Treasure Hunt – Patsy Collins
2000 words Women’s Fiction
Sylvie’s life is like a movie – a bad one. Can she overcome her shyness and feelings of inadequacy just long enough to rewrite the script so there’s a happy ever after by the time the credits roll?
My life resembles a badly clichéd movie. I’m so great at my temporary job I’m begged to stay permanently. I advance to management, get a company car and huge salary. I’m so pretty the office heart-throb is always pursuing me. I turn him down as I’m engaged to a rock star. Then I wake and it was all a dream. The reality is less good. I’m standing in for a lady who’s on maternity leave. She brought her baby in yesterday, saying she couldn’t wait to return. I don’t have friends here, they’re pleasant enough, but that’s just good manners. I didn’t want to come on this silly team building day.
Trevor’s Bonfire – Holly Stevens
2750 words Children 6 – 8 years
As a reward for catching his egg thief Mr. Digger holds a bonfire party in Trevor’s honour.
Trevor and his friends work hard all week collecting wood and broken furniture. Then the weasel family sneak in and wreck the bonfire.
Will it get re-built in time and will there be any fireworks?
The three boys waited patiently by the farm gate, Trevor, Gregory March the hare and Joshua Drey, who sat on a branch of a nearby tree. They were waiting for Jack to drive by with the farm cart. “He should be here soon,” said Trevor. “My Dad’s given loads of old furniture. We’ve lots of money and can easily afford to buy new,” bragged Gregory.
Trevor’s Conker Match – Holly Stevens
1900 words Children 6 – 8 years
Trevor is a small lovable hedgehog living in the Wodded Valley with several other animal families.
He has challenged Wally the weasel to a conker match. The only trouble is the weasel family are well-known to be cheats and bullies, and Trevor is not sure if he can beat Wally.
Trevor smoothed down his prickles, straightened his hat and set off for school. Oh how he hated his woolly hat that his mother made him wear! True it kept him warm, but it was green! “Oh how I hate green!” he muttered to himself. Trevor kicked at a nearby pebble and sighed to himself. However, there was something to look forward to; his mother’s packed lunch smelt wonderful in his lunch box.
Tricks ‘n’ Treats – Patsy Collins
1000 words Humour
Diane wanted to enjoy the fun of nights like Hallowe’en, but with Mike so miserable that wasn’t easy, but it didn’t stop her entering into the spirit of the occasion. Then just when she least expected it, Mike decided to come home early with ideas of his own.
“Look at this, isn’t it cute?” Diane held up a jelly Dracula. “No it’s not and you’re not seven. Put it back,” her husband said. “Yes, Dad,” she said and stuck out her tongue. “You’re so childish,” Mike complained. “And you’re no fun at all.” “Would you like any help with your packing?” asked the cashier. “No thanks,” they said together and exchanged tight smiles. “Sorry, love,” Mike said as he carried their bags to the car. “I don’t mean to be so miserable…”
Tricks of the Trade – Linda Daunter
Uncle George was the most honest person I knew, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t spot someone who was trying to con him.
Uncle George was in the back room when the shop bell jangled to signal my arrival. ‘Be with you in a moment,’ he called. ‘It’s only me,’ I answered, as I squeezed through the maze of wardrobes, sideboards and sofas. Most people would have called it junk, but Uncle George insisted every item was a genuine antique, or it would be – one day. ‘How’s business?’ Uncle George shrugged. ‘Terrible. The Internet’s killed this trade. I’ve only had about a dozen customers all week. And none of them were big spenders.’
Trigg’s Day Out – Vivienne Holmes
1000 words Children 5 – 7 years
Trigg the terrier goes walkabout from his home expecting an exciting day out, only to find instead, the outside world can be a very scary place.
Trigg the terrier was sulking. In fact, he was having a BIG sulk. His family had gone out for the day and left him in the garden. Not that it was a bad thing to do, it was a lovely sunny day and he had his outdoor kennel for shelter if he got too hot, or it rained. He had his toys to play with, his water bowl was full and most importantly he had had his breakfast.
Tristan’s Delight – Linda Lewis
1500 word Science Fiction
It’s sometime in the future and a race of peaceful hardworking aliens have come to live on earth after their planet suffered a series of natural disasters. The hero of the story acts as liaison between the aliens and the world’s governments to ensure they aren’t exploited in any way. A friendship slowly develops between him and Tristan, one of the aliens.
I didn’t want the job. I was just a few years away from retirement and rather fancied whiling away the time behind a nice, routine desk, but my arm was twisted. Believe me, when your arm is twisted by the Commander, you know all about it. Apparently, my height made me the ideal candidate. In truth, it made me the only candidate. Everyone else was over 6 feet tall. How it happened, no-one knew, or no-one was telling, but when I was born, somehow a genetic defect slipped through the net. This made me a lot less threatening to the Batusians than the normal run of humans. At 4’11” I was only 5″ taller than them, and being more on their level, they felt able to talk to me.
Troublesome Tulips – Lorna Broomfield-Carradus
1850 words Children 6 – 10
This story is in the series:
The Absolutely Positively True Stories of The Awesome King Richard:
When Richard’s Mum and sister Katie fall asleep sucking their thumbs because of a mysterious sleeping illness Richard decides to investigate. Will he find a simple bug is causing the slumber, or are there aliens with an evil plan?
What is it about Earth girls and flowers? On my home planet of Mars we don’t use flowers as decorations. We dip them in chocolate and eat them. They are rather tasty. Here on Earth they seem to have magical powers. It doesn’t matter how much trouble Dad gets into with Mum, all he has to do is give her a bunch of flowers and she gushes, “Oh, they are so gorgeous!” then she buries her nose in them, looks all lovey dovey at Dad and says, “Oh, I do love you darling.” Pass the sick bucket, please!
True Romance – Patsy Collins
1500 words Romance
Rose was a nice girl and not hideous or anything, even so Sandy couldn’t understand how she’d suddenly become irresistible to men … and what had happened to all those cats?
“Good weekend?” I asked young Rose, not expecting anything more exciting than the latest news about her mother and the cats. “Wonderful, thank you, Sandy. I went camping with Claud. He’s a fireman and a real outdoorsy type. We climbed a mountain for the clear air and the wonderful views. Then went swimming in a lake.” She giggled. “We didn’t have any swimming costumes so we were … uh, you know …” “You went skinny dipping?”
Trying to Be Nice – Patsy Collins
1200 words Feel Good
There’s a reason Daryl doesn’t listen or pay attention to others; when he does he learns something he didn’t want to know.
I missed the train by seconds. The guard saw me though, I swear he did. Looked through me like I was a ghost. Would he stop the train? Oh no. The schedule’s far more important than the needs of a customer. Doesn’t matter that I might have had something important to do. That’s how things are at present. Nothing works out for me. Even actual presents. Gave one to Joanna for Valentine’s, but she gave it back. “It’s not appropriate, Darryl.” “What’s not appropriate about a nice gold chain with my name on it?”
Twenty Three to Life – Ty Spencer Vossler
CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE
1500 words General Fiction
Robert Lincoln Washington—black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Denied parole twenty-three years, a glitch in the system gives Robert temporary freedom, only to find that the outside world is also a prison.
Man smell permeated the air. Piss, unwashed bodies, and sweat that had leeched into the cement walls and floors, never to be gotten out. He’d smelled it now going on twenty-three years––sour, an assault on the senses—the smell of hopelessness. Twenty-three years, three weeks, two days give or take. Everybody––every last one innocent, and so was he. You had to believe that or else you’d go stark raving mad, and then the dying would commence. It would start with isolation and spread into sleepless nights, listening to night sounds of men coughing, diarrhea, snoring, farting, men masturbating in their bunks. When the dying got to that stage, the next was thinking of ways to make it happen quicker.
Twenty-Seven Wisteria Lane – Margaret Pearce
2000 word Ghost Story
Mrs Forbes-Hill, strong-minded, competent and overbearing, has downsized to an inner city cottage. Once furnished into a more upmarket style, she settles back to her hobby of bullying her committees. Has the ghost of a strong-minded, competent and overbearing cheeky kid really possessed Mrs Forbes-Hill or is it the sad case of an abrupt descent into dementia?
Mrs Forbes-Hill was not a personal friend of mine, and never had been. Our only connection was that our daughters had been at the same school and at the same time. Mrs Forbes-Hill was a person to admire, most especially from a distance. She was strong minded, opinionated, a magnificent organiser, a snob, a tyrant and an overbearing insensitive bully. She was also an unscrupulous and successful manipulator. Back in medieval times she would have done well with the Borgia’s. She controlled absolutely all the charitable committees she took over and everything else in the district.
Twice in a Blue Moon – Alan C. Williams
1200 words Women’s Fiction
Life after an instant of perfection can be pretty depressing; it certainly was for Linda. She had a wonderful family yet it wasn’t enough. Could ‘perfection’ happen again? Maybe, by reliving that first time, she’d find her answer … or maybe it was a hopeless quest. Only time would tell.
Lynda Daniels had already experienced her moment of perfection. She had been young at the time, barely fifteen years old, and every day since had been a disappointment. Every single day. She firmly believed that each person on our world had such a moment in their lifetime when the stars align and one becomes linked to the universe on some fantastical meta-physical level. Be that as it may, it is only for an instant and it only happens on one occasion.
Twinkle Twinkle – Tracy Fells
1675 words Humour
Do you believe in Fairies? Jasmine needs a theme for her magazine’s spring edition. Her assistant hits on a sparkling idea, but it brings back uncomfortable memories for Jasmine. And what befalls the charming Eric La Fayette, who seems intent on raking up her mysterious past?
This story is included in the Essence of Humour collection
It was my turn to provide the breakfast goodies for the Friday morning planning meeting. The day was a key event in the magazine’s schedule; time to decide the theme for the April edition. Of course I’m using the royal ‘we’, as I make all the decisions. Adoring all things sweet I knew of a delightful patisserie in Kensington, creating the most exquisite cup-cakes, truly beautiful works of fondant art: topped with pastel icing, pinks, lemons, baby-blues and luscious lilacs, sprinkled with glimmering balls of silver and gold. When I entered the boardroom the glass-topped table was festooned with open boxes, delivered from the bakery, and the meeting attendees were already greedily helping themselves to the dainty cakes.
Two Sides of the Coin – Dr. Robert Clifford
3300 words Literary Fiction
This story describes two relationships, one completely non-physical and the other poignantly, tenderly and sensitively physical showing what depths of intense communications can be reached in either form. This gives an extremely fascinating glimpse into people’s inner lives.
Without touching I first saw the girl when I was registering at the hotel. Picking up my key, our eyes met in the mirror behind the clerk’s head. She smiled, and something that I can’t describe or explain happened to me, not unlike a wind-taking blow to the midriff that I sometimes got in my boxing and rugby playing days at university. It was three months before my marriage; I had taken Alison, my fiancée, to an industrial conference at a hotel near Dover; not because it had any particular interest, but for both of us to escape the ever-mounting fuss of the pre-wedding preparations, which seemed to be everyone’s concern except our own.
Two Worlds Collide – Suzie Hindmarsh-Knights
4400 words Romance
A rich girl, a butcher’s son, a baby and two worlds collide.
The icy wind came over the sea, lashing the street in sleeting rain and forcing Paul back to the doorway of his father’s butcher shop. As the wind sliced through his fleece, he hunkered down further into it, hands deep in trouser pockets and chin lost beneath a thick red scarf bunched around his neck. The scarf, a gift from his girlfriend, rarely left his neck during the week’s cold snap. The rain was falling harder, and he squinted through it at the grey Mercedes that turned down the street. It cruised towards the shop, and Paul’s eyes widened and creased with a smile.
Unbroken Circle – Jackie Tritt
1700 words Literary
Now an old man, Tommy returns to America to visit his ailing sister, prompted by the guilt he bears over the death of his wife. He’s hoping the music they shared as youngsters will help them to communicate.
Time was when I enjoyed the adventure of getting on a plane, the flutter of excitement in my stomach at the thought of unfamiliar sights and new encounters. But it’s a long way from Australia to the rest of the world and I’m getting far too old for those never ending flights. The jet lag hangs around longer with each trip, and every cough and sneeze in the rows behind me sends assault troops of bugs winging their way in my direction. Colds, flu, swine flu. If they don’t get me on the way out, they’ll make sure they do a good job on the flight home.
Uncle Harry’s Disgrace – Cath Delaney
2000 words Humour
Raymond’s family has a black sheep, Uncle Harry but no one will tell young Raymond why he is ostracised. Then one day, years later, Uncle Harry reappears and Raymond finally learns the secret of Uncle Harry’s disgrace. But then Raymond has to make a decision about his own young son…
I didn’t meet Uncle Harry until he came home to die when he was sixty five. At least that was the reason he gave for his return, though in fact he was to live for another twenty seven years. But I was delighted to finally know Uncle Harry, the obsession of my youthful fantasies. I can, in all truth, blame my family for my preoccupation with Uncle Harry. Their collective disapproval guaranteed it. Show me any child who isn’t captivated by the family skeleton in the cupboard, the subject of pursed lips, shaken heads and hushed voices when children were about.
Uncle’s House – Patsy Collins
1400 word Crime Story
Uncle Alfred always thought we could pick ourselves up from whatever life threw at us. He was wrong – a fact that was very useful to me.
I looked at the house and then back to the estate agents notes in my hands. Could this dingy depressing place really be worth £340,000? That sum of money would make a huge difference to my business. I was doing OK but a cash injection like that would put me on a whole new level. Help pick me up, as Uncle Alfred would say. I walked on to my Uncle’s house just three doors down. His was the end of the row, a little larger, a little more valuable.
Under – Jim Celer
4200 words General Fiction
A public assistance caseworker tries, but cannot quite be, insensitive to how his job affects the people he’s supposed to help. His is a conflict between duty and consequences, between theory and result. His refuge is the bathroom.
I sat in the can reading “Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale”, a short story by Mark Twain, well after I had finished what you do there. What I was actually doing now was thinking, or not thinking exactly but being conscious that my mind was wandering. That’s what I was doing – that, and hiding from work, from the phone calls and frustration, and from the certain knowledge that Amber Romander was going to disappear. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – that’s what surrounds the bathroom. The job is, nominally, to provide human services.
Under the Baobab Tree – Roger Woodcock
2000 word Adventure
A young boy is forced, because of drought in his country and his ailing parents, to go out in search of food, in the form of game, to have any hope of keeping his family from starving.
This story is included in the collection This Land is My Land
He paused by the scrubby stand of bush, its thorny leaves sharp against his leathery skin. Raising his hand to shield his eyes against the searing sun, he scanned the horizon. Nothing. Jabbing the crude spear into the baked earth he took a sip from the goatskin pouch slung around his neck. The water, warm and tasting of damp soil, slid easily down his parched throat. How long had he been out there? Four days? Six? He thought of his parents back in the village, a random collection of mud huts set in a sweltering dust bowl. Their life had been one of increasing desperation since the drought and subsequent failure of their crops.
Undercover Fae – Angela Pickering
2200 words Fairytale
With fairies disappearing from the Greenwood, the Fairy Queen is understandably concerned. Meriel, fairy detective, is assigned the case despite her human sympathies, or perhaps because of them, What will her investigations reveal? Where have the fairies gone and why? Perhaps even the Little People aren’t above a little skulduggery.
When she called me into her office, she was wearing huge rollers in her hair. They were those heated ones, and I could tell because her little face was all crimson from the heat. ‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea,’ I warned her, but she shook her head as much as the rollers would allow. ‘Magic doesn’t solve everything,’ she said, as if I didn’t know that. She gestured me into a chair. I narrowed my eyes, and waited for the blow to fall. The boss doesn’t call for me that often and when she does, it’s time to duck. Metaphorically speaking, of course; fairies don’t use physical violence on one another.
Understanding – Clive Graham
1050 words Crime / General
All Mitchell wanted was for people to understand how he felt. When they didn’t, he was prepared to take drastic steps to make them…
Mitchell lay watching the daylight as it leaked slowly across the bedroom ceiling. He checked his clock again. 05.38. That meant he had just under two hours to decide. Would he go to work today, or would he call the office, talk vaguely about ‘flu or some sort of stomach upset and stay at home? His sickness absences had been infrequent and he knew he would be believed. A few words of insincere sympathy and that would be that.
Unfinished Business – Jan Baynham
1600 words Women’s Fiction
Kathy will never settle until she finds her cat, Monty. She ventures out of the house in the dark and in atrocious weather to look for him. But will she be able to face her fears as she nears the end of the street and enter the place she dreads?
Kathy knew she wouldn’t settle until she found Monty so, even though it was almost dark, she put on her coat and scarf and left the house. I’ll leave the light on, she thought, telling herself it was for Monty but deep down she knew it was for her own benefit. That was one of the things she hated since John had gone coming back to a dark empty house. And knowing the night ahead would be a lonely one. Just lately, her beloved cat-companion, her reason not to go under, had begun disappearing. These were not just his normal mousing trips which lasted a few hours when he slinked back through the cat flap with his trophies all covered in blood.
Universal Energy – Lilliana Rose
2650 words Fantasy / Romance
The Universe can be a fun place to leave messages of love, creating a game of pursuit between star-crossed lovers, where feelings can unexpectedly change.
She is having trouble finding me. I had left so many signs for her; decorated the Universe and still I am alone. She even missed the circles in Andromeda. Oh Olan’ta why do you resist? You know we are destined for each other. At Jupiter I spent hours commanding the clouds into tessellations, gas swirled in harmony forming the message. Layers of coloured fumes glowed peacefully and spoke of my desires for Olan’ta, told her where to find me; above Earth. And how we would join and give birth to a new energy.