Catch and Release (381 Words)

As the behemoth lumbers off into the distance looking to further quell its insatiable hunger, the chaos she has left in her wake starts to calm and the true cost is being revealed. Screams and sirens fill the air; blood runs freely down the pathways from the shattered corpses of those caught underfoot or hit by debris.

An art teacher runs around blindly trying to gather her students together. Dazed commuters climb out of the carcass of a bus, not quite believing how lucky they have been. The homeless who were gathered in the corner, sharing tales and alcohol have escaped unscathed and run down to help. Cultural and social differences are forgotten as humanity over rules and perfect strangers help each other.

In amongst all of this someone stands away from the crowds. She stands with her back to all of the suffering and stares at the lake from where the monster has risen. The water level has plummeted leaving fish stranded on the now exposed rocks lining the sides. She watches in fascination as they dance towards their death, their silver skin shimmering in the sun.

Claire has lived in Walsall all of her life, she fished this lake with her dad as a child. When he passed two years back now, she had scattered his ashes across the water from his favourite fishing spot just like he wanted.

He didn't have a lot in life, but he left her all of his beloved tackle on the basis she put it to good use. She never did of course, and the tackle was in her garage slowly gathering dust. She used to come here most days to look out across the water and remember him. But then the winter came and the visits became less frequent.

Tears began to slide down her face, she isn't sure if it is over her dad or the fish but she knows she has to do something. Clambering over the railings, she walks to the edge. The closer she gets the louder the frantic slapping of flesh against rock becomes.

Picking them up carefully like her dad had taught her when she was but a child she starts throwing them back into the water, each splash a weight off her soul.


A Horse Called Malcolm (498 Words)

Helen kicked her heels into Malcolm. It was an odd name for a thoroughbred but it made her smile and she didn't have a lot to smile about anymore.  Malcolm had been an impulse buy after the divorce went through and she suddenly wasn't poor anymore. Admittedly the legal fees had taken more than their fair share but it was worth it just to make the bastard suffer.

It had been a very acrimonious break up; she had found him in bed with some pretty young thing less than half his age. He had wheeled out all the usual excuses, it didn't mean anything, it wasn't what it looked like, and how she had led him on. For the first time in their thirty year marriage Helen saw him for what he was, a dirty old man.

The signs were always there of course, they had met when she was sixteen. She was in the audience while his band pretended to play their one and only hit single on top of the pops. Their eyes had met and she was invited backstage after the recording had finished.

It wasn't exactly a whirlwind romance, she was soon pregnant and the pair married at the local registry office. He had cried during the brief ceremony, already bemoaning the loss of his freedom.

That was a charge he had thrown at her during all of their rows. He was drinking because he lost his freedom; he was sleeping around because of her ruining his life. And the drugs, the drugs were always an attempt to gain back what he had lost.

She of course had her own arsenal of hate, she called him a cliché, a has been, a one hit wonder. That last one was always the one that pushed him over the edge. Despite the millions in royalties that poured in off the back of it he had grown to hate that song. You weren't even allowed to mention it in his presence and come Christmas time he wouldn't leave the house lest he heard it.

For the first time in as long as she can remember she was looking forward to Christmas this year, she couldn't wait to see his dead eyes and fake smile beaming out of the tv set as he mouthed along to the words he wrote in his youth. It was only October and the thought was already making her giggle.

It was these thoughts that she was lost in as the chaos unfolded less than a mile away. She was chuckling to herself as Malcolm sensed the behemoths presence and reared up, throwing her from the saddle. She still had a smile on her face she lay in the mud.  The smile was soon wiped off her face as the claw of the behemoth plucked Malcolm up. She watched in horror as her beloved horse was devoured by this vision of hell.

Dumbstruck she watched as the behemoth lumbered off into this distance.


Ash (432 Words)

Ash had wanted to be a bus driver ever since he was a kid. He never wavered once, there was no backup plan. So when he left school at fifteen with next to no qualifications he worked as an apprentice at the depot. He cleaned the buses and helped out with routine maintenance. He took pride in his work; a bus he had worked on left the yard looking like it had just rolled off the production line.

He started driving not long after he turned Twenty Four, for years he had cursed the government for holding him back but any gripes he has were soon dropped. He was living his dream.

As he drove the Thirty Three down Lichfield street, that all felt like a lifetime ago. He still sort of liked his job but it wasn't exactly like he thought it was going to be. The schoolchildren were outright rude to him; none of them ever sang the wheels on the bus. And the commuters obviously despised him, none of them ever made eye contact let alone returned his smile or cheery welcome.

It wasn't just this route either, the eight, the X thirty five, the three oh three even the sixty nine, he had driven them all. It had taken a while but it had finally dawned on him, he loved buses but hated people.

He was thinking about maybe trying his hand at lorry driving. It wasn't exactly the same but Lorries were kind of cool and you didn't have to deal with all the disgruntled passengers. Sure there was the whole prostitutes and murders thing but surely that was just a myth?

Lost in thought he didn't notice the traffic had stopped or the bedlam the behemoth was causing. At the last minute he snapped out of his daydream and swung around a mini metro, narrowly avoiding a school girl running across the road. His passengers screamed as they were thrown out of their seats and against the windows.

He couldn't swear to it but he thought someone shouted they had whiplash.

In a pretty well justified moment of panic ash put his foot on the accelerator and the bus shot forward, through the chaos until it was plucked off the road. Inertia threw his passengers to the back of the bus. Ash trapped in his cab wasn't so lucky. He had a front row seat as they headed towards the gaping maw. His life didn't flash before his eyes, and his last tragic thought was, "They are going to say I died doing what I loved."


Archived by @NeilSehmbhy (487 Words)

"I have spent every second of countless mortal lifetimes maintaining the balance between life and death. And then you come along spout some old words and here we are. ..up shit creak."

It had been two days since Melvin had been whisked away to Death's house and he was barely coming to terms with it all. Death had testily informed him that if she kept him out of harms way, then they could reverse the damage that he had caused.

Her real name was Śmierć  but she insisted on him calling her Stephanie. Death's house was nothing like he had expected. It was basically an old ladies cottage, decorated with floral curtains, and pastel coloured wallpaper.

All the doilies and crocheted cushion covers aside, what unnerved Melvin the most wasn't her seemingly omnipotent powers but the fact that Death was stunningly beautiful. Melvin found himself staring at her sleek  jet black hair and startling grey eyes. Her skin was pale and smooth like alabaster and she set his pulse racing. The fact that she could easily read his mind made him guard his thoughts but even that was a challenge. Why did she have to wear such tight fitting robes? It was most distracting. 

"Do you know where she got the incantation from?" asked Death interrupting his daydreams," And stop thinking like that you naughty boy."  She smiled coyly feigning her disapproval.

"My friend? Trudy? Not really, the library I suppose. She does work there." said Melvin.

"Right then get your coat, we are going to pay your friend a visit." Death stood by the door tapping her foot impatiently.

"What now? But I was just gonna put the kettle on. Oh okay then." Knowing that there was no point arguing he grabbed his coat and opened the door for her. Death had defined ideas regarding how to treat a lady.  Closing the door behind him Melvin asked.
"Stephanie? Why do we have to go outside to disaparate?"

Death fixed him with a puzzled look as if he was particularly dense. "I'm not the only one who can do that sweetie. We don't want people just appearing in my house do we? No one can apparate in or out. Even Death has enemies."

Holding out her hand for him to clasp they flickered and reappeared in the library reception.
"Where does she work?" Death asked coldly,all business. 
"Downstairs in the Archives." Melvin replied leading the way.

The archives were poorly lit and dank but it wasn't long before they found Trudy, face down in a pool of blood, her throat cut neatly.
"Bloody hell! This is crazy. Don't you usually come and get them. Shouldn't you know about this?" 

Death turned around frowning "Yes I do and Yes I should. The fact that I didn't sense her dying worries me. Her time wasn't up. Somethings wrong Melvin and you're at the heart of it."


The Behemoth Rises (438 Words)

Hunger writhes in the stomach of the behemoth, waking her from the slumber that had spanned an eternity. She opens her orange eyes and looks up at the sky from the depths of the lake. Unfurling herself she climbs silently out of the waters, ready to begin the hunt again.

The world has changed remarkably while she slept. Mankind was still in its infancy the last time she walked the earth, now they have advanced beyond comprehension and laid waste to all that she knows. Gone are the forests and greenery and surrounded by concrete and steel she is, for the first time in her existence, terrified.

Lashing out with her tail she destroys the boathouse, a group of school girls start to scream. The noise startles the behemoth and with a lazy swipe of a claw she grabs them and feeds on them. They are small fry compared to her normal prey but it's a start.

Spying something more substantial scurrying past she lurches forward, destroying the wall surrounding the park and flattening cars beneath her feet. Air brakes hiss as she seizes the bus. Her teeth cut through the bus like a knife through hot butter. Tasting metal and not the flesh she craves she tosses the remaining half aside, scattering the passengers in its wake.

She surveys what lies before her, the fear sinking deeper within. With a frustrated roar she breaks her silence and charges back into the arboretum. The bandstand is flattened as are more schoolgirls as she tries to make her way to familiar ground. Heading away from the lake she tramples over flowerbeds and the bowling green, trees are brushed aside with nary a second thought.

Devastation lies in her wake as she heads deeper into the park, screams echo her every move. As she finally reaches open ground she sees a more substantial offering. Instinct kicks back in and she creeps silently towards her prey.

Enjoying a brisk canter in the paddock, Helen Jenkins was blissfully unaware of what was going on less than a mile away. The sound of sirens rushing to the scene is so common here it barely even registers. She is thinking about what she'll have for lunch when the world turns dark as the shadow of the behemoth looms above her.

Sensing danger her steed rises up, throwing Helen from the saddle. Lying on the floor with the wind knocked out of her, Helen can only watch in horror as the horse is snatched up and devoured whole.

Her hunger briefly sated, the behemoth sniffs the air and heads off in search for more sustenance.


Ginger Nuts by @NeilSehmbhy (490 Words)

The Reaper helped Melvin off the floor when he came to.

"Am I dead?"

"No, I told you that." She snapped her voice sharp and disapproving.

Melvin rubbed his head checking for any bleeding.

"You're not." Death said sitting back down in his armchair.

"Not what?" asked Melvin.

"Bleeding Melvin." Death's eyes flashed briefly deep within her cowled hood.

Leaning forward he tried to get a better look at her face but it remained hidden. There was no mistaking that Death's voice was female and the close fitting black robes reinforced his suspicions. Finding it odd that he was eyeing Death up he rubbed his head again to make sure that he hadn't cracked his skull.

Death's hands were covered in long black gloves no doubt hiding thin skin stretched over skeletal fingers. Her eyes sparkled with humour, instead of being glazed and vacant, and she sat with an exaggerated grace and poise.

"You don't look like the artists depict you. Well maybe a little."

"Everyone says that. In England I wear black, in Poland white. Horses for courses. I like black, it's such a slimming colour." she trailed off running her hands over her hips, the image both alluring and disturbing. 
Obviously Death was a tease.

"My head hurts." he touched the throbbing spot. "Ouch! Are you sure that I didn't fracture my skull? "

"Yes Melvin I know about these things. Trust me. Now young man... some tea?"

"Yeah right, sorry. Er how do you take it?" Melvin asked unsure as to whether he offered Death a biscuit or not.

"Milk with no sugar, I'm sweet enough. Off you pop then."

Knowing a dismissal when he heard one Melvin walked into the kitchen and filled the kettle up, the sound of it boiling loud in the early hours of the morning. Wondering if Death liked her tea in a mug or a cup he peered around the corner to see her facing the wall, looking at his pictures.

"A cup and saucer will do fine, Melvin." she said without turning around.

"Right thanks." said Melvin.

He was sure that his mother wouldn't mind him using the cup and saucer he kept for her visits, and he scattered some ginger nuts onto a plate and then carried a laden tray into the living room.

Sitting down they both sipped their tea in silence, punctuated by Melvin's biscuit munching.
After she had finished Death placed her cup on the side table and sat up in her chair.

"So Melvin,  can you tell me why you have been creating more work for me? "

"Pardon?" Melvin spluttered crumbs of biscuit flying everywhere.

Death leaned forward her eyes glowing bright red and captivating him.

"The deaths Melvin. You're a walking corpse factory. Why are you doing it?"

"Me?" said Melvin,  "I thought that was you?"

"Apparently not. We need to look into this. Pack a bag, you're coming to stay with your Aunty Śmierć."


Sara Jones (475 Words)

I hate art. I only took it because I thought it would be a doss and Kelly was taking it as well. Never even thought about what it would be like ending up in Miss Hughes's class. She is such a stupid hippy cunt. "Paint what you feel girls not what you see!"

She is so lame, insists on taking us to the arboretum as if it's fucking nirvana or some shit. "Let's go out into the real world!" She squeals. Because sitting with the tramps is a special fucking treat. And its bastard cold, you would think it would be warmer looking at the weather.

While she isn't looking, me, Penny, Kelly and Jane sneak off to the boathouse. It's out of sight and Jane has a joint on her. Hopefully it'll be enough to take the edge off this shower of shit.

Penny the square bleats some shit about her asthma and turns it down, I swear I don't even know why we hang around with her she is so lame. Kelly takes a drag and literally coughs her lungs up; it's down to me and Jane to show them how it's done properly. Jane hogs the joint like the selfish cunt that she is, thinking she is so cool the way she holds it between her fingers.  

Taking what's left off her, I go and lean on the rails to get away from them before I say something they'll regret. I'm blowing smoke rings at the ducks when I see the dyke coming our way so I flick the butt into the lake and quickly suck on a mint to hide the smoke on my breath.

Bitch must have seen me because she makes some jibe about me littering. I say I was looking at the water and give her the look telling her she doesn't want to mess with me. She knows I know her and Jenna are fucking so she really doesn't want to give me an excuse to ruin her. Dirty bitch belongs on a register if you ask me.

She reads me loud and clear and quite rightly fucks off out of my face. I turn to the girls expecting some respect but they are all stood staring at the water. So I ask them what the fuck they are looking at, and all the dumb cunts can do is point. I turn around and I swear to god there is a fucking dinosaur climbing out of the lake.

People are screaming as if that's going to help matters. We start to run; none of us knowing where to go, just blind panic taking over. Something hits me from behind and all four of us are scooped up. 

Kelly is screaming "God help us! God help us!"

And all I can think is. "Those teeth look fucking sharp."


Last Days Of Summer (500 Words)

I hate this time of year, summer is over you can feel it in the air. Sure there isn't a cloud in the sky and the sun is beaming down on us. But the nights have gone cold and it's the cold that'll kill you dead. Looking around this ragged group of bad luck and misery I get to pondering who out of us won't see the winter through.

Smart money is on Mickey, no one is sure how old he actually is and I doubt he knows himself. But he's the oldest out of us all and he has that cough. Sounds like he is trying to start a rusty lawnmower in the mornings and what comes out of him can't be healthy.

I've lived in this town all my life, been on the streets for most of it. People still recognise me from work or school. They don't say anything but I see the fear in their eyes as they speed up to get away from me in case they catch my homelessness. Some pretend to take calls on their phones so they don't have to speak to me. I don't say nothing to them, I still got my pride.

Last winter was hard, didn't think I was gonna see it through meself, my shoes had holes in them so my feet were always wet, then the snow came and I damn near lost my toes through frostbite. Some do-gooders from the church came round, gave us soup, offered us clothes and prayers. My pride took a hit but I got to admit these Nikes they gave sure are comfy.

Mickey has a bottle of cider that he is passing round, playing the host. I was never one for drinking before all this but you have to numb it all out somehow you know? It looks like piss and tastes like battery acid, according to the label it's called Blackout a fitting name if there ever was one.

I take another mouthful and pass it on to Craig, the newest addition to our crew. He says he's writing a book but as the days blur into one I can see him forgetting why he is here.

Down by the boathouse we hear some school girls start screaming, I'm hoping this means they'll be on their way soon as I've got half an idea about making the place home. We all glance as one towards the commotion, between us we have all seen things that would make you toes curl. Nothing really prepares you for the sight of a . . . Well I don't know what it is, monster don't seem right but it's only word that fits and it's climbing out of the lake.

My dreams of a nice dry bed in the boathouse are shattered as this things tail slaps down on it reducing it to splinters. I hear more screaming and it takes a second or two to realise it's me making all the racket.


Tea with Death by @NeilSehmbhy (479 Words)

Looking back, Melvin first saw Death nearly 20 years ago as he sat by his nan watching her die. And so he spoke of Death frequently mainly of his fear that it was real. It was surprising then when he agreed to talk to Death after a bottle of wine with some friends after dinner.
They all sat together holding hands, calling out, Melvin offering to serve Death, and then laughed when nothing happened. Until a raging wind, so terrible, gripping and fierce whipped around the little house chastising them into silence.

Weeks passed before Melvin started to become suspicious that something wasn't right. First Mr McGregor passed on whilst mowing his lawn. Waving at Melvin he smiled, what would be his last smile, and keeled over onto his Flymo. Shocked Melvin stood there watching McGregor lie lifelessly on the grass as a shadow passed across the September sun, momentarily casting darkness all around. Two days later as he was leaving the local Spar, Melvin heard an almighty crash and saw Mrs Randhawa crushed by her till. As his pot noodle and toilet roll fell to the floor he knew this wasn't a coincidence.

After his friends started dropping  like flies, choking on apples and getting run over by buses he decided enough was enough.

It wasn't long after he closeted himself away that the visits started. At first, they were just a tap tap tapping at the window, soft whispers in the air.Then he saw shadows at the edges of his vision, like pale images of the dead.

Melvin sat by the fire, his Beef and Tomato noodles growing cold and congealing as the morning edged towards dawn. At 2am the living room lights flickered and died plunging the room into darkness. Melvin checked the fuse box and reset the breaker before returning to his arm chair. It was then that he saw it, a sleek black cowl eating up all the light, bony appendages shrouded in shadows and lingering  with malice.

Finally Death had come again and it sat calmly in the armchair, sickle lain across it's lap as a statement of intent. Dropping to his knees Melvin started to cry, tears rolling down his face, begging to be spared. 

"Please, it's not my time! I'm only 30, please not yet. I'm too young to die." Melvin wailed. 

Death laughed out loud a high pitched rattling noise that sounded like dice rolling inside it's bony chest, dry and humourless and strangely feminine. 

"Die? Die? Why would I kill you? Your mine now remember. 'Death I will serve you.' When you spoke those words you pledged yourself to me, a verbal contract as such. There's a storm coming and reaping to be done. An apprentice is just what I need. Now be a sweetie and put the kettle on. The cold really gets into your bones at my age."  


School Days (498 Words)

Hatherton Lake shimmered in the late afternoon sunshine. The odd angler tried their luck and society's less fortunate gathered in the corners sharing bottles of cheap cider and tales of misfortune.

Brenda Hughes loved days like these, the sky was blue, the sun was bright but there was a crisp coldness in the air. She has taught art at Queen Mary's for twenty years now and still loves her job as much as the day she started. While it was frowned upon by other members of staff, Brenda took every opportunity to get the girls out of the class room and sketch what is out there "in the real world."

With little encouragement her students scattered around the lake, capturing it from every angle. A few opted for the newly restored boathouse, others the bandstand. Jenna sat on her own, away from the others focussing on the upside down world that reflected out from the water.

Brenda tried to remain impartial but she was the first to admit she had a soft spot for Jenna and her talents. Her work had stood out since year seven and has grown in ambition and skill over the years. Anyone else would have made the reflections an afterthought; Jenna made them the centre point.

One thing that did confuse Brenda was the orange eye staring out from page. Thinking that maybe her beloved student was trying a surrealist slant or hinting at the fragility of god that lies within nature. Brenda congratulated her and went to check on the other girls.

As she approached the boathouse she saw the usual suspects slacking off. Brenda watched as Sara Jones flicked an illicit cigarette into the water and quickly rummaged around in her pockets for a mint.

"You wouldn't be littering would you now Sara?" Asked Brenda accusingly  

"No miss I was just . . . looking at the colour of the water, I want to get it right innit" The schoolgirl lies in reply.

Brenda narrowed her eyes looking from girl to girl, knowing she was being lied to but not brave enough to stand up to the gang of four.

"Right well you have twenty minutes left and I want to see something on paper today please girls." She blusters.

With her cheeks burning Brenda turns and head back towards Jenna, she tries to convince herself she doesn't hear the girls laugh as her retreats. Blinking the tears away from her eyes she doesn't see the ripples start to spread across the water. The first thing she hears are the girls screams. She puts it down to their usual histrionics and picks up her pace, even more determined to revel in Jenna's work.

She looks over to the spot where Jenna was sat and see's the girl desperately scrabbling backwards, heels digging into the turf, her skirt riding up showing her white panties. Brenda looks from the terrified schoolgirl, to the water and sees the behemoth rising silently from the depths.


Empire Rising by Tom Russon (500 Words)

The night was the same as any other in London, but on the twenty-fourth of September in the year of our Lord 2053, the background buzz of seventeen million people pressed hard into a rough circle three miles in diameter was disturbed by an explosion along the waterfront next to the Westminster Parliament Museum.
King George IV witnessed the explosion from his bedroom in Buckingham Palace and smiled to himself. A job that needed doing well ALWAYS justified the cost. The tiny princess Diana woke as the sound of the explosion reached the palace, setting off several car alarms in the grounds and started to wail once more.
“Hush, little love.” The king said to his fourth child, the second born to his second wife Queen Caroline. He lifted her, patting her tiny back and cooing to her, “Don’t wake your mother.”
He returned the baby to the cradle at the foot of his bed and slid back between the sheets. Caroline stirred next to him and muttered something in her sleep. George wriggled down next to her and brushed his lips on a bare shoulder.

Harry “Happy” Hussein was literally running for his life. The job had gone well until it came to making their exit, upon which all hell had broken loose. Harlequin was unconscious and bouncing around on Happy’s shoulder, something that was undoubtedly aggravating the bullet-wound in her right hip but given the choice between that and certain death, seemed preferable. Bilbo and Soundwave had already reached their rotos and The Lieutenant’s spy drone had zipped past and out of sight as soon as the charges were planted.
Soundwave’s voice sounded through the tiny earbuds in his ears.  “You’re almost there man, there were five Democs sniffing around your roto but Bilbo took care of them, they’re having a paddle in the river.”
“You’re welcome.” Bilbo said, her voice cool and eerily calm as usual.
Happy tried to thank them but only had enough breath to keep on running. The pain from the piece of shrapnel that had scraped along his left bicep was incredible. Soundwave and Bilbo were moving on his heads-up display, hovering around his destination.
He gritted his teeth against the pain and pressed on, pumping his legs and dodging around a late night tour bus that had swerved after their explosion.
Pushing through the bush that was his final obstacle, he saw the pair of rotos twenty metres away and muttered the guardpass to turn it on. The roto hummed to life just as Bilbo’s own machine was blown to fiery splinters fifty feet overhead.
“Shit!” Soundwave screamed over the team comlink as he took evasive manoeuvres.
Harry looked up and saw the blaze of heavy weapons fire from a gunship bearing the insignia of the Democratic Unionists.
At the same moment that Soundwave’s roto took first one then six more hits, King George slipped into a deep, restful sleep filled with dreams of Empire.


The Hunter (311 Words)

The forest is silent, the air still. Not even the leaves rustle. Croog has hunted this ground since he was a youngling and he knows something isn't right. Backtracking a few hundred feet he picks the mammoths tracks back up and ends up in the same spot again. He closes his eyes and sniffs the air, even the beasts scent has gone. Trying not to think about how a Mammoth can just disappear into thin air he carries on into the undergrowth hoping to find another trail to follow.

A few minutes pass and his luck picks up when he finds some hoof prints. Silently he follows the trail out of the forest, through the waist high grass and down towards the lagoon. Spying an Eucladoceros at the water's edge, Croog couldn't believe his luck. Taking it down on his own would be a struggle but not impossible.

Crouching down he sneaks around his prey so he can approach from upwind. Crawling within twenty feet of the creature, his heart is racing from the excitement of the hunt; this adrenaline rush dilates his pupils. In one fluid movement he rises out of the grass and throws his spear.

Before the crudely sharpened flint has even reached its target, Croog is sprinting towards it with his axe raised, ready to finish the job. His aim is true but before he can reach the stricken animal an unearthly roar stops him in his tracks.

Waves from the lagoon come crashing onto the shore. The wounded Eucladoceros tries to escape but is snatched up by a claw that dwarves it.

Croog watches dumbstruck as his prey is taken from him and eaten whole.

The behemoth emerges from the water. It doesn't notice Croog, or feel him as its foot comes crashing down on him, squashing him like a bug. 

All it knows is hunger.


Upgrades (475 Words)

I take a deep breathe and stare into the camera. The blinking red light tells me my every word is being recorded for prosperity's sake. I lick my lips, clear my throat and step off into the unknown.

"My name is Doctor Leon Moore, what I am about to do I do of my own freewill. It is important you remember this for I fear if I am not successful and my demise will be written up as a tragic accident.

We, as a species have hit an ethical barrier, a brick wall of morals that is hindering science. We have unlocked the secrets of DNA, the universe, stem cells, cloning. All miraculous leaps forward. All stopped dead in their infancy due to fear.

This is where I come in." 

I lean towards the camera and get the vials off the workbench and show them to the camera.

"What we have here ladies and gentlemen are three ten millilitre vials. Contained within them is my masterpiece, my life's works, my legacy. 

My future." 

I give them a little shake and pop them into my lab coat pocket. 

"Essentially what I have done is take my DNA, stripped it back and then rebuilt it. A subtle tweak here and there. The odd little addition, a few subtractions and voila! Veritable perfection in a bottle." 

Flashing my winning smile at the camera I pull my medigun out and load one of the vials. Silently I roll up a sleeve and flick at my flesh trying to find a vein.  Eventually one presents itself and I fire a dose home.

Euphoria and sickness hit me instantly. I blink at the camera trying to focus on it, not throw up and stay conscious all at once.

"D-d-don't panic, this is t-t-t-totally normal." I burble.

Swallowing my lunch back down I compose myself and carry on.

"The synthesis is in it's latter stages, this is just my weaker form trying to fight back but it's too late, far, far too late.

I have been  dosing myself for six weeks now, ten millilitres per day. The first few weeks were horrendous, and I debated giving up.

but then the changes started and I new it was worth carrying on.

My skin is tougher, and I have scales starting to form across my back. I can see further and hear better. My heart is slower and stronger, more efficient. Oh and there is this of course"

Leaning towards the camera again I pull a two kilogram weight off the bench. I toss it hand to hand a few times before clapping my hands together and turning it to dust.

I wipe whats left of the weight on my lab coat and chuckle at the camera.

"All that's left to do now is decide if I use all this for good or evil." 


Patchwork by Emma Finlayson-Palmer (497 Words)

Rosie looked at the grainy black and white picture in the newspaper, she felt on edge. In the past year eleven women from the local area had gone missing, all of which were a similar age and appearance to Rosie, the thought made her shudder.

Rosie jumped as a tinny click announced the arrival of the post. Bills, oh, this one isn't for me. 'Maureen Smith,' she read from the envelope, she lives across the road. I'll pop it across in a minute, she thought.

Maureen seemed really pleased to see Rosie. 'Come in and have a seat, I'll get the kettle on. I don't get many visitors.'

'Oh, okay, thank you, that would be nice.'

'Come through to the back room and get yourself settled.'  

Rosie sunk down into a peach coloured sofa, white cotton doilies rested across the back. It was cosy, with lots of ceramic animals on every flat surface. Rosie heard the clinking of china and turned to see Maureen with a tray with two steaming cups of tea, and a plateful of biscuits. 'This looks lovely thank you Maureen.'

'Call me Mo, Maureen makes me feel old,' Maureen smiled. 'Help yourself,' Maureen gestured to the biscuits. 'You look a bit pale, everything okay?'

'I've been a bit jittery with these disappearances so close to home.'

'Yes, I can imagine it must be a worry for a young, pretty girl such as yourself. Never you mind, you just drink up that tea and you'll feel all better.'

Rosie sipped at the hot tea, the warmth enveloped her and she began to feel more relaxed.

Maureen spread out a patchwork blanket. 'I've been adding to this for quite some time.'  

'It's beautiful,' said Rosie and stroked her hand across the fabric. 'I love the materials.'

'If you like that you'll love the other one I've made,' Maureen's had an excited twinkle in her watery blue eyes.

Rosie looked at the blanket, she felt there was something familiar about the fabric, it was if she'd seen it somewhere before. An uneasy feeling swept over Rosie, she stood up a little unsteadily, she felt lightheaded. 'I should probably go.'

Maureen gripped Rosie's arm. 'You've only just got here, let me just show you my other patchwork before you go, I do so want you to see it, it's almost finished now.'

Rosie's politeness overcame her unease. 'Of course Maureen, sorry, Mo, I'd love to see it,' she lied.

Maureen opened a door into a small room off the living room where Rosie could see a sewing machine and other craft supplies. Across a table lay what looked like a leather blanket. Rosie held onto the door frame as she became increasingly dizzy.

'Eleven,' Rosie slurred as she staggered then crumpled to the floor.

'And now I can finish the twelfth patch,' Maureen bent down and stroked Rosie's bare arm. 'Skin of course makes the best material for a patchwork blanket.'


Father and Son (426 Words)

As we stand hand in hand on the beautiful golden sand my son looks up to me and says, "Where does the sea end Dad?" 

I smile down at his face full of the innocent wonderment of youth, ruffle his hair and sit down on the sand. Patting the floor next to me I invite him to join me.

"It was once thought that this world was flat, and the oceans poured off the edges. Sailors used to claim to have been to the ends of the earth and back. Lost ships were thought to have fallen into the void."

"Wasn't granddad a sailor?" 

"Aye that he was son and he had stories of mermaids and unspeakable monsters but even he said the world wasn't flat."  

"Then where does it go?"  Urged my impatient child.

This desperate need for immediate answers drives my wife insane. I remember it well, the unquenchable thirst of knowledge. How each answer only ever seemed to raise even more questions. I wonder when I stopped asking questions? How could I ever think that I knew enough?

An anxious drawn out, " Daaaad" breaks my train of thought.

"Sorry son," I say with a chuckle. "As I was saying your granddad sailed all across this world, saw everything there was to see. He always said to me if you keep going you'll always end up where you're meant to be."

"But that doesn't make any sense."

"Few things in this world do Son."

I see this frustrates him far more than I thought it would so I try a different approach.

"Okay, look out to the horizon. If we were to sail out west and keep going and keep going, eventually we would end up going east. And after that we would end up back here."

His brow furrows as he tries to process this, " So the Earth is round?" 

Pride swells in me but before I can congratulate him the next question is already on his lips.

"Then why don't we fall off?"

Our shadows are already hanging behind us as the sun slowly sinks into the ocean in front of us. I stand up, dust the sand off my behind and offer him my hand.

"Come on sport, we better head back before your mum sends out the search party. I'll tell you about a great, great man on the way . . "

With a heavy sigh he takes my hand and heaves himself up. 

He takes my hand and we walk back towards the cottage.

"His name was Isaac Newton, " I begin. 


Another World by @NeilSehmbhy (297 Words)

All her parents seem to do is argue, and all she wants is an escape. Alum Mundum. Preoccupied, they don't notice the alteration in their daughter after she browses a forum in her bedroom, that comforting place immersed in silence away from the uncertain world of trying to match distorted noises with the right people or machines.
She doesn't always hear them arguing. The volume setting on her hearing aids can thankfully be switched off as well as on.  Even with the absence of sound clouded expressions, staccato movements are enough to gauge the mood. Mugs of tea obscure mouths; wine glasses share partially-transparent secrets; they talk behind their hands. And their finger gestures are not part of the sign language she was taught. Something has to change. But words queue up in her throat and get lost in the limbo between thought and voice.
She finds everything in the local pound shop - green, brown, blue and gold paints. Tin foil cardboard and PVA glue. The bakery on the high street provides the egg boxes, and before long they line the walls and ceiling, held in place by the stapler she liberated from school.

Rolling landscapes surround her, framed by a castle and ivory towers, under a star filled sky.  Pixie dust dots her white duvet, and regal gold pimps the furniture.
When they finally notice her absence, it's been three days, the phone calls from school illuminating their ignorance. The door opens and she looks up, still in a haze and can see their arguing stop upon entering her bedroom. Open mouths expose shiraz-stained tongues suspended like stomped-out leather shoe soles.

Now they see the same thing, all three of them a mute delegation amongst the rolling landscapes in her silent world of fairy tales. 


Deus Ex Machina (445 Words)

Doctor Connors stands in the doorway staring at the writer. The writer propped up on an array of pillows doesn't look up from the screen, his fingers dance over the keyboard, creating the tension in the room.

"Look at me!" screams the doctor, surprising himself with the sudden outburst.

The writer looks up, his fingers poised over the keys.

"So, You do know who I am?" asks the doctor warily.

The writer says nothing, he simply nods, his fingers still hovering over the keys.

"And you know why I'm here don't you?"

Again the writer nods in reply.

"I'm not even sorry, you deserve this. You can't just interfere with people's lives for your own amusement and expect nothing to come your way."

The writer blinks away the tears building up in the corners of his eyes, too scared to make any sudden moves.

"It's too late for crocodile tears sunshine" says the doctor pulling the revolver out of his pocket, "You got any last words?"

The writer licks his lips and goes to speak but nothing comes out. Frustrated he closes his eyes and lets his fingers take over.  Connors looks confused as his mind is flooded with words he can't hear.

I haven't interfered with your life, your life is my creation to use as I see fit. I gave you the gun, I brought you here. You are nothing more than a puppet.

"Stop it!" shouts Connors, pointing the gun at the writers head.

You haven't got the balls.

"Stop typing!"

There is a loud, satisfying CLICK CLICK as Connors cocks the gun.

You're forgetting something doctor or rather someone.

"Am I now? And who or what is that?"

Deus Ex Machina.

"I'll take it from here then" says a voice from the hallway behind the doctor.

The doctor cringes and turns around slowly.

"It was always going to be you wasn't it?"

"'Fraid so" Says the boy with fire in his eyes.

"It wasn't me who killed your parents; it was him, the writer. We are all just pawns in his game" reasons Connors.

"All I know is, you don't belong here anymore."  Says Kevin his fists clenched by his side.

The air crackles, the lights flicker and steady thrumming sound builds up.

"Well come one then, do it!" pleads the doctor.

"HADOUKEN!" shouts Kevin as he pushes his hands outwards a brilliant blue ball of pure energy rushes from him and engulfs the doctor.

The fire in Kevin's eyes dies out. He looks at the pile of ash that was Doctor Connors then to the writer.

"You're going to let them win one day aren't you?" asks Kevin accusingly.

Yeah probably.


The Writer (281 words)

The writer sits at his desk and awaits his fate. His fingers hover over the keyboard delaying the inevitable before eventually succumbing to the urge and opening the floodgates in his brain.

His fingers dance across the keys conjuring a world, a universe, a man.

His words send this man down the corridors of his own personal hell. They send him to a locked door for his own amusement. They backtrack him through the labyrinth of his mind, into one of the darker regions of his being. Here the man meets another dead end of the writer's creation.

A fire is started; alarms are raised, the problem overcome.

The man thinks this is down to his ingenuity, not knowing just how little freewill he really has. He thinks his acts are unseen, reliably informed the cameras down here don't work. He thinks wrong. Everything is witnessed and logged.

Another man, this one of a purer heart, fears for his life. He fears for everyone's. He knows he should do something, he just isn't sure what.

A thousand miles away an angry youth senses the end is near.

A hardboiled private eye sits and stares at his plate full of fried eggs.

A doctor snaps on a fresh pair of gloves and marvels at his hands.

A child buckles her shoes.

A former energy consultant lies on his bed without a care in the world.

The man bursts into the writer's room, for a moment the words stop flowing. The world stops turning, an entire universe collectively holds its breath.

Without even glancing up from his keyboard the writer addresses the eye of his storm. "Ah, Doctor Connors, I've been expecting you."


Full English by @NeilSehmbhy (496 Words)

"That's nasty don't do that – it'll go putrid."

Stupid twat he's saying it wrong. He said 'poo-trid,' bet he doesn't even know what the word means. I pick at the edge of the scab on my puckered raw flesh. It's not really ready but I peel it off anyway. A bubble of yellowy pus streaked with red rises on my hand.

"It was dirty anyway that house. Dad said he wouldn't be surprised if it was full of rats and fleas. Did you see any?"

My Dad's gone, Mum too. They went when I was nine, left me round Grandad's for the night and never came back. I dab at the bubble of pus and it erupts all the way down my arm, like the volcano we watched on the BBC One.

"My dad says you'll have to go into care now."

Jaime Price is only a year younger than me. Snot clings to his nose as he roots about with his finger pushing it so far up he must be tickling his brain. My volcano hands are spewing streams of bloody pus filled liquid everywhere. Do volcano's spout blood?  
Grandad hadn't been out in a while; kept forgetting stuff. But it was okay – I got his pension and did the shopping. We just lived on picnic food, sandwiches, crisps, sausage rolls. 

"Dad said that the social should never have let you live with him, said he'd lost it ages ago."

But Grandad wasn't always confused. He just grew old. Really old. But not like a proper old man, you know stinking of pee and cabbage. We were a team see, I did the running about and he took care of me. 

"My Dad says your Grandad'll probably die."

I pick up the discarded scab from the table, it's crust thick, dark red and yellow. Instead of punching him I flick it squarely in Jaime's face. He leaps off the bench running off screaming, crashing into the approaching teacher, and I smile.

When my parents left Grandad sat with me on the nights I cried for my Mum, for my old life. Grandad never wiped my tears away, he said that salt water sterilised wounds. We'd just sit there holding hands until I let it all out. 

The teacher smiles, a big fake smile, as she crouches down next to me. Grandad said he fancied a fry up, like Nan used to make so I popped to the shops whilst he slept. Bacon, sausage, eggs, a proper brekkie, he deserved a surprise. The frying pan wasn't supposed to catch fire. I tried to take it off the stove but it was burning hot, and then my hands hurt so much I couldn't open his door. Thick smoke filled the house and I just sat outside until the firemen came. 

I blink letting the tears fall onto my hands, hoping the salt water will seep through the ruined flesh and sterilise the wounds, inside and out.