(600 words) I was a schoolboy at St Paul’s when the incident I’m about to relate occurred. I was one of a small number of boarders – my parents were ‘swingers’ (as we’d now call them). Not that I knew that at the time, of course. They just said they had ‘business to attend to,’ so I was packed off to St Pauls for months at a time. Anyway, it was a quiet Saturday in May, and I’d gone down to the kitchens to fetch some milk for a pot of tea I’d just made. There was Sally, the kitchen maid, with her arms up to her plump elbows in a sink full of washing up. “Hello, Sally, what’s that smell?” I asked. There was an unpleasant odour, not unlike the dreaded boiled cabbage, cooked to death, served up four times a week.
(500 words) Control in moving between worlds was something his grandfather had taught him, a closely guarded secret. He came from a place, just a whisper away but invisible and unreachable. At midnight, whilst the moon threw shadows like huge gravestones across the street, he would walk, seeking the aroma he desired. His face was gaunt and sallow, his lips thin and red, and his eyes as black as infinity.
(800 words) Every morning he’d go into his study with a breakfast tray and lock the door. Save for answering the call of nature, he’d stay there until he’d written two thousand words. Sometimes I’d hear a call, “Jude, get me some more toast, and don’t burn it!” other times, “That tea was foul, too much chlorine in the water! Make me some fresh with distilled water.” I was charged with buying it and heaven help me if we ran out!
(800 words) “Not wishing to doubt you Sue, but cars can’t coast uphill, get real!” So said Spencer Schneider, generally regarded as the class ‘nerd.’ “Come on Spence, she says it happened. You calling her a liar?” Johnny Serpa’s tone was hostile. “No.” There was a hesitation in Spencer's voice. “I’m just saying there has to be a scientific explanation.” “Scientific explanation my arse!” retorted Johnny. “Come on boys, cool it. There’s a simple way to find out. We’ll just drive out there tonight,” said my sister, Sue.
(1000 words) Monastic-style beers were her favourite. Heavy, sweet, and above all, high alcohol! She peered through the small opaque panes of Oliver’s Beer and Books. No sign of anyone in the small cafe behind the faded yellow door. She pushed it open and a bell rang. Inside was a counter, and behind, shelves upon which stood perhaps twenty dusty brown bottles. Bold fonts on cream and blue labels displayed odd foreign names - Zundert, Achel, Gregorius, Westmalle, all ones that she was now familiar with. Perhaps too familiar? A coffee machine, all shiny bright steel and red levers stood at one end of the counter. The enticing odour of coffee was noticeable by its absence.
To sleep, perchance to dream, I lay my head on the pillow. I close my eyes, but then it seems, Like the clouds, my thoughts start to billow. Did I remember to bolt the front door? And did I lock the car?
(950 words) Their mother's voice became serious. “Now the moon has gone through one cycle, it is time to make your own way in life. I will no longer be here to suckle you, and you must continue to wean on the fruits of the woods and farmers’ fields.” “But will we still see you, mother?” asked Blackberry, Sycamore’s brother, with a tear in his eye. “Yes, son, I will still frequent the same woods and fields, but it will only be a few moon-cycles before you will father leverets of your own. And just a few more before Bluebell, your sister, gives birth to her first litter.” “How exactly does that happen?” asked Sycamore, bemused. “You will find out son, never fear!” An older hare lolloped onto the moss. His coat had many curls and grizzled areas. Mother cleared her throat. “Now, I want to introduce someone to you. This is Uncle Ditch.”
(900 words) “Head for the hills, ‘cos I’m looking for thrills …,” sang Hamish, his Scottish burr prolonging ‘thrills.’ “I could use some of those,” laughed Julia, a short, stocky woman in her sixties. I hoped she didn’t have me in mind. The sun was sinking, lengthening the shadows of saguaro cacti, towering here and there along our way. Ahead, in the distance, across miles of flat, arid, semi-desert scrubland, lay a low range of hills, our destination.
(1300 words) “Come on Pete, wakey wakey!” Julie shook her boyfriend’s shoulder, looking with affection at his unshaven face. She wore just a shirt, lemon yellow with white stripes, and her shoulder-length blonde hair was tipped over her face. Peter’s closed eyes blinked half-open. “Huh, wha’ the time?” “It’s gone ten thirty. Come on, it's Sunday. You said we could go to the park. We can get coffee at the kiosk.” “I was dreaming of walking Lexie.” “I’ve got her lead ready. Come on sweetheart, get up!” Just then, three things happened. Someone started shouting down in the street below, a siren sounded somewhere and the phone rang.
(850 words) With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to set down here an event from my distant youth, one that’s been troubling me for many a year. I’m now five years short of my century, not long for this Earthly plane and I need to get it off my chest. Well, it would have been back in about 1933, those inter-war years I so fondly remember, when hope burned in all our breasts, and optimism exuded from every pore. We’d gone on a school trip to South Wales and were staying in a youth hostel, a converted lifeboat house.
(250 words) Ray’s ‘great idea’ was a writing group, T’would be held at his house on the first. Me and my friend thought it sounded great, Ray didn’t want no one coerced.
(1200 words) Say what you like about Charles – and plenty of people had plenty to say – but before Charles came into my life Dominic had been a nightmare, fighting all the other kids at school, ranting and raving at home, and refusing to help out or tidy his room; in short, a real devil child. But he looked up to Charles, saw him as a kind of hero, which he was in a way I suppose. Charles would give Dominic little jobs to do – cleaning his crampons, coiling his ropes, helping to sort out the mountaineering gear he’d stowed in my shed, all those bits and pieces that had names I suppose, but looked like junk to me.