‘E’ Wing – Martin Gosling
2600 words Horror / General / Fantasy
Brogan is beginning a six year sentence for the manslaughter of a prison officer. He is unrepentant and is temporarily lodged in the derelict former execution wing of the prison where he is held. A battle of wills and wits ensues. He suspects that he is being subjected to an elaborate treatment programme designed to shock him into remorse and rehabilitation. But all is not as it seems.
‘Killing Senior Officer Stewart was murder, plain and simple. And we both know, Brogan, that you should have been given Life.’ Brogan glared his defiance at the Governor and sensed the unease of the younger of the two prison officers who had brought him from his cell. He almost spat his reply. ‘The point is that they chose to call it Manslaughter and six years is what I got.’
7 Days of Work – Sara Halas
670 words Literary
Like so many, Francesca finds herself suppressed by her day job with no time to follow her passion for writing. Will she give in to the pressures of modern life and give up on her dreams, or find a way out before it’s too late?
On her first day of work, Francesca signed a contract to avoid being herself, because she wasn’t paid to be. The only way to do this was to forget that the hours she spent working were precious, and kick herself when this involuntary amnesia grew weary.
A Bedtime Story – Jeff Fleischer
1500 words General Fiction
Every night, a young woman falls asleep to the same familiar voice on the radio, up until the day the deejay retires.
Some people fall asleep to their television, to the sounds of nature, or to dead silence at the end of a hectic day. Miranda Garvey always fell asleep to the radio. The music itself actually delayed her full sleep, but the disc jockey’s talking between the songs served as a gentle sedative. The evening deejay on WRZP, Vic Fiorini, had a voice equal parts smooth and dryly monotonous. For more than two decades on the Indianapolis airwaves, he’d perfected that overnight jockey’s skill of developing a vocal style unobtrusive enough to blend into the background but still animated enough to draw in interested listeners.
A Bird in the Hand – Rebecca Mansell
2000 words Humour
Cyril has an obsession with birds; the feathered kind you understand. The problem is that he neglects his wife and though he has created a seed mixture that his birds absolutely adore, will his wife want to remain with a man who prefers twitching to kissing?
Cyril taught History at the local community school but he knew far more about birds. The feathered kind, you understand. It couldn’t possibly be the other. If you saw Cyril, you’d understand why. He was an unassuming, humble man. You could pass him in the street and not really notice him as he seemed to blend in with the scenery. Nothing at all remarkable to look at; grey hair, grey eyes and even a grey complexion, sallow and lacking in any healthy colour. Very slim and tall; he wore suits all the time and rarely smiled. He also scratched his head quite a lot. His pupils were constantly sniggering that he had dandruff or nits, but they didn’t realise that it was actually a nervous complaint he’d had since his youthful days.
A Brother’s Love – J. J. Steinfeld
3650 words Literary Fiction
A man is haunted by the 35-year institutionalization of his older brother.
In the hodgepodge that passes for my life, there has been one constant: my love for my older brother, Barton. Through my marriage and divorce, through the death of my father and my mother’s hasty remarriage, through my numerous “career” changes, through the dissatisfaction and restlessness and loneliness that paint my life, there has been Barton. There’s no doubt in my boozed-up mind that I would have let go a long time ago, and not minded my drowning one bit, if it wasn’t for Barton. I stay in this city, live alone in a small apartment, because I couldn’t bear to be far from my brother.
A Change of Heart – Paul Peppers
1000 words Western
Being bad’s easy when no one seems to care about you. But when someone shows you a little kindness and reminds you of your own momma, then pulling the trigger isn’t quite so easy. However, when you’re part of a gang and they’re all relying on you – then what are you gonna do?
There were only a few people in the bank which Frank decided was a good thing. He hated the thought of innocent bystanders being hurt or killed and he’d learned from experience that Russell didn’t care. Russell was a mean S.O.B. and would as soon shoot a man as look at him. Whenever Russell pulled that gun of his it was inevitable – someone died. Not for the first time, Frank wished he’d never hooked up with the crew he now rode with.
A Coffee and A Rose – Peter Youell
I was once given the task of writing a story around the phrase. “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.” In thirty minutes, I managed to write it in my almost undecipherable long hand in the allotted time. Over the years, and having had many a lonely coffee in small cafés, on rainy nights in Britain long ago, this story evolved. Of a father and daughter who lost one another, only to find one another unknowingly, and too late.
He stared out of the window. He saw the colours of the rainbow, as the light from the street lamp shone through the raindrops running down the windowpane. He looked down, and surveyed the cold dregs of his empty coffee cup. It was warm inside the café and he was reluctant to leave. The young woman at the counter paused in her wiping, and looked over at the solitary figure by the window table. Would he never leave, she wondered. She could see he had long finished his coffee, and she really would like to close up and go home. He looked very lonely. An unexplained sadness came over her.
A Company of Boys – Peter Lingard
1500 words Feel Good / General Fiction
A young school cadet goes to a fairground looking for the kind of girl about whom he has heard other cadets talk. Camellia doesn’t exactly fit the description but she does provide him with a sought after opportunity.
I was the youngest of the school cadet force at the summer camp and socially unacceptable to my peers, so, on Saturday, I took a bus alone into town, intending, like the others, to meet one of the anticipated hordes of vacationing mill girls. As I strode into the pulsating fairground, Frankie Vaughan sang of secrets ‘Behind the Green Door’. Rides went round and round, up and down and in and out, allowing girls to scream out for attention, pretending excitement and manufacturing fear. Assorted music blared from a multitude of speakers.
A Curious and Confounding Thing – Rebecca Marsh
2000 words Literary / General Fiction
Only child, teenaged Meg has always been fascinated by their neighbour, Julia Everett. The Everetts had been something of a bone of contention between her parents and a source of ongoing gossip among the neighbours, but canny Julia had kept them all at bay. In the throes of first love, Meg wonders whether the Everetts could ever have been in love and learns a surprising truth about adults, love and marriage.
‘She’s as nutty as a fruit cake,’ my father said, when Julia was arrested for stabbing her husband. ‘Oh, Jim, don’t!’ my mother pleaded. ‘She’s eccentric I’ll grant you, but she doesn’t mean any harm’. ‘Doesn’t mean any harm, Nancy! She’s as mad as a hatter. For all we know, that poor old bugger’s lying there fighting for his life and you think she doesn’t mean any harm!’ my father said, his face crimson. I listened to their arguing in a detached way, not sure which of the two had the better of it. At sixteen, I was not mature enough to have formulated a valid opinion of my own but I knew one thing; Julia Everett had always fascinated me.
A Cushy Number – Terence Brand
2000 words General Fiction
Tells how Senior Aircraftsman John Newton, an engine mechanic by trade, came to be working in RAF Changi’s Technical Wing Disciplinary Office and how he schemed to make his unofficial position permanent.
This story is included in the collection On the Changi Beat – 1961-1962
I flew into RAF Changi, Singapore on a moonlit April evening in 1961. After twenty-one hours cooped up with a score of squabbling RAF families, I desperately needed fresh air. Stepping eagerly onto the aircraft’s gangway, I took a deep breath – and choked. You can cut Singapore’s atmosphere with a knife. Even at nine in the evening humidity tops ninety percent. Having spent a restless night sharing a hut with a tribe of lively cockroaches, I reported to the Station Warrant Officer’s headquarters to collect my blue ticket. Still itching with revulsion, I bent the admin sergeant’s ear. “That vermin infested transit billet should be condemned, Sarge. It’s bloody disgusting.”
A Dangerous Crossing – Anita Louise Jay
1160 word General Fiction
Where is Amila going on this misty, cold evening with a full basket and a heavy load on her back? Why is the crossing so dangerous?
A freezing wind howls across the track on the steep hillside. Amila slips frequently in the mud as she climbs. She stops, drops the basket she carries to the ground to pull her anorak hood further forward over her headscarf. She then shifts the weight of the bundle on her back until it sits in a relatively more comfortable position. She claps her gloved hands together to warm them before picking up the basket once more. Looking up, she notices that the mountain top which yesterday had been iced with snow, is hidden by the low grey clouds and the misty curtain of drizzle.
A Dark / Sunny Day – Peter Pitt
2200 words General / Historical Fiction
Usually, if you want to vote, you go to a polling station set up in a school or church hall, but in 1938, Stefan journeyed to Tilbury and boarded a German Cruise Ship, to be able to cast his vote outside British Territorial Waters. Janet, his young wife, is worried when he doesn’t return home on time.
‘Surely this trip is a waste of time?’ Janet said as she placed a plate of bacon and egg on the kitchen table. ‘Hitler marched into Austria a month ago, didn’t he?’ ‘I know,’ Stefan said excitedly, ‘That doesn’t mean all Austrians want the Germans there.’ Stefan spoke English with only a slight accent, but when annoyed or excited, as now, his accent become more pronounced. ‘I have been lucky to be given the chance to vote, many other subjects over here haven’t had that chance as there’s only so many the ship can carry.
A Dog’s Death – Dan Delehant
680 words General Fiction
There are those rare times in life when by choice or chance we come across exceptional individuals. One mundane late afternoon on the way home from work Mr. Delehant experienced one of those rare encounters. “People like this, like him, redeem my faith in the goodness of humanity. But I must add that in all my years I have been exposed to much more cruelty than kindness. Still, one can hope.” (Dan Delehant)
I was driving home from work early one evening. It was already dark, since it was December. The traffic was heavy but moving fast on a familiar avenue. I was in the right lane doing about forty or forty-five. The car in the left lane beside me suddenly veered towards me so that its right fender nearly clipped my driver door.
A Dollop of Mother – Chloe Banks
2000 words General Fiction
Melanie’s attempts to charm her village neighbours by entering the Victoria Sponge Cake competition have only succeeded in proving she is not the culinary queen her mother was. This year, she’s determined to do better. Can she avoid scorn? Will her sponge be light enough? And will she ever learn to be like her mother?
I never wanted to be like my mother. Not until I realised I didn’t know how to be. The gene for perfectly-coiffed hair and superb scrap-booking abilities must skip generations, for I am as clumsy and inelegant as my mother was graceful and regal. Heaven knows, the woman tried to instil some Women’s Institute values into me, but it was no use. I was – and have remained – hopelessly inadequate. And now I’ve gone and done something stupid, and Mum will be turning in her grave. I’ve entered a Victoria Sponge Cake in the Village Show. Again.
A Fellow Named Garbage – Clayton Elliott
8000 words Literary Fiction
In the world of the itinerant of New York City, anonymity is a way of life, and practically guaranteed. Until your past catches up to remind you of who you were, and the costs you left unpaid. In 1963 the world Garbage left behind, in shame and cowardice, comes rushing back, and entangles his new family in debts of blood and life.
1963 – In the alleys of New York City the desperate and the disparaged make their homes. Some are there of their own volition, but most are not. Some think that life on the street is better than living under the watchful and intrusive eye of Big Brother, but most are too destitute to do anything otherwise. In the time of this story there is a band of the homeless that rules the alleys. They have, in their time, become too influential to be bothered with the likes of the police (who believe it is better that they occupy those paths, rather than something much worse), or ‘the bosses’ (whose men have suffered so many beatings at their hands that they find it easier to peddle their disservices elsewhere).
A Forgotten Key – Gerard Taylor Wallace
5490 words General Fiction
A young child’s heart; a punk looking squirrel; an old rusted key; lead a broken family to a journey that promises more. Little Pete takes them to the quiet sea of the hidden heart.
This story is included in the collection This Land is My Land
Surely there are promises and joys that wait unknown to us in days and years, and even the moments ahead. With this assurance of something more, the knowing of a need or hope soon to be realized, it is just and natural that more often than not, our eyes and hearts are cast there: in these tomorrows we’ve yet to know. How boldly and beautifully this is portrayed in the color and want of children’s dreams, how safely their eyes are turned to the morrow. Still, amidst this simple truth, it is at times not only necessary, but also wise that we turn and find what was lost, in the moments and years now hidden.
A Girl Named Rebecca – Debora St Fleurose
2000 words Teen Fiction / Women’s Fiction
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they feel discouraged. Even when they succeed, the euphoria only lasts for so long. They’re smiling, but it could be because the smiling is to hide their unhappiness. You never know a person’s situation unless you’re faced with it yourself. Rebecca Parker’s been faced with several challenges due to her being different. This story shows that anyone, no matter race, structure, religion, or gender, can become who they want to be if they follow their heart and cast their doubts into the dark.
Rebecca Josephine Parker was a daydreamer. Whenever her mind had the chance to wander, it always did, whether she was in the middle of class or on a roller coaster in Six Flags or chatting up her best guy friend, Blake. Blake sat in front of her in theatre, aloof and laid back as usual. He was not the least bit dramatic in reality, but when Blake was on stage it took your breath away. Rebecca loved him. She knew it in her heart.
Rebecca Josephine Parker was a daydreamer. Whenever her mind had the chance to wander, it always did, whether she was in the middle of class or on a roller coaster in Six Flags or chatting up her best guy friend, Blake. Blake sat in front of her in theatre, aloof and laid back as usual. He was not the least bit dramatic in reality, but when Blake was on stage it took your breath away. Rebecca loved him. She knew it in her heart–Blake was like her brother. She felt herself inhale sharply at “brother.” Her own brother, Radley, had died about six months before in a car accident. It had been hard on her, her parents, and her sisters.
A Kinship of Cats – Dorothy Williams
3000 words General Fiction / Animal Story
A Kinship with Cats lightens the difficult lives of two old war veterans as they strive to maintain their independence together as fire, flood and disability diminish their ability to live off their land. They pity a mysterious giant feral cat starved of prey by the fires, that steals from their barbecue, until a reporter reveals its identity.
Only the passing of the marmalade tabby draws his attention. He sits alone and silent all day on the veranda of the Alamein Home. But then, old George never did talk much . . . He sat on the steps with Vern, gazing across the firebreak. They sniffed the wind and the faint drift of smoke from the ranges, sensing the weather — a wind change, maybe rain on the way. Only once had fire come towards them from the mountains to the east. The rain came just in time that year. Every summer still, just in case, they ploughed a firebreak through the regenerating bush that reached across the narrow flat towards the little shack.
A Letter to Barbara – Roger Noons
1150 words General Fiction
A man writes of his infidelity in a letter to his wife.
It was just after four o’ clock in the afternoon when I went into the study. A shaft of sunlight slanted through the French windows, missing the desk, but highlighting my favoured leather armchair. I switched on the CD player and selected Elgar, the Cello Concerto played by Casals. The melody always consoled me when I was feeling sad. I sat at the desk, selected a sheet of ivory notepaper and picked up my favourite pen. After gazing briefly through the window and relishing the shimmer of the flowering Magnolia stellata, I began to write.
A Likely Story – Paul Peppers
1500 words General Fiction
When Granddaddy started to reminisce about his younger years, I couldn’t help but wonder how much was built from the sands of time and how much was what really happened.
My granddaddy was an original. I can picture him now in his liberty coveralls, shiny black shoes, and old felt hat. The grandfather stereotype was probably modeled after him. I will go so far as to say that if you saw another old man dressed similarly you would be reminded of my granddaddy. He always had an old flyswatter handy like a scepter of office. And like Solomon sitting in judgment over the Israelites; he would occasionally administer justice to a wayward fly, but only when it was absolutely necessary.
A Loss of Identity – Terence Brand
2700 words General / Mystery
A worried airman makes a confession to Newton. He has lost his RAF Identity Card, known as a ‘1250’. It turns out he is not alone. Joining in the investigation, Halliday falls foul of the people who are stealing the cards which could gain saboteurs access to British service establishments.
This story is included in the collection On the Changi Beat – 1961-1962
I was chuckling over an advert for a magic potion in Singapore’s Straits Times —“Are you Listless; Do You Suffer from the Early Morning Blues”— when, for the first time in days, Flight Sergeant Ellison came into the office. Despite his rest, Chiefy still looked decidedly pasty-faced. I vacated his desk but left the paper. ‘Morning, Chief. How are your kidneys?’ I pointed to the advert. ‘You should try a spot of Wang’s Elixir.’ Chiefy pulled a face as he sat in his chair. ‘All right, Newton, one sarky remark, but only one, yes?’
A Passing Quiet Cloud – Gerard Taylor Wallace
1500 words General Fiction
All things can change in a moment; in a blink of the Devil’s eyes or the whisper of Angels always near.
Jen was still sleeping; their dog wasn’t though; he opened one eye from the foot of their bed and watched Mark as he was leaving the bedroom too quietly. Jinx closed his eye and Mark quietly, closed the bedroom door. From a dream, Jen reached to Mark, and gently touched his pillow. The small cottage that had recently become Mark and Jen’s home was viewed by neighbors as something strange and misplaced; it was one third the size of the other homes on their block and had no garage or lawn. Somehow though, it had passed the laws and the codes, and a builder with a vision of his own had smiled when the last shutter was in place.
A Prickly Situation – Andrew Schenck
1400 words General Fiction
Getting married in Korea is no easy task! Tortured both mentally and physically, an American endures strange and scary encounters with his fiancée’s father to discover a close family bond that he has never known before.
A Question of Conscience – Peter Pitt
1300 word General Fiction
Many of us harbour a secret from our past. Yet, at some time or other in our life, we feel we have to tell someone about it. For Bernice, she felt this was the time to tell Miles, her solicitor, about hers.
Bernice, an attractive middle aged lady, was watching the ball she had just struck speed down the fairway, when suddenly, a sharp pain gripped her chest. She gasped, her body stiffened before dropping her golf club. ‘What is it?’ Anne, her golfing partner cried. Before Bernice could reply, she collapsed. Anne rushed to her side, but her friend was unconscious. Bernice Nicholson was a popular member of the club, as her husband had been until his death. She was also a successful business woman, running a chain of Stationery shops. But not many people knew that she was also, a writer.
A Rough Game – Roger Noons
1140 words General Fiction
Set in the 1950s, an experience which changed the life of a teenage boy.
The dirt sat on the privet hedge like dark grey snow. There was enough lead in the dust on the window sill of the house to kill a dozen babies. A continuous presence of coal smoke meant that in the winter it was dark by three o clock in the afternoon. That was the way it was in the Black Country in the 1950s. People went out and left their doors unlocked .There was no fear of theft. No one owned anything worth stealing, except perhaps that week’s rent which was left either behind the clock, or in the biscuit barrel, on the sideboard. The rent collector usually came on a Friday teatime, after all Friday was pay day.