‘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.’
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 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 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 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 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.
A Second Life – Merran Jones
7300 word Historical Fiction
Asha, a young woman, is struggling with her lot in life when she meets an elderly woman named Mary. Mary recounts the story of her husband’s battles during and after the second world war. Through her words, Asha learns that her past and her circumstances don’t have to hold sway.
“Why do you pluck one eyebrow thinner than the other?” Betty asked. Asha gave a tepid smile and helped her sit. It’d taken a senile, elderly woman to say what her friends should have ages ago. She didn’t have time for this. They had to get Rebecca in bed, and Roma on the toilet before Roma decided a five minute delay was sufficient enough time to ring the emergency bell. The kitchen had been late with lunch, delaying the afternoon round. Then, they’d found Valma defecating in the ficus beside reception. “I have something for you dear.” Asha turned. Una stood behind her, smiling, offering a fragrant package. “Uh, thanks.”
A Shade of Gray – J. Douglas Sparer
7800 words Literary Fiction
“A Shade of Gray” features an alienated, isolated protagonist through his seventy years of life, his dealing with imaginary friends, and his acquaintance with real and semi-spectral dogs. A cinerous shade of fog, a brindled dog, and an imposing argentite building all share a shade of gray the protagonist is drawn to in life and beyond.
Shades are disembodied spirits whose presence can often be felt by living mortals. Shades are thought to leave an emotional imprint on those who perceive them.
I’ve always been alone, at least as far as being human is concerned. A very brief family snapshot. Father Jewish, Mother Catholic, New York, 1938, eloped, fled to Michigan, bought a suburban home and presented me to the world seven years later. An only child, raised without a religion, (thank god,) and brought up without any wider family, friends, or primal beliefs, my world was unique. My mother was a housewife who drank beer at night and smoked cigarettes like she had seen stars smoke them in the movies. My father made a living playing piano in bars, adored my mother, and seemed happy just to have her in his life.
A Star is Born – Brian Long
500 words General Fiction
A young performer grasps his big chance for success.
As Danny waited in the wings he experienced the all-too familiar surge of panic; his stomach felt as if he were travelling in a high speed lift, and his heart thumped so loudly that he feared the audience might hear it. He had powdered just before leaving the dressing room…
A Very Heavy Tray – Dorothy Williams
1770 words General / Women’s Fiction
A Very Heavy Tray helps to bring a grandmother into a new relationship with a good friend. His unaccountable arrival to find her house in embarrassing disarray has them both puzzled, yet they draw closer as he helps her clean, until the arrival home of her youngest son solves their mutual puzzlement and puts forward a new future.
He could not have arrived at a worse time. The painters had just departed, leaving behind them the strong smell of Bone Ivory, the furniture shoved into awkward places, and a clutter of unwashed coffee mugs. All day the phone had been ringing from behind the wall units; unwelcome salesmen bad been turned away from the far end of a hallway booby trapped with stools and coffee tables; and grandchildren had rushed in with cries of glee to be swept out with wails of disappointment.
Adumbrant – Henry Mitchell
Adam was a dreamer, until the night all his dreams came true.
Included in the collection Dark on the Mountain
Adam Brandt had dreams. He couldn’t remember being a boy, so he figured he must be an old man, but he wet his sheets at night like a wee child. He would wake screaming and confused and his ancient Mamaw would come and comfort him, hold his head in her lap and worry out loud about the day soon coming when Adam would be in the cruel and greedy world without her to watch over him. Adam knew Mamaw wasn’t really his mama, but she was all he had. Mamaw said his mama had been pretty as a sunrise and too pure to stay in a world in love with darkness. That was all he knew about her.
After the Fact – Perry McDaid
1540 words General Fiction
In a near future alternate reality an Irish man is sitting quietly reading in a library when the silence suddenly becomes alarming. The entire library has been taken over by police. One approaches and tells him that a condemned man wants his company.
I had been in some sort of daze, oblivious to everything but the end goal of escape from reality on the work of a favoured author. Even the news that an old classmate had been arrested for subversion barely impinged on my consciousness. The Christmas melancholy with all the memories of past missed opportunities overwhelmed me. Depression had eclipsed my senses. I had no idea how I’d got in. The Derry Central library had been closed to the public for this hour. Perhaps it was the haircut, I told myself, recently trimmed as a concession to my lazy approach to hair care.
Alice – Kate Packman
1900 words General Fiction
Every day the narrator visits an old lady in an undisclosed institution, as the narrative unfolds so does Alice’s history and the narrator’s connection to her.
This place is purgatory. Empty and soulless, the people are blank, void of emotion and warmth. Pictures hang on the walls and residents walk the corridors, but there is no life here. Yet somehow, when I listen to Alice, her stories transport me away from this horror and take me to an idyllic home. A place where families love one another and care, not out of duty, but because they are family. In Alice’s world blood is thicker than water. I could listen to her stories all day.
All Aboard the ‘Changi Flyer’! – Terence Brand
2375 words General Fiction
Some disaffected National Servicemen from RAF Changi’s Tech Wing are being incited by Communist agitators to stir up trouble in Singapore City. Worried that strikes and riots might be triggered, Sergeant Rushton from Changi’s Station Warrant Officer’s headquarters charges Newton with sorting it out. He and Halliday hatch a plan.
As usual, it all started with the phone call. ‘Tech Wing Discip – how can I help?’ ‘Sergeant Rushton, Station Warrant Officer’s Office – that you, Newton?’ ‘In the flesh, Sarge –’ a bad tempered grunt came over the line, ‘and a very good morning to you too.’ ‘You won’t think it’s such a good morning when you hear what I’ve got for you.’ I sighed. ‘Bringer of bad tidings, are you? Go on, Sarge – do your worst.’ ‘Two-o-clock this morning the last bus back from Singapore was smashed up by a mob of drunken Europeans. The police put a stop to it, took some names and sent the idiots on their way.’