Connors (436 words)

Doctor Martin Connors pulled his wife's car over to the side of the street, checked the mirrors to make sure no one was around and pulled the gun out of his pocket.  It was an old snub nosed revolver acquired from a friend of a friend. After the whole McIntosh debacle he had felt the need for some personal protection. He knew bullets probably wouldn't be much use against the child, but he hasn't been seen since Kolinsky' had unleashed his mad dog.

That was all a bloody mess; he had thought that a hitman would have been quick, clean and quiet. The imbecile that Kolinsky had deemed fit for the job had pulled up outside the house and just peppered it with bullets.  He hadn't felt comfortable with the potential death of a child; no matter how infuriating, but now two people were dead and another missing. It was time to wipe the slate clean.

After he had seen the carnage on the news accompanied by an appeal for Kevin to come home he had made an anonymous phone call to the police, implicating Kolinsky. He knew Kolinsky wouldn't give the police his name. He knew Kolinsky would much rather deal with him personally.

It was this thought that lead to him getting the gun. He didn't know if he had it in him to shoot someone in cold blood but reasoned with himself that if it came down to him of someone else dying it really wasn't that much of a choice.

He checked the gun was still loaded and stuffed it back into his pocket. Checking the mirrors again and avoiding making eye contact with himself. He got out of the car and started the long trudge up the hill towards Bellevue.

His mind raced and wandered on the mile long journey. He cursed his lousy luck; he regretted accepting the job and ending up here. He debated, again, if the writer was really real. On one hand it flew in the face of everything he had ever believed. On the other he had been turned into a penguin not so long ago.

It was a disturbing thought really, some old hack locked up in a room controlling your destiny. More than once he had caught himself second guessing his every thought, pondering if he had really thought that or if it had been penned for him. It was enough to drive you insane.

He chuckled at the irony of a doctor of his standing questioning his own mental state, caressed the gun through the material of his coat and kept on walking.


The Aftermath (423 Words)

Kevin opens his eyes and sees nothing but beautiful blue sky.

He closes them again and sees the pickup pull up outside his house.

He sees his dad get up out of his seat, the one they all lovingly refer to as the TV chair.

He sees a man jump out of the cab and pull a tarpaulin off the back revealing the type of thing you expect to see sticking out of the front of a helicopter.

He sees the instrument of death swing around towards the home he has lived in all of his life.

He sees the barrel start to spin.

He sees flames spit and casings fall.

He sees his dad collapse into a sea of blood.

The rage swallows him whole, the world slows. He screams words he won't ever recall and is swallowed by the nothingness he has created.

An instant later and a thousand miles away the nothingness explodes, dumping the furious naked child in a Slovakian field.

He lays in the crater he has created, staring at the sky. Trying desperately not to cry, not to give into the madness creeping into the corners of his mind.

He doesn't hear the farmer approach, he is still focussing on his breathing when the jovial "Ste v poriadku môjho syna?" Breaks his concentration.

Fire crackles in his pupils, the rage swallows him again, the madness descends. A primal language that hasn't been spoken in a millennia spills from his mouth. 

Stumbling backwards the farmer narrowly misses a fiery death as a ball of pure energy screams out of the crater.

Scrambling backwards, trying to get as far away as possible without wasting time standing up. The farmers eyes never leave the edge of the crater.

"Bože, prosím, odpusť mi, Bože, prosím, odpusť mi" He mumbles over and over.

He stops mid chant "Bože, prosím . . " And instantly denounces his new found faith as the demon child floats out of his hole.

"Mama mi ľúto" He says as the child's scarlet eyes descend on him. The last thing Dobromil Ladislav sees is the smirk that decides his fate.

The last thing he hears is a deafening cry of "Adolebit".

The last thing he feels are the fires of hell being unleashed onto him. 

His anger sated, for now, Kevin floats back to earth looks at the scorched shadow of an innocent man and says "That'll do for starters." 


Gothic by Carol Hurley (500 Words)

She lay in the stone cold bed, cocooned in a veil of tears, unable to move, rigid with a fear and thrill that combined to send a frisson of sheer love and horror through her whole being.  What was she doing here? Who had brought her to this zone of living terror which she now inhabited?  
She could not remember.  All she knew was the here and now.  Her feelings were all-consuming.  Without knowing their cause, she only knew that she had never felt anything like it in her life.

As she lay there, snatches of memory returned.  She had come here to realise her dream, to be present at the scenes of all her studies.  She wanted to breathe the air that they had breathed.  She wanted to enter their temples and pyramids.  She wanted to gaze at the inscrutable face of the Sphinx of ancient history.  Museums and artefacts were not enough for her.  She wanted the reality of those far off lives to be her reality.

It was not an easy subject but she had so embraced it, absorbing the fascinating facts of that ancient civilisation.  She had become obsessed with all that knowledge.

She felt all the euphoria again as she lay there and indulged herself in it.  

Then another feeling overwhelmed the first.  Terror mingled with longing.  A face and figure appeared which embodied both these feelings, competing with each other.  HE was here again, in her heart, creating the need to be with him.  That yearning would not go away but suddenly fear swept in, flooding, drowning her body and mind.  She felt she had to escape but, by staying, she knew he would come to her.  There was no escape.  

She lifted her head and as she did so she felt something flit past in the semi darkness.  A sinister shape formed in human likeness materialised from the air and stood to the right of her dimmed vision.  Her heartbeat quickened and raced at the sight of the one who had carried her here last night, deep into the heart of darkness.  

Her body tingled as a nervous energy ran through her, making her rise up from what she recognised as a stone sarcophagus.  She knew in an instant that she was in her grave, her soul entombed in a corpse like grip just as her living body was shaped by this ancient sepulchre.  
Her mind registered impending doom; her heart registered imminent ecstasy.  She felt him rather than saw him as he approached her rising figure.  He took her hand and lifted her out.  She felt as light as gossamer.  All fear left her as she looked into his face.  He was majestic, he was regal, he was beautiful.  She worshipped him, she adored him, she gazed into his dead youthful face.  The boy king had come to claim her as his own and to take her to his everlasting home where she would dwell for eternity with him and his ancestors.   


Introducing Simon Pendleford (498 Words)

"See doc, the problem with the word on the street is that the people on the street tend to be . . . Less than trustworthy."

He, nods and writes something in that little pad of his, I swear to sweet baby Jesus I am going to read all the crap in there even if I have to pry it out of his cold dead hands.

He looks over his half moon glasses and tries to further pry into my mind. " I see Simon, may I call you Simon?"

He's trying to rile me, give him a reason to keep me in this hell hole. Well I'm not falling for that.

"Call me O'Hannigan." 

The quack narrows those beady eyes of his and the crocodile smile creeps over his face, showing me the pearly whites I promise myself I am going to make him choke on.

"But that's not your name is it Si?"

Don't bite.

Too late.

"Not even my own mother would have the nerve to call me Si." I snap at him.

This turns his smile to a smirk, chump thinks he is under my skin. Thinks he has got my number. I'll play his games after all I've got him right where I want him.

"What does your mother call you then Simon?"

"Nothing, she's dead."

"Oh, well I am sorry for what it's worth."

For what it's worth, what does that even mean? More bullshit empty words.

"She was worth ten of you, you piece of shit." 

"Tell me about her Simon, you clearly loved her dearly."

Have I really ended up here? Lay on a shrinks couch talking about my mother? This was meant to be an easy gig. 

"She was a brilliant women, she taught English at the local comp. She deserved better . . . "

"Better than what Simon?"

Don't tell him anything.

"She was walking home from the store when some kid tried to mug her. . . "

God dammit man stop talking!

" . . . He had a gun, why hell did he have a gun?"

Stop talking!

"She put up a fight, the judge said the kid got scared and accidentally pulled the trigger."


"Accidentally my ass, the punk knew what he was doing. Young offenders institute my ass."

While I'm spilling my guts out the doc doesn't say a word. He just keeps scribbling away. So I finally stop myself before I go too far and wait for him to chip in with some gem of wisdom.

" So Simon, is this when you became a private detective?"

"I , err I ummm" 

Oh jesus this gets better, say something you idiot!

"I don't know what you mean doctor."

He flashes me that crocodile smile again, closes his notebook and says. " Grief is a strange thing Mr Pendleford, we all handle it in different ways. I'm going to be honest not many of us adopt a new persona and fight crime but it takes all sorts. That'll do for this week. but we are making great progress." 


Shadows by Emma Finlayson-Palmer (478 Words)

Senka sat with her back pressed firmly against a wall, legs crossed and lost in thought. She daren't move too much in the sunny afternoon for fear of someone noticing her peculiarity. She preferred being out by the dim light of the crescent moon where no-one would notice she was any different to the other teenagers.

Her family had moved from city to city, and on more than one occasion made a plane journey to a new country. They could never stay too long in one place, or at least so far they'd weighed up the odds and decided to move on before their cover had been blown. Senka was fed up and lonely, and longed to stay somewhere long enough to make friends, although she knew her parents would never allow this.

'It's for your own good!' They would say. 'You know it's far too dangerous for people like us.'

Senka watched as the long shadows slowly gave way to the cover of darkness, and realised she had sat for hours on the cold, stone path. She rubbed her legs as pins and needles pulsated like a shower of arrows, and tingled with icy pain. When she could walk steadily once more she set off for home.
Outside the house she looked up at its large, dark windows, like glassy unblinking eyes gazing back at her. Her parents very rarely used any of the rooms at the front of the house, another tactic in keeping a low profile. Senka needed answers, she knew they were different but whenever she started asking questions they told her she was 'too young to understand' and that they'd tell her 'when the time was right'.

Her hand brushed across her pocket and she felt the crinkle of paper stuffed inside, and this renewed her determination. The letter had arrived that morning, and already she had read it so many times that she could recite it word for word.

Holding her key a little too tightly, Senka strode purposefully up the front steps and let herself in. She listened for the sounds of her parents, feeling drawn towards them as if she were magnetised she was quickly up the stairs and standing before them.

"Senka! We've been worried sick! Where have you been all day?" asked her Mum as she tossed aside a half packed suitcase.

"You're packing? We've barely unpacked from the last move." Senka's voice raised several octaves higher than normal as she struggled to keep her composure.

Her father sighed, "I'm sorry sweetheart, it's time, we really must move on. We've stayed here too long as it is."

"No!" Senka threw down the crumpled envelope in front of her parents. I know now why we don't let people see our shadows. I know it's the only way humans can see our true form, and I'm not leaving this time."


Overkill (498 Words)

Sunlight sneaks in through the countless holes that pepper the front of the house, dust motes dance in the air. Everything is silent betraying the carnage that has gone before. 

An armed officer guards the door and nods at the two detectives as the approach him. One holds the police tape while the other ducks underneath. 

Both been on the force for many a year, both have seen more than their fair share of horrors but nothing had prepared them for this.

They found her first. Lay on her back in the hall, a dead eye staring at the ceiling, the other missing. Her blood pooled out beneath her. 

"Looks like she was going to answer the door." The one said to the other.

"Possibly coming to see what all the noise was." The other replied.

"How many times do you think she was hit?"

"Hard to say, there's at least four to the head, three to the throat, god knows how many down from there."

"Mac tell you about the casings?" 

"Sure did, he said they had to sweep them up into boxes. I thought he was shitting me." 

"Me too, come on he's in here."  Says the detective motioning to the sitting room.

A million glass shards sparkle like diamonds, the remains of the picture window scattered underfoot. Family portraits of happier times are riddled with holes. Keepsakes and ornaments are shattered on the mantel. A sheepskin rug dyed red in the centre of the room lies underneath the sprawled body of Kevin McIntosh senior.

"Jesus wept." mutters the one, a hand over his mouth in a valiant attempt to stop vomiting.

"Looks like he took the brunt of it. If you look out the window they had a clean enough shot of him."

"Then why do this?" Says the other motioning at the destruction that lies all around them.

"Dunno, maybe they wanted to make sure, maybe they wanted to send a message out?"

"A message to who?"

"You not seen them on the news? Their kid is the one who blew the school up. Lot of people are sick of these freaks." 

"No shit,The kid around?" 

"Well he's not here if that's what you mean. We don't know where he's at."

The detectives continue with their grim investigation, and a thousand miles away a very angry child wakes up in a smouldering crater. . .


How do you solve a problem like Kevin? (438 Words)

Gregor Kolinsky drummed his fingers on his desk; it was a nervous habit that drove his wife spare. He claimed it helped him think, truth was he thought it looked cool and intimidating.

He opened the file again and looked at the glossy twelve by fifteen photographs. With the mop of scruffy hair and uncomfortable demeanour they could be of any teenager out there. But they weren't, these pictures were of a lad whose reputation preceded him.

Kolinsky stuck out his bottom lip and sucked on his teeth, how did he get himself in these stupid predicaments? All he wanted to do was lean on the quack at the nut house, make sure Jay stayed put and ask about his darling Tilly. Now he has to return a favour he never meant to ask for in a fashion he isn't comfortable with.  

He understood being turned into a Penguin for a few hours must have been be annoying, but killing the kid is a little over the top. Besides how do you even kill a wizard?

Rummaging around in his desk drawers he eventually found his gun; a clunky revolver bought more for show than anything else. He wasn't even sure if he had any bullets for it. Gregor was a firm believer in looking the part and first impressions counted for a lot in his world. He found that once you had pointed a gun at someone they tended to do what they were told and asked very few questions.

He scratched lazily at his temple with the barrel of the gun, something else he had picked up from the movies. Hollywood had a lot to answer for he thought when he caught wind of what he was doing. Impressing and intimidating folks with his bullshit was part of his day job but more and more of late he caught himself still playing the Russian crime lord when he was alone.

He looked at the pictures again and a cold shiver ran down his spine. With a sigh he closed the file, tossed the gun back in the drawer and mentally ran through all the scum bags he knew. After drawing up a short list of potential assassins he settled on the most ruthless mother fucker on god's green earth and pulled out his mobile.

Just as he thought the call was going to go to voicemail a drawling voice with a broad welsh accent said "Alright butt?"

Gregor dropped straight back into the valleys. "Alright spa? Its Greg isn't it? I need to ask a favour I do, there's this boy you see . . ."


The End by Paul Brown (476 Words)

It's funny how you always avoid the subject of death – until it's finally happening to you, that is.

Another wave of pain shoots through my body. I can feel my heart trying to burst through my chest, blood pounding in my ears, and then… gentle relief as the pain subsides once more.

I'm scared.

I've felt this moment approaching over the last few months, but the reality, the finality of it all has only gripped me in the last few days. Yes, there is a sense of fear – all of my current reality, all my hopes and dreams coming to an end, but there is also a desire to see it through – to see what lies beyond.

I suppose I've been toying with the idea of an afterlife for some time now. I know it's a cop out but when you're faced with the end of all things…

It's coming again. A crushing sensation in my chest. The pain seems to start deep inside then builds steadily until it encompasses my whole reality. All my world is pain. I just want to surrender – for it all to be over, but something keeps holding me back. Please let this be over soon!

And once more, in a moment, the pain subsides.

I've always toyed with the idea of a creator of some sort. There must be more to life than just this. Certainly I believe something must have made everything, but I've never felt the need for a relationship with Him. Come to think of it I feel more comfortable with the idea of God as a mother – nurturing, feeding, caring for Her creation. Not some distant father figure. Remote, unconnected, uncaring.

Now, at the end of it all I feel a desperate need to reach out. I want there to be a connection. Or am I just hoping to get my story straight before a face to face meeting with God?

And the idea of heaven or hell? I would have laughed if the subject had come up a few months ago, but now I'm scared. I want there to be something more than this but faced with the certainty of eternal blessing, or an infinity of damnation, then all I want is oblivion!

It's building again, and this time I know it has to be the end. The pain is so intense and is accompanied by a crushing sensation. I can feel the life being drained out of me. I sense I'm moving down a long, dark tunnel towards a blinding light. I'm drawn closer and closer to the light.

Heaven or hell?

The light surrounds me, cold and harsh. I take a breath and scream. A cacophony of noise resolves into a single sentence –

"Oh Mrs Brown, it's a beautiful baby boy!"

Enveloped in warmth, I move into the loving arms of my creator…


Doc Connors (483 Words)

Plastering on his best fake smile and wiping the nervous sweat from his brow, Doctor Martin Connors clears his throat and beckons his fate into his office.

Gregor Kolinsky glides serenely in, his reptilian smile radiating malice rather than warmth. Connors stands and offers his hand in welcome. Kolinsky tilts his head like a curious dog and smirks at the petrified doctor before sitting down uninvited.

"yes well . . . quite" flounders Connors before sitting down at his own desk.

Drumming his fingers on the desk, Kolinsky waits for the doctor to speak.

"So aah Greg I mean, Mister Kolinsky, may I call you Greg?"


"Okeydokey! So how can I help you mister Kolinsky?"

"How is Natalie doing?"

This throws Connors off track, having worked at Bellevue for a year now nobody has asked about Natalie, let alone visited her.

"She is doing very well, the counting is still a bit of an issue but it isn't as bad as it was."

"Good, because if any harm comes to her. I will kill you, you know that don't you?"

Connors blinks as he tries to process the sudden change in direction.

"But that isn't why I am here," Kolinsky continues. "You have a new  . . . guest. A doctor, well a former doctor anyway, William Jackson."

"I'm not at liberty to discuss other patients or their well-being." Bristles the doctor, happily back on more comfortable ground.

"I'm not here to discuss him doctor, I'm here to ask a favour. And a favour from me is a rare thing; you would do well to value it. 

All I'm asking doc is you keep Doctor Jay, as he prefers to be known, in here as long as you possibly can. 

If he was to die a lonely old death in here, that would make me a very happy man indeed. 

And you want to make me happy, don't you Marty, You don't mind if I call you Marty do you?"

"Well no one has called me Marty since medical school, Smarty Marty they used to call me."

"That's thrilling Marty, now if you'll excuse me. I am a very busy man."

Kolinsky stands and offers Connors his hand, even further into familiar grounds, the doctor smiles and shakes his new found friend's hand.

Anger sweeps over Kolinsky's poker face and he grips tightly, cracking Connors knuckles.

 "Now don't forget our little arrangement and any time you need something from me, well you just give me a call now won't you?"

Releasing his grip, Kolinsky turns and leaves without saying another word.

Connors sinks into his chair and runs over what has just happened. Keeping Jackson in really wouldn't be all that hard and a favour could well be what he needs.

Pulling up Natalie Kolinsky's records he dials the next of kin contact number.

"Mr Kolinsky, It's Marty. About that Favour . . . There's this boy. "


Finding Danielle by @NeilSehmbhy (441 Words)

The weight of my tiredness beats down upon me as I pull off the motorway. The car slinks onto the car park almost by itself, as if it knows what is required of it. I pick up my phone then put it away. There's no point telling Penny, her reservoirs of hope are long depleted.

Sitting there in the car sucks up time, making me put my well-thumbed book of my despair to bed. I just hope she's here. 

A breeze riffs in through the partly open window, carrying with it the smell of rain. I glancing round and I'm reassured by the sight of Danielle's old parka with its peeling badges and fraying cuffs.

Walking across the car park I enter the service station, the automatic doors reluctantly opening at the last minute. A quick search around the food court and rest rooms reveals nothing and I swallow down the bile rising in my chest, laced with disappointment so I head outside.

Then as I'm leaving, a cigarette lighter shoots a flame and gives me the face I am searching for hidden by the bins. Her eyes flick towards the me, tears staining her grimy cheeks like liquid starlight in the night. I smile, my lip quivering as my heart fills with joy. Danielle runs into my outstretched arms and I squeeze her close, happy I've found her again. We walk slowly together towards the car and I open the door and wait. Taking her time she climbs into the front seat and I deadlock the doors not looking at her, not speaking, and drive away.

We get onto the motorway again and after a while I look over. She's fast asleep so I drag the parka from the back seat and lay it over her.

The drive home flies by, all 300 miles of it and before I know it we are home. Penny's car isn't outside so she must be on a night shift. All the days seem to blend into one but she probably told me.

Danielle wakes up as the engine dies, bleary eyed but smiling. She looks more like my little girl and I draw her to me holding her, warm and safe in my cocoon. After one last squeeze I release her.

She risks a pale smile, 'Always.'

We head inside, Danielle in her worn clothes and jacket, the parka on the front seat.

Then, just as we reach the front door, she speaks.

'I'm not leaving again Daddy,' Danielle says, in a small, soft voice, choked all I can do is nod, ' Not again. I'm so sorry.'

I hope she's right, hope that she still feels the same in a month. I hope the day will come when I will bring our daughter home, and she doesn't leave again. The day that Penny will smile and the light will return to her eyes.

Sent from Samsung Mobile


The Bellevue Conundrum (498 words)

Water bleeds down the window of my room as I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. Three months I've been here now and I'm every bit as confused and as far away from finding the answer as the day I walked in. 

It seemed like such a good idea at the time, the Doc is here, the girl is here, the suit is here. All parts of the same god damn puzzle. It can't be a coincidence, it can't be.

It's the routine of the place that gets to me the most, arts and crafts on Wednesdays, CBT on Tuesdays, discussion meetings, prayer circles, Reiki, free association writing, creative dance. I lost three weeks just going with the flow. That's when I wised up and started skipping my "meds".

There is a long list of people I hate in this world and top of that list is drug pushers, soon as I get my piece back I'm going to have a short, sharp chat with that lousy orderly.  

Still cursing the lousy son of a bitch I pull my notepad from underneath my mattress and read through what I have so far.

The first few pages are near enough indecipherable, paragraphs of drug addled spider scrawl, doodles and what may well be hieroglyphics. Half finished lists, names underlined, encircled and then crossed out as I eliminate them from my investigation

I gave up trying to understand it all weeks ago but have kept hold of it just in case it does hold some vital clue.

Flicking through until I find the last page I go through my list again.

1. Tilly Kolinsky. Savant daughter of billionaire Gregor Kolinsky. Has been a resident of Bellevue for a little over two years, hasn't had a visitor in over a year.

2. Errol Ferguson. former energy consultant  who had an "epiphany" while delivering his schtick to a certain Gregor Kolinsky.

3. Doctor William Jackson, likes to be known as Doctor Jay, has a serious drug habit and ended up here as part of  a plea bargain after getting a bit too fresh with Mrs Kolinsky.

I slam the notepad closed and throw it across the room, "It's all there god dammit, what are you missing?"

A light tapping on my door, breaks my train of thought. Its the damn orderly again, all smiles and politeness. "Come on Simon, it's time for breakfast!"

I grit my teeth and stare him down, I've got the best part of a foot and a hundred pounds on the pencil necked little geek. I could break him in two before he even thought about pressing the panic button.

"My name is O'Hannigan." I snarl at him.

He has the god damned nerve to stare back at me and says "Well O'Hannigan it's breakfast time, I've asked Linda if she'll do you some eggs, I know how much you like them . . ."

You know what? he's not wrong. I'll start over on this infernal case after breakfast.


Friday (409 words)

Screams echo down the corridor anywhere else in the world this would be cause for alarm, here it is pretty much a daily occurrence. I give them a minute or two hoping they'll either calm themselves down or someone else will see what's going on. No such luck, if anything they are getting worse. Admitting defeat, I toss the paper I am working on into my desk drawer and go and see what joys are waiting for me.

As I come out into the corridor, Errol a once successful energy consultant scurries by. He avoids making eye contact with me but I know he hears the racket, I mean he must be able to. It's enough to wake the dead for Christ's sake.

Following the cacophony of misery I find Tilly, normally a sweet enough lass, howling at her feet. Putting a trembling, comforting hand on her shoulder I ask, in my best doctor voice, what the matter is?

The screaming stops and she looks up at me, tears streaming down her face. Looking deep into her red raw, beautiful brown eyes I ask again.  

Blinking the tears away she tries to speak but the sobbing threatens to breakthrough again so she simply points at her shoes. I look down and smile, "they look like Ladybirds." I say.

"Coccinella Septempunctata" She mumbles back at me.

"Clever girl, now what's the matter Tilly? How can I help?"

"My shoe is broken" She says, her voice but a whisper.

Looking closer I see that a buckle has come off, "That's nothing to be upset about, I can fix that no worries."

As I hear the words coming out of my mouth I am as shocked by them as Tilly is. "It would be a simple enough procedure, a couple of stitches and you would be as good as new."

"Can you really mend them?"

With a confidence and clarity of mind I haven't felt in a long while I say "Of course I can. Now let's go find us a member of staff. I need a needle, some thread and gloves. They have to let me have some gloves. I can't operate without some gloves."

Tilly smiles at me and my heart melts, "You know they won't let you have the gloves don't you Jay?"

"Yeah I know but it never hurts to ask does it?"

"You haven't worn gloves in forty seven days."

It's going to be a long day.


The Return by Steve Baker (478 Words)

He stood in the entrance way to the hall; since the change it looked longer than ever.

He hated the journey now.  What had used to be a triumphant return home was now misery.  He wondered if he would ever be free of the pain.

His son sat half way up the stairs watching him; silent, expectant.

With a heavy sigh he put down his briefcase and gave the boy a half hearted smile, it wasn’t returned.

Squaring his shoulders he stared along the hall taking in the details.  Stairs ahead and to his right, with the occasional table next him, also on the right.

He looked up at the solid looking industrial light with its handle and weighed the distance.  Then his eyes moved to the floor, the long expanse of polished wood; he’d wanted carpet, but apparently this was better for him.

Without a change in expression he took a step forward and leapt onto the bottom step of the stairs.

A back flip and turn landed him deftly on the table underneath the coats.  That was a difficult move as the coats hid part of the table; he smiled to himself for a split second.

Leaping off the table he took three steps to the left across the hall and planting his feet squarely on the wall and propelled himself upwards towards the ceiling light. As his hands found the bar he pulled himself up into a ball and swung in an arc back to the left to line himself up with the door way through the middle room.

He let go and rolled as he hit the floor.  Jumping up his hand flashed out and grabbed the top of the open door, swinging round he balanced momentarily; feet on the edge of the door, hands gripping the top.

Pushing off he executed an almost perfect back flip to land feet first on the back of the settee.  Turning he took one step forward and launched himself towards the wall.  His feet found purchase as he took three steps along the wall and pushed off to grab the next light.  Swinging in a 180 degree arch he gracefully dived, feet first, for the open door of the kitchen.

The loud crack as his head hit the kitchen door lintel echoed back up the hallway, as he landed face first on the floor sliding to a stop at his wife’s feet.

Slowly he rolled over and lay on the kitchen floor staring up at the look of sympathy on his wife’s face, “Oh Sweetie, You almost made it too. I’ll get you some tablets.” She said with a sad smile.

“Bad luck Dad, you were doing so well” The boy said leaning over the banister as he disappeared upstairs.

“Bloody parkour flooring” he thought, as he accepted the tablets and glass of water from his wife.


Wednesday. (483 Words)

It was Wednesday, I had toast for breakfast. It was Wednesday we had arts and crafts after breakfast. We always have arts and crafts on a Wednesday. I had toast for breakfast then I went to arts and crafts because it was Wednesday. I was three fifths of the way down the corridor, the main one that runs from the dining hall, passed our rooms. My room is number one thousand, nine hundred and seventy nine, this is the year I was born and is a prime number made up of two other prime numbers.

It was Wednesday; I had toast for breakfast and was on my way to arts and crafts. I was three fifths of my way down the main corridor when my buckle came undone. I had been asking for new shoes for exactly thirteen days and fourteen hours. My shoes are patent leather, red and look like ladybirds. Coccinella Septempunctata is the Latin name for the common seven spotted ladybird. It was Wednesday; I was three fifths of the way down the main corridor and the buckle broke on my shoe.

It was Wednesday, I had toast for breakfast. I have cognitive behaviour therapy on Tuesdays. I had been asking for new shoes for thirteen days and fourteen hours. It was Wednesday my buckle had broken, I was three fifths of my way down the main corridor. My room number is nine thousand and seventy nine. Coccinella Septempunctata is the Latin name for the common seven spotted ladybird. I tried my breathing exercises. My buckle was broken. It was Wednesday.

It was Wednesday, I had toast for breakfast. I was three fifths of the way down the main corridor. My buckle was broken. Errol came down the corridor behind me. It was Wednesday; Errol was going to arts and crafts. He draws pictures of trees and thinks he knows the secret of life. It was Wednesday, Errol had cornflakes for breakfast and he pretends he doesn't see people. He flinched as I scream at my buckle.

It was Wednesday, I had toast for breakfast. My tears splashed on the tiles. Errol pretends he didn't hear. My buckle is broken, I had toast for breakfast. I have been here for five hundred and forty nine days. Thirteen thousand, one hundred and twenty three hours.  I want to go home. They said I could go home if I stopped counting. I haven't counted in five hundred and forty three days.

It was Wednesday, I had toast for breakfast. Patients are allowed visitors on Sundays. I haven't had a visitor in four hundred and sixty nine days. We are allowed one new pair of shoes every year. My buckle is broken. Errol's family visits him every week. His wife cries about the mortgage payments. All he ever says is that it doesn't mean anything.

 He's wrong everything means something. 

It was Wednesday.


The Glitch by Bennett McVeigh (433 Words)

I've finally cracked it.
 I've sat here in my cubicle, Identical in all respects to the other 3000 cubicles that stretch out over this floor, identical to the 3000 on the floor below, and the floor below that.
Identical apart from one thing – from here I can see the machine.
I can see its shining lights, its buttons and springs. I can observe it in action. I can look for it's weaknesses.
To the watchful eyes of the floorwalkers who pass by with monotonous regularity I'm no different to the other drones, but what would they know? Compared to the infinitesimal workings of the machine their routine is child's play to figure out.
i'll be moved soon I'm sure.  They move us regularly, probably so we don't figure out things like this, but I got a lucky break. The previous occupier had started noticing it so in an unprecedented act of altruism, in the 2 minutes it took for him to vacate and me to occupy this cubicle he shared his observations of the machine with me.
So I've sat for the best part of 9 weeks watching, noting my findings, calculating, re-calculating and planning.
It happens once every 80 times. The middle spring must be slightly stretched. It should turn 1440 degrees each time but by my calculations it turns an extra 1.6 degrees, making one full extra turn every 225 times.

Today it's on 224, today is the day I act.

I am ready.

I get up, forcing as much nonchalance into my actions as my shaking body will allow. I walk slowly towards the machine, whispering the mantra with my now-dry throat "cool & calm, slowly does it, cool and calm, slowly does it"
The urge to look around almost overwhelms me, but I know the eyes of at least 100 people will be lazily glancing my way, briefly welcoming the break in the monotony before turning downwards again. The wrong look in my eyes now and I'll give the whole game away, all that work will be for naught.
I finally reach the machine and my clammy hand is already in my pocket where I fish out my 50p , slam it home into the slot and punch out the numbers, A3.
My eyes are squeezed tightly shut, I can't bring myself to look as the coil begins to slowly turn. Then I hear the "plup…plup" noise as not one but two items hit the tray.

I've done it. it worked. I've paid for one but due to the glitch, I've got two.

I fucking love beef Hula Hoops.