I Dream of Diwana

thali 2

(850 words)

“Impressive isn’t it?” I smile.
“Oh gosh, have I got to eat everything?” says my wife, Laura.
In front of each of us lies a circular metal tray, in the centre of which stands a bowl of steaming rice. The grains are tiny, some coloured red, yellow or green. Surrounding it are small metal pots containing vegetables – some plain, some battered and fried, in a variety of sauces. One pot contains chopped tomato, cucumber and raw onion, and another, plain yoghurt. The restaurant is full of the aroma of curry and I’m salivating like crazy.
“Would you like anything to drink sir?” smiles a young Indian girl with deep brown eyes, darker than her dusky skin.
“Can I have Cobra please?” Laura asks for mineral water.
“I remember the first time I came here I ate the shrikhand with my curry! I didn’t realise it was a sweet.” I laugh, indicating a pot, half full of a thick yellow paste, inconspicuous amongst the others.
I serve myself rice, curried cauliflower, and some small pieces of potato in a thin, greasy-looking sauce. “Wow, this is hot!” I exclaim. They’d not spared the chilli! I spoon a generous portion of yoghurt on top. It’s delicious, my taste buds overwhelmed by the fiery, aromatic experience.
It’s September 1987, the seventh year of my marriage to Laura. The first years had been wonderful, although marred by frequent fights, but isn’t that usually the way? Her long dark hair still looks glamorous, but the pretty face has grown rounder and the pounds have piled on. Health problems abound with increasing frequency. Still, ‘Till death do us part ….’
“Impressive isn’t it?” I smile.
“We have bigger thalis in Gangtok!” says my partner, Lhamo.
“Really?”
She laughs, shaking her red-brown bob, her hooded cat-like eyes twinkling.
It’s September 1997 and once again I’m in Diwanas. I haven’t been here for ten years, but it’s like a time warp, everything seems exactly the same, even the waitress.
Lhamo isn’t eating a thali. Instead, she has a dosa, a long, rolled pancake, fried and filled with spiced potato, lentils and onion.
The restaurant’s packed, as always. A small queue stands by the door, resignedly waiting for a vacant table.
Lhamo looks apprehensive. “I need to tell you something.”
I know what’s coming. I’ve heard it often enough. “What?”
“I’m leaving, going back to Rasheb.”
I could save my breath. “Why?”
“I miss Ahmed. He needs me.” Her eyes mist over.
I take a mouthful of Cobra, close my eyes, and swill it round my tongue with my mouth slightly open. The light hoppy flavour mingles with those of butterscotch and dandelion. It’s amazing what you find when you really focus on something. Back to reality. “Please don’t go.” And I mean it. Despite all the problems with her estranged husband and her collusion with him, I really love her.
We’d met at a theatre group in our small town. There were a handful of good actors, the rest of us weren’t any great shakes. To my astonishment she’d taken a shine to me, saying I reminded her of Robert Redford, and it was only weeks before she’d moved in, leaving her fifteen year old son and husband gnashing their teeth. Soon that slim brown body and her willingness to please had made every bedtime an exquisite experience.
“Impressive, isn’t it, sir?” The Indian holds out the huge aubergine I’d been eying up outside his shop. “Only seventy five pence sir!”
I laugh, not wanting to lug vegetables around London, and tell him so.
“We’re open till 10 p.m. sir. You pick it up later!”
“Maybe.” I smile.
It’s September 2017, and I’m back in Drummond Street, just around the corner from Euston Station, inhaling the wonderful smell of curry that always envelopes the area. I pass other greengrocers, admiring the colourful displays of unrecognisable vegetables outside. Curious, I look at something resembling a bent white courgette, about 18 inches long. I wonder what it’s called and where it comes from?
Passing two Indian restaurants I reach the Ambala Sweet Centre. I remember how Laura and I would buy boxes of delicious sweets there – made from condensed milk, coconut and suchlike, flavoured with spices. My mouth waters at the thought of gulab jamun, small cardamom syrup-soaked doughnuts. I ask myself why Indians aren’t enormously fat?
I walk a little further to Diwana Bhel Poori House. As usual, it’s packed, even though it’s only 7 p.m. I’d like to go in. But not on my own. I gaze through the window at the crowded tables where I’d sat with Laura and Lhamo. A waitress is serving plates of steaming dosas. A car drives past playing Michael Jackson on the radio – Bad.
Suddenly it seems like yesterday. I wonder where they are and what they are doing right now. I feel an ache in my guts, of nostalgia and loneliness.

I walk back the way I came. Thankfully my mood lifts. Never mind Laura, Lhamo and the rest of those damned women, I’m going to buy that aubergine!

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.

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Promise Her the Moon

1 taj mahal

(800 words)

“Be polite and listen carefully,” said the old man to his four daughters, “and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!”
Their names were Anshula, Bakula, Chandhini and Darshini. By the grace of God they had been born exactly three years apart so that all four shared the same birthday – today, November 1st – unique in all the land.
Anshula was 16, Bakula 13, Chandhini 10, and little Darshini just seven. Now they waited, dressed in beautiful saris, Anshula in maroon, Bakula in ruby red, Chandhini in royal blue and finally, little Darshini in emerald green. Their mother was considerably younger than her husband and now stood, nervously adjusting their saris and combing their long black hair. “He’ll be here soon. Be sure to stand straight and smile!”
There was a knock on the door which made them all jump. The old man answered it to a messenger, who proclaimed, “The Great Prince will be here within the quarter hour, he approaches the edge of town.”
“Thank you,” said the old man, handing the messenger a coin. He turned to his daughters. “You may sit until his Royal Highness arrives.”
The daughters sat down on two long sofas in the large, high-ceilinged chamber. The family were not rich but by virtue of the daughters’ shared birthday, they had acquired a certain fame. People would visit them, regarding them as holy due to the coincidence, and were accustomed to leaving gifts of money, sides of meat, fine wines and the like.
After the longest fifteen minutes the family could remember, there came another knock at the door. A servant opened it to the Great Prince himself! His Royal Highness strode in, followed by an entourage of exotic characters. “Greetings to you all!” he pronounced in a deep, booming, royal voice.
The girls smiled nervously and curtseyed simultaneously, as they had practised. The entourage spaced themselves around the large room whilst servants brought refreshments.
The Great Prince was tall, over six feet high, and magnificently dressed in a golden achkan with a crimson turban and dupatta. He was very handsome, with a tawny face, startling green eyes and thin lips that naturally gave the appearance of a smile. Finally, after some small talk with the parents, he clapped his hands for silence. The girls stood, trying to look calm, except little Darshini who wasn’t nervous at all.
“Well my dears,” he pronounced, “God has seen fit to give you all the same birthday and today Anshula, the eldest, is 16 years old. A Very Happy Birthday to you all!”
He kissed Anshula on both cheeks. Her brown face turned red and she felt faint. She determined not to wash for a week. He kissed the other girls likewise, having to bend low for little Darshini.
“Now, I have very special gifts for you all!” he announced. This was followed by loud applause. When it had quieted down, he said, “To Anshula, I give the clouds!”
Anshula, looking perplexed, smiled and curtseyed. “You are most generous my Lord!”
“To Bakula, I give the moon!”
Bakula blinked her huge brown eyes and sweat lined her upper lip. “Thank you Sir!”
His Highness moved along to Chandhini. “To you, Chandhini, I give the Sun!”
Chandhini curtseyed and smiled sheepishly. “Thank you Your Honour!”
Finally, he looked down on little Darshini, who looked up in anticipation, her blue eyes twinkling.
“Yes, and to little Darshini, an extra special present – all the stars in the sky!”
There was huge applause. The old man approached. “Thank you your Highness for your wonderful gifts!”
Suddenly a shrill voice piped up. “I don’t understand. What use are the stars to me!”
The room fell silent, the old man gasped and a look of annoyance crossed the Great Prince’s face.
He recovered his composure. “Well my dear little Darshini, Anshula may tax all who wish to fly their aeroplanes through her clouds, and she will be rich! And Bakula may tax all who gaze with wonder at her moon, she will be richer still!”
Little Darshini remained silent, scratching her head.
The Great Prince continued. “Chandhini may tax all those who wish to receive warmth and light from her sun, except me of course!” The entourage roared with laughter, followed by polite applause. “She will be the richest of all! And you, my dear little Darshini may tax all those lovers who hold hands and look longingly up at your stars!”
The little girl looked confused. “But what happens if they won’t pay the tax?”
“Well then, it’ll be ‘off with their heads!’ ”
“What, you mean … “
“Yes, the criminals will be executed,” his Royal Highness exclaimed gleefully.

Darshini bit her lip and leant back to gaze up into the Great Prince’s handsome face. “Please sir, I’d just like a little puppy.”





Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 150! 
 –

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.

 

If Only They Could Speak

ginger-cat-650545
(650 words)
“Rudyard, here Rudyard!”
Rudyard’s ginger face appeared in the doorway. He hesitated, seeing a stranger in the room.
“Here kitty, good kitty!” called William Wilde, professor William Wilde as he now was.
Gingerly, Rudyard came into the study, studiously ignoring Willy and jumped onto my lap, purring. His huge yellow eyes looked up at me quizzically.
William, or Willy as he now preferred to be called, was an old school chum. The one who’d worn thick lenses in a huge black frame and was always found studying in a corner of the school library. He’d been the butt of our childish cruelty. ‘Four eyes,’ ‘Willy Wanker,’ or just ‘Willy the creep.’ He’d had the last laugh though, graduating in Physics with first class honours at Oxford. Then, five years ago there’d been a school reunion. Willy had turned up with his wife, a glamorous ex-model, now the mother of five kids. Respect!
Old insults forgotten, bygones become bygones, we’d kept in touch. Then had come a phone call two days ago. Willy, sounding breathless, telling me he’d discovered something amazing. Something unbelievable. Something so incredible it was going to change the world!
“Is that all?” I’d said, laughing.
“Stephen, do you have any animals?”
“Yes, I’ve got a cat, why?”
“Let me come and see it, you’ll see why,” he said enigmatically.
So he’d arrived, armed with two suitcases full of electrical equipment. Two MacBook computers now sat on my desk, amongst a tangle of cables connecting strange pieces of equipment. One computer screen showed several analog meters, the other had rows of scrolling numbers.
“What on Earth is it?” I’d asked.
“Translation software and voice synthesisers,” Willy smiled, “you’ll see.”
Now he produced a cage and opened the lid. “Put Rudyard in here please.”
The big yellow eyes looked up at me with reproach as I did so. The cage was narrow and Rudyard couldn’t turn. He looked anxious, his ears folding back, but with me close by he co-operated, no doubt recalling occasional trips to the vets, loathed but tolerated.
Willy reached in and, his hands now protected with gloves, fitted some kind of electrical device over Rudyard’s head. Rudyard began to miaow in protest.
“Now, watch this!” Willy flicked a switch and Rudyard sat bolt upright, looking from Willy to me and from me to Willy. The screens were going crazy, needles moving backwards and forwards in the on-screen meters, and the rows of numbers scrolling down in free fall.
Then something came over a loudspeaker, a synthesised voice, reminiscent of Stephen Hawking. “What … what … is … happening?” The ‘voice’ of Rudyard!
“That’s just amazing!” I said.
Willy beamed. “I told you it was incredible!”
Rudyard turned his head towards me. “Let … me … out.”
“Just a few minutes more Rudyard,” said Willy, “then we’ll let you out. Now, I’d like to ask you some questions.”
Rudyard sat attentively.
“What is your name?”
The synthesised voice spoke slowly. “Rudd Yaaard.”
“Very good, and what animal are you?”
“You … call … me … cat.” He bent down to lick a paw.
“This is incredible!” I said, scarcely able to believe that my beloved cat was communicating with us. “Rudyard,” I said. “Are you happy here? I mean, in this house. Is there anything you want?”
The big yellow eyes blinked. “Fooood.”
“I mean, like a bigger basket?”
“Fooood.”
“Oh, I see, you’d like some food, is that right?” Willy and I exchanged glances.
“Fooood.”
“OK, I’ll get you some food in a minute. Now, what are your thoughts on … er …” I tried to think of something, “um, other cats?”
Silence.
“Er, vacuum cleaners?”
Silence.
“World peace?”
Silence. Well that was a tough one.
“Well, perhaps that’s enough for one day,” said Willy resignedly. “Rudyard, is there anything you’d like to say before I take the headset off?”

Rudyard’s big yellow eyes looked up and blinked twice. “Fooood. Want fooood.”



Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 150! 
 –

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.

To Cut a Short Story Short – The Book!

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 16.30.49

I’m very pleased and excited to announce that the ‘best of my blog,’ in the form of 111 stories, has just been published on Amazon in paperback as To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories.

All the stories have been rechecked, and revised where applicable, and the book has over 250 pages. It also includes a 4000 word ‘bonus story,’ a ‘horror comedy,’ which will NOT be appearing on my blog. It is priced at just £8.99/$10.99.

A Kindle eBook version is also available at only £3.69/$3.99 and features a clickable contents list for quick access to any story.

In both versions the word count for each story is given in the contents table for ease of selection.

Description:

A young magician in a pub opens his hands to release a cloud of tropical butterflies; a female bookseller is forced to attend a dance in drag to atone for a misdemeanor; a lonely man searches for a mysterious woman on a cruise; four school friends experience terror on a caravan holiday, and a macabre stranger wanders the streets at midnight, stealing dreams.

Ranging from just 100 up to 4000 words, these and 106 other memorable little stories are found in this eclectic and tantalizing collection by Simon J. Wood.

To Cut a Short Story Short preview

[2nd Sep 2017] Also, I’m excited to announce that a talented voice actor/narrator, Angus Freathy, is producing the above book of short stories as an audiobook! It will be available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes by mid-November, just in time for Christmas! His ‘voices’ really bring the stories to life!

Angus Freathy audiobooks/samples

Angus Freathy bio/samples

Bound in Morocco

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The longest story on my blog (which is not included in the collection above) has recently been published separately in paperback and Kindle eBook. Entitled Bound in Morocco, it has 42 pages in the print version. It is priced at just £4.69/$5.99 for the paperback and only £1.99/$2.99 for the Kindle eBook.

Description:

Marcus Slater decides to forgo the cold, wet, wintry weather of England to join a walking party in the sunny climes of Morocco. There, against a backdrop of the curious, ancient towns of southern Morocco he meets the enigmatic Sylvia and finds himself embroiled in a game he cannot possibly afford to lose.

Bound in Morocco preview

Both books have wonderful covers and the paper quality is lovely. Highly recommended, and they make the perfect gift too! 🙂

Both books are available in paperback and Kindle eBook form on Amazon, worldwide.

Heartless Desires

robot sex
(600 words)
“June, could you iron this shirt for me please darling?” called Jim, holding up a pale lemon-coloured shirt with white stripes.
His wife appeared with a sheaf of papers in one hand. “No, I’m busy, can’t you get your ‘floozy’ to do it? It’s her job isn’t it?”
“Yes, but she’s at work, doing overtime.”
“Why?”
“I’m not sure, she’s getting £5 an hour so she only has to do twenty two hours to pay for her rental for the week.”
“Twenty two hours?”
“Yes, don’t forget she gets to keep 10% – thanks to the government caving in to that damned Humanoid Rights Act!”
“Look, you know I’m not happy with Melissa. I understand that since my accident, well you have … urges, but it doesn’t seem right.”
“The technology’s available so why shouldn’t I use it?”
“Well, you could consider my feelings for a start!”
“Well, don’t think about her if it makes you unhappy.”
“That’s a bit bloody difficult when she’s wandering around the house! Anyway, why do you need a shirt ironed? It’s Sunday”
“Oh, Old Man Warburton just called an emergency meeting. The yellowmen aren’t happy.”
“Well YOU iron the goddamn shirt then!”
“OK, OK. Where’s the ironing board?”
June shrugged. “How should I know?”
Just then they heard the sound of the front door opening and a beautiful young woman with oriental features and long black hair came into the room.
Jim spoke. “Oh, thank goodness you’re back. Can you iron this shirt please Melissa?”
“Yes, Jim, but I have something to tell you.”
“Look, I’m in a hurry. What?”
“Well, we don’t have emotions, we don’t really understand what they are, except they make humans act … funny. But there’s a boy at the office, another…humanoid. Well, he, Willie he’s called, and I, well we…understand… each other. I can’t describe it to you, a human, but we want to be together.”
“Good God, are you serious? No, a thousand times no! D’you think I’ve been paying £100 a week just to let you run off with another goddamn ‘robot’? Where would you go anyway? Disneyland?”
“No, Thailand. We’ve booked flights for tonight. The climate will be good for our … mechanisms, and Willie knows a restaurant owner who will employ us as waiters. And we get to keep ALL our wages.”
Was there a trace of a smile or did he imagine it? “So how will you pay for the flights? With shirt buttons?!”
“We’ve both been saving our ten percents.”
Pfft, look Melissa, I’m sorry but I’m calling the company, they’ll put a stop to this nonsense right now.”
She reached out a slender, perfectly manicured hand for the shirt. “Sorry Jim, I’ve okayed it with them. They’re sending you a replacement…”
“How did the meeting go,” asked June, the following morning.
“Oh, Warburton’s paying off 90% of the yellowmen, replacing them with robots.”
The doorbell sounded. June went to answer.
In marched someone of indeterminate sex, large and dumpy-looking. The voice was medium-pitched with an odd, grating quality. “Hello, my name is Kim and I am the replacement for Melissa.”
Jim looked aghast. “Good God, I was expecting another combined service and pleasure model!”
“Sorry sir, all available robots have been seconded by the Warburton corporation. However, I am sure I can learn to give you pleasure, if you would instruct me.”
Jesus Christ! No, no, that’s OK, look, I know a nice little office you can work in. £5 an hour and I’ll even let you keep 15%! How would an 80 hour week suit you?…”



Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 130! 
 –

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

Taylor Maid

sex-robot-10-19-15-1

(600 words)

“Imitated by many, matched by none!” Professor Norman King exclaimed, proudly gesturing to an image of a young woman on a screen behind him. “Bonita!“
There was a round of applause and knowing smiles were exchanged among the audience.
The professor stood at a lectern. He was tall, slim, tanned and had neat grey hair. He wore silver-rimmed glasses. To his right a sheet covered a figure, about five feet high.
“Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, what you’ve all been waiting for. Incidentally, we decided against Bonita mark 2.”
Polite laughter.
“So please meet… Fleur!” He pulled the sheet back and there was a gasp of astonishment. There stood a beautiful young woman of about 25 in a sleek red dress. She smiled and the professor passed her a microphone.
”Hello Ladies and Gentleman.” She spoke with a soft musical voice. “It is lovely to meet you. I am pleased to be the new flagship ‘companion’ of NJK Robotics Inc. I have been equipped with the very latest in artificial intelligence, hundreds of nano-servos for realistic motion and facial expression, and a new and unique, er, ‘internal manipulation’ device.” She laughed a mellifluous laugh.
There was a huge round of applause, then the professor continued with technical information – lifting ability, charging times and options such as skin and hair colour, breast size etc. Finally, he discussed typical jobs the robot could do – washing up, cleaning, ironing and, of course, the ‘pleasure’ functions.
“Now, before I take questions, the all important one. How much does she cost? Well the fantastic news is that the price simply consists of a negotiable deposit and a rental starting from just £100 a week – terms and conditions apply – and she is fully upgradeable, included in the rental. A catalogue is available with full specifications, but now, are there any further questions?”
“What are the main differences between Bonita and Fleur?” asked a scientific correspondent type, wearing huge black-framed glasses below a halo of wild blond hair.
“Well, primarily improved skin quality, movement and intelligence. She has improved learning capabilities too and some test models have learnt to drive and, indeed, passed the driving test on their first attempt!”
An excited murmur went around the hall.
“Can she be employed in a salaried capacity by a third party?” asked the same journalist.
“Yes, we are negotiating with the department of employment. She’ll have to be registered for tax and national – humanoid – insurance, then she’ll be eligible to undertake suitable paid employment on your behalf. You’d be entitled to keep 90% of all income, the remainder will go into an account for her personal use.”
“Blimey!” exclaimed a huge man in a patterned smock and leggings so wide they looked like pillars.
The audience laughed.
A middle-aged lady asked shyly, “is there going to be a male version?”
The professor smiled. “Yes, the first prototype is being tested as we speak. We hope to release ‘Kenny’ within six months.”
The woman spoke again. “Will he be customisable, er, down there.” She blushed furiously.
“Yes, I think you’ll find Kenny an, um, impressive companion, the professor said to general laughter. Several other women hurriedly raised their hands but the professor gestured for them to wait. “I wonder, could I just get a feel for how many might be interested in a Fleur or a Kenny? Please raise your hands.”
About three quarters of the audience did so.
“Ah, I should just add that we are also working on ‘Taylor’, a model with both male AND female, er, ‘characteristics’.”

Discretely, the remaining hands crept up…



Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 120! 
 –

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

Contents – To Cut a Short Story Short – 20th Mar 2017

Here the stories are listed according to the categories in the menu, namely 100 word stories, 200 word stories, 300-600 word stories, longer stories, TASWG, excerpts and blog (links open in new window/tab).lilnks open in nw 

stone horse

100 Word Stories

1

Don’t Mind the Police!

30th Nov 2015

2

Dream of a Stone Horse

30th Apr 2016

3

Dumb

31st Dec 2015

4

Femme Fatal

31st Jan 2016

5

Life on Mars

31st Oct 2015

6

Speechless

31st Mar 2016

7

The Final Mystery

31st Oct 2015

8

The Majorette

Sep 30th 2015

9

The Suspect

30th Nov 2015

10

What the Devil?

29th Feb 2016

11

Yesterday’s News

30th Sep 2015

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

John Hancock Center's Tilt

200 Word Stories

1

A Controlling Interest

10th Jul 2016

2

A Dartmoor Childhood

15th Nov 2015

3

A Design for Death

3rd Apr 2016

4

A Friend in Need

24th Jan 2016

5

A Night on the Clown

17th Apr 2016

6

A Personal Experience

18th Oct 2015

7

Ad Pacem

24th Jan 2016

8

Addressing Impatience

22nd Sep 2016 

9

Adrenaline Junkie

26th Jun 2016

10

All Change

24th Jul 2016

11

Amid the Winter’s Snow

29th Sep 2016 

12

Another Splash

15th May 2016

13

Bouncers!

6th Mar 2016

14

Chivvers’ Foibles

29th Aug 2016

15

Cilice Sod

7th Aug 2016

16

Cocksure

12th Jun 2016

17

Death of a Dear Friend

24th Jul 2016

18

Double Trouble

20th Mar 2016

19

Duck Surprise

21st Feb 2016

20

Encounter on London Bridge

18th Oct 2015

21

Fox Meat in Aspic

13th Dec 2015

22

Hen Morning

1st Oct 2016 

23

Hopes and Arrows

17th Apr 2016

24

If Two Witches Were Watching…

10th Sep 2016

25

Incident at Clibbon’s Farm

24th Jul 2016

26

Legless in the Park

15th May 2016

27

Little Pricks in the Night

18th Sep 2016

28

Lobar Limbo

13th Dec 2015

29

Marley’s Spirit

6th Sep 2016

30

Mementoes

7th Aug 2016

31

Mind Your Subconscious!

27th Dec 2015

32

Mirror Man

12th Jun 2016

33

Miss Chan Takes a Trip

27th Dec 2015

34

Mysterious Ways

3rd Apr 2016

35

Nibiru

29th Nov 2015

36

Orwyn’s Ring

7th Feb 2016

37

Peer’s of Wigan

29th Nov 2015

38

Play with Emotions

27th Dec 2015

39

Rest Room

1st Nov 2015

40

Reunited

15th Nov 2015

41

Seeing What Isn’t There

26th Aug 2016

42

Sheldon’s Secret

21st Feb 2016

43

Si Vicium In Petasus

1st May 2016

44

Take A Long Holiday..

10th Jan 2016

45

The 100th Story

24th Sep 2016 

46

The Blob from Outer Space

7th Feb 2016

47

The Coffee Break

6th Mar 2016

48

The Girl from the Labyrinth

10th Jul 2016

49

The Neighbour

15th Nov 2015

50

The Other Woman

26th Jun 2016

51

The Real Doctor Lamont

1st Nov 2015

52

The Saltby St. Mary’s Murders

1st May 2016

53

The Scrying Game

29th May 2016

54

The Story of a Bullet

10th Jan 2016

55

The War and Starvation Diet

20th Mar 2016

56

Tiger Tiger

29th Nov 2015

57

Titus

29th May 2016

58

Where is Your Mind?

10th Jan 2016

boy-girl-holding-hands

300 – 600 Word Stories

title

‘publication’ date

no. of words

1

A Flick of the Knife – A Halloween Story

30th Oct 2016

600

2

A Labour of Magick

13th Feb 2017

600

3

A Saucerful of Bullshit

27th Oct 2016

400

4

Amid the Winter’s Snow – 500 word version

7th Nov 2016

500

5

Blind Panic

15th Mar 2017

600

6

Clarissa’s Missives

8th Feb 2017

600

7

Copperwood

27th Feb 2016

500

8

Erection and Resurrection

10th Nov 2016

600

9

Falling for the Boss

25th Mar 2017

500

10

Flip Side

3rd Feb 2017

600

11

Heartless Desires

14th Apr 2017

600

12

Here Comes the Sun

7th Dec 2016

500

13

If Two Witches Were Watching – 400 word version

9th Apr 2017

400

14

Inventions Я Us

1st Sep 2016

300

15

Killer on the Road

20th Dec 2016

500

16

Lucifer’s Kitchen

29th Jul 2016 

500

17

Luck of the Devil

12th Nov 2016

500

18

Medium Rare

20th Oct 2016 

300

19

New Year’s Eve Ritual

19th Jan 2017

500

20

Playing God

16th Oct 2016

300

21

Saint Teresa of Woking – 600 word version

1st Feb 2016

600

22

Scene in a Lincolnshire Churchyard

10th Mar 2017

500

23

Steal a Little Dream

3rd Nov 2016

500

24

Taylor Maid

30th Mar 2017

600

25

Teeth Can Wait

25th Mar 2016

500

26

Tetford, No Ordinary Village

27th Jun 2016

500

27

The Black Swan

29th Oct 2015

590

28

The Downfall of British Journalism

28th Feb 2016

500

29

The Fabled Fox

24th Jan 2017

400

30

The Hollow Santa

25th Dec 2016

500

31

Tiny Demons

3rd Dec 2016

600

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Longer Stories

title

publication’ date

no. of words

1

A Merry Dance

29th Dec 2016

1000

2

Black Swan, Green Lizard

15th Dec 2016

700

3

Bound in Morocco: Part 1 – ‘Welcome to Marrakech!’

17th Jan 2016

7224

Bound in Morocco: Part 2 – Blue Painted Rocks

17th Jan 2016

 

Bound in Morocco: Part 3 – 50 Jour a Tombouctou

17th Jan 2016

 

Bound in Morocco: Part 4 – Ibrahim

17th Jan 2016

 

Bound in Morocco: Part 5 – Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack

17th Jan 2016

 

4

Don’t Know What to Write?

23rd Feb 2017

800

5

Elf Service

14th Jan 2017

700

6

Fibonacci ‘n’ Chardonnay

11th Dec 2016

700

7

Full Fathom Five

5th Mar 2017

1300

8

Gone Fishing

29th Jan 2017

700

9

Ringing the Changes

1st Mar 2016

1750

10

Saint Teresa of Woking

22nd Aug 2016

1167

11

The Rump of Midas

9th Jan 2017

700

12

Voices from the Ether

11th Dec 2015

1000

13

Zip It!

4th Jan 2017

900

nuns-having-fun-12

TASWG (Tetford and Salmonby Writers’ Group)

1

Are You Being Served?

10th Apr 2016  – TASWG

1414

2

As Jehovah is My Witness – dialogue

8th May 2016  – TASWG

231

3

Biggest Brother – SF plots

12th Jun 2016  – TASWG

459

4

Get in the Habit!

12th Jun 2016  – TASWG

500

5

Legend of the Sprogge – poem

14th Feb 2016 – TASWG

216

6

Love, Let Us! – acrostic poem

14th Feb 2016  – TASWG

62

7

Mortal Gods – cover art description

14th Feb 2016  – TASWG

390

8

My Name is Ian Z McPhee

10th Apr 2016  – TASWG

627

9

Out of the Woods – story with/without clichés

13th Mar 2016  – TASWG

400

10

Stripogram Girls – potential plots

13th Mar 2016  – TASWG

604

11

Summer is Springing Up – descriptive passage

8th May 2016  – TASWG

252

12

Terrace with Tortoises – scene description

13th Mar 2016  – TASWG

321

13

The Roaring Sun – poems

12th Jun 2016  – TASWG

67

14

Walls Have Mouths

10th Apr 2016  – TASWG

782

15

Where Am I? – riddle

8th May 2016  – TASWG

91

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Excerpts

1

Having a Laff (20 short extracts from published posts – humour)

18th Feb 2017

1000

2

Hibars and Lobars (20 short extracts from published posts – SF/fantasy)

30th Dec 2016

850

3

It’s Supranatural! (20 short extracts from published posts – supernatural)

4th Apr 2017 (scheduled)

1000

4

So Many Ways to Die (20 short extracts from published posts – horror)

29th Nov 2016

1000

5

Tiny Yellow Kites (20 short extracts from published posts – general)

4th Sep 2016

800

6

Violets are Violet, Letters are Read (20 short extracts from published posts – general)

6th Oct 2016

1200

dream reader picBlog

1

Onwards and Upwards

24th Aug 2016

500

2

Titillating Titles and Tantalizing Taglines.

27th Aug 2016

300

3

This Post is Dedicated to You, Dear Reader 

3rd Sep 2016

500

Having a Laff (excerpts)

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20 Little Excerpts from the Humorous Side of My Blog

(links open in new window/tab)

It was a dull claustrophobic December day and flakes of grey-white snow were settling on the terrace behind King’s Antiquarian Booksellers. Maggie Swann, matriarch of Swann’s Rare Books, crossed it to enter an annex. Inside, in eerie silence, anonymous leather-bound volumes filled dusty bookcases. –  A Merry Dance (1000 words)

Deeply absorbed in my lunch at Olive’s, I heard my smartphone buzz with a message. ‘Please bring October figures to the Saudi meeting. Vernon.’
Damn! I’d forgotten it’d been rescheduled; I had just ten minutes! I ran outside to a nearby taxi rank, ominously vacant. – A Night on the Clown (200 words)
Vulgarity is the poor man’s religion!” said Sheldrake, battling against the loud chatter and raucous laughter of the Crown and Anchor’s early evening trade.
“Who said that?”
“Oscar Wilde.”
“No he didn’t!”
Sheldrake banged the table. “Well he should’ve done!” – Chivvers’ Foibles (200 words)
After the office I’d address my lascivious thoughts of the women there. I had my little ‘collection’ – hair shirts, a lightweight five-tailed ‘discipline’, and others. Dissatisfied with Hail Mary’s and the like, I’d mop up the blood with an old towel. Perhaps I was a little…odd? – Cilice Sod (200 words)
‘Parker’, that’s what they calls me, on account of I’m a nosy sod, know what I mean. Anyways, I’m a pot-man at the Universe club and the guvnor tells me to ‘keep an eye out for anything untoward’, know what I mean? – Cocksure (200 words)
“Police state, that’s what this bloody place is becoming!” Arthur complained, looking up at the mandible poking incongruously from beneath a peaked cap.
The policeman’s protruding eyes swivelled down at him… – Don’t Mind the Police! (100 words)
“World domination’s never actually been my bag dear boy,” said Charles, striding across his study in a purple dressing gown and paisley cravat. “And there’s my bad back and dicky heart to think of, you know.” – Double Trouble (200 words)
I took a short cut through the adjoining park, passing along a walkway, bounded by burgeoning shrubs, to a fountain, sparkling amongst pink rosebushes. A statue of Pan stood nearby.
I enjoyed the gentle sound of water. Then, something black loomed, I looked up and saw two nuns. Their countenances were grim and masculine. –  Get in the Habit! (500 words)
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation.” A lady in a long red dress stood at our table. “Only, my husband and I have a disagreement.” She gestured to a corner of the crowded restaurant, to a man with coiffured white hair. “And we’d like you to decide who’s right.” – Hopes and Arrows (200 words)

Through Lincs’ fair wolds, did roam at large
the evil Sprogge, oh loathsome beast!
Half plant, half man, half monstrous thing
on teeny tods did feast.

Past Tetford Church the Sprogge did lurch,
its eyes did mulder and burn.
It munched upon a teeny tod
then tavern-wards did journ.

Legend of the Sprogge (poem)
Hating the idea, I am nevertheless obliged to cooperate with Mellors’ latest ‘prank’, another outrageous practical joke for his YouTube channel.
I hide behind a tree with my video camera focused on him. He sits, smirking, on a camping stool at the side of a path. In front of him lies Frank, especially selected on account of his prosthetic leg. – Legless in the Park (200 words)
‘Pulpit John’ was the title of a colourful biography, published by St. Patrick’s Church, about Father John McCormick. Garlic on his breath now wafted through the confessional screen there.
“Bless me Father…” – Mysterious Ways (200 words)
“Wigan’s the place for podiums!” said Sue, waving her baton at an imaginary orchestra.
“What about Amazon?” her sister Shirley replied.
“I want to go to the podium shop!” The baton flew across the room hitting the cat, Dr. Evil, on the head. – Peer’s of Wigan (200 words)
The audience hushed and the curtain opened. A woman sat at a table drinking Blossom Hill chardonnay and reading a letter. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed, standing up and bursting into tears.
A door opened and a teenage girl dressed in torn jeans entered. “Mum, I need twenty quid!” – Play with Emotions (200 words)
Goddamit! The president recalled the previous evening when he and the First Lady had hunkered after a chicken curry. An aide had been sent out for a native Indian dish, returning with something aromatic and fiery. Very fiery.
“OK, …I need the rest room…” – Rest Room (200 words)
In the bar were about a dozen people seated on wooden benches at old oak tables – the furniture looked like it had been there since the pub was built. At the back of the room a small fire burned in a large fireplace, surrounded by bottles, horse brasses, unrecognizable farm implements and other dust-covered relics of the rural past. – The Black Swan (590 words)
From a speck of jelly-like substance, the organism had doubled its size every hour. Now just twelve hours later, it was pushing up the laboratory ceiling, a huge white blob of viscous cellular material. – The Blob from Outer Space (200 words)
Holmes took out a magnifying glass and looked carefully at the marks.
“One and five eights between the studs Watson. Don’t you see – the Bridlington quartz mine!”
“Good Lord Holmes! But…?” – The Final Mystery (100 words)
She looked at herself in the mirror. Long brown hair, good skin. Not much wrong there. Maybe it was her breath? She cupped her hand over her mouth and nose, inhaling the odour of garlic – but who didn’t like garlic?! – The Neighbour (200 words)

She thought of her little village, Saltby St. Mary’s, recalling balmy summer evenings at the cricket pitch, sipping champagne by the walls of the ancient church, only the occasional ‘thwack’ of willow on leather breaking the peaceful silence. – The Saltby St. Mary’s Murders (200 words)



Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 100! 
 –

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

Clarissa’s Missives

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(600 words)
There’s a letter from Clarissa in the mail. The violet envelope stands out from its intimidating white neighbours. My heart beats a little faster. I deposit the others at the back of a drawer. I’ll open them later. Maybe. I sit at my desk and open hers.
‘Dear Stan.’ That seems to be her ‘pet name’ for me, as my name’s actually John. We’d only met once, briefly, colliding into each other in Tesco’s. I hadn’t bothered with a basket, clutching my shopping betwixt hand and chin when she, glued to her mobile, had rammed me with her trolley, sending noodles, bananas, butter, frozen fish and a jar of peanut butter flying. She’d helped me retrieve them although the peanut butter had met a sticky end.
I continued to read. ‘Thank you for your e-mail, Helena printed it for me again.’ Helena being her sister. Clarissa is by all accounts computer illiterate. She’d talked in a previous letter about ‘downloading’ my e-mail address and being unable to understand Google.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry!” She’d looked so concerned it was hard to be cross. I’d noticed blond hair, tangled and somehow pinned back, big eyes that blinked furiously, deep green like an ocean swell, a smudge of lipstick on a neat white tooth…
She’d overseen the retrieval and replacement of my shopping and I’d also noticed she seemed quite attractive.
“Do you shop here often?” I’d asked, feeling somewhat foolish at the cliche.
“Oh, no, I’ve just moved here, this is the first time.”
I saw her trolley contained several bottles of wine. “Are you having a party?” I’d asked.
She’d blushed. “Oh, not really…”
I hadn’t pressed her.
“Look here’s my card.” She’d given me a neat purple business card. It said ‘Clarissa White – musician, composer and music coach’.
“Oh, that’s interesting, I’m a guitar teacher!”
“Wow! Look, I’ve got to dash but let’s keep in touch.” She’d smiled and the green ocean swelled once more.
So that’s how it had begun. I’d e-mail her and each time a violet envelope would arrive a couple of days later. Ornate purple script flowed, telling me she was recently divorced and staying with her sister locally…
I read Clarissa’s latest news. She’s got a new student, a girl of thirteen who’s tone deaf. The girl can’t tell if a note is higher or lower than the one next to it. Clarissa’s beautiful cursive script belies its mundanity. Her cat has been sick on a kitchen surface.
Although I enjoy her letters, it’s getting frustrating. In two of my messages I’d suggested meeting for coffee – with no response. I often gaze at the picture on her card, presumably taken a good few years earlier, where a glamorous woman leans over a keyboard, face concentrated and fingers splayed as if wrestling with Rachmaninov.
I read on, then Eureka! I stand and punch the air, hitting a low flying lampshade which makes my knuckles smart. No matter! I read ‘Helena is away this Friday night, doing the Lyke Wake Walk. Why don’t you come round and help me finish that wine off, say eight o’clock?’
I notice my breath is short and my hands shaking. Calm down, she probably just wants to chat…

I don’t know what possesses people to tramp 42 miles across the North Yorkshire Moors in the middle of the night but I’m thankful Helena is one of them. Below the flowing signature, Clarissa has added, ‘P.S. bring your guitar. We can make sweet music together!’ Then she’s drawn a little smiley face. Whatever her intentions, I can’t wait!



Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 100! 
 –

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

The Rump of Midas

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(700 words)
Christmas was coming and the only thing I had to look forward to was saying goodbye to the house I’d lived and loved in for twenty years, and moving in with my old mother, an irascible lady of ‘erratic’ tendencies and appearance.
As the removal lorry drove off, I went into my old teaching studio and gazed round at the empty walls, so recently filled with sketches and paintings. Twenty years. That’s how long it’d taken me to build up my art teaching business, working in schools and colleges part-time and teaching late into the night in my studio. Then two years ago, Lorraine, my wife, my ‘other half’ supposedly, had left me for her gym trainer, ten years younger than her. Without her additional income I’d struggled against mounting debts and finally, unable to afford the place any longer, thrown in the towel.
I reminisced over some of the talented students I’d taught as I collected some cases of things I didn’t trust to the removal men. I took them out to my little Volkswagen Passat, and closed and locked the studio door for the last time. With a sick feeling in my stomach, I posted the keys through the letterbox. The estate agents would take over now.
I heard a ‘miaow’ and saw Midas, a semi-feral cat who had hung around for the last couple of years. He would venture into the kitchen on occasion to feed from a bowl of scraps I’d sometimes put down for him. ‘Goodbye Midas, I’ll miss you,” I said, surprised to find that I meant it. Unexpectedly, he followed me to the car. I opened a rear door. He took a long, lingering sniff at the sill, then suddenly jumped onto the back seat and curled up. Hmm!
Mother hated animals. “Pets are parasites,” she’d say, and, “vets just want to rip you off.” She’d say she felt sorry for people with pets. “They’ve no-one to love or who loves them, so they have to resort to animals.” There wasn’t much point in arguing. She was always right.
Once ensconced at mother’s, I’d found Midas to be good company, he’d even progressed to sleeping on my bed, much to mother’s annoyance. “He’ll ruin all the bedspreads with cat hair!”
One day some Jehovah’s Witnesses came calling. Mother had no time for religion (or anything spiritual for that matter) and gave them short shrift. I was watching from my bedroom window when suddenly Midas sauntered round the corner towards them and sat grooming himself. “Good heavens, do you see those markings?” said one.
“I do indeed, praise be!” The other man fished out a smartphone and took some photos of Midas, who continued grooming, unconcerned. “You don’t mind?” he asked mother, still standing in the doorway.
“Be my guest,” she snorted. “Wretched animal!”
The following day a large black car rolled up and an equally black minister of some obscure church got out. He wore gold rings on his fat fingers and was attended by a lackey carrying a casket. Mother scurried out.
“Good day madam,” said the minister.
“Good day sir,” Mother replied obsequiously. “Can I help you?”
“Well, I was wondering if you would accept an offer for your cat…”
Mother almost collapsed with shock. “What??” She regained composure. “Did I hear you correctly sir?”
“Well madam, your cat’s markings form an almost perfect image of our Lord and Saviour on his, er, rump!”
“Wha-?.. Y-yes, that’s right!”
“And our congregation is very, I say, extremely keen madam, to welcome him to our church.” Almost as an afterthought he added, “and we do have a bit of a problem with mice.”
“Good work, Carol, that holly and mistletoe drawing’s coming along nicely,” I said.
She closed her sketchpad, smiled sweetly, and brushed her long blonde hair back with one hand. I opened the door of my new studio, paid for by the good minister. At the door she hesitated, “I, um, don’t suppose you’d like to come and see some of my work, it’s not much, just some old oils and drawings I did at art school.”
“That’d be lovely, I’d really like that,” I said. Praise the Lord!

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 100! 

 –

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