(1250 words) Three men sat around an open fire in front of a tent. It was a hot night, for the time was early August, and the place Central America. To the north, the twinkling lights in the distance told of Mexico City. To the south, the skyline was blotted out by a huge black shadow, rising like a pyramid from the rocks that strewed the district. Borkovski swigged on a sliver hipflask, “El oro, ¿Donde està?” The Mexican’s face split in a wide smile, a thick black moustache above whiter-than-white teeth. “The gold, señor, well, how should I know where eet is?” “Because your brother, Carlos, he’s suddenly driving around in a brand-new Cadillac.” “Carlos, he gamble. Maybe he win big?” “Look,” I said, “don’t play us for bloody fools! You disappear into the mountains for six months, barely a couple of pesos to rub together. Then suddenly you set up this trekking company and Carlos is swanning around in a silver machine like he owns the town!”
Lost in Translation
(1000 words) We’d come down to the stream to find there was no bridge. Instead, lumps of rock protruded from the water at semi-regular intervals. Stepping-stones. “We cross here,” announced Eric. “Hang on a minute, it looks quite deep,” said Jan. “And those rocks look slippery,” said Petra. “Come on, girls, you’re not scared of a little stream are you,” laughed Eric. “What say you, Saul?” “Well,” I said, “we can’t go back. I’ll go first.” I took off my boots and socks, stuffed the socks into the boots, tied the laces together and strung them around my neck. Then I rolled my trousers up to my knees. “Good luck,” laughed Eric, slapping me on the back.
Scene in a Tent
(600 words) The tent flap opens, and Trevor comes in. Everyone’s here now. Everyone, that is, except Alan the group leader. He’ll be sorting out logistics with the mule team. Eating with them too. I give Trevor a bright smile from beneath my red baseball cap, holding out my plastic plate to Muhammed as he serves from a huge bowl of lamb and vegetable stew.
Above the Volcano
(600 words) Alma stared out at an alien landscape, knobs of black volcanic rock formed into bizarre shapes and covered with moss. Somehow, in places even grass. She heard the roaring engine of her transport in the distance and breathed a sigh of relief, soon spotting the Land Rover driving along the narrow coastal road towards her. Then there was Gunnar, smiling. “Hop in,” he said in perfect English. As the vehicle powered its way to the unimaginable rendezvous, she thought of Hy and his love for Iceland. Perhaps that was why she was here again, she admitted to herself. Hy and his obsession with geology, his disdain for her and Charles in their ‘boring, suburban world,’ the world that had funded his education of course, but no matter, in his view. Then there’d been Vanessa and the crazy accident.
Stars in Her Eyes
(900 words) She wore khaki shorts and short ankle socks with brown leather boots, the old-fashioned kind. I noticed her breasts were small and hard from the petite lumps they made in the drab grey and olive-green T-shirts she wore. She walked with long strides of her slim, tanned legs, reminding me of a giraffe. There was something mysterious about her. “She has stars in her eyes, Phil,” said Tom, “and she has a sadness about her, I don’t know why, she doesn’t say much.” “Where’s Tom and Sally?” I asked her. Ilka kept her eye on the path, looking straight ahead. “Sally’s got diarrhoea. Tom’s staying with her at the Gite d'Etape. A couple of guys from the mule team will pick them up later.” She spoke softly, with an accent I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps Swedish or Norwegian? “I’m sorry to hear that. Food hygiene is rubbish here, isn’t it?” Ilka didn’t reply. She just kept walking with those long, tanned strides. I walked alongside, hoping she wouldn’t mind.
Seeking Villa Nowhere
(900 words) “It’s up there somewhere, Val,” said Edward, waving his hand towards snow-covered mountain peaks, far beyond the valley that held the roadside café we’d pulled up at. I put a mug of pungent coffee down onto a weathered wooden table, it was too hot to hold in any case, and with my binoculars, scanned the forests of snow-laden pine trees, the bare, grey stone crags and endless snowfields. It looked like I could reach out and touch them, yet when I put the binoculars down, the mountains seemed impossibly distant. “I don’t see anything.”
(650 words) The last thing Ronald Russell wanted to do that day was get into the taxi with Cheryl. Not because he didn’t love her. He did – or thought he did. But, as the taxi lumbered down the mountain road, swaying from side to side, pressing his bare legs against the bare legs of Cheryl and Samantha alternately, he knew there would be no more taps on the door late at night, no more sounds of clothes falling onto the floor, no more slim, warm body slipping in beside him, and Cheryl, giggling, reaching down for him, whispering, “I hope you don’t mind!”
Shelly in the Jungle
(650 words) “Where d’you think I’m gonna find that kinda money?” asked Shelly Green, pulling on her dog’s lead. “Sit, Earl, sit!” “Listen Shell’, it’s a chance in a lifetime! I dunno, get a loan from the bank, sell your car, sell your house!” Shelly sighed. “What about Wharton’s. They wouldn’t let me go for a month!” “For Chrissakes, Shelly, you’re only a cleaner. They can get someone else from the agency. No offence.” “Thanks a lot!” She blushed. Her friend, Mavis Enderby didn’t mince words. “But, look, Mave, those pygmies, with their beards and loincloths and sweaty bodies, I mean, what about … y’know, women’s things … I’d be embarrassed!”
Bound in Morocco: Part 1 – “Welcome to Marrakech!”
ti (7224 words, parts 1-5) Please note: I've had to remove this story as it is now available as a Kindle eBook and corresponding paperback. Link: http://amzn.eu/j7ntoml (Kindle) Link: http://amzn.eu/88ZWNwc (paperback) I'm allowed to publish an extract of 10% though, so here is a section from Part 1. I The whole strange affair began one … Continue reading Bound in Morocco: Part 1 – “Welcome to Marrakech!”