An Unforeseen Wrinkle – Peter Lingard
3000 words Crime / General Fiction
A desperate man kidnaps his son to extract ransom from the boy’s mother, the wife of a mob boss.
Kidnapping David Paulino was easy. A theatrical store helped me select and purchase a wig, false nose, beard and make-up for what I told them was my upcoming role as General Custer. To add conviction, I hired the appropriate uniform and accessories. At a different shop, I purchased a pair of very dark, wraparound sunglasses. I watched David wave goodbye to a London bound 747 that carried his girlfriend, Gillian. The nineteen-year-old then spent every night getting drunk at the bars and clubs in the centre of town. I put on my disguise, donned a pair of gloves, hired a panel van from ‘Rent-A-Wreck’ and followed him for several nights.
Anger Management – Peter Lingard
2300 words Crime
After his daughter is raped and murdered, a man goes to pieces.
Sylvia Thompson had had to wait longer than expected at the doctor’s surgery. When she arrived home, she found her daughter absent and surmised the twelve-year-old had gone to see a friend after school. When her husband, Eric returned from work, he asked after the girl. “I don’t know where she is. Her schoolbag’s here, so she must’ve been home. I called her friend Dorothy, but she says she left Jen at the end of the street. I also rang a couple of other friends but they don’t know where she is either. Knowing Jen, she won’t want to miss her dinner.”
Behind the Nets – Peter Pitt
2300 words Women’s Fiction / Crime
In the 1930’s, most suburban homes had net curtains at their windows. But would they be enough to shield, Sybil, from her husband’s indiscretions?
Sybil, a woman in her early fifties, paced back and forth in the front room of her house. She went to the bay window and lifted back the lace curtain, looked out for a second, then let it drop back. From a box on the sideboard she took a cigarette and lit it, then moved to the radio and turned it on. After a few moments for warming up, an announcer’s voice said; ‘This is the BBC regional programme, there now follows a talk by the….’ Sybil quickly turned the dial until she found some dance music. ‘Ah, Radio Luxembourg, that’s better, isn’t it Freddie?’
Brain Storm – Roger Noons
3000 words General Fiction / Crime
An episode in the life of a petty criminal with its ups and downs.
Derry Brain or Mindless, as he was known among the regulars at The Green Dragon; sat on his usual bar stool. He was scanning the results of the previous evening’s football matches, the remnants of a pint of Old Peculiar within easy reach of his right hand. He looked up. “Hello love,” he said to Sally, the landlord’s daughter, as she passed through the saloon bar. “Alright?” But she was gone. He thought about going out the back for a smoke until he saw the raindrops on the window panes. “I might as well give up,” he said out loud, although there was no-one within hearing distance.
Cash Cow – Deborah Sheldon
4000 word Crime Fiction
CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE
A banker must negotiate dangerous dealings with her ex-boyfriend and the various criminals who are after him.
Sarah Ramsey glanced at the wall of perspex that separated her office from the rest of the bank, and saw Mitchell. Unbelievable, the balls on this bastard. Sarah leapt up, opening her door. “I told you to leave me alone,” she said. She’d kept her voice down, but even so, some of her tellers were looking over, concerned. Taking a breath, pressing a hand against the small of Mitchell’s back, Sarah whispered, “Let’s talk somewhere else.” He shrugged and sauntered outside with her. They weaved through the traffic snarl to the coffee shop across the road, took a table inside and placed their order.
Colin’s Chance – Peter Pitt
Colin was happy at becoming a journalist on a new film magazine. But on his first assignment, which concerned delving into the past, he seemed to upset people living at the present time.
I turned off Shaftesbury Avenue into Wardour Street and quickened my pace. I didn’t want to be late in handing in my reviews. Since leaving college I had been trying to get work in the media – something in TV, films or journalism, and, had managed to get myself a slight foothold into journalism. Each week I reviewed a number of films for ‘Screentime,’ a new film magazine. I was only paid a small fee for each review which was certainly not enough to live on, but it was something. On reaching the magazine’s office, I handed my notes to Jenny, the editor’s secretary.
Cooked Under Pressure – Peter Lingard
2100 words Crime
A woman tires of waiting for the man she loves to make a move in her direction.
“Why are we doing this, Alfred?” asked Rosemary Wilson. “I always thought mistresses had all the fun in life but our affair hardly brings us joy, laughter or unbridled sex. It’s more boring than the thirty-five-year old love of an average husband and wife!” “You know why, Rose,” he said. “I realize the restaurant’s a pain. Without a major overhaul I can’t bring in the right chef, and without the right chef I can’t attract enough punters. The whole thing gets me down.”
Desert Rose – Tom Rhoyd
2700 words Crime
A pensioner’s dull life in suburbia flares with excitement when he is witness to a political assassination. He survives a long afternoon in the company of a young Syrian woman… and arrives home with an impossible tale to tell…
Mr Smith sat by himself in the barber shop as the barber and his assistant tended to a hirsute gentleman reclining in a large leather chair. Mr Smith may not have had the biggest mane of hair around, but it still required expert trimming. In vain he had tried to explain to unisex salons that though his hair grew in tufts around the sides of his head, he did not need a Friar Tucker fringe. Which is why Mr Smith was prepared to drive all the way across Johannesburg to this barber shop in Melville. It was run by a fellow from Arabia who certainly clicked his scissors with great verve and dexterity. Not only did Mr Smith like the shop, it was an escape from the weekly visit to the garden club with Mrs. Smith.
Eyes of a Woman – Tom Rhoyd
2000 words Crime Fiction
A private eye is employed to supervise security at a high-profile gala night for the unveiling of a world renowned painting. He is seduced away from his duties by a redheaded temptress, or was he? Then the canvas is hijacked. And now he’s facing an inquiry into the events of the night…
A soft drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I stood in the shadows a few bar stools away from an experienced but still attractive red-head, staring through the semi-darkness past the patrons into the large hall beyond the bar where the guests were beginning to knot in numbers approaching dozens. The red-head may or may not have been waiting for me to say something. I didn’t. I was reflecting on my new-found duties–to assist with security at some high-class function. A floor manager in disguise, the anonymous guest to circulate and keep an eye on the other guests.
Fence Sitting – Peter Lingard
2500 words Crime / Romance
To her parents’ consternation, Diana’s new boyfriend is more outrageous than his forerunners.
“As you’ve kindly allowed me to ask Toby for dinner again, Momsie, I suppose I owe it to you to tell you what he really does for a living.” “What do you mean, ‘really’?” “Yes,” said Dianna’s father as he lowered the newspaper from his face. “You led us to believe he was a dealer in fine arts and high-end jewellery.” “He is, in a way. Toby’s a professional intruder,” she said. “What on earth is an intruder?” asked Momsie. “He’s a thief, Jean, a burglar,” said Pops. “And you’ve got a bloody cheek bringing him to our home,” he said to his daughter. “Does he have a record?”
Fordsburg Apology – Tom Rhoyd
4300 words Crime Fiction
It’s Friday night in a seamy side of Jozi. Two Muslim families are at each other’s throats. A son has been kidnapped. A black PI is in hot pursuit of a fat reward for his return. Then he finds himself in the role of a mediator…
On a Friday evening I was squeezing the scrawny neck of a small-time crook. I had him over the snooker table bent all the way back and his legs thrashing the air. If that doesn’t sound like much fun, it wasn’t. Not for the man whose throat I was squeezing. As for me, I was just plain short of patience—it was way past the hour when any hard working man should be locking the office door behind him and looking for some weekend leisure time. That some things go with the territory didn’t improve my mood.
Her Father’s Hat – Linda Lewis
2600 words Crime
After Valerie’s mother dies, her father remarries. It isn’t long before he admits he’s made a big mistake. Shortly afterwards, his new wife tells Valerie that he’s gone away and doesn’t know where. Valerie suspects foul play, but is she right, and if she is, will she be able to prove anything?
“Is everything OK, Dad?” Valerie asked,” Only you don’t seem your usual self.” She stopped the car at the end of the road and reached over to put her hand on his arm. His laugh was thin and hollow like his cheeks. “I’ve been a sad silly old fool, Valerie. You were right. Angela only married me for my house and my savings.” As he turned to look at her, Valerie saw tears in his eyes. “I’m 73 and she’s 42. I was daft to think she really loved me.”
In the Kitchen With a Knife – Susan Wright
85,000 words Cosy Crime Novel
When Caroline decides to rent a cottage in West Sussex, she focuses on the fact that it is cheap to rent and disregards its history.
She needs a bolt-hole, so that she can escape from her abusive husband and get on with her writing in peace, and Riverbank Cottage seems ideal – until she moves in.
Her neighbours take up too much of her time, and are keen to talk about the events that happened in the cottage in the past.
Two people were murdered there. In the kitchen with a knife. The killer was never caught, and before long, Caroline is neglecting her writing so that she can try to get to the bottom of the mystery, putting her own life at risk.
She has a feeling that the killer is still around, but it can’t be the good looking man she saw in the pub, can it? Or is Toby not what he seems?
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In the Mangroves – Dorothy B. Williams
2500 words Teen / Crime
Two teenagers off to a seaside weekender, alarmed by noises in the night, unwittingly deepen the consequences of a crime.
Thanks to a flat tyre it was late at night when we got to our fishing shack by the bay. Moonlight made a path across the still water, and silvered the leaves of the mangroves. It gleamed on our tin roof, but below the trees round our house, the shadows were completely black. The only sound was the distant spooky hoot of a Powerful Owl. Even the frogs were silent. We stood for a while, watching the clouds glide slowly over the face of the moon. Then, as we took our bikes round the back to the shed, the silence was broken by the sound of a shot. We both jumped, then Colin shrugged.
In the Name of the Law – Violet Apted
1625 words Mystery / Crime
Helen Long finds herself number one suspect in a murder case and in the hands of a sadistic police sergeant, who seems determined to prove her guilty by fair means or foul! Her fear and confusion intensifies when she is ‘reluctantly’ released and realises suspicion is now falling onto her sister Rose.
Helen and Rose know the killer and fear for their lives, Rose’s drug addiction makes it seem a hopeless task unless they find someone they can trust to prove their innocence.
Sarah Long shivered, as she tried to grasp what was happening to her. She had been kept waiting in the interview room at the police station, for what seemed like hours. Now this detective was firing questions at her and accusing her of what? What did they think she was guilty of? Close to tears she tried to answer the questions, but did not understand why this man was using such bullying tactics and not even listening to her replies. Sarah could see he was shaking in anger and as he drew closer to her she jumped back away from him terrified.
Jackpot – Peter Lingard
2270 words Crime
Celia Bradshaw has, at different times, dated two men who are friends. One loving and gentle, the other insecure. When the three jointly win $17m, their lives change.
“We’re Rich!” Jonathon shouted as he raised his glass. Everyone in the bar turned to look at the trio. “And now we need to leave,” said Celia, with a laugh. Exiting the bar precipitated the end of their celebratory party. “See you tomorrow, er, later today,” Jonathon said as he weaved his way to the taxi rank. “Think about my idea to start an auto parts company,” Phil shouted as Jonathon ducked into a yellow cab. “No way, Jose. I’m gonna have fun and travel. See ya later.” “Your place?” Phil asked. Celia smiled and nodded.
Just Desserts – Deven Greene
5300 words Crime Story
Five unlikeable women, friends since childhood, meet for lunch in a restaurant as they have done regularly for the past 30 years. After some time passes, they become ill.
“More iced tea, Mrs. Rogers?” “Of course. You can see my glass is almost empty.” The Group of Five Bitches, or just “The Five,” as the staff referred to them, had been lunching at the Beaufort Inn two Wednesdays a month for the past thirty years. Always in the private room with a view of the garden. The Beaufort Inn was hardly a top-notch restaurant, but was one of the few local establishments to use white table cloths and napkins. It was by far the best restaurant in Park Creek, a town of 120,000 located 300 miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Last Touch – Michelle Heatley
1900 words Crime / Horror / General fiction
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but when a woman undertakes a journey of revenge it is a dish served as cold as the grave.
Hold my hand. Skin touches skin. Your neatly polished manicured nails humiliate and shame my chipped pink varnish like broken gravestones. Nerves got the better of me. I use your hand, fingers and palm, to explore and caress every part of me. I haven’t examined it as closely before – perhaps if I had it might be different between us. ‘Shush my darling not a word.’ See the bird watchers dripping with oversized cameras and dressed in khaki and grey plumage. Drop hands. Pretend we are not holding each other.
Life’s A Beach – Peter Lingard
2200 words Crime Fiction
A teenage girl, fed up of her father’s brutal ways lives most of her life at the beach where she finds friendship and a way to make a living.
Home life wasn’t a barrel of laughs. My old man spent most of his free time and all his pay in the pubs. Some nights the brutal bastard came home without having enjoyed a fight and he nominated my mother or me to become his punching bag. There were times when he needed to rape one of us to complete his night. If my mother wanted money for food, clothing or to pay bills, she was told to get it somewhere else. She got it by inviting men to come for hour-long visits a few times every week. I think my mother lacked the gumption to leave. She stayed and looked after me and I did my best to look after her. We endured, but I dreamed of a life without the brutal bastard.
Margaret – Martin Gosling
1900 words Crime Story
An embittered former Army officer sets out to kill his cousin who, he believes, was responsible for the failure of his pursuit of the woman he had loved.
Charcoal clouds that had loomed all afternoon now broke near the horizon and steamed crimson across the setting sun. The tall man patted the pocket of his tweed jacket into which he had earlier placed four shotgun cartridges. Away to his left, beyond the oak-studded park, the Grange seemed to blaze as each window reflected the orange disk of the sun. In the tower above the stable, a clock struck seven, the cracked bell giving its familiar dull, anvil ring.
Missing Without Trace – Jan Baynham
2400 words Crime Story
Homeward bound, Lizzie and Mark’s car is nearly driven off the road by an erratic driver. Lizzie is adamant she’s travelled in the Classic blue and white Ford car before when it was brand new. But how can that be? That time was thirty years before she was even born.
Mistaken Identity – Annette Siketa
2000 words Crime
A serial rapist is killed by his wife. Two detectives discuss whether it was murder, accident, or premeditated.
Detective Inspector Mark Bradshaw poured a generous amount of whiskey into two glasses and handed one to his visitor. “Thanks for coming over at such short notice Ben,” he said sitting down. “It’s good to see you again.” He sipped his drink, then lighting a well-worn pipe, began puffing with vigour.
Mistaken Identity – Theresa Van Meter
2300 words Crime Story
Imagine someone with your name and a similar face commits a crime. You end up getting fired, and your photo is sprawled in the newspaper. That is what happens to Jane. The only one that believes her is, Roger. He’s a cop and she helps him locate the actual thief.
“Jane, Mr. Adams, wants to see you in his office. Maybe you’re getting a big pay raise.” She smiled. He must be going to congratulate me on garnering the Yinger account. She felt like she could float in there. The room smelled like burnt coffee and cherry pipe tobacco. She walked toward a leather chair. “Don’t sit down. You’re fired,” he said and flicked his fingers as if to shoo away some flying insect. She walked out of the head manager’s office in a daze with her head down. She held onto the wall for a moment, then wobbled to her cubicle, and plopped into her chair.
Neglect of Duty – Martin Gosling
2200 words Crime / General Fiction
North London in the 1960s. A mounted policeman, ‘Lofty’ Beamish, heads home to his stable at the end of a routine patrol. As dusk and rain set in, he interrogates an odd looking man who is behaving suspiciously. The box he carries contains items that will later point to his involvement in a gruesome crime. But Beamish has let him go…
Events reach a violent climax in the police stables some hours later when Beamish is alone with the horses and a rain-drenched figure appears at the door.
A curious incident occurred in North London in the early 1960s. The outcome of the matter depended entirely on a seemingly innocuous decision made under conditions of mild duress. A mounted policeman was nearing the end of his patrol one late November afternoon. A heavy, grey sky sagged towards the dismal streets. It was almost dusk and both he and his horse were anticipating, with some relish, returning to the stables where their tea awaited them. Knowing the area well, as one would expect, P.C. Beamish – walked his horse, Duchess, through a network of side streets and alleys that ran between Chapel Market and the Caledonian Road.
Out of the Frying Pan – Peter Lingard
3000 word Crime Story
A woman escapes her miserable existence with the help of an old friend.
“Caryn Somerfield, as I live and breathe.” She seemed startled but once she recognised me, her face lost its apprehensive look “Wilbur Goodman! Oh Wilbur, it’s so good to see you.” She stood so we could embrace and asked, “How on earth are you?” “I’m well, Caryn. How about you?” “I’m good. Here, sit down.” She patted the seat beside her. I ordered drinks and told her how lovely she looked and how I was in town on business. She said I looked handsome and asked what I did and I told her about my parents’ untimely death and my assuming control of my father’s company. “What about you?” I asked. “What are you doing here? Meeting someone?”