(1200 words) The boy hesitated, a wild lost figure in the silence of the London Square. They were all against him, these tall remote houses with their sense of order and permanence. He came from the outside, from the dark and cold which was not allowed to disturb the peace of those lighted rooms, and the people who lived graciously behind them. From a world where a penny Oxo cube with bread might be supper, and a pennyworth of chips and a tuppeny slice of fried fish a banquet. The boy consulted a scrap of paper underneath a gas lamp, and then ran forward, driven by a concern greater than his fear of intrusion. He lifted the brass knocker, then struck it twice against its metal base. He stood shivering on the doorstep, feeling as out of place as a fish on a cloud. He wanted to run back into the all-enveloping black of the night but was determined to pass on the message. Not just for the shiny shilling he hoped to be paid – a veritable fortune – but out of respect for his friend and mentor, Kezia. The door opened, and a man in a black uniform with a white collar looked down at the boy. “Go away before I call the police.”
(650 words) Helena lifted the angel to her cheek and felt the heavy varnish stick to her skin. She closed her eyes, picturing the peppermint green figure, a crude angel-shape with black stripes that reminded her of a sad humbug. But it brought back memories of the night, THAT night. “Has anyone NOT seen a demonstration of mediumship before?” She’d felt embarrassed, but seeing other hands going up, she’d stuck her arm up in the air, feeling her mother’s bangle sliding on her wrist. Would she be here? Was it even possible? “There’s nothing to worry about. If anything horrible comes along, I’ll be first out the door!” Laughter.
(1700 words) "What does he do all day, d’you think?” Alison said, standing at our bedroom window, looking out across the valley and up at the dilapidated farmhouse on the hill on the far side. I swivelled my chair around at my writing desk. “Didn’t you hear? Jenny says he’s a clairvoyant, does readings over the phone for people.” Alison looked in the mirror, restlessly brushing her long chestnut-brown hair. “What? How does that work, then?” “I don’t know how he does it, but they do tarot readings and stuff over the phone, don’t they?” “Hmm. That’s interesting. What, you mean people pay for it, without him seeing them?” “That’s what Jenny says. She cleans for him on Fridays, didn’t you know? Says he seems a nice bloke, keeps himself to himself. ‘Very spiritual,’ that’s what she says. D’you think he’d give me a message from mum?” I sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe. Why don’t you give him a call?” In slow motion, her long, slim fingers replaced her hairbrush on the dressing table. “OK, perhaps I will.”
(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?”
(300 words) “Have any of you been to a demonstration of mediumship before?” Most hands in the hotel’s comfortable bar area went up. Miranda's and mine stayed down. A young man, Peter someone, tall and slim with receding hair, smiled. “Well, I’ll be making contact with those who have passed over into spirit.” This should be interesting! Sceptical, I’d come under protest.