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!”

To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores

(600 words) 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.

My Name is Ian Z. McPhee

(627 words) 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.

Priceless

(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.

Spilling the Beans

(650 words) Invisible hands grabbed my arms from behind. I kicked out, into thin air, and felt the acute pain of a blow just below my right breast. I shouted out in agony, falling onto the hard cellar floor. I was barely aware of my hands being cuffed, then I was manhandled onto a chair in the dark. A bright light, like a stab of sunshine, shone into my eyes, hurting, even as I quickly closed them again. “What you doing here?” The voice sounded foreign, Middle-Eastern perhaps? “I could ask you the same question. Aagh!” A broad hand gave my right cheek a resounding slap.

Now I Am Ten

(600 words)

March 27th

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.

March 28th

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.

Quid Pro Quo

(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?”

The Medium is the Message

(600 words)

“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?”

The Tale of Tobias Squire

(600 words) “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 … Continue reading The Tale of Tobias Squire

Dreams on Board

(650 words)

“‘Clothes horses,’ that’s what she calls ‘em.”
“Uh huh.”
“That’s all they do, walk up and down the deck, flaunting themselves.”
“Uh huh. That a problem, sir?”
“Who, me? No … no, it’s just that she … that’s my wife, Josie, doesn’t like me looking at them. Says I shouldn’t ‘gawp at other women’s anatomy’!”
The bartender wiped a glass, smiling wryly. “Well, you have to admit, sir, they’re lookers.”
“They sure are. Those crazy long legs, long blonde hair, low cleavage showing their ripe mangos! What are they, dancers in the shows or something? I never see ‘em during the day, just the evening, ‘bout seven, I guess. Up and down, up and down they walk, eyes straight ahead. Till about eight.”
“D’you ever get to speak to one?”
“No, no, I mean, well they look too, er, haughty, I guess you’d say.”
“Well, you’re wrong there, sir, it’s not such a big deal. Say hello, pay ‘em a compliment. You’ll get a great big smile. And she’ll be happy to chew the fat with you!”
“Really? Well, I guess I’d like to, but there’s Josie you see, she wouldn’t like it. Can’t say as I’d blame her.”
The bartender put down the glass he was polishing, took another one from a shelf and poured a large shot of bourbon into each. “Here you are, sir, on the house!”
“Why, that’s kind of you!”
“You’re welcome, sir.” The bartender took a sip. “Look sir, I’ll let you in on a little secret.” He winked.

A Girl Like Alice

(650 words)

With any luck it would blow over. I wouldn’t miss her, though. In fact, now I thought about it, I could quite happily live without Alice wandering around the empty, echoing corridors of Thurkett Grange, dressed in nothing more than a long-sleeved shirt - pale green stripes on white - with her small, hard breasts showing through the material like two cherry tarts. As often as not she’d be humming tunelessly, frowning, pacing up and down, sometimes muttering to herself. And as for ‘Steve’!

Brother, Oh, Brother!

Other nights I’d have stayed in, watching the telly, or gone shopping at Tesco’s, but tonight there was a play on at the village hall, Brother, Oh, Brother! a farce set in a monastery, of all places. Anyway, I thought a trip to Tesco’s could wait till tomorrow. Why not have a laugh, instead of listening to a load of drab, sour-faced, overweight women arguing with the checkout operator?