(1100 words) “Well, lookee here, we’ve got ourselves a midget!” laughed Tanner Sutherland, standing behind her in the dinner queue on her first day. She turned around. “Well, lookee here, we’ve got ourselves an ugly moron!” There was laughter and a few soldiers gathered around to watch the scene. Tanner’s face was red with rage. “There shouldn’t be no women in our army, especially not little shortarses, you’d be no good in close combat.” Rowena pulled out of the queue and stood facing Tanner, balancing lightly on the balls of her feet. “Hey, lay off her, Tanner,” said Norton Breakspear, “it’s brains, not brawn we need in the Corps. You seem to be lacking in the first department, bud.” Tanner ignored him. “Looks like we got us a feisty one!” Rowena knew she’d have her work cut out to beat up this creep. “Tell you what, soldier, you know anything about pie-eating?”
The Moonlit Garden, a play for five voices (2000 words) Martin: Actually, my dear, I had a rather odd dream. Would you permit me to recount it? Rebeca: Of course. I’m intrigued! Martin: Well, there I was in a garden. It was night and there was a gibbous moon in the sky, turning the garden to silver. There was a fountain made of brick, with a large shallow pool around it, the whole set in a large depression off from some lawns. Rebecca: How lovely! Martin: Well, that’s the odd thing, the brickwork was old and the fountain nozzle bent and dry. The cement pool around it was cracked, with weeds poking through in places. Rebecca: How odd. Martin: Yes, as I looked around, everything seemed overgrown, as if time had forgotten the garden. But then I heard singing, soft gentle voices. I walked up from the fountain to a lawn, and there were women in long dresses, and with their hair unfettered and flowing free. They were beautiful, smiling, holding out their hands; wanting me to join with them in a circle.
(1100 words) “Can I help you, sir?” It was an older man, not one of the ‘dolly birds’ who normally grace the teak-veneered desks of such establishments. He had long grey sideburns, sliver rimmed glasses, short grey hair, cut neatly with a side-parting, and a look of resignation. A desk sign said ‘Mr. Jack Seddon,’ followed by a string of post-nominal initials. Danny looked around. ‘I’d like a house, a big one with a garden, trees, that sort of thing.” Seddon looked the youth up and down. Skinny blue jeans, black loafers, a black T-shirt with the logo FCUK and a black leather jacket that looked like it had previously belonged to a hell-raising ‘Rock ‘n’ Roller’ – or two. “I see, sir, and are you a first-time buyer?”
(1100 words) “Rumours are, the Jones brothers are coming back,” said Christine, my wife and best friend. I put my coffee down onto the table in slow motion. “Tell me you’re joking.” “Sorry Tony, that’s what Shirley just told me.” Christine had just returned from having her hair cut by a lady with her ear to the ground, and her head up her arse. But Christine’s hair looked nice, I had to admit. “I heard they were doing alright in The Smoke.” “They were, or are, I should say. Shirley keeps in touch with Babs. Says they control south from The Monument down as far as Cannock Town. They’re leaving Smiler in charge. He’s rounded up some new men, … real hard men, she says.” I looked at my face in the mirror. It was almost white. “Oh,” was all I could say. “Yeah, anyone who doesn’t pay on time gets three strikes. The first is on the body, so the bruises don’t show. Second is the face, so everyone knows.” I hesitated to ask what the third was, but Christine told me anyway.
(800 words) Franklin’s father-in-law, Hamish McLeish, was something else; an ex-Sergeant Major who made his dislike for Franklin no secret. “The day my daughter marries a scatter-brained poofter poet is the day I hope I’ll be six feet under!”
(750 words) Sandra Malone sat staring at her laptop. On the left side, a heart with a ribbon around it and the words, ‘To My Valentine.’ On the right, a blank page anticipating her inspired verse. She sighed. She’d needed the work and, as a poet – of sorts, had been recommended to Gibson’s Cards to crank out twenty Valentine verses and messages. After a morning’s work, trying to think of original lines using ‘Valentine,’ ‘please be mine,’ ‘heart,’ ‘never part’ and such, she was sorely tempted to rhyme ‘heart’ with ‘fart.’ That’d make Gibson’s sit up!
(900 words) “It’s up there somewhere, Val,” said Edward, waving his hand towards snow-covered mountain peaks, far beyond the valley that held the roadside café we’d pulled up at. I put a mug of pungent coffee down onto a weathered wooden table, it was too hot to hold in any case, and with my binoculars, scanned the forests of snow-laden pine trees, the bare, grey stone crags and endless snowfields. It looked like I could reach out and touch them, yet when I put the binoculars down, the mountains seemed impossibly distant. “I don’t see anything.”
(500 words) He looked around, then, with no one in sight, leapt over the six-foot fence and sat on the roundabout. He took a key ring out and played with the cold metals, toying with ideas. Finally, randomly flicking through them, ‘Fuck it,’ he thought. Holding one tight he began to kick the ground, the roundabout spinning in response. “Make the connection. Make the connection!”
(850 words) Gregory padded along outside our patio doors, a young rabbit, obviously alive, suspended obscenely from his jaws. It hung there, almost touching the ground, petrified and staring blankly ahead as it swung from side to side, its silky brown fur ruffled by the breeze. Like a little girl abducted from outside her school by a ghoul lusting for fresh lean meat, or a shrieking schoolboy plucked from his bed through an open window by the enormous hand of a ravenous giant, the rabbit was doubtless heading for the same fate. “Oh my god, Paul, not another!” exclaimed Amanda, coming into the sun room. “He had one yesterday and I saw him with another one a couple of days ago. That poor little rabbit.” “It’s nature. That’s what predators do, catch and kill their prey.”
(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.