Baggage – Stewart Bartlam
4500 words Literary Story
How Alec Morton’s life is changed by the intensity of his dreams and the death of his cousin. A taut, compelling narrative, dealing with the interweaving of dreams and reality.
Alec Morton approaches the cashpoint machines outside the railway station. He trundles his suitcase, on wheels, behind him; his other hand rests, lightly, on his shoulder bag. There are queues at all three machines. He tags onto the shortest one, sets the suitcase down and reaches into the shoulder bag for his wallet. A glance at his watch tells him he has fifteen minutes before the train is due to arrive. Should be ok, he thinks. He still has to buy his ticket, but the queue ahead of him seems to be moving quickly. He brushes away a few beads of sweat from his brow. There is a clear blue sky, and the noonday sun is at its hottest. He looks forward to relaxing, on the hour-long journey into London.
The Flies – Stewart Bartlam
5000 word Literary Fiction
Ambler, an aspiring writer, is eagerly looking forward to taking early retirement. He intends to write a literary masterpiece. His self-belief is indomitable; he knows he can do it. But will the flies let him?
“162 over 90 …162 over 90”… Ambler mentally repeated the numbers, so as not to forget them, as he walked back from the doctor’s. Dr Hussain had been tantalizingly uncommunicative about the results of his blood tests, saying only that his blood pressure and cholesterol level were both “too high”. Having finally extorted the actual reading from the doctor, Ambler had lacked the will to continue the interrogation, deciding to consult the Internet at home for more information. That his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were “too high” had come as a shock. He had recently been experiencing recurrent twinges from his liver, and had started to worry that the vital organ could well be irrevocably damaged, after 30 years of sustained excessive alcohol intake.