The Magician

(1400 words) In a town in Morocco lived a man named Gilad Hebron. Having no other means of gaining a livelihood, he used to ride every day into the forest to cut wood, which he would then hawk around the streets for sale. One day, upon returning to the town, Gilad encountered a man on a white steed, accompanied by a number of other men, mounted upon fine horses and dressed in jackets of leather and chain mail. “Greetings!” called out the white-horsed man. “What sellest thou?” “Why, sir, I have firewood of the highest quality. ‘Tis true, a little green, but it will burn brightly, once the smoke has diminished.” “My name is Augustus de Casablanca, and my men are knights of the Court of Casablanca. We are headed homewards but it has just come to our attention that the bridge over the Gorge de Mort was damaged recently by a most tremendous storm.” Gilad bowed. “Well, I hope that your way will not be too much disadvantaged, and I wish you ‘bon voyage,’ Sir Augustus.” “Well, my good man, it could be that the gorge is somewhat impassable and some excellent firewood may help to summon assistance from the natives who dwell on its far side. I would therefore desire that you accompany us thus far!” Not really understanding how firewood would help cross a gorge but thinking that he might be rewarded handsomely for his co-operation, Gilad let the men transfer the wood to their horses.

Incident in a Park

(1350 words) “May I ask you a personal question?” A young woman with long, bright-blonde hair had approached me in the park. “What? Why?” “Oh, there’s just something I’d like to ask you.” “What, then?” “How long is your penis?” “What kind of question is that!” “Just a question.” “Yes, I know that, but why do you want to ask it?” “Why do I want to do anything. I dunno, I just do.” “Well, how long is a piece of string?” “I don’t know how long a piece of string is! It’s as long as it’s long, I suppose. My name’s Ezer.” In the distance, two men in white coats, running in our direction. The alarm bells rang. I gestured in their direction. “Look … Ezer … I don’t know what your game is but do you know those men? “ A look of horror came over her face. “Look, we gotta run!” 

An Eye for an Eye

(1400 words) I stared in total disbelief. I’d returned home from work to find my front door hanging from broken hinges and the whole house surrounded with yellow tape, stating POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS. I looked around. There were no police vehicles, that I could see anyway, and nothing happening at any of our neighbours’ houses. All seemed quiet and deserted. I ducked under the tape and went in. A table in the hall lay on its side, but in the lounge, everything seemed normal. Then I looked in the kitchen. It looked as if a giant arm had swept everything onto the floor. There were broken cups and plates strewn around everywhere. I spied a mobile phone amongst them, my son Jack’s, I thought. How odd. I picked it up and put it in a jacket pocket. As I did so, I noticed a dark stain on the brown kitchen carpet tiles, and what appeared to be speckles of blood all over the crockery. A saucepan on the stove, now cold, had a blackened base, as if it had boiled dry. “You’re not allowed in the house, sir!” I turned around and jumped out of my skin. A man stood in a yellow suit with a huge clear visor. Through it, I could see he was breathing with a respirator. He wore black rubber gloves and shoes. “What’s going on. Where’s my wife and son?”

Circles and Stones

(1400 words) I was sitting on a wooden bench with my girlfriend, Daisy, in the graveyard of St. Mary’s, in the village of Blackbarrow. My fingers traced random patterns on the warm, weathered wood, as I gazed over a sea of gravestones. Many were ancient, toppled at strange angles, worn illegible by centuries of summer heat and hostile, frigid winters. Why was there no system to put them upright again, I wondered? “It’s so peaceful here,” said Daisy, squeezing my hand. “Thank you for coming.” I kissed her cheek, warm and soft. “That’s OK, I like graveyards.” She sighed. “Two years. It seems like two months.” I noticed her eyes were wet. “I know, sweetheart, but they did everything they could.” How many times had I said that? She took a tissue from a brown leather shoulder bag and blew her nose. Then she reached back in and pulled out a thick paperback book. “Christ, can’t you give it a rest?” “Look, I have to study. I have to pass my exams. One of us needs to earn some proper money.”

Are You Being Served?

(1400 words) It was a drab, windy day in late March and the dismal grey sky bore down on me, making me feel like I was being pressed into the pavement. An old newspaper tumbled down the street past my stationary feet as I stood, looking up at an old office building, slabs of concrete and dark windows like soulless eyes, towering above me. Plucking up courage, I went to the contrasting front door of steel and glass and punched in the code I’d been sent. The door sighed open and I found myself in a warm, well-lit lobby. The door closed behind me and I noticed that there didn’t seem to be a corresponding number pad to exit. No matter! I would cross that bridge later.