(600 words) Papers clutter a desk. I pick one up and read about a man’s obsession. Seems there’s a character who enjoys killing. The description is brief. Medium height, average build, nondescript face. No distinguishing marks. Not much to go on! But the writer describes an incident where the man strokes another man’s hair and gently, lovingly, wraps a scarf around his neck. Like a petrified mouse under the paw of a cat, the victim remains motionless.
(600 words) Traditional psychology can’t explain it. Well, they try to, they say it’s some kind of amnesia. I know it’s not, but they won’t listen to me. I look in the mirror and the person I see is not ... me. It’s like I've been put in someone else’s body, not a bad one mind, and given a few sheets of A4 to learn about his history, life and work. So when Susan, my ‘wife’ comes to me and says Frank’s on the phone, I don’t have a clue who she’s on about, he wasn’t on the A4 sheets.
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!”
“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!”
Giselle Brown leapt and found herself soaring into the air. She gazed out over a lake of frozen hydrocarbons, black as tar, then into the starry sky where one star, like a torch seen at the end of a tunnel, outshone all the others – the Sun.
As she reached the apex of her jump, twenty-five feet above the ground, she gazed in awe, as she always did, at the huge crescent of Charon, hanging in the dark sky, before she began to fall, gently, back to the icy surface. She glanced at her chronometer and smiled. Nearly ten seconds, her highest leap yet.
It was incredible and completely unexpected; the sensations as our fingers touched was electric; my heart skipped a beat and I momentarily forgot to breathe. Her fingers intertwined with mine and she twitched her lips in that funny way she used to, before kissing me tenderly. I gazed into her dark round eyes and knew it was love - deep, sacred love.
(650 words) “Invisible doesn’t mean non-existent!” I said. “In my book it does. If I can’t see something, I don’t believe in it.” My partner, Greg, was on his usual soap-box, and we were in the middle of yet another argument. Science, specifically the pin-up physics professor who was on the telly all the time, had spoken. There were no ghosts, no UFOs, no life after death. So that was that. The mountain of evidence didn’t fit their neat little theories, so the members of the scientific professions chose to ignore it. And Greg, a scientist and avid fan, lapped it up, unquestioningly.
It’s my birthday! I am ten. Mummy and daddy say they have a speshal surprise for me. But I have to wait until next week! Today they gave me a Lego set. It is a very big one, so I don’t mind waiting. I will make a model of the Houses of Parliment and a space rocket.
School was boring. Denis Lavin got punched in the mouth by a boy in year six. He lost a tooth and his face was all bloody. The boy who punched him was laughing but he got caned. Then he wasn’t laughing.
(650 words) John threw a log into the fire pit and I pulled my bare feet up to the edge of my chair, bringing my knees up to my chin and stroking my smooth, bare calves. Yellow and orange flames curled skywards, momentary daggers of light, dancing in the indigo twilight. “I’m not going through with it!” He laughed, not speaking. I heard a clock chime and looked up the lawn to the house. Ten o’clock. A faint light showed through an upstairs window but it otherwise lay in darkness. Beyond, a car door slammed and an engine started up. Our last guests leaving. John got up and walked over to the barbecue, returning with a sausage and a chicken leg. “Haven’t you eaten enough? And did you hear what I said?”
“Hello Sherina, yes, I've received your payment, how can I help?”
“Well, the world’s divided into two kinds of people. Those who hear voices in their heads and those who don’t. Some get paid for it and some get locked away!”
“Ha ha, yes, I get paid for it, dear!”
“Oh, getting on for thirty years!”
“Well, we have ‘guides’ - people in sprit. They co-ordinate who comes through.”
“Yes, they do a great job, it can get pretty busy! OK, I’m hearing the name Dianne, it’s a female energy, I’m feeling a lot of love, is it your mother, dear?”
“All right, I’m feeling a sharp pain in my chest. Did she have heart problems before she passed, perhaps a heart attack? Ah, I feel she passed quickly.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, dear, but she’s with me now, she says she’s fine now, and she sends her love … Sherina, are you OK, love?”
“Princes … and paupers, all are buried here, sir.” The old man spat into the grave he was digging in the rich brown earth.
I’d chanced upon an ancient church, deep in the Norfolk countryside. A long walk down a meandering single-track lane that looked like it would fizzle out in the middle of nowhere. Instead, there was a sizeable farm, this church, ensconced in shadow amongst mature trees, and two cottages, predictably named ‘Church Cottages nos. 1 and 2,’ as indicated by an incongruously modern sign.