(1500 words) I poured boiling water onto freshly ground coffee, inhaling the feisty aroma. 11.30 p.m. Joanne should be here any minute. What the hell did she want? I couldn’t get my head around it. Unless someone had tried it on with her inappropriately. Molested her. That was the last thing I needed. “Darling, are you coming to bed?” It was Becky, my wife. Her blonde hair was ruffled and her heavy breasts pressed through her thin nightie. I felt my body stir. “No, someone from work called. They’re calling around any time now. … they want to talk. It’s urgent. I don’t know what it’s about. Some neurotic woman. I’ll get rid of her as soon as I can.” I kissed Becky’s warm nose. “Love you.” But Joanne didn’t call round and she wasn’t at work the next day. In fact, she wasn’t at work ever again.

On Strings

(800 words) “Manager of data security and hacker extraordinaire! May I introduce the head of MI7, Baronetess Zilberstein?” The Speaker of the House of Commons gestured towards a short woman with the face of a man. Her hair was black and greasy, and reminded Grant Balfour of the ‘pudding basin’ haircuts he’d endured as a child. Her features were pudgy and grey, as if moulded from ancient Plasticine. She dipped her head perfunctorily, but her thin, straight lips remained compressed.

When Something Stinks

(700 words) “This is WKKZ, binging you the best music and the best discussion!” announced the smooth voice of DJ Kenny Bright, “and now we’ve time for one more caller before the news at 1 a.m. and we have Donny on the line, I believe. Donny, hello, can you hear me?” “Hi, Kenny, yes, I can, how are you doing?” “I’m great, Donny, how are you?” “Well, Kenny, actually, not so great right now.” “Oh, er, I’m sorry to hear that. I believe you wanted to speak about cover-ups. Is that right?” “Yes, Kenny, that’s right. You know, I don’t believe we’re told the truth about anything anymore.” “Well, I know there’s been a lot of talk about ‘fake news’.” “Well, there’s fake and there’s fake, isn’t there?” “How d’you mean?” “Well, they tell us that plane, MH370 just disappeared off the radar. Damned pilot just flew off and murdered two hundred and fifty people!”

The Ministry of Truth, Revisited

(850 words) Some had warned me it’d be like this, but I hadn’t believed them. Now I looked at my entry in Wikipedia once more, still feeling sick to my stomach. Corwin Blackthorne (b.1957) a self-proclaimed ‘spiritual’ healer, established a ‘sanctuary’ in St. Olaves, Wiltshire in 2003, when the number of patients visiting his home became too great. He claims to have healed thousands from arthritis, depression, asthma, and even cancer. However, studies by the British Medical Journal showed no evidence to support this claim and were unable to verify a single cure. Subsequently, some ex-patients have accused Blackthorne of fraud ….

Why is the Moon Hollow?

(600 words) “Bible stories, that’s all they are!” I said. “Mr Newby said the moon was created on the fourth day, along with the Sun!” Mr Newby being my seven-year-old son, Ivan’s Religious Education teacher. “Well, not everything in the Bible is completely true,” I said gently, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Some of it’s an ... interpretation.” “What’s intep..., inteperetation?” His big blue eyes looked up at me earnestly. I suddenly wondered what it meant myself. “Well, it’s a way of saying things in ... a different way,” I ventured.