal, just how far away is this hole?"


Breath Of Fresh Air By @Chimpingdandy (500 Words)

It'd been my Granddad's farm, my Dad had been born there but had moved out after some terrible family feud or other.  He never spoke about it really, he didn't talk about Granddad much either; in fact I didn't know that the farm even existed before he received the solicitor's letter.

It was the standard thing, 'Dear sir, it is with regret.' It began, and then it traveled through, 'Only living relative.' And it ended with, 'All taxes paid, ready for immediate habitation or sale.'  He'd looked out of the window and drained the last dregs of his tea.

'I'll write back to 'em,' he'd said, not even bothering to turn around, 'Tell 'em to sell it and send me t'money.  Be buggered if I go back.'

I'd been stuck in the flat for as long as I could remember, I loved the country though, the few times I'd gone to Bakewell  with my Dad on the bus, it was like I was really breathing for the first time in years.  The sky was so blue, the grass was so green.  My Dad didn't seem to notice; He'd just buy his pudding and then wait for the bus home, hardly saying a word.  I suppose he's seen it all before though, being a country lad at heart.

My Dad's always taken good care of me, Well he's had to since Mum left when I was little.  He often talks about her, and sometimes he cries.  I try to comfort him but it doesn't help.  There are words for what was wrong with her, I read them once over his shoulder when he was looking at the paper – Post-Natal Depression, I can't remember much about her either, just some flashes of a jolly blonde lady, smiling as she looked down at me.  Thought I saw her once, it was at the church where they'd got married.  I recognised her from the photos on the wall, she looked older and sadder. 

But like I said, he looked after me.  My room was always clean and tidy, he'd get upset if I didn't put things back where they'd come from, very upset, he sometimes cried about that too.  I'd say that I hadn't finished reading the book, or that I was going to play with the train again tomorrow, but he ignored me and just checked the window for draughts, it felt like he was punishing me for being a kid sometimes.  I got angry and knocked all my books off the shelf once, he didn't come in my room for a week after that.

He gets so upset.

I could be a better son.

A priest came yesterday, said some words and lit some candles.  I hope it helps my Dad, he deserves not to be upset all the time.  My Dad left an old yellowing newspaper cutting on my pillow about some poor toddler, killed by a threshing machine years ago.  Don't know why, his poor parents must be so sad.


Writers Flood (346 Words)

Closing his eyes to avoid looking at the screen he takes a deep breath and tries not to panic. Tries to not think about the word count, the deadline, the mortgage and then it happens again.

The goblin hordes are attacking the last haven of the dwarves. He can smell the sweat drenched leather, the smoke in the air, can feel the thud of the battering rams and can taste the fear in the air. He opens his eyes and starts to type but it isn’t what he wants, what he needs.  Eventually,the battle fades with each blink of the cursor.

He closes his eyes again this time he is a masked avenger chasing his arch enemy across the roof tops. He has his quarry cornered; every step forward pushes his foe closer to the edge. “You’ll never take me alive Shadowman!” the Claw shouts and goes to jump from the roof top. With lightning quick reflexes, Shadowman draws his lasso pistol and snares the masked madman.

Dangling over the city below the Claw smiles up at Shadowman and says “You know what, I’ve always been proud of you son”

Shocked by this revelation,  Shadowman inadvertently drops his pistol  sending his arch enemy, his father, to his death.

With a smile on his face he opens his eyes again and looks at the screen, the cursor still blinking away on the empty white screen.

“Not today you bastard, not today.” He says to himself.

He sighs and starts to type, his fingers dance across the keyboard spilling the words out of his brain, losing himself in the flow.

Where do I get my inspiration from? It’s hard to say, it’s just sort of in me. I can see a normal mundane everyday situation and spin it off on a tangent. I can close my eyes and be someone else; I can be in a different city, on a different planet. I almost long for the day I can close my eyes and see only darkness, maybe then I’ll sleep...


Worlds Apart By Muddy Circles (496 Words)

18 months had passed since we moved and still we were struggling to adapt to our new surroundings.

The altitude is much higher which made the air thinner compared to home. As time passed our biological make up changed gradually, our chests expanded due to the thickening and expanding lung capacity; it was a painful but necessary process. Our skin stretched over our rib cages making our stomachs tighter giving a narrower and gaunt look, causing stretch marks that looked as dry and arid as the land we were standing on.

looking around I gaze at the now familiar red landscape that has been inhabitable for maybe millions upon millions of years and yet, here we stand, nothing but what remains our human existence, no insects, no  plants, no animals just us. Specially selected construction engineers deliberated over the construction of new buildings, some of the work was already underway and the machinery being used was evidence that we had taken total control.

“It shouldn’t be long now should it?” Bel asked as we sat at the foot of the hill close to our base station.

“No, it should be visible around 10:12pm” I lost track how long we had sat in the same spot waiting but it was a chance that we wouldn’t get any time soon. More people started to join us waiting for the same spectacle that we were preparing for.

A dark shadow began to creep across the landscape sending this new world in to darkness, the air became cooler causing me to tuck my knees towards my chest and hug them to retain some of the warmth the sun provided us only moments ago before disappearing behind the large object.

“It’s here, it’s here!” Bel cried in excitement. To be honest I’m not sure what I felt, maybe a mixture of emotions. It was a pitiful sight and one not to be proud of.

Our planet came in to view, ruined by the explosion of a new nuclear regeneration technology. Our previous world had been shattered, part of it was blown away and the debris had been sucked in to the black void of the universe.  We didn’t have time to evacuate everyone which meant that only families who were able to contribute to the survival of the human race had been chosen. I know my father worked in a scientific laboratory but he never spoke of his work.

Whilst we all watched the passing event my father had been summoned to the science and technology space station; the nuclear physicist drew his lecture to a close and revelled in the thunderous applause that had erupted as he exited the stage.

“Dr Braun, I was fascinated by your findings and I believe we managed to resolve our previous problem, I am ready to commence the building of the nuclear regeneration facility based on our new calculations”

Dr Braun looked at his assistant and a sinister smile crept across his lips.  


Mid Existence Crisis (422)

Circling through the void I find myself once again debating my own existence, I'll admit it is a strange position to be in. I mean I know I exist, the whole "I think therefore I am" clause covers that but what am I?

I am death.

Who am I?

I am death.

where am I?

I am everywhere yet nowhere all at once. I don't get to judge, well I'm not meant to and when I do the outcome never changes anyway.

I am the inevitable climax of your life, I am . . .

I am . . . 

I am . . .  bored.

I have existed since the dawn of mankind. I will continue to exist until the very last one of you pathetic, immoral, fragile creatures decides that enough is enough and shuffles off the mortal coil.

I will be there to catch you, to guide you into the light, to send you to your chosen deity, and I can't wait.

But then what?

If there is no you, what happens to me?

Animals die all the time, in a whole host of stupid ways. Even by your pathetically low human standards. They don't feel the need to create me, to fear me, they are content to live and then die.

I tried processing an ant once, I asked if it had led a good life and if it thought it deserved to go to heaven. It said it was only looking for leaves. It didn't care about anything else so I let it be. Admittedly there is the odd human who feel the same way as the ant but the majority rules, and once I come knocking on your door you do tend to feel the same.

"I'm not ready." 

"What have I done to deserve this?"

"I'm innocent!"

"I thought they had WMD'!"

The terminally ill, now they tend to have a modicum of self respect about them.

"What took you so long?"

"I don't hurt anymore!"

"Thank you"

The grateful dead are the ones who confuse me the most, I have ended their existence, they are no more. They'll never see anyone they love or hate again, never experience. . . Well anything ever again and yet, they are happy.

Sometimes I don't think I will ever truly understand you, you infuriate me and amaze me in equal measure. You are capable of love and blind hate. You are selfish, idiotic specks of life, alone in this vast universe yet think you are somehow special.

You aren't, and you're days are numbered.

So make them count.