Bullied on the Bus – James McHarg

4200 words Fantasy / Teen Fiction

Moving to the country was bad enough but now twelve-year-old Jeremy must endure daily bullying. With his mother’s life threatened and his great-granddad close to death, all seems lost. Only a dark family secret might save them, but first he’ll have to turn thirteen.

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“Jeremy, please hurry! I can see the bus coming. Come along, quickly now,” Victoria Rayder shouted to the dawdling boy. “Aw, Mom, do I have to go to school? It’s too nice out. Come on, Mom. Please, let me stay home.” Jeremy Rayder dashed up the narrow lane, skidding to a stop in the loose gravel alongside his mother. “Look what I found,” he said excitedly, waving a grasshopper in her face. The bug’s legs clung to his index finger; antennae twitching and eyes bulging out from a blue-green face. “Yes, I see it quite clearly, Jeremy. You don’t have to stick it up my nose.” Jeremy giggled, a playful spark lit up his eyes. “Yeah, and it’s green, too. Just like snot. See!”

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Norm – James McHarg

3000 words Science Fiction

The Jones family live on NewWorld, where the government ensures an ordered and peaceful existence. But nothing is perfect. A sinister secret lurks behind the façade of their Utopian society and this family will stare it right in the face.

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Norm loomed tall in my doorway, his opaque eyes staring through me rather than at me. I knew it was a by-product of the Reaping, nonetheless, I found it quite unnerving. He was clad from neck to ankle in white coveralls, the only splash of colour, the four-inch-square red patch of his name tag. I didn’t even know why they had a name tag. After all, they were all named Norm. Norm glanced down at his eTab, swiping a finger across the screen. “Mister Evan Jones,” he said in his automaton voice. “May I enter?” “I, uh, guess I have no choice. Do I?” “No,” Norm sharply answered. “We were just sitting down to eat supper. Are you sure you can’t come back another time?”

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