… but Can You Hide?

mini gun

(600 words)

To Whom It May Concern

First, the good news. If you are reading this, you are still alive. Now, the bad news. In 24 hours’ time you probably won’t be!
You see, you took something that didn’t belong to you. Oh yes, you likely thought, ‘I’d better take this briefcase to lost property,’ didn’t you? But then curiosity got the better of you. ‘I’ll just take it home first, have a quick look inside, maybe I can find the owner’s phone number. It’ll be quicker that way.’ Pull the other one!
Well, wherever you are. At home, in a seedy cafe, maybe in a dirty, smelly little toilet, there’s something you need to know. YOU are now the target in an assassination game! You have 24 hours to hide or be killed, probably in quite a nasty way.
You see, the briefcase had a chemical powder on the handle. Nothing that’ll harm you (much). You can’t see the stain it made on your hand but it IS visible through special glasses. The ones worn by our agents. And by the way, it takes a few days to wash off!
The briefcase has a hidden camera. Ha, you didn’t expect that, did you?! A number of images have been taken of you and posted on secret websites. The ones used by our spies. Yes, there are such people and, furthermore, they need ‘live’ training exercises from time to time. Hence this little ‘challenge.’
So, as you are reading this, you may feel a little frightened. ‘Is this real?’ you are asking. Or maybe you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is one of those silly TV pranks. I’ll be on the telly! Better brush my hair!’ Sorry! It isn’t. REALLY!
So, when you’ve finished reading this letter, you will have to start thinking and running. And by the way, just like the old TV program, this letter has a coating, which once exposed to air, will dissolve it within three minutes. Perhaps you’d better read a bit faster!
Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this (it’s all rather hush-hush), however I think it’s only fair. But between you and me, there are twenty agents vying for a job. A very prestigious job, a bit like James Bond. They have your picture, your hand(s) will glow when seen through their special glasses and they know where the briefcase is right now. So ‘they are coming to get you,’ as they say in the old horror films!
Well, every other day for two weeks, a briefcase, just like the one you ‘borrowed,’ will be left on a train somewhere. The successful agent will be the one who accrues the most points over the fortnight. The agents get points for both their speed in locating the ‘target’ (people like yourself!) and the originality of his/her ‘dispatch.’
For example, it could be a poisoned dart from a blowpipe (yes, we’ve borrowed a few ideas from our jungle ‘cousins’!), it could be a ‘crazed Japanese,’ slashing you across the throat with a ceremonial sword, or perhaps a noose thrown over your head from a passing motorbike, before you are dragged to your death along the road. I know the agents are having fun with their ideas! They’ll each have a partner on hand to film your demise!
Anyway, the clock is ticking so you’d better get moving. The good news. The hunt will be called off, and you’ll be a free man (or woman) if you survive 24 hours! Good luck, you will (definitely) need it!

MI6

PS. I know what I’d do. But I’m not telling 😉

—-

To purchase the stories (up to June 2017) in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 190! 

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The Downfall of British Journalism

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 01.00.12

Nearly one year since it was first published, another chance to read my most popular post ever.

(500 words)

Journalism in Britain, impartial investigative journalism, ended on May 3rd 2007, the day our media began saturation coverage of an event that occurred in Portugal. A little girl named Madeleine McCann, aged three, had disappeared from her holiday apartment.
So what do I recall of that event? Non-stop coverage on TV with a maddening lack of any real information. A woman with chiselled features making a televised appeal. “Please give our little girl back.” Funny, no tears, not even the watering of an eye, and your little ‘princess’ stolen from under your nose!
They’d left the children every night whilst dining with friends. “It was like dining in your back garden.” But it’s OK, they were doing ‘regular checks.’ As if!
Stories of shutters smashed, doors broken, the little girl taken out of a window. These being reports given by the parents to close friends and broadcast within the first 24 hours.
Hearing the Portuguese police say there was NO break-in, that the window sill was unmarked and the girl couldn’t have been taken out of it!
Then an appeal. Hundreds of thousands of pounds donated to ‘find Maddie.’ Maybe millions. Support of the rich and famous. Appeals by famous footballers. David Beckham. “If you’ve seen this little girl …,” holding up a picture.
The father talking about his little girl being ‘abducted.’ Strange, why not use the word ‘kidnapped’? Maybe because that involves a ransom and he knew one wouldn’t be forthcoming?
Four months later, shock, horror! – the parents declared arguidos – suspects! Cadaver dogs hitting upon the scent of human remains in their apartment, the garden below, on their clothes and in their car!
Top Portuguese detective on Panorama saying the statements of the parents and their friends ‘didn’t add up.’ The father, asked about sightings of his daughter, trying to hide a smirk.
Then, very strangely, our journalists made a volte-face. Articles appeared slagging off the Portuguese police. ‘Bunglers, fat sardine-munchers.’ On and on.
Ten years later, regular newspaper articles still tell of the ‘brave, anguished parents’ and their ‘fury’ over a book written by the lead detective. Panorama and Crimewatch on the telly, now portraying the parents, never cleared, as saints. The mother an ambassador for Missing People charity!
Funny, what about the cadaver dogs? Never happened! History rewritten.
So who or what is orchestrating this? Well, their spokesman ‘left’ his highly paid job as head of the government’s Media Monitoring department to work for them. So affected by their plight was he. Allegedly.
What did that department do? It ‘controls what comes out in the media’ according to the man himself.
But why would the government want to plant regular pro-McCann stories in our newspapers and bias towards them in TV programs?
Why set up a huge police investigation, Operation Grange, to find Madeleine, still running six years later, where the ‘cop’ in charge stated that ‘neither the McCanns nor their friends are suspects nor persons of interest’?

Related: The ‘Putney Bridge Jogger’ Case: 20 Questions That Must be Answered!



To read the comments on the original post click here

To purchase the stories on this blog (up to June 2017) in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 190! 

BY THE WAY, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WORDPRESS ACCOUNT AND WOULD LIKE TO ‘LIKE’ OR COMMENT ON A POST YOU CAN SIGN UP TO THE WORDPRESS ‘READER’ HERE (ALL YOU NEED IS A USERNAME AND A PASSWORD).

https://wordpress.com/learn-more/?v=discover

THAT GIVES YOU ACCESS TO ANY BLOG ON WORDPRESS, WHERE YOU CAN READ ‘THE BEST CONTENT ON THE WEB’!

 

Oh, Moo-ah Moo-ah!

oumuamua

(500 words)

“Well, people don’t have to think for themselves nowadays, do they?”
“How d’you mean?”
“Well, in the ‘old’ days they didn’t know the Earth was round or that it went round the Sun. Or that the circumference of a circle is pi times the diameter. People, ancient people, like the Pythagoreans, had to work it all out for themselves, actually reason stuff out! Now you just look it up online and think, ‘oh, yeah.’ You don’t question it, you just accept it as the truth.”
Sue laughed, blue eyes twinkling and the dimples in her smooth brown cheeks making her look adorable. “So who are … were the Pythagoreans when they were at home?”
“They followed the beliefs of Pythagoras, that the universe was ordered around ratios of whole numbers, look never mind all that. I’m just saying that this so-called interstellar rock, Oh-Moo … whatever, it’s got a bloody silly name, could be an alien artefact, a spaceship even.”
“But it says on the news it’s a rock. Similar to asteroids in the outer solar system.” She stretched her long tanned legs out along the sofa and reclined. “Anyway, it looks like a rock!”
“That’s an artist’s impression, you idiot!”
“Oh, are you sure?”
“Yes, of course I’m sure. No one’s taken a photo of it. For God’s sake!”
“Well it looked realistic.”
“Yes, ever wondered why governments would commission fantastic artists to paint a couple of highly realistic rocks, when they know fuck all about what it really looks like?!”
Sue put her hands over her eyes, as if wishing to shut out any doubt.
“Look it’s travelling at nearly 30 kilometres a second, that’s how they know it’s not from our solar system, it’s too fast. Then the brightness varies a lot, that’s how they know it’s spinning.”
“Why would a spaceship spin?”
“I don’t know, it might be damaged, derelict even. Or just some kind of unmanned probe.”
She drew her knees up, showing a flash of pale lemon knickers. “What, you mean like a probe to Uranus?” She giggled.
I ignored her. “Anyway, how many asteroids are eight times as long as they are wide?!”
“How should I know, I’m not interested in space stuff!”
I sighed. “Look, there’s a guy on Twitter, reckons it’s bright pink and likely titanium. That sound like a rock to you?”
She stood up, smoothing back her shoulder-length blonde hair. “Look, you ever thought, people are just making it out to be whatever they want it to be?”
“Huh, maybe. Who knows?” I clicked on Sky News on my laptop. “Bloody hell, hey, listen up! They’ve just detected another one, out beyond Neptune, same speed, same size, same rotation. You reckon that’s just a coincidence? Multiple comets, asteroids or whatever, coming from another star system?”
“Well, we’ll find out soon enough.” She smoothed a hand over her breasts, opened the fridge and extracted a bottle of lemon-coloured nectar. She poured out a large glassful. “You want one?”

 

—-

To purchase the stories (up to June 2017) in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 190! 

A Visit from Saint Nicholas – 2017 version.

visitfromsaintnicolas

(495 words)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, all quiet in the house,
I sat at my laptop, with hand on my mouse.
I looked at the apps, so many to check!
E-mail, Facebook, WordPress and Tweetdeck.

I opened my mail and smiled with delight
at an e-card received, this cold Christmas night!
I clicked and watched Santa sail over roof top,
pulled by his reindeer, they ne’er seem to stop!

I clicked on ‘reply’ and sent thanks on its way
But Facebook was calling, no time to delay!
So on to my ‘wall,’ Christmas greetings to read
From friends near and far, and those I don’t need!

Just then, from outside I heard such a clatter.
I opened the door, feeling mad as a hatter,
as in front of my startled eyes did appear
a sleigh pulled by eight, rather sweaty, reindeer.

They snorted and stamped their hooves in the snow.
Saint Nick in the sled called, “to the roof we must go!”
“Just a minute,” I cried, a-pointing my phone,
“I must get a shot, for Facebook you know!”

“Quick friend,” he said, “I’ve presents to deliver!”
He laughed and I noticed his belly aquiver.
“That was a good ‘un,” I said with some pride.
“But it’s freezing out here, I’m off back inside!”

As I uploaded my photo, noises came from the roof.
‘Twas the tapping and knocking of each little hoof.
Saint Nick down the chimney came, just like a ghost.
My hand o’er mouse button, about to click ‘post.’

“Speed your hand, friend,” laughed Santa Claus,
“I have presents for all, mamma, kiddies indoors.”
So saying this, from his shoulder a sack,
he put down on the carpet, whilst rubbing his back.

He reached in and flung out packet after packet,
PlayStation, tablets, Xbox … what a racket!
He held up a game, shaking his head,
“In the old days, wooden toys, now Night of the Dead!”

“Times have changed Santa, it’s electronic toys now.
Monopoly, Cluedo, all vanished, somehow.”
Saint Nicolas sighed, his face it was long.
“Yes, son, I’ve had to get elves from Hong Kong.”

“The old ones were sacked, they weren’t internet savvy,
As you may guess, they weren’t none too happy!
And Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen
They do their best, but Elon Musk’s offered to fix ‘em.”

“He’s made nuclear powered versions, don’t you know?
It won’t just be Rudolph who lights up the snow!
I’m undecided, though it’d save on the hay,
But the time it is passing, I must be away!”

So saying, back up the chimney he flew
“Come Comet, come Cupid, Donner and Blixen, yes, you!”
I looked back at Facebook, a comment from a mate,
“Nice pic of Santa and reindeer. Ain’t Photoshop great?!”

Then past the window they all came in flight,
Saint Nicolas, waving, puffed on his pipe.
And I heard him call as they vanished from view,
“Happy Christmas to All and a good night to you!”

New Year’s Eve Ritual 2017/2018

vintage-new-years-eve-in-the-past-08

(370 + 500 words)

First of all, a Very Happy New Year to all my followers, and to those followers with blogs and/or books, I wish you every success with them in 2018!

I’m starting the year with 350 followers, which I can hardly believe, so thank you again for following To Cut a Short Story Short! 

I’m very pleased to say that I managed to post a new story every five days throughout 2017, a goal I set myself. I also self-published two books and had audiobooks made from them, something I never could have imagined one year ago!

https://simonjwood.wordpress.com/books-by-simon-j-wood/

https://simonjwood.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/publishing-the-best-of-your-blog-is-as-easy-as-1-2-3/

I also entered two writing competitions a month throughout the year. No prizes yet, but fingers crossed for the coming year!

I’m intending to continue my WordPress publishing schedule throughout 2018, and I’ll be publishing a new book of stories about October time: To Cut a Short Story Short II: 89 Little Stories. Because the stories are longer now, that’ll be around 80,000 words, which should come out around 400 pages, so quite a substantial volume. It should be available as an audiobook in time for Christmas 2018!

I’ve a children’s picture book in the pipeline too, Promise Her the Moon, which has been submitted to a number of publishers and which I hope will be accepted and in print in the latter part of 2018. Then, who knows, there might even be a sequel!

https://simonjwood.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/promise-her-the-moon/

Finally, I’ve been running a fortnightly story group for the last two years (currently 400 words). A collection is sent out by e-mail every other Sunday. Right now there are a small number of dedicated contributors sending in one or two stories per fortnight (big thanks to those talented people!). New members are always welcome!

https://simonjwood.wordpress.com/contact/

So, without further ado, I’m republishing New Year’s Eve Ritual, my third most popular post (in terms of ‘likes’) ever. I have to copy the post, otherwise a notification isn’t sent out, which means there are two copies of the same story on the blog, but I think it’s worth it. I don’t want to copy and paste the old comments, but if you’d like to read them (recommended) here’s the link.

https://simonjwood.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/new-years-eve-ritual/

Best wishes, Simon.

 


(500 words)
Boxes, special boxes, lie at the bottom of my locked filing cabinet. Deposited there are letters and cards collected throughout my life. From grandparents, school-friends, parents, lovers, wives, children, more lovers, more children. Since the invention of e-mail though, they’ve been few and far between.
Tonight it’s New Year’s Eve 2027 and there’s a very special box of letters I want to look at. But first there’s something I have to do – The Ritual.
I go to my trusted computer and start. I’m alone in the house. My partner, Suzanne is at her parents, the kids are grown up, probably remonstrating with their own kids about coming home at a ‘sensible’ hour. As if!
I begin to type. Dear – . I leave the name blank for now, anticipating the thrill of typing it in. ‘I hope you are well and I wonder how this will find you? You were talking about moving to a villa in Portugal. Are you still planning to live there? Did you marry Fiona? Is your mother still alive?’ Questions surge into my mind.
I take a swig of cider, Weston’s Vintage Cider 2026, 8.2% alcohol. Three bottles for a fiver at Tesco, same as it’s been for the last ten years! I swill the amber liquid around my tongue and savour grass, twigs, toffee, leaves, moonlit apples.
For the next two hours I sit writing and drinking cider. About what I’ve been doing myself for the last year, my failing health, my increasing wealth and my disastrous love life. Then about my goals and aspirations. Maybe they’ll be interested? Do that trek up Kilimanjaro, play a recital on the piano, maybe get that novel published. The one that’s been rejected more times than I care to think about. But hey! What about Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J K Rowling?
Finally it’s finished. 11.30 p.m., half an hour before ‘witching hour.’ How pleased I am to sit ‘in here’, writing, rather than ‘out there,’ getting ‘wrecked’ and singing Auld Lang Syne with strangers!
I fill in the recipient, print my letter, sign and address it, then seal it up with tape. Finally I delete the document and empty the trash folder. That completes the ritual!
I go down to the fridge and take out a bottle of Chardonnay. I pour a large glassful of lemon-coloured nectar, then go back upstairs to my ‘special box.’ It contains ten long, white, thick envelopes, all with the same handwriting. I slot the one I have just written in at the back and take out the one at the front. It’s dated 2017, and labelled ‘to be opened 31st December 2027.’
The cycle is finally complete! I open it, trembling with anticipation. I begin to read, my eyes misting as I do so. Throughout the last ten long, eventful years, of life, death, joy and heartbreak, it has been waiting patiently in this box for me, though I now have no memory of ever having written it.
To read the comments on the original version of this post please click HERE

Three Lives

Servant Bells

(550 words)

“I’m a servant, milord, a maid to Sir Oswald’s household.”
“And are you happy there?” I asked.
“No, milord, cursed be the day I came into this house!”
“What do you see around you?”
“Stone flags, milord, and a great fire. There’s a kettle o’water a’heatin’ for the washing.”
“Is it the scullery?”
“Yes, milord, there be a great kitchen for the cooking.”
“Is there anyone else there?”
(subject laughs) “Yes, milord, there’s Jack, the vartlet. He sits by the fire, his face red as any fox!”
“Do you like Jack?”
“Yes, milord, he’s a knave, jolly as a pie!”
“That’s good. And what about Sir Oswald.”
(subject seems nervous) “He … he, by my troth, he doth take advantage. When my lady is away, I must needs go to his chamber of a night. He maketh me unclothe myself – naked as a needle, and … and ….”
“Can’t you refuse?”
(subject appears tearful) “What wilt thou say, milord, I must needs, or I’ll be flashing my queint as a trull down in the town, a penny a time!”
“Isn’t there anyone you can talk to?”
(subject starts to cry) “No, milord, there’s none as wish to upset his Lordship!”
I place a hand on the subject’s forehead. “On the count of three you feel completely calm and come forward in time to your next life, at roughly the same age.”
(subject nods)
“One Two Three!”
(subject looks around, smiling)
“Where are you?”
“In the children’s room, sir. I see boxes of their toys.”
“And what year is it?”
(long pause) “Good Queen Victoria reigns, … er, I’m not sure, sir.”
“What is your position?”
“Oh, I’m a nanny to two dear children, sir.”
“Where do you live?”
“Oh, I live with the family, sir, the James’s. It’s somewhere in London, near to the river.”
“What age are you?”
“Eight and twenty, sir.”
“And do you like your work?”
“Mostly. The children, Jacob and Jemima, are lovely, and the master is a gent!”
“What about the mistress?”
(long pause) “Hard as nails she is, sir, always finding fault with me, especially when the master’s not around. Once I’d taken the children out, down to the pond to sail their toy yachts, and Jacob fell over and cut his knee bad. Well it weren’t my fault, sir, but the mistress, she went mad. The master being away, she took me into her study and gave me ten strokes of her cane on my behind.” (subject begins to cry) “I couldn’t sit properly for four days, sir!”
“OK. I’m going to count down from ten, and on the count of one, you will be back in the present moment, feeling calm and happy, with full memory of this session. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Ten, nine, eight … two, ONE!”
(subject sits up) “That was heavy!”
“You see now. Your problem of over-dominance, especially of, er, subordinates, is linked, intrinsically, to these last two lives.”
(subject nods)
“In both cases, you were subject to sexual and physical abuse, on a regular basis.”
“Yes, it wasn’t much fun!”
“I’m going to give you some hypnotic suggestions, based on this session. They’ll help you see people for who they are, warts and all, as people, not objects or possessions to be pushed around.”

David smiles, relieved. “Thank you.”

To purchase the stories (up to June 2017) in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 180! 

Red Nose Day

dolls2

(550 words)

Ellen stood, gazing around the room in awe. Claire had said it was OK to look in here, but she felt somehow guilty, as if prying. Surrounding her, stood and sitting on the floor, and on shelves around the walls, were perhaps two hundred dolls.
She’d come to babysit her friend’s five year old daughter, Bonny. Claire had told Ellen that she collected dolls, that she had ‘a roomful’ of them, but Ellen had never imagined Claire had been speaking literally. She’d put Bonny to bed after the little girl had fallen asleep watching a Disney DVD, made herself a sandwich, watched TV, and, growing bored, thought she’d look around the house. Look but don’t touch. The babysitter’s dictum.
In the front row was a female doll with a black tunic top and rose coloured skirt. Wavy silver hair descended to her shoulders beneath a conical pale yellow hat and bright blue eyes looked out from the lifelike face above pronounced pink cheeks. She bore a curiously neutral expression. You couldn’t tell if she were happy, or cross even. Claire guessed the doll’s costume was Swiss or German. The other dolls were of every size, shape and nationality. Chinese dolls with slanted eyes, Indian dolls in beautiful saris, babies in shawls, ‘ladies’ in emerald green finery, blonde hair piled high in immaculate curls.
Then there was a section of clown dolls, perhaps thirty in number, varying in height from just a foot or so, up to an almost life-size clown in a rocking chair. Its face was chalk-white, its eyes were black hollows and its grinning lips a garish red.
Ellen noticed that they universally sported red noses, the one unique identifying feature of a clown she supposed. She heard the front door close and Claire call out, “Ellen, where are you?”
She checked her watch. Eleven o’clock. “Coming!” She closed the door quietly, hearing a creak from within. That was odd.
Downstairs, Claire was looking happy. “Hi, how was Bonny?”
“Oh, she was fine. We watched The Little Mermaid, and she fell asleep.”
“She must’ve seen that one twenty times!” Claire went into the kitchen. Ellen followed. “What did you get up to?” Claire asked.
“Oh, after I’d put Bonny to bed I watched TV then looked at your dolls. I didn’t know you meant it when you said you had a roomful. They’re amazing!”
Claire took some bread out of a container. “Yes, I collected them over the last thirty years. I’m making a sandwich. I’m starving, you want one?”
“No thanks, I already had one.”
“What did you do with the carving knife?” Claire asked.
Ellen looked puzzled. The block that held the knives had an empty socket. “I’m sorry, I washed it. I thought I’d put it back.”
“Don’t worry.” Claire opened a draw and picked out a serrated knife. “This’ll do.” She cut two slices and opened the fridge, taking out a pack of Lurpak Light and some slices of ham. “Which dolls did you like best?”
Ellen laughed. “Well, I’ll tell you which one I didn’t like. That big clown doll in the rocking chair!”
Claire turned, looking pale. “What d’you mean? I don’t have a big clown doll. I sit in that rocker myself!”
“What?!”
“Listen!”
Heavy footsteps were coming down the stairs.

To purchase the stories in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact us and we’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 180! 

No Gold Pavements

Custom-White-passage-corridor-photo-wallpaper-for-living-room-sofa-spatial-extension-personality-wall-mural-wallpaper

(600 words)

Well, there are no black curtains, but it’s a white room I’m standing in. Quite large, I’d say about twenty foot square, and the ceiling’s high too. I can’t jump and touch it. The walls are luminescent, so there’s a fuzzy white-blue light in the room. I snap into reality. Where the Hell am I?!
You know when you’ve been dreaming because you know you’ve awakened. That’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m sure I’m not dreaming, everything feels normal. Well, as normal as it feels to wake up in your PJs in a strange white room with no doors or windows!
I try to rationalize the situation. I do remember going to bed. I’d been drinking Gallo chardonnay and ordering books on Amazon until gone midnight, then a DVD – Communion. I remember checking the newspaper headlines for today. Something about Prince Harry’s girlfriend – Meghan someone, Brexit, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Then listening to some music in bed. The Best of Cream.
But now I start to feel seriously worried. I feel awake. What are the tests for dreaming? Oh, yes. Jump in the air. I do so and immediately land back on the ground. Try to remember the sequence of events of the last few minutes. Well, I woke up, found myself in this room, tried to remember what I’d been dreaming. Remembered what I did before bed. Yes, a linear sequence of events. What else? Oh, yes. Look at some writing, look away, look back and see if it’s changed. Well there isn’t any writing, just snow white walls and floor.
Wait a minute, there is some writing! I don’t remember seeing that before! I cross to a small printed sign. It says, ‘Do you want to exit this room?’ Ha, yes! I look away for a few seconds, look back and the writing has changed! ‘Are you sure you want to exit this room?’ So, I must be dreaming! On impulse, I shout, “YES!” Then, “YES, I’M SURE I WANT TO EXIT THIS FUCKING ROOM!”
I shout repeatedly, feeling a little crazy and expecting to snap awake at any moment. My voice reverberates harshly around the bare walls. Suddenly, silently, part of the wall dissolves, leaving an arch-shaped doorway about eight feet high. Thank God! With relief I pass through it to find myself in a white corridor. Opposite is a door with a fluted glass window. There’s something blue and pink moving behind it.
I stand, nervous and expectant as a man emerges. To my amazement it’s my neighbour Alan, wearing a royal blue robe. “Hello John,” he says. “They got you too then?”
“What d’you mean? Where are we?”
A woman with long blonde hair follows him, closing the door after her. She wears no makeup and her face is pale, unsmiling. “Hello John.” It’s Alan’s wife, Sandra. She wears a pale green robe.
“Hello Sandy, what’s going on, where are we?!”
“I’m sorry, it’s bad news I’m afraid.”
A white shape appears behind the fluted glass. It’s tall, higher than the window. Twice it moves away, then back again. Finally the door opens. I shudder. It’s dressed in a white robe and has a large oval head with two huge black eyes. The mouth is small and thin-lipped. It doesn’t have a nose, just two small holes.
It doesn’t speak but I hear its voice. ‘Welcome to our ship … John. We will return you to your home presently. But first we need to run some … tests.’ It reaches into the robe and pulls out a hypodermic syringe. The needle is three inches long.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 160! 

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Also, I’m very pleased to announce that ‘the best of my blog,’ To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories, and a short story, Bound in Morocco, are now both available as paperbacks and Kindle eBooks. Please see Shop in the menu above for full details.

Blind Hope

braille 3

(500 words)

Hard as winter ice, soft as summer grass. Her mind and fingers played with the forgotten contents of a bottom drawer. She fluttered her fingers over a mixture of bric-a-brac and clothing, plucking out something silky. She held it to her face and inhaled the faded scent of roses. A blouse! Yes, one she’d worn when she was young, twenty years earlier. She held it to her cheek, sensing the vibrations. Red or purple. Yes, of course, the blouse she’d worn to her grandmother’s eightieth birthday party!
She pictured a photograph – herself, Flora, with a group of cousins, fifteen in number, all her grandmother’s second generation offspring. They all stood before a huge fireplace. The fire wasn’t lit, it being summer, and the group had lined up in two smiling rows, symmetrically placed between two enormous bookcases that reached up to the high ceiling. She’d stood at one end, her cousin Maurice, recently divorced, encroaching her space, touching her shoulders with his, showing an interest in a relationship with her perhaps? But she’d had her own beau then, Hector, Hector Simons. That was after the birth of Emma, but before her … accident. She supposed she should feel sadness, loss, or something, but she felt nothing – empty, hollow, all longing and hope knocked out of her all those years ago. She wondered when she had last cried. At the death of her last guide dog, Billy, six years ago, she supposed. Six long years.
She wondered if the blouse would still fit. She took off a cardigan, then a T-shirt, feeling the air on her bare midriff and shoulders. Suddenly, for no reason, she unclipped her bra and threw it across the room. She sensed the weight of her small, hard, pointed breasts. She slipped the blouse on, feeling her nipples stiffen at the touch of the shiny, soft fabric. Yes, it fitted perfectly! Then she remembered that the curtains were open over the window to the street. Oh, what the hell, she didn’t really care if any passersby saw her naked. She realised that was maybe the reason she didn’t have net curtains.
The doorbell rang, and she heard Flossie stir in her basket. Normally she never answered the door, but she felt confident and curious. She felt the dog rubbing her leg, and reached down, holding its tail and letting the animal guide her through the door and down the corridor. There wasn’t time to find and attach the harness. The bell rang again. “Just coming!”
She reached the door and undid the chain. Opening it, she felt a comforting blast of warm spring air in her face.
“Flora, it’s me, Hector!”
She stepped forward and threw her arms around him, noticing the distinctive smell of coal tar soap that she remembered so well. She laughed. “You still use the same soap!”
“Emma told me where you lived,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”

Flora, hugging him tight, could say nothing more. Six long years were over.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 160! 

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Pills for Thrills

alien-1979-ridley-scott-movie-review-xenomorph-harry-dean-stanton

(600 words)

“Profundity pills?!
“That’s right, three for a tenner, I bought six!”
“Wow, well done!”
Libby smiled, “Yes, they’d just got a new batch in, they sell out fast, I was lucky to get so many!”
The government had just licensed a new recreational drug with one eye on the national debt. ‘Profundity Pills – an exciting and safe way to relive your favourite books and films!’ said the ads. The pills somehow disconnected parts of the brain for a couple of hours, so that you had virtually no memory of anything you’d ever read or watched. A bit like a couple of bottles of wine but without the hangover. Consequently, you could watch a film, like Back to the Future, with no idea of what was going to happen when Marty plugs in his guitar at the beginning, even if you’d seen it ten times before!
Libby went over to a case of DVDs, running her painted red nails over the spines before plucking one out. Alien!
“Wow!” I felt a genuine thrill and some trepidation at the idea of watching it again for the ‘first time,’ unaware of the grisly surprises to come. “Then we could watch The Exorcist” I said.
“Yuk!” she exclaimed, putting the two DVDs on a table.
 –
It was the first time for Libby and I. She handed me two large green capsules. “This way we can watch both!”
I held the capsules in the palm of one hand and a glass of water in the other. “Here goes!” They went down quite easily, despite their size.
We sat on the sofa. After a few minutes Libby giggled. “I was just trying to remember the name of that book, the one about … Jesus … is it?”
“Oh, you mean the B …, the B ….” I just couldn’t remember the name!
I went over to the case of DVDs and scanned the titles. Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jaws. Hmm, they seemed somehow familiar, but I had no recollection of every having seen them, or what they were about, apart from a vague supposition sparked by the titles. I looked around the room, everything seemed familiar, including Libby, I could even remember getting up in the morning, but I just couldn’t remember watching any of those films. “I think we’re ready!”
Libby picked up Alien and took it out of the case. “‘In Space No-one Can Here You Scream!’ This one sounds scary! What’s this other one? The Exorcist, well we’ll watch that after.
“Wow, that was amazing!” I said, nearly four hour’s later. “When that monster came out of …”
“Yes, and when that girl’s head turned all the way round and she …”
“I’m not starting to remember properly yet, are you?”
“Not yet,” said Libby. “Maybe we should watch another?!” she giggled.
Just then the phone rang. It was my sister, Morag. “Hi, how’s you and Libby?”
“We’re fine, just tried those profundity pills, they were amazing!”
“Oh, yeah, I tried one yesterday. I watched Groundhog Day, I honestly couldn’t remember it. Just so funny. Hey, did you see on the news about that idiot who jumped out of a window. Seems he never read the instructions and took two! Then he watched some horror films and couldn’t stop hallucinating!”
I turned to Libby. “Hey, did you read the instructions?”
She shrugged. “I dunno. Why? What’s the big deal?”
“You idiot! Seems like we could be in for some unpleasant dreams!”
“Oh my God.” Her face was white. “Look!” She pointed at my stomach.

I looked down. Something was pushing against my shirt. From the inside.





Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 160! 
 –

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 300 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Also, I’m very pleased to announce that ‘the best of my blog,’ To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories, and a short story, Bound in Morocco, are now both available as paperbacks and Kindle eBooks. Please see Shop in the menu above for full details.