Blue Is the Colour

(900 words) Can you imagine a world without colour? Dull, monotonous, and depressing are words that come to mind. I’d been a councillor for the past ten years, though my husband, Eric, hadn’t approved. “Why concern yourself with other people’s problems, don’t you have enough of your own, and what about me and the kids?” Well, actually, I did have problems, Eric had problems, our kids Sonny and Kara had problems, but they were nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to the problems of people I dealt with through my social services work. How can you compare not having enough space for a pool table to someone with cancer, their kids addicted to heroin, being evicted from their grotty flat and being confined to a wheelchair? Now, that was a problem!

Apple Cider

(800 words) When she looked up she saw the angel. He towered above her, shrouded in a black cloak and hood, looking down at her. In the light of the flaming torch he held, she saw his face was young, almond-shaped, his full lips pursed, as if intending to speak, … or about to kiss her. She felt a wave of the most glorious love she’d ever felt, washing over her, the best feeling she could ever remember. “Am I dead?” Looking around, she saw they were surrounded, almost cocooned, by a golden light. She felt completely at peace and asked the question without hesitation. The angel smiled. “If you were dead, would you be able to speak to me?” “Well, you know what I mean, ‘not alive’.” “Of course you’re alive. You see, you hear, you think!” “But, where are we, where’s Apple Cider?”

A Hairy Godfather Calls

(900 words) - “You’ve got thirty seconds to explain to me what you’re doing here,” Rebecca Anniston said, staring in disbelief at the man in the sample lab. It was a secure area, no one should be here, let alone a scruffy, bearded man with a long multi-coloured scarf around his neck. “Or I’ll call security.” She pulled a paging device from her pocket. “Now steady on, lass, steady on.” The man’s face lit up with a beam. “Maybe I’m here to help you.”

The Five-Year Welcome

(650 words) Orlando Flinton pulled a face. “We must be crazy!” The other Earthman, Ricky Kiyosaki, who had been gazing out of the viewplate at the green and gold alien vista, glanced around at Flinton’s remark. “Huh?” By this time, the spaceship had finished jiggling and now stood firmly on Deiphobus soil, and Flinton was beginning to doubt his sanity. “Look,” he said, “we thought we were special, you know, a big deal being selected for this mission, ten years training for it, and now we’re here, guess what? I don’t feel anything. I could be at home, back on Earth, watching the big game and drinking Coors with Jenny. Instead of risking my life on this crummy planet!”

Boys and Their Toys

(900 words) “You got a minute, Eunice?” It was Beryl, the boss’s secretary. “Sure.” Eunice relaxed, looking at the clock and noting it was only ten minutes till lunchtime. “What’s on your mind, hun?” Beryl was a sweetie, no mistake, and Eunice always had time for her. Beryl smoothed her olive-green linen skirt down over her hips and took a seat. She looked around to make sure no one in the sparsely populated office was within earshot. “Look, it’s Vashti.” Eunice felt shocked. Vashti seemed a quiet, kind type. “Why, what’s up?” Beryl blushed. “Look, nothing’s wrong, it’s just … it’s just…” “C’mon, spit it out, hun.” “Well, it’s just … it’s just,” Beryl lowered her voice, “Vashti’s building something in our backyard, something … huge.”

Worse Things Happen at Sea

(950 words) “Sorry, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to in ten years.” Her voice was cracked, dry like an empty pitcher left out to desiccate in the sun. Jack Whitney looked down at the bedraggled young woman. Her hair was long and matted, perhaps once a dark blonde. Her face could be attractive, he … Continue reading Worse Things Happen at Sea

Contact

(900 words) The day my life changed was the day the lives of everyone changed. Finally, there was irrefutable, cast-iron evidence of extra-terrestrial civilisation. Evidence that couldn’t be fobbed off by governments as weather balloons, Venus, hallucination or just being plain drunk. But for me it was different. There I’d been, watching the whole shebang from my weightless viewpoint, floating around the International Space Station or ISS. “Hey, Jabez, there it is. I’ve got it on the viewing screen!” astronaut Vladimir Chekhov exclaimed. “Wow. Let’s have a look.” There, on our wall-to-wall cinema was a tiny pinprick of light, still tens of thousands of miles away but, without doubt, on its way to good ‘ol Planet Earth.

The Peppermint Angel

(650 words) Helena lifted the angel to her cheek and felt the heavy varnish stick to her skin. She closed her eyes, picturing the peppermint green figure, a crude angel-shape with black stripes that reminded her of a sad humbug. But it brought back memories of the night, THAT night. “Has anyone NOT seen a demonstration of mediumship before?” She’d felt embarrassed, but seeing other hands going up, she’d stuck her arm up in the air, feeling her mother’s bangle sliding on her wrist. Would she be here? Was it even possible? “There’s nothing to worry about. If anything horrible comes along, I’ll be first out the door!” Laughter.

Birthday Boy

(600 words) Long John Silver stepped forward on his crutch. “Ah, Jim lad, why so sad?” “Stop calling me Jim, my name’s Billy.” “Sorry, Jim lad, but it be your birthday tomorro’. Twelve years old thee’ll be, to the day!” Billy sat at his desk, looking at his homework on the screen. “Look, d’you think this’ll have enough thrust?” “Sure to, Jim, it’s a grand rocket motor!” “But the fuel lines, I don’t know if they’re wide enough.” “What do the equations say?” asked Harry Potter. “Oh, they seem OK, but fluid tensors aren’t my strong point, you know that.” Harry brushed the hair back from his forehead to reveal a lightning-shaped scar. “See this scar, Billy. Voldemort gave me this.” Billy put his hands over his eyes. “Shut up! You’ve told me that a thousand times.” “Look, Professor Snape killed Dumbledore. D’you think he’s in league with Voldemort?” “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” The door opened. It was dad. “Billy, what’s all the shouting about?”

Learning the Alphabet: A Memoir

(900 words)   Resemblance to a schoolmaster gone for the moment, Dad would appear, jaunty, as if holding a big secret, which in a way I suppose he was. “Listen, children” – he never called us ‘kids,’ they were for goats, apparently. “We’re going to grandma’s next week.” My sister Helen, brother Steven, and I … Continue reading Learning the Alphabet: A Memoir

There Was None Bolder

(1000 words) “Calm down now and listen up,” said our sixth form tutor, Miss Hughes. “That includes you, Kara Simons.” She jabbed a finger in my direction. "Now, today's the first of our career sessions and I’m pleased to welcome our two guests to speak about their careers and what you could expect if you were to follow in their footsteps.” I looked from a twenty-something woman in a pink two-piece to a man of a similar age, clad in camouflage get-up, olive green with grey-white bits. He wore a green beret with two rows of little white and red squares at the bottom, and a thick black belt. His lips were thin and he looked around the classroom with disdain. “This is Miss Cheskin,” said Miss Hughes, gesticulating to the woman. “She’s here to talk about a career in retail sales.” The woman stepped to the front and gave a bright smile. “So, how many of you like the idea of working in a department store? Hands up.” A plain spotty girl, Ruth Smith, lifted a fat arm up. “Wouldn’t mind.” “I wouldn’t want to be served by you!” said Johnny Harris. The class laughed. “That’s enough, Harris,” snapped Miss Hughes. “Please carry on, Miss Cheskin.”

Journey to a Dream

David’s star, the mission. Forty years, the duration. Della King walked into the cavernous viewing gallery and gazed out at the unfathomable number of brilliant, glowing stars, feeling numbed by the vastness and mystery of space, yet knowing that every one of those sparkling, luminescent dots was catalogued and its complex code number registered in the ship’s computers. “Hi, I’m Andrew Mokalis.” A white-suited man joined Della. “It’s amazing isn’t it. I could look out of this viewing window for hours.” They sat down on opposing sofas, a table housing a holographic image of the ship and its position in space, separating them. Della wore an identical white coverall. “Drink?” asked Andrew.