‘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.’
‘I Want’ Gets Nothing – Jan Baynham
3600 words women’s fiction
Tracey lives in the shadow of her outgoing sister who can do no wrong in their mother’s eyes. When Sharon buys a beautiful gold leather designer handbag on pay day, Tracey becomes obsessed with owning one for herself. But how can she? She’s just a school girl.
“I’m home. Is dinner ready?” My sister, Sharon, burst through the front door making one of her grand entrances. As usual, Mum stopped what she was doing – preparing the evening meal with me in the kitchen – and rushed to see to ‘the favoured one’. “Nearly. Come and sit down, love. You must be shattered after working all day. Trace, make your sister a nice cup of tea, will you?” I gritted my teeth and dutifully did what she asked. “My feet are killing me,” said Sharon. Well, if you will wear six inch Louboutins to the office, what do you expect? I thought. I placed two mugs of tea on the coffee table and turned to go back to the kitchen. “Thanks, Sis. Come and join us.”
‘It’s Duncan’ – Susan Wright
1000 words Women’s Fiction
Margaret is a sixty four year old widow. She’s usually very sensible and calm, but she feels like an excited teenager as she sits in her living room and waits for her phone to ring.
Margaret had been expecting a phone call all evening, but she still jumped when the phone started ringing at twenty past nine. Her heart started hammering in her chest as well, but she managed to say hello in a reasonably normal voice. “So has he phoned?” her friend Pam asked. “No, not yet,” she replied. “How strange,” Pam said. “What time did he phone last night?” “The machine said it was ten past eight.” Margaret slumped back on the sofa and sighed. “Maybe he’s forgotten he said he’d phone.” “Yes, so maybe you should phone him!”
“They’ve Got a Kidney for Me, Mum” – Violet Apted
1000 words Feel Good Story
Many will understand the physical and emotional trauma of needing an organ transplant. In this story, of personal experience, I try to give an insight from the aspect of the recipient and close family.
From the insiduious beginning of pain and fatigue, the hopes and the fears. All tinged with the sorrow of knowing you could live only because another human being has lost their
life and another family is suffering loss. They are the heroes in this story.
‘They’ve got a kidney for me, Mum!’ My Son Steve was almost shouting into the phone, he was so excited. My heart missed a beat, as I realised the enormity of his statement. This was the phone call we have all been waiting for. It had finally arrived. What now? “I’m on my way Steve.” I said replacing the receiver and grabbing the car keys in one movement. Then it happened!
13 Superstition Drive – Peter Lingard
3000 words Fantasy / Horror
A long empty, seemingly benign house wants to again enjoy days of caring, warmth and happiness.
I’d had enough. My life was crumbling around me. At my peak, I was worth something in excess of a million dollars. That was before ‘the incident’; the incident that ruined my existence. The murders took place in 1946. Sam Clarkson came home from the war and found his wife living with Simon Christie, a man who had evaded war service and made a fortune dealing in rubber and petrol. Sam strangled Christie, caught his fleeing wife, strangled her and then committed suicide. I was an orphan from that moment. No one has cared for me since that day.
8 Sycamore Close – Susan Wright
1400 words Women’s Fiction
Paula decides to go on an estate agent’s website during her lunch break. She’s been desperate to look at the details of a property in Sycamore Close ever since the For Sale board went up, and she thinks the house looks great, but her supervisor isn’t so impressed.
As soon as all the other girls had clattered off to the canteen, Paula went on the Internet and started searching for the website of a local estate agent. She was desperate to take a look at 8 Sycamore Close. The For Sale board had gone up in the garden the day before, but she hadn’t been able to look at the details at her mother’s house.
A Bad Day – Linda Ann Johnson
1300 word Humour
Everybody has had one of those days; one of those days when nothing seems to go right. Those days were happy when compared to this.
Something told me it wasn’t going to be my day when I was woken up by bits of the ceiling falling on my face. I jumped out of bed too hard, because then the floor fell in. ‘Jed!’ I shouted to my hapless husband as my body thudded downwards. ‘What have you done now?’ ‘I only flushed the toilet,’ he said, half running down the stairs to the lounge where I had, luckily, fallen on the sofa, or should I say unluckily because the springs had burst through the leather and were scratching my arms.
A Bag for Life – Patsy Collins
1200 words Women’s Fiction
Erin’s husband Steve is like a carrier bag. A bit dull, but useful if he ever managed to be in the right place at the right time. Xavier was in the right place and not dull at all.
Erin stomped her way round the supermarket. Nothing was going right; her wrist hurt like crazy, the trolley only had three good wheels and she’d forgotten to bring a bag for life with her. Again. Those things were a bit like men Erin thought. A good idea in theory and sometimes a good idea in practice, but often not where you wanted them to be. Steve should be here helping. He’d offered in a half-hearted way yesterday. He hadn’t offered again this morning before they’d both left for work; Steve driving the car, Erin catching the bus. She’d just have to fight through the pain of her sprained wrist and gather a few essentials for their breakfast tomorrow. She headed for the bread aisle.
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 Bumpy Ride to Romance – Pat Boulton
1500 words Romance
Barbara had fallen out with her daughter, because she was forever trying to find a man for her. She loved her daughter very much, but she didn’t want a man in her life, she was happy as she was, that is, until she had a knock to her car and the cause of that knock changed her mind.
“You’re getting too choosy in your old age, that’s your trouble.” Barbara gazed out of the window; she had taken umbrage at her daughter’s remark. Right, so choosy she could be, and why not, but old? Never! After all, she was only seventy, in her head coming on forty. She had her own teeth; or most of them; trendy in her appearance, and thanks to the bottle in her bathroom cabinet, no grey hair.
A Cat May Look at a King – Tracey Walsh
3000 words Historical / Romance
It’s 1617 and Catherine, Thomas and the rest of the household staff at Hoghton Tower are keen to see their royal visitor, King James, but life will never be the same again after his visit.
That day in 1617 started the same way as every other day Catherine had spent as scullery maid at Hoghton Tower in Lancashire. But as she hurried downstairs to begin her early morning chores Catherine remembered that today was different after all. It was her sixteenth birthday and the housekeeper, Mrs Baines, had promised that if Catherine worked hard and behaved herself she would be promoted to the position of housemaid. That would mean no more nights staying awake, ensuring that all the fires in the house stayed lit. It would also mean that instead of just one half-day off a month she would have half a day every fortnight.
A Change in Routine – Pat Boulton
1300 words Women’s Fiction
Mavis and Tom were a childless couple, who spent all their married life, keeping to a routine, and never changing. Tom was old fashioned and would not agree to Mavis going out to work. One day, however, Tom began to change his routine, and the result was a big surprise for Mavis.
Mavis heard the stairs creak; he must be on the fifth stair. Almost every morning for the last thirty years, Tom had brought her a cup of tea, placing it carefully on the bedside cabinet. “I’m off now dear. Another day another dollar.” It was the same routine every day. This morning, however, his mind seemed elsewhere. Suddenly, Tom was sprawled across the bed, tea dripping over the beautiful cream silk bedcovers.
A Change of Heart – Caroline Scott Collins
5200 words Women’s Fiction
Laura is a writer who likes to sit writing in a coffee shop to stimulate her creativity. One stormy day she meets her guardian angel who has come to help her.
In the end it didn’t matter if she didn’t write today. Laura held the delete key down on her computer, wiping the words on her screen away—a clear page, until all that remained was the flashing cursor waiting again, like an anxious scribe waiting to fill a new sheet. The action represented her life, she thought, a clean slate—back to a default position. The torrential rain streamed down the windows. Laura was sitting in the warmth of a deserted coffee shop at a table by the steamy window, looking out towards the sea wall. Every so often the angry, stormy sea sent a big wave splashing over it, as a reminder of its mood. ‘That should reflect my state,’ she thought, ‘but I feel nothing.’
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 Changed Woman – Patsy Collins
900 words Women’s Fiction
Callum realised he hadn’t been taking enough notice of Julie lately. Sometimes it felt like he didn’t know his own wife.
Julie’s hair was looking good; shiny and neat. I almost made the mistake of mentioning it – or, I wondered would it be a mistake not to? I thought she’d been to the salon. If she had then I’d be expected to notice, but if she hadn’t then I’d be accused of sarcasm or suggesting she should get it cut. Even worse was the possibility that she’d had it done last week and I’d only just realised.
A Christmas Carol – Lorraine Coverley
1500 words Humour / Christmas
Everyone knows Dickens’ story of Scrooge, the lonely unloved miser who was visited by three ghosts at Christmas and learned to embrace the true spirit of the season. Of course, it might not always have been in the form we know today. Maybe Dickens struggled with it at first – just a little, perhaps.
Marley was dead. There is no doubt whatever about that. Scrooge had, in fact, jumped up and down on him a few times, just to make sure, before he spent out on a coffin. Marley was a bit of a practical joker and Scrooge wouldn’t have put it past him to fake his own death. It would probably be a good tax dodge. Scrooge and Marley had been partners. After his death Scrooge had never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scroo aMarl. The other letters had dropped off in 1825 and he’d never bothered to put them back.
A Christmas Coat-Astrophe – Joan Zambelli
850 words Children 3 -7
Father Christmas’s special thick red coat was now a peculiar pink colour, and only half its original size. It was much too cold for him to be out on his sleigh on Christmas Eve without his thick coat, but children everywhere were waiting excitedly for him to deliver their Christmas presents…
This story is included in the collection Read It Again
It would soon be Christmas, so Mother Christmas was busy getting ready for that most wonderful time of year. “I must make sure Father Christmas’s special red coat is spotlessly clean,” she murmured to herself. So she quickly put it into the washing machine. Then off she went to put up even more Christmas decorations.
A Christmas Squeak – Michelle Barber
500 words Children 0 – 5 years
It’s Christmas Eve and Will is getting ready for Father Christmas to come but there is a strange squeak all through the house. Is it Santa’s sleigh which is stuck or is it something else? Join Will to find the Christmas Squeak.
Will crayoned a picture of Daddy to put at the dinner table so that he would know where to sit on the next day which was Christmas. He had done Mummy and both Grannies and Grandpa’s and was just about to start on one for Gordon, his teddy bear, when he looked over to the window.
A Christmas Story – Dorothy Davies
1000 words Feel Good
A family dispute before Christmas is not much fun, can Mike find a way round it?
This story is included in the collection A Wish for Christmas
The gale force wind sent ice-cold rain sweeping across the garage forecourt. It rattled the signs, pulled at the bunting and threatened the brightly coloured lights on the huge Christmas tree outside the door. Mike Drew ran a hand through his thick brown curls and sighed. If the tree came down, he would have to go out and rescue it. It would mean getting soaked, but that wouldn’t make him any unhappier than he already was. What a Christmas Eve, raining, hardly any customers and the prospect of spending Christmas alone.
A Christmas Wish – Samantha Tonge
1400 words Feel Good Fiction
Alone in the house, with husband Tony at work, Janet hears a strange noise. She creeps downstairs to find Santa in her lounge. Either she’s dreaming or it’s a burglar, right…?
This story is included in the collection Sweet Talk
Janet turned over in bed and lazily persuaded herself that she hadn’t heard a noise. Perhaps, like the other night, she’d left the utility room open and her cat, Smudge, had escaped and was taking a tour of the house. Janet chuckled. He really was a scamp. Perhaps he had unrolled a ball of her best cashmere wool. With a yawn, she closed her eyes again. It was Christmas Eve. She really had to sleep. Tomorrow would be busy, what with Mum and Dad coming around for the day.
A Class Act- Peter Lingard
1500 words Women’s Fiction
A lad from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ falls for a girl his mother warned him he can never have.
My mother was preserving the class system again. “Them folks as live up th’ill, live in a different world frum us. We’ll never be able to aspire tuh same ‘eights as them, you’ll see. Just wait ‘til ya get older and you’ll see the way of the world!” Unfortunately, one of the folks that lived on the hill was Penelope Armstrong-Sydeley and I took a shine to her from the day I saw her in the schoolyard. A gaggle of girls was doing handstands against a wall that ran the length of the girls’ play area.
A Clean Break – Samantha Tonge
1200 words Women’s Fiction
Worn down by the recession and daily grind, Ken and Linda take drastic measures. However, their new life in France isn’t all it appears to be…
“I asked for what?” Ken put down his glass of wine and skimmed a hand over his bald head. “Poison with chips. You’ve got to pronounce it right. The French word for fish is le poisson.” From the lounger Linda squinted across at him and grinned. The midday sun reflected off the yacht-shaped pendant lying on her tanned chest. He’d bought it from the local market the week before, bartering down the trader before blowing what he’d saved on a box of croissants.
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 Collie and a Rooster Can be Friends – Vivienne Holmes
1000 words Children 5 – 7 years
Aura, the Border Collie, is settling in well on Joe Flynn’s farm and thinks she is going to be very happy there. Unfortunately, her happiness doesn’t last long when she comes face to face with Eric, the Flynn’s huge, bullying rooster.
It was Aura’s first day as Joe Flynn’s new sheepdog. She was feeling nervous and wanted to do well. Even though Joe and his wife Maggie were kind to her she still felt shy. That morning, she and Joe had been out to look at his sheep. Aura had moved them from one field to another for him. She was quick and obedient with a calm air about her. She didn’t frighten and scatter the sheep and Joe was pleased with her. Aura was feeling very happy with Joe’s praise as she explored the yard of her new home.
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.