(1300 words) Mr. Joseph Bowser was sick of life. He walked away from his unhappy home, sick not only of his own existence, but of everybody else’s, turned aside down Dog Kennel Lane to avoid the town, crossed the wooden bridge that goes over the canal to Blackstone’s Cottages, and was presently alone in the damp pinewoods and out of sight and sound of human habitation. He would stand it no longer. He repeated aloud with profanities unusual to him that he would stand it no longer. He looked around for somewhere to sit but the ground was damp, as were the occasional fallen trunks. Woe is me! he would’ve thought, had he been on passing terms with that expression. He walked, scuffing the fallen pine needles with his shoes until he reached a clearing. There, a log lay in the sun and afforded him a dry – or, at least, sufficiently desiccated – place to rest. He had determined to take his own life but now he regretted his lack of planning. He had neither knife nor pills nor rope. Short of headbutting a tree, he could think of no method to end his suffering. Perhaps if he held his breath? He could at least pass out. He closed his eyes and held his nose.
(1300 words) “There is no such thing as a haunted house,” said I. “T’aint the house that be haunted, Mr. Rauland,” said the old man, “just the library.” I put down my valise and hung my coat and hat on a stand. “Whatever, there are no such things as ghosts.” “That’s what the last one said. Mr. Griffin, that was ‘is name,” said the old woman. Her hair was white but with a green tinge, as if mouldy, and her beady eyes were swollen and bloodshot. “Well, e’s in the mad ‘ouse now, is Mr. Griffin.”
(1300 words) “Mother Mary and Jozuf!” exclaimed the old man, looking up at the dark sky. I swear I saw somethin’ fly past just now. Somethin’ white and round, real low. He took another swig from his bottle and turned back to the brazier. He wore a woollen hat, a dirty black greatcoat and brown boots with the soles almost worn through. If you had been near him you would have smelt a curious smell. A mixture of mould, sweat and urine. For that reason, he sat alone at the brazier. ‘Greetings earthman!’ The tramp heard the voice in his head and turned around. He almost fainted at the sight of the three strange figures standing at the edge of the light from the brazier. ‘Do not be alarmed. We wish you no harm.’ He stood up and found himself stumbling. “Good gawd, is this shum kinda joke?” ‘We wish to visit your leader.’
(1300 words) I stood at the railing, gazing out to the haze of the distant level horizon. The sea was calm, low deep blue waves undulating slowly, barely hinting at their potential ferocity. Ahead and far below me was the bow of the cruiser, where people, ant-like, sat by an unusually empty pool. I sighed and thought of Janie. Bitch! We’d had problems, sure, who doesn’t? But her leaving had come as a shock. It was Valentine’s Day, of all days, and I’d ordered some Adrenaline roses, her favourites. Unexpectedly, a silver BMW had pulled up, and I'd recognised Andy, her gym trainer, his dyed-blond hair swept over in an attempt to look youthful. Obviously it had worked. Janie appeared. “Look Steve, I don’t want a scene. I’m leaving. Me and Andy … I’ll be in touch about my things.” She’d looked embarrassed and hurried out, clutching her sports holdall, before I’d had time to reply. I watched her get into the car and kiss him. They drove off without looking back. Just then the flower delivery van had turned up. I’d taken the roses and thrashed them to pieces in the back garden with tears streaming down my face.
(1300 words) My story starts one sunny day in August. I’d spent the morning setting up bookcases, then bringing in box after heavy box of old books from an outbuilding, with the intention of getting them into some kind of order. They belonged to my uncle Josiah who had died at an unexpectedly early age after being pushed onto the live rail of a tube train at Holland Park station by a ‘random madman,’ described as a ‘fakir lookalike,’ yet to be apprehended. The books had been left to me, Ruben Winterfield is my name, in uncle Josiah’s will, possibly as I’d worked in the antiquarian book trade for a number of years, although I’d only met him on occasion. Well, the ones I’d looked at so far were fairly weird.
(1300 words) Myrtle Shaw sat on a well-cushioned, folding chair, sipping champagne. It was six o’clock in the evening but the sun was still quite high, casting a comforting summer warmth over the thin crowd of spectators. To her back was a wall of the ancient stone church, St. Mary’s, and in front of her, white-costumed figures stood, ran, and enacted their roles on the smooth grass. “Ooh, this champagne’s going to my head.” “That’s the idea!” laughed Major D’Arcy-Smith, her erstwhile companion and ever-hopeful suitor. “Would you like some more?” He took a heavy green bottle, glistening with water droplets, from an ice-bucket. Myrtle was in her seventies, but sprightly, her skin well-toned, and her brown hair still its original colour, untinged by chemical potions. Her eyes were green and she only wore glasses for reading, and, of course, for examining clues. “Just a drop, Tom.”
(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, you … Continue reading Cruising Down the River
- (1300 words) I stood at the railing, gazing out to the haze of the distant level horizon. The sea was calm, low deep blue waves undulating slowly, barely hinting at their potential ferocity. Ahead and far below me was the bow of the cruiser, where people, ant-like, sat by an unusually empty pool. I … Continue reading Full Fathom Five