(800 words) Word had it that Douglas Whiting wanted to kill someone. Someone, anyone, just to see what it was like. And it got back to him that, yes, a man named Norman Oliver was happy to be the victim. Well, perhaps not happy exactly, more resigned, his cancer untreatable. So, early one evening Whiting knocked on Oliver’s door. A shabby door in a shabby house in a shabby street in a shabby town. Oliver answered the door and Whiting saw the man matched his surroundings, unshaven, a green cardigan with holes in it, old chequered trousers and worn-out slippers. “Hello, you must be the man who’s come to kill me,” Oliver said. Whiting looked Oliver in the eyes. “That’s right. You haven’t changed your mind?” “Oh no, no, not at all. Come in, please come in.”
(750 words) Debonair, that was how Susan, my friend from Pilates, had always described my husband, Peter – before his accident. Now his blue eyes, roman nose, square chin and neatly cut jet-black hair – dyed, of course – stared back from the life-size photograph propped on the windowsill by the television. How I longed to smash it.
(800 words) “‘Course, it might have been a false one, to throw us off the scent,” said the constable. “Maybe. These bastards are clever … Hi, who’s that?” said the inspector. A dark blue Range Rover had just pulled into the car park at Strubby House. A woman in a red coat and matching hat got out, waving. “Cooee.” Thirty minutes earlier, the two policemen, accompanied by a police artist, had taken the path from Strubby House to the Dower House. The latter was a square Georgian pile with tall, narrow windows. Against the gloom of the sinking winter sun it looked like an enormous tomb. The path, an uneven gravel walkway, strewn with wet leaves, was lined by heavily pollarded beech trees on either side. Their stunted, blackened branches reminded the inspector of photographs of Holocaust victims, dumped in mass graves.
(650 words) “Arabic garlic sauce, otherwise known as thoom. Freshly made.” Vernon Crowther held out a small glass bowl filled with something resembling a whiter version of mayonnaise. “It looks nice, sir,” said Jake Smeddlehurst. He was about twenty, tall and thin, with a pronounced jawline and black hair that flopped over his narrow face … Continue reading Free Money
(1200 words) The long white envelope had changed everything, but it’d also changed the set of problems. Instead of, ‘How can I afford to pay the mortgage this month and still have money for food?’ it was, ‘What part of the country should I move to and how many acres of gardens do I want?’ … Continue reading Boxed Into a Corner