(800 words) Helena would go out every Friday night to meet Tom, a man who lived in an old railway signal box. He’d collect provisions from supermarkets, stuff that was beyond their sell-by date, and that they daren’t re-date. Let the tramps and ‘down-and-outs’ take the risk. Tom, Helena and sometimes a companion or two would drive a converted van out to a railway bridge and, beneath it, give out cups of soup, burgers, and re-heated chips to the down-and-outs who existed there. She felt a rising anger. “Aim higher than helping those in need, you mean?”
(1000 words) One tall, lanky shape was the loathed silhouette of Mark. Whenever no one was looking, he’d say, “How’re you going, Jack,” and either punch me on the upper arm or pinch the skin on my forearm. I swear, sometimes after an evening with Mark, my arms were literally black and blue. I’d complained to mum and dad but they just said, “Don’t make a fuss, he’s only playing. Don’t be a softie.” Softie! My arms REALLY hurt! I took the firework to the opposite corner instead, and with my own torch, stolen from the Scouts, read the label. WARNING. I ignored the rest, spotting the fuse. It was only a firework after all.
(700 words) “Granny, tell me the story about Great Aunt Delilah’s Blanket!” “I’ve already told you.” “That was ages ago, I can’t remember!” We both sat by the fireside in my farm cottage. “Well, my grandmother, that would be your great-great-grandmother, had a sister called Delilah. So that was my Great Aunt, you see. Anyway, it was said she had healing powers and many sick people would go to her house and come away feeling well again.” "Could she have healed Daddy d’you think?”
(700 words) I start to go around my apartment, dumping papers and associated junk unceremoniously into the boxes. Box one, a stack of writing magazines that have been cluttering my desk for months. Why don’t I read them? Or write, for that matter? Oh, I don’t have time, of course. Well I guess I could quit watching endless re-runs of Seinfeld, but, well, I wouldn’t want to break the habit of a lifetime. Anyway, out of sight, out of mind!
(700 words) “Life’s like a tube of toothpaste, Anthony,” that’s what my aunt Mary used to say. “It looks like there’s so much toothpaste in there, like it’ll never run out, but one day, no matter how hard you squeeze, no matter how hard you roll it up and crush it, nothing more will come out.”
iPadememonium by Martyn Searle (600 words) Papers are mean. Well, maybe not the dog-eared old flyers who spend their days hanging out on light poles, numbered tassels waving in the breeze, helping to locate lost puppies. A certain Buddhist enlightenment has come to them in repayment for good deeds and frayed edges. But those reams who rule in home offices? Vicious temperaments. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Perhaps, as is often the case when numerous white individuals gather in large groups, all those sheets had a loftier opinion of themselves than they merited.
(600 words) Papers clutter a desk. I pick one up and read about a man’s obsession. Seems there’s a character who enjoys killing. The description is brief. Medium height, average build, nondescript face. No distinguishing marks. Not much to go on! But the writer describes an incident where the man strokes another man’s hair and gently, lovingly, wraps a scarf around his neck. Like a petrified mouse under the paw of a cat, the victim remains motionless.
It’s been over two and a half years since I last published a post containing excerpts of stories from my blog, so now seemed a good time for another one! As before, I’m posting short extracts from twenty stories, but this time with a strong animal connection: there are dogs and cats aplenty plus the odd duck, red kite and puma! As always, I state the word count, to give an idea how much time it would take to read the full story. There are tales old and new here, so I’m confident you’ll find something to enjoy! Duck Surprise (200 words) Sheldon paddled nonchalantly, maintaining his favoured position in the middle of the pool. He watched the other ducks near the bank scrabbling for bread with disdain – his mother had always told him he had superior intelligence. If Only They Could Speak (650 words) “Rudyard, here Rudyard!” Rudyard’s ginger face appeared in the doorway. He hesitated, seeing a stranger in the room. “Here kitty, good kitty!” called William Wilde, professor William Wilde as he now was. Gingerly, Rudyard came into the study, studiously ignoring Willy and jumped onto my lap, purring. His huge yellow eyes looked up at me quizzically. ....
(750 words) “Walnut looks good – feast your eyes on this!” Tabby held up a brochure of baby grand pianos. All gloss and gorgeous swirling grain. “Very nice, but you’re forgetting three things.” “What?” “One, we live in a tiny flat, two, you can’t play the piano, and, three, we don’t have any money!” Tabby’s smile faded. “Well, I’m now creating my own reality through the Law of Attraction.” “So you keep saying. I don’t see any changes.” “The universe takes time to give you the things you ask for. They’ll come when they’re ready to come.” “Bollocks!”
1750 words “Funny things can happen on caravan holidays,” I said. “Well, she’s only going with Jack and Joanna, oh, and Bob of course, he’ll look after her, it’s just...” Bob was Sally’s brother, my grandson, Jack was a schoolfriend and Joanna his sister, all quite ‘sensible’, admittedly. “The other boys on the campsite. I know,” I said, “they’re randy sods at that age. They’ll do anything to get girls into their caravan, get them on the wine, and before long the lasses’ll be dropping their knickers!” “Don’t hold back mum!” laughed Trudy. “Look, make some tea, there’s something I need to tell you...” I replied.