For the next 48 hours, Flash Friction, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. III, is FREE on Amazon Kindle. Simply head over to your local Amazon, download and ENJOY!
Death of a Postman
(900 words) Early morning mist rose from the lawn as the funeral director led me into the mortuary. “Have you ever been in a mortuary before, sir?” “No.” “It’s cold.” He unlocked the door and led me into a large white room where racks stood against the far wall. There were six units, each consisting of three tiers on a moveable base. All but two tiers were occupied with white-shrouded objects. I made that sixteen dead human bodies. I deposited my holdall on a table. “Here’s his clothes.” The director looked through them, raising his eyebrows at the shoes. “Joe was a postman. We thought he’d like to be buried in his work shoes. He loved his work.”
Opportunity Makes a Thief
(1000 words) After William Millington had known Frances Brader in Lincoln, England, for a few months, he began to think of her as The Widow. She always wore black, and he was given the feeling, by a certain disarrangement in her apartment, that the undertakers had just left. This impression did not stem from malice on his part, for he was fond of Frances. They were the same age, and during their first summer in the city, they used to meet after work and drink martinis in places like No Problemo and the Drill Hall and have dinner and play chess at Corcoran’s. “You know, Fran, you never did tell me why you always wear black,” William said one evening, moving a white knight into position in the centre of the board. Frances let out a puff of air. “That was the one move I was hoping you’d miss!” She took a sip of vodka martini. “Well, did you?” William insisted. Frances looked at the chessboard and sighed. “That was a damn good move, Bill, you’ve shut me down something rotten.” “Well?”
The Unexpected Visitor
(1250 words) I set this story down, by way of a confession if you like, not expecting it will be believed, but, if possible, to prepare a way of escape for the next victim. He perhaps may profit from my misfortune. My own case, I know, is hopeless, and I am now in some measure prepared to meet my fate.
(950 words) Sarah took the food to the old woman then returned to the café, startled to see two men waiting for her. They were well-built, strong-looking, unfriendly, she thought. Both were dressed in black suits with white shirts open at the collar. Both wore dark glasses. One proffered a photograph. “Have you seen this man?” Sarah looked and felt sick.
Down and Out
(900 words) It was easy to ignore a down-and-out, someone who represents a world you don’t want to know about, when you were streaming past with other cinema-goers. Not so easy now the streets hereabouts were empty and there were just the two of us and the poor soul under the bridge, sitting staring into space in the chill October air. I walked over to the canal that ran beside the path and gazed into the black water, wondering if anything was alive in that strange, dark, oil-polluted world. Far off, the clock in the town square struck the chime for a quarter to eleven. Suddenly I heard a scream.
When the Fat Man Croaks
(900 words) “Death, I am not keen on, overmuchly,” said Donut Dave, turning a funny shade of yellow. “Well, I’m only passin’ on what I heard last night at Max’s,” I said. “Seems Big Cyril and da boys is out lookin’ for you. On account of you visitin’ Missy Cymbeline Banks, Cyril’s best gal.” “Sure, I seen her, but only to measure her up for a trombone, says she wants to learn in secret like, give Cyril and the boys a big surprise at the club one night.” Donut was a hot jazz piano player, so I guessed there was some truth in his story. “Well, the way I hear it, Cyril’s gotta surprise in mind for you, he’s gonna be measurin’ you up – for a pair of concrete pyjamas!” There was a knock on the door and Donut looked around frantically for somewhere to hide.
The Great and the Good
(900 words) I’d been distracted, adjusting my rear-view mirror, when this old codger had just lurched onto the zebra crossing out of nowhere. I wasn’t drunk but admittedly a couple of glasses of Shiraz at the theatre had perhaps dulled my reactions. Hannah and I looked and dressed alike so when we’d stopped the car, it was obvious he wasn’t sure who the driver had been. I breathed a sigh of relief as she did the ‘decent thing’ and saved my political career, ‘confessing all’ to the ambulance driver and the police.
Menus a la Carte
So, the drop-down system has been consigned to the bin and a new streamlined system employed. All stories were categorised by subject and found to fall into eleven main categories (some stories fell into two or even three categories). Accordingly, these new subject categories have taken pride of place at the head of each page. And mobile and tablet menus work just fine too. So, it just remains for me to say that clicking on a subject category will take you to a table of all stories in that category, listed in alphabetical order, together with original publication date and word count. So, you get the best bang for your buck before deciding to plunge into actual reading!
Death Will Have His Day
Word had it that Douglas Whiting wanted to kill someone. Someone, anyone, just to see what it was like. And it got back to him that, yes, a man named Norman Oliver was happy to be the victim. Well, perhaps not happy exactly, more resigned, his cancer untreatable.
So, early one evening Whiting knocked on Oliver’s door. A shabby door in a shabby house in a shabby street in a shabby town. Oliver answered the door and Whiting saw the man matched his surroundings, unshaven, a green cardigan with holes in it, old chequered trousers and worn-out slippers.
“Hello, you must be the man who’s come to kill me,” Oliver said.
Whiting looked Oliver in the eyes. “That’s right. You haven’t changed your mind?”
“Oh no, no, not at all. Come in, please come in.”
The Window Crack’d
There’d been no problem getting a gondola ride. For the second day, a thick white mist hung in the air over the city and at the gondola station at San Moisè the vessels had loomed out of the fog like Viking ships. A man in a pink T-shirt with horizontal red stripes and a body-warmer had appeared from nowhere. “You wanna ride, signor e signora? Is foggy. I give you special price of sixty euros!”
“Rumours are, the Jones brothers are coming back,” said Christine, my wife and best friend.
I put my coffee down onto the table in slow motion. “Tell me you’re joking.”
“Sorry Tony, that’s what Shirley just told me.”
Christine had just returned from having her hair cut by a lady with her ear to the ground, and her head up her arse. But Christine’s hair looked nice, I had to admit.
“I heard they were doing alright in The Smoke.”
“They were, or are, I should say. Shirley keeps in touch with Babs. Says they control south from The Monument down as far as Cannock Town. They’re leaving Smiler in charge. He’s rounded up some new men, … real hard men, she says.”
I looked at my face in the mirror. It was almost white. “Oh,” was all I could say.
“Yeah, anyone who doesn’t pay on time gets three strikes. The first is on the body, so the bruises don’t show. Second is the face, so everyone knows.”
I hesitated to ask what the third was, but Christine told me anyway.