Drabbles

A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction of exactly one hundred words in length – that’s it pretty much.

Here’s the deal – you get to e-mail me a topic of your choice… anything at all, i don’t mind, together with a reason that i should use it and, if you’re convincing enough, i’ll write a 100-word missive on it which will feature in the blog sidebar until something more interesting comes along. Once it’s had its moment of fame, the poor, exhausted piece of writing will while out the rest of its sorry retirement embalmed as it were, on this page, where nobody will ever visit it again… probably not even me!

There you go, it’s that simple… see if you can outwit me! Send your e-mails, with the subject line ‘Drabble’, to me at:

and see what happens!

s. x

24th October 2016

Coffee

I wish you people would get it right, it’s the one thing guaranteed to raise my blood pressure.

The word is ‘espresso’ – got it?

Never ‘expresso’! There’s no such thing… It means nothing and shows you up as an ignorant fool, without whom society would be better off.

In fact, maybe I should do something about that?

Go ahead, order an ‘expresso’, and let’s see what you get… Maybe I’ll lace it with cleaning fluid, add a shot of bleach and a sprinkling of glass splinters.

You won’t notice – you wouldn’t know coffee if you drowned in it!

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6th May 2016

GSOH

I can think of a number of reasons that I never have any luck finding that ‘someone special’.

For a start, I’m rather socially awkward, so speed dating, or even regular dating aren’t options, so I’ve turned to the Internet to find love.

I read somewhere that an honest and interesting profile is key, and I’ve worked hard on mine…

Thirty something, Intelligent, fun loving, good sense of humour, seeking lonely, soulmate. Affinity for razor sharp objects, and a strong stomach are essential qualities. Prefer a loner with no immediate family. Must like kittens.’

 Still not having any luck though

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12th March 2016

Ring. Ring.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Just let it ring.

Do not pick up; or do you?

It’s the ultimate catch 22 dilemma…

Your rescuers have your number – they’re making the call. All you have to do is pick up, answer and tell them where you are. Simple.

But, if you pick up the phone, the explosive charge will be triggered and the whole room – with you inside – becomes a raging fireball.

And if you do nothing?

Nothing happens… Nobody will find you, no food, no water, no hope.

So, what’s it going to be?

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

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15th January 2016

Starbucked

“What’s your name?”

“Don’t you know who I am?”, I asked.

He explained that he needed my name for my order.

“But how will you know an imposter isn’t trying to steal my drink?”

That was unlikely, he said, if I gave my name.

“But how do you know I’m who I say?”

He said I could call myself Donald Duck! He just wanted a name.

“Maybe I could call myself Donald Duck – but how is Donald Duck to know what I wanted to drink? And is Donald Duck paying for it?”

And that’s why I’m banned from Starbucks.

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1st December 2015

Crush

My first crush was James Madison: He was two years above me in school and something of a high achiever.

All the girls had a thing for him. He could have had any of them.

Secretly, I hoped he’d pick me.

He didn’t, of course, he went for Sophie Tucker… She of the perfect skin, top grades, and an ability to wear a school uniform as if it was something out of Paris fashion week.

Of course, I was gutted, but I soon got over it, especially after the ‘freak’ school bus accident… which – unfortunately – crushed them both to death.

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8th October 2015

Communication

I went on an effective communication skills course to build closer relationships with the people I had to work with. It was there that I learned how to mirror non-verbal communication, in order to establish rapport.

I became very good at it, and before long I wasn’t only reflecting mood and temperament, but I was beginning to mirror attitudes, opinions and thought-processes too. Empathy became sympathy and, over time, I gained an understanding that went far beyond professional interest.

Recently, I’ve started mirroring behaviours and activities… not such a good thing when you interview murderers and serial-killers for a living!

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19th September 2015

Love

Love’s great adventure turned out to be something of a disappointment – a bit of a misadventure, if you ask me.

Over the last twenty years, I’m sure we’d both considered divorce; maybe even quietly despatching each other with a dose of rat poison, when things became a little heated.

But you don’t… you knuckle down, accept that this is how things are, and count your blessings.

Twenty years – even twenty sad, uninspiring years – merit some sort of celebration.

So, here we are: food, wine, candles, flowers, soppy cards and tired smiles.

(Did I mention the rat poison?)
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13th August 2015

Canary

Grandmother used to keep canaries in a small gilded cage. I would tell her it was cruel to imprison them, but she’d hear nothing of it.

“Of course they’re happy”, she’d protest, “just listen to them sing”

Those birds certainly could sing, and though it broke my heart to hear them, grandmother was far too stubborn to give in to my pleas to free them.

“Listen to them sing”, she said.

So I listened.

And this was their song:

Go into the kitchen,
and find the big sharp knife;
Plunge it deep into her chest,
and end her worthless life!”

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24th July 2015

The tramps are coming

The tramps are coming, and you’d better look out!

They’re coming in their hordes, with their funny waddling walks, toothbrush moustaches, bowler hats and twirling canes.

They’re coming to hunt you down, to whimsically beat you senseless; to break your bones with their careless capers and inept tomfoolery; to hunt you down and mess you up, with eyebrows wobbling furiously and slapstick hilarity.

So run and hide, lock your doors and stay off the streets because the tramps are coming, and they will be the death of you.

And, if you survive the tramps…

Just wait until the clowns arrive!

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11th June 2015

The day I met The Doctor

The day I met Peter Capaldi, I was surprised… surprised at how much taller he was than I’d imagined, how much thinner, and quite old, Although he’s really not doing all that badly considering his nine hundred plus years).

He wore a red velvet jacket, and was friendly and quite charming.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”, I asked him

“Do I know you?”, he replied.

“Maybe I look a little different – it was some time ago – but yes, we have met once before…

Although, at the time, you were Jon Pertwee”

(And he was surprisingly tall and thin too!)

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24th April 2015

Please Hold

Thank you for calling.

You now have a choice:

You can either hold, and hope that we’ll eventually answer your call, or you can play our little game…

Pick a number, any number; press it and see what happens.

You might be put through to an operator…

Or it’s possible, we’ll just end the call.

Maybe we’ll play you Richard Clayderman for the next five minutes…

Or possibly the next five hours!

Or you could be asked to select another number, then another, then another… possibly forever.

Go ahead, pick a number.

Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

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14th April 2015

Wallowing

My grief overwhelms me, and finally the floodgates open.

Hour upon hour my tears fall, telling and retelling again the story of my woe. Sadness, pain and suffering, conspire to envelop me in their grasp, tormenting me and dragging me further down into the depths of despair.

Then I’m floundering, unable to breathe, gasping desperately for air. I’m reaching for the surface… I struggle hard, but I’m not going to make it.

Finally, lungs bursting, I succumb to the inevitable. The waters overwhelm me, darkness closes in… I asphyxiate, and I die.

Cause of death?

I drowned in my tears.

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27th March 2015

Recipe for Success

Cookery was never my forte, no matter how hard I tried, my gravy remained lumpy, my cakes turned out like biscuits, and my biscuits would break your teeth!

I guess software developers aren’t cut out for the kitchen.

So I thought I’d harness the power of the Internet, inviting people from across the world to share their tips for perfect culinary results.

The results have been incredible – I can now cook like a pro, using the accumulated wisdom of cooks from all over the globe.

Best of all, my gravy is no longer lumpy… That’s because the recipe’s open sauce!

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14th March 2015

The most uncomfortable chairs in the world

I’ve never understood why places that people are intended to loiter, hang around and generally twiddle their thumbs for hours on end are always designed to be the last places on earth where you’d want to spend time.

Take this waiting room for example: It’s a damn waiting room, for crying out loud; a place that people are condemned to waste hours, doing practically nothing.

We don’t want to be here and it’s quite obvious we’re not welcome anyway.

Why else would anyone with half a mind decide to fit the place with the most uncomfortable chairs in the world?

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28th February 2015

Bin Man

The bin man is here!

I swear there’s no need to make quite such a racket over such a simple task, but he obviously has his reasons.

Doesn’t he know I’m having a lie-in? I’m trying to catch just a few extra moments of warm, cosy sleep. It’s just not on, and I feel like giving him a piece of my mind.

I peer through the window: It’s cold, wet and dreary outside. The bin man is struggling with a heavy sack when he catches my eye and winks.

Yes… I’d probably do the same, if I were him.

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13th February 2015

Idea

You never know when inspiration will strike, but it’s usually at the most inconvenient time.

Most writers, I’m told, keep a notebook at the bedside, for just such eventualities – otherwise you can guarantee that genius idea that hits you at 3am definitely won’t hang around until the morning.

I really do keep meaning to do the notebook thing – I even have a spare notebook waiting to be used – but somehow I just haven’t managed to get around to it.

Which is why the brilliant and stupendous idea for a story that I had last night in bed…

Is lost, forever.

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31st January 2015

Feed the troll

Alcahayr was a troll: She’d turn up uninvited, unwanted and interested in only one thing – handing out abuse.

Foul-mouthed, abrasive, antagonistic and downright rude, she’d dominate the conversation, insult those taking part and do all she could to cause upset, anger and animosity.

“Ignore her”, people would say, “She’ll go away eventually”.

But where’s the fun in that?

So we fed the troll… great big helpings of sarcasm, wit and humour.

She didn’t stand a chance.

You see, feed a troll enough and eventually they roll over and die…

From obesity.

A big, fat, ugly, trolling loser!

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4th January 2015

I saw you

I saw you.

You didn’t see me, but I saw you.

You were laughing with a friend, oblivious to my stare in a strange city, miles from either of our usual haunts.

But it was definitely you, I recognised your walk and your laugh.

Please don’t see me!

But you didn’t.

Perversely, I wanted to interrupt, stop you, and exchange pleasantries… “How’s life treating you?”

“Me? Oh, you know… this and that; I write a lot these days.”

“… Horror mainly: the really disturbing kind. It’s mostly based around my experiences living with you!

“Nice to see you again.”

Bitch!

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23rd December 2014

Outdated

The thing about university towns is that every other person you see is a student, but they do things very differently these days.

The café is full of them: tapping away on laptops, fiddling with smartphones and swiping tablets. Not a pen or notebook to be seen.

And here I am, in the midst of them, pen in hand and Moleskine on the table, scribing away: words spidering across the page, scribbles, crossings-out and doodles testifying to my erratic thoughts.

I’ll type them up back at home: outdated maybe, but it works for me.

And my battery never runs o

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17th December 2014

Let them eat… ermmm

“That’s not what I ordered! I didn’t ask for a berry smoothie”

The waitress looks confused, glances at the strip of paper in her hand and replies: “That’s what it says on your order – I’m really sorry, but I’m not sure what to suggest”.

The woman frowns – “I definitely didn’t order this – I asked for berry cake!”

The waitress is even more bemused: “We don’t do berry cake, or anything remotely like that.”

Eyebrows are raised.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Erm, enjoy your meal!”

I smile at the debate from across the room, contentedly sipping my coffee.

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13th December 2014

The train that went the wrong way

I’m sitting in my train, halfway through my journey when we pulled into the next station stop, (six minutes early too!)

Eight minutes later we pull away… in the opposite direction to the one in which we’d arrived. I’m now going backwards, instead of forwards, and my heart sinks.

Did I miss an important announcement? Should I have changed trains, or am I panicking for no reason and this is perfectly normal?

I stare out of the window, desperately trying to ascertain if this is the same route I arrived by.

I wish I’d paid attention on the way in!

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2nd December 2014

Juicy

Dammit! Blue lights flickered in my rearview mirror and I pulled over to the side of the road. Just my luck.

The officer poked around in the rear of the pickup.

“What’s in the sack ma’am?”

I blurted out, “Nothing, officer – just fruit”

“And that?”, he asked, pointing to the sticky red fluid oozing from the sack.

“Juice”

“Let’s see you taste it then, ma’am”

I scooped some on to my finger and licked it clean.

“Look… just cranberries”

As he drove away, I heaved, spitting the blood from my mouth – it had been a very close call!

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16th November 2014

Fried Turkey

The internet is a wonderful thing – It’s taught me so much about world cultural traditions, things I’d never realised.

Take Thanksgiving, for example. Apart from its historical roots and what I’ve seen in films, much of the social culture surrounding the celebration completely passed me by, until the internet educated me.

It taught me that at Thanksgiving, thousands of deluded Americans drop whole turkeys into vats of boiling oil over naked flames, setting fire to the food, their homes and themselves in the process.

It’s a great way to rid society of total dickheads.

No wonder they call it Thanksgiving!

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24th October 2014

Trick or Treat?

“Trick or treat?” – bit of a daft question, I thought… who in their right mind is going to respond with ‘trick’?

So, I thought I’d give it a try – they’re only kids dressed as zombies – what’s the worst that could happen?

Turns out it was far worse than I ever thought possible.

I’m writing this from the safety of my cellar, but it won’t be long before they break through the door, and then it’s all over.

Take my advice, always go for ‘treat’ – far better to have them eating your candy, than eating your brains.

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16th September 2014

£27.52

Twenty-seven quid?

I  looked again at the bill – yep, twenty-seven flipping British pounds… Pizza, a small Peroni and a double espresso!

I don’t dispute that it was tasty and filling, or that the service was good and the ambience enjoyable… But still, twenty-seven freaking quid!

OK, stop right there – you’re starting to sound like your father!

Who decided it should be sit-down, with a view of St. Pancras, rather than take-away? Who wanted a beer on the side and a decent cup of coffee to round things off?

You did!

And enjoyed it!

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26th August 2014

NATO Summit

The incessant chatter and rumble of helicopters overhead serenaded by police sirens provides the overture to three weeks of mayhem.

Steel fortresses and enigmatic men in dark suits and earpieces appear on the scene, along with the disquieting feeling that you’re being watched, whilst every conversation turns  inevitably to those four intrusive letters.

The corner shop sees a welcome boost in trade, as dreadlocked peace-campaigning hippies, clad in dirty anoraks and woolly knits exuding the pervasive odours of sweat and patchouli in equal measure, stock up on marching supplies.

I guess that’s probably what world peace will smell like?

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8th July 2014

Railway embankment on a wet June day

The fragrance of warm, wet buddleia mingles in the humid air with diesel fumes, oil and damp undergrowth. Convolvulus twists and turns around thick-stemmed bramble, whilst soft, wet ferns brush gently against skin, shedding cascades of raindrops as you pass.

Underfoot, wiry grass yields, moisture bubbling up from the fertile earth beneath. Butterflies flutter, bees hum and the sweet song of the blackbird welcomes the warming sun’s rays, from his perch upon a lichen-rimed sycamore bough.

A throbbing fills the air; steel rails twitch, tick and whine, the air stills… waiting in silent anticipation.

A train is approaching.

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17th June 2014

Non aspirational

Hey you!

Yes, you there… You in the Ferrari baseball cap and the hi-tech tracksuit and trainers!

You don’t fool me.

You don’t own a Ferrari, I doubt you’ve even seen a real one – so what’s with the cap? Take it off! It deserves to adorn a better head than yours.

And what’s with the trackie and running shoes? You’re no sportsman!

You don’t fool me.

With that physique, the only running you’ll be doing is running out of breath!

Stop fooling yourself

You don’t fool me.

You don’t fool anyone.

Your clothes are twice the man you’ll ever be!

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3rd June 2014

Mike

I saw Mike today, completely by chance. He breezed into the cafe, his mobility scooter, scattering chairs and children in his path!

I’ve known Mike for years – he’s the guy who ‘disappeared’ during the local charity scooter marathon, to be found hours later in the park, canoodling with a couple of girls! Nice work!

He tells me his life-expectancy is well overdrawn and that his days are filled with pain, trials and trauma.

Yet Mike is always laughing, always getting into scrapes and has a good word for everyone.

Somehow, despite his problems, Mike always seems happier than me.

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23rd May 2014

Regular or Grande?

I’m a regular sort of person, with grande aspirations.

I’d love to make an impact, but without trying too hard. Fame, fortune and glory would be great, but can I keep things as they are? I’m all for the grand gestures, so long as I can stay within my means.

Of course, I’d like to write a bestseller: words grabbing your attention, as they leap from the page and take you by the throat… but it’s all a bit labour-intensive and demanding, if I’m honest.

I’m just a regular person, with grande aspirations.

More ‘sit-in’, than ‘take out’.

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13th May 2014

Coffee

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in coffee bars, writing my hundred word stories.

Perhaps it’s because they can be such a rich source of inspiration: the conversations unfolding around me; the young woman in dark glasses who just walked in; the old lady, dozing over her chocolate fudge cake.

Maybe it’s because so much of life can be observed over a short, strong espresso? Friends, families and lovers; fallings-out and reconciliations; choices and assertions.

It all happens here – perhaps that’s why I choose to write here?

Or maybe it’s simply because I’m addicted to coffee?

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6th May 2014

Wrong number

Why is it that people always say, “I think you dialled the wrong number?”

Surely, if you answer a call from a total stranger, on your own phone, who then asks to speak to somebody you’ve never heard of, you’re going to know for a fact they’ve dialled incorrectly?

Let’s face it, you should be pretty damn certain it’s a wrong number… there’s no ‘think’ about it!

Unless, of course, they’re calling that stolen phone you’re holding, which probably belongs to the owner of the house that you’ve just broken into?

And, if that’s the case, then I understand completely.

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24th April 2014

Contagious

I walked down the street: everywhere I looked, people averted their gaze, pulled their children closer, hid themselves behind closed doors.

It was always this way – when would I ever learn that nobody wanted what I possessed, that such things were despised, unwanted and unhealthy?

It’s something I’ve accepted – now I wear my disability proudly, as a badge of honour. Why shouldn’t I be permitted to live the same as others do?

Am I really so different?

I’m contagious… So what?

I’ll continue to smile, and spread my happiness – my contagious, infectious joy – whether they want it, or not!

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2nd April 2014

A cat named ‘Porno’

Yeah, it’s not the most PC name for a ginger tom, but it beats ‘Marmalade’ or ‘Tiger’ any day, and you have to admit, it’s pretty unique. It also makes visits to the vet rather more enjoyable, if a little embarrassing at times.

It’s not as if we ever meant to call him ‘Porno’… it just sort of, happened.

When he was a kitten, he fell in the bath – just as I fished him back out, my husband walked in to find me holding the soggy moggy:

“Aww, now that’s a very wet pussy”

The rest, of course, is history.

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12th March 2014

Theoretical Physicist

I am a theoretical physicist – I see the universe in a very different way to the average person.

When you look up and see stars, I see wavelengths and dark matter… where you see nothing, I see particles. Whilst you observe, I interact, and where you find gobbledegook, I find God.

I am a theoretical physicist – I touch the improbable and make it fact, my life is one of constants, uncertainty and extremes. I probe the mysteries of time and the universe, creation and The End.

I am a theoretical physicist: I am so much cleverer than you.

Well… theoretically.

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25th February 2014

Aliens

People thought I was crazy: even suggested I needed psychiatric help – but I knew the truth was out there – the aliens were as real as you and me!

The official line was that extra-terrestrial life didn’t exist, but I knew better – even if no-one would believe me, I knew the aliens were real… I’d met them, I’d spoken to them and they’d shown me their secrets.

On the day we returned to the mother ship, I watched the strange planet named Earth grow smaller and more distant, and I said a silent goodbye to the aliens far below.

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7th February 2014

Stock phrases

You have to have a goal in life – mine is a little odd: it’s to manufacture  situations where I can use those stock phrases we hear so often in movies, but never actually employ in real life.

My first try: I stepped into the street, waving my hand, shouting “Taxi!”, quickly followed by my second attempt… “Follow that cab!”

“Hold the lift!” was simple, however I really struggled with “Call the crash team!” and, “On the floor, with your hands behind your head!”

I live for the day when I pick up the phone and shout: “Get me the president!”

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19th January 2014

Pacung 

It’s festival day – Kuningan – early evening and everywhere is closed; warungs, shops and restaurants, all shuttered and dark, as owners and patrons alike fly kites and enjoy the temple dances.

Hungry and in need of food, I walk the empty roads, until a welcoming pool of light in an empty market catches my attention.

Bakso boys from Java, alone with their bicycle cart and surrounded with the fragrance of cooking, smile a greeting.

Simplicity itself: Mie ayam, garnished with kecap manis and torn, Thai basil… maybe the cheapest, yet one of the tastiest, and most memorable meals I’ve ever eaten.

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8th January 2014

Paris

I took a long weekend in Paris, expecting…

…expecting all those things that Paris should be: the romance, the culture and sophistication; the elegant decadence… you know, that certain je ne sais quois?

My expectations were a little high.

The hotel was tawdry and frequented by prostitutes, the croissants were dry, the coffee bland, and the tourist-mobbed streets were hard on the feet and scattered with pickpockets and bag-snatchers.

The steps of the Sacre Coeur were strewn with broken bottles and teenage yobs, whilst the dawn light was suffused with the heady scent of sewage.

Reality sucks.

Mon Dieu!

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14th November 2013

When you hear the whistle

When you hear the whistle, go immediately to the shelters: run, do not walk.

Do not delay to collect personal belongings, do not pause for idle talk, do not attempt to assist those less able – when you hear the whistle, it will be every man for himself.

When you hear the whistle, do not assume that speed, agility or strength will save you – you are as vulnerable as the next person and are just as likely to fall.

When you hear the whistle, seek sanctuary as fast as you are able; for when the whistle blows, the pitch invasion begins.

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16th October 2013

Panic Button

The day she moved in, the panic button was installed.

It was bright red and chunky – it practically cried out to be pressed, but she’d always resisted the temptation. There weren’t many thinks she couldn’t cope with and she considered it a point of honour to avoid giving in to a moment of weakness.

Of course, it was bound to happen one day, and this certainly seemed to be the occasion:

Screams echoed around the building, thick, choking smoke filled the air, as she clawed for the button, then took a deep breath.

She struck the button hard…

And panicked.

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26th September 2013

October

It smells now of autumn and the leaves have begun to drop; damp pavements underfoot glisten, as early evening darkness falls. Magpies chatter and crows mutter grumpily in the cold, thin air; whilst high above, Venus’ bright, cold eye keeps vigil over all. The blue skies of summer have paled and nature’s palette takes on muted hues of greys and brown and gold, a final flourish before the starkness of winter’s cold.

With a gentle sigh, earth exhales… past memories fade, time slows, a wistfulness prevails.

Accompanied by melancholic strains of a single, muted piano, I share nature’s mournful loss.

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28th August 2013

Red or blue?

I’ve never really understood those action movies where the hero faces the inevitable dilemma of which coloured wire to cut in order to disarm the bomb.

Does this mean there’s some sort of wiring protocol that terrorists have to follow that dictates which colour wire does what? Although it seems to me that the hero never gets it wrong, no matter which wire he chooses.

Myself? I’d ignore the manual, and I’d swap the colours around, just to make life interesting… better still, I’d use the same colour for both wires.

Now that would level the odds, don’t you think?

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9th August 2013

I Am Your Stranger

I am your stranger… I am the person whose name you don’t know, who looks at you with curious eyes. You know nothing of me, other than what you see, the briefly overheard snippet of conversation, or the smiled acknowledgement as we pass in the street.

Equally, you are a stranger to me.

But.

Spend a little time with me: the occasional brief chat at the water-cooler, connections made over books or films, maybe share a meal or a common interest or pursuit and, somehow, we are strangers no more.

We might even be friends.

Now, isn’t that strange?

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26th July 2013

Gripping Stuff

My writing tutor was adamant: “You need a gripping opener,” he’d say with passion… “if you don’t grab your reader in the opening chapters, they’re simply not going to hang around.”

I tried so hard, but unfortunately, my openings were invariably rubbish – definitely my weakest area. Yet within a few short weeks, my first novel was in the bestseller lists and my fans were clamouring for more!

Granted, the cost of impregnating the first hundred pages with high grade cocaine was pretty steep, but by the time they’d thumbed their way through chapter one, they were well and truly hooked.

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3rd July 2013

From the bottom of my spleen

I love you from the bottom of my spleen.

I know it’s a bit of a departure from the normal terms of endearment, but you know how I like to be different, and – I admit it – a little bit weird.

Besides, my love for you is different to any other, and – possibly – a little bit weird too.

My love for you is visceral and passionate, it’s base and depraved… and that’s why ‘spleen’ seems so much more appropriate than ‘heart’.

I love you.

And one day I will kill you, slice you in pieces, and eat you for my breakfast.

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22nd June 2013

The Pyromancer’s Daughter

When I fell for the Pyromancer’s daughter, they warned me to be careful…

“You won’t be the first to get burned”, they said.

I didn’t listen – inflamed by desire, I was determined to win her over: she was just such a hottie!

It was her father who proved to be my undoing. A fiery character, with a smouldering temper, and on discovering my plans to woo his darling girl, his rage was sparked and the embers of our passion were soon extinguished; our plans lay in ashes.

And that is why, the Pyromancer’s daughter, is now just an old flame.

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2nd June 2013

The Call of the Wild

The time had come, and though he resisted it, the moon’s influence would not be denied – he would, as always, succumb.

He strained against the chains binding him and, as pain coursed through him, accompanying the physical changes that now assailed his body, he howled – an unearthly, feral sound that echoed in the night.

Flesh, hair, nail, tooth and form contorted and changed, until with a final cracking of bone and sinew, the transformation was complete and once more the horror was unleashed.

Forced, against his will, to walk the earth as that most vile of beasts… a human being.

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18th May 2013

The day the words ran out

You know it’s going to happen sometimes, probably pretty frequently – it’s an occupational hazard, somehow though, you make it through and the words come back.

They always do.

You hope.

Then, one day, they don’t…

You sift through the detritus of abandoned thoughts and half-hearted ideas, desperate for something – anything – that you can knock into shape; something worthwhile, something worth reading.

But no…

You find yourself toying with lefovers – old, stale words that have outlived any usefulness, words like ‘polemic’ and ‘dryclean’, or ‘poodle’ – utterly useless, of course.

And then,

with horror,

you realise, they are all you have.

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16th April 2013

Copacabana

It was the hottest spot north of Havana alright – hot, sweaty and full of flies!

As for Lola, the showgirl: she had a squint and a rear end that looked like a pair of Cuban Chevys fighting for a parking space.

The mojito was warm, the cigar was stale and the band played salsa in a way that made a funeral dirge seem energetic.

Sighing deeply, I picked up my crumpled copy of Tribuna, turning the pages to the personal ads.

Now, this one looked interesting…

“I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.”

Time to move on!

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9th April 2013

Botulism

She was your typical, dear old granny… snow-white, wispy hair, ruddy-cheeked and wizened, smiling face and a love of making scrumptious cakes and jams for local church sales.

Her kitchen cupboards were crammed full of good things – flour, eggs, fruit and butter, and jars of spice, listeria, botulinum toxin and salmonella: ingredients with which all of her baking and conserves were well laced.

She would smile in wicked delight as she read the parish newsletter, and how poor Mrs Pindle was suddenly taken sick after Saturday’s jumble-sale.

Typical, dear old granny she might be – but stereotypical?

Never!

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30th March 2013

Chocolate

Rabbit put down the axe, an evil grin filling his face. As he cleaned the blood from his fur, he mused upon his future – certainly, it would take a while for people to adjust to the new regime, but he knew they’d accept him, given time.

He knew he was up to the job and he was looking forward to making his debut.

Picking up the basket of brightly-coloured eggs, Rabbit gave the mass of lifeless, bloody feathers at his feet a final kick.

“So long, Easter Chicken”, he rasped, “time to give a big ‘hello’, to Easter Bunny!”

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17th March 2013

Stammer

“How come you never talk to us?”

It was an all-too-familiar question.

She had plenty to say – some would say, far too much – but the written word was her medium. She’d made it her own, enraptured by the freedom it gave her, yet still frustrated by the limitations it imposed.

And now, into her special world of words, that same old, intrusive question.

She’d tried.

Lord knows, she’d tried.

And failed.

Bitterly, tearing up her script, she cursed a world that insisted she meet the demands of others.

And Turned back to her words, in silence.

Voiceless.

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3rd March 2013

Gastropub

Remember the days when a pub lunch meant home-made pie and mash, or even chicken in a basket, cod in batter, chunky chips and a dollup of tartare sauce?

Proper meals, served up with proper beer or cider in a proper chunky glass with a handle… none of that alcopop, or sickly-sweet loganberry ‘cider’ nonsense.

These days, it’s all gastropubs: pretentious à la carte, candles in glass globes, snooty waitresses and locally-sourced pork.

All very nice, but no longer the traditional, friendly and welcoming hostelry… and, if we’re talking gastro, then let’s not forget the heartburn too!

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20th February 2013

Call Me

“You’ve got my number? Good. Now, don’t hesitate to call, day or night – leave a message if I’m not around.

No really, I’ll be fine – I’m not off to outer-space! I’ll get a signal, almost anywhere – isn’t technology wonderful?

You won’t miss me, I promise – there’s no need to be out of touch in this day and age. Now, promise you’ll call, every day?

That’s great! Speak to you soon. Bye for now.”

Taking one last look around at what had been my life, I sighed, dropped my ‘phone in the trashcan, and walked out of the door.

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2nd February 2013

Wordsmith

There’s a woman in the corner: colourful scarf, grey cardigan and pencilled-eyebrows. She’s writing, coffee to one side and spiral notebook to hand.

Occasionally she pauses, looks into the distance and contemplates a tricky thought, toying with the words to convey what she wishes to say, then smiling she returns to the task at hand with renewed purpose.

Between paragraphs, she sips her coffee, momentarily lost in thought; distracted from her jottings.

As she turns back to her page, pen in hand, I find myself wondering if she is writing about me… just as I am writing about her?

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30th January 2013

Rhubarb

George’s rhubarb was legendary: consistently winning first prize at every country show and admired and loathed in equal measure by his competitors.

As to the secret of his success, George was keeping tight-lipped, all he would ever say – usually after a few glasses too many of home-made rhubarb wine – was, “It be all down to the fertiliser, my dears”.

As for the precise details of the mysterious fertiliser, nobody could be sure.

When George died, his last will and testament specified that he should be buried beneath his rhubarb plot.

And that’s where we discovered all the bodies.

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22nd January 2013

Potato Blight

She divorced him over his eating habits.

A bit extreme you might think, but thirty years of putting up with that crazy diet was more than any sensible person could stand.

Potato crisps, chips, waffles and mash was all he would ever eat – even Sunday lunch was reduced to roast beef, or chicken crisps. Every meal was spud based… fried, baked, roasted or boiled.

Enough, was enough – she dumped and divorced him.

Enjoying her new-found culinary freedom, we met and hooked up at a fondue party. Guess what… we get married next month!

I wonder how she feels about cheese?

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3rd January 2013

Fiscal Cliff

Fiscal Cliff was the guy for making money… investment banking, offshore accounts and hedge funds were his game and he was legendary on Wall Street, but like many of the super-rich, Cliff was an enigma.

Living behind closed doors and never seen in public, with closest advisers sworn to secrecy about the mysterious figure.

It’s time for the truth…

Fiscal Cliff was no high-flying financier – he was a racehorse! A damn good racehorse at that. Sure he lost occasionally, but it wasn’t our money we were playing with.

Shame his form has suffered, now that he’s getting older.

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27th December 2012

D.I.Y.

I hate paying ‘craftsmen’ – I always think I’m being ripped off, but the work needing doing on my latest ‘project’ was beyond my capabilities.

With the new ceilings in place, Architrave Dave looked up at them thoughtfully, and whistled through his teeth:

“Nope, sorry luv… I can’t do it, but I know a man who can!”

Or, as it happened… couldn’t.

Cornice Colin suggested Plasterboard Pete, who in turn thought Artex Arnold was the man for the job, or perhaps even DIY Dugi, (if I wanted it done on the cheap!)

I start my course in basic building next week!

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17th December 2012

Coming to town

 ‘Twas the night before Christmas…

And everyone was on high alert – this time, they’d get him!

General ‘Deathshead’ Dawkins grimly surveyed the skies… whatever technology Santa was using, the military wanted it for themselves: faster than light travel, stealth entry and anti-detection devices – a Christmas gift that would make the armed forces unstoppable.

Beneath their feet, the elite force of tunnelling elves carved out the tunnels for the sleigh’s next stop, whilst Santa helped himself to another mince pie and laughed at the foolishness of war, and at the idiots searching in vain, far above the ground.

“Ho, ho ho!”

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30th November 2012

Arnold Pinkerton

Arnold Pinkerton was short, rotund and balding. His unremarkable life was spent working as an office clerk for a small firm of solicitors and, when he eventually retired, he used his savings to buy a motorhome and holidayed in the Cotswolds.

Single all his life, his hobbies – stamp collecting and playing the flute – somehow filled the void and, all things considered, he was relatively happy with his lot.

He died quietly, alone, at home, aged 86.

Throughout his days he wished for only one thing: that somebody… anybody, might one day write his life story.

Fat chance of that, Arnold!

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19th November 2012

Mustn’t Grumble

Lightning arced through the sky in a primeval display of destructive force; the earth shook and cities crumbled as fire and brimstone rained down from the heavens.

A global cataclysm, the likes of which no-one had ever dreamed was upon us, and those few who found sanctuary from the chaos, watched in disbelief as the world died around them.

As the smoke cleared and the devastation was revealed, we survivors crawled from the wreckage and surveyed our inheritance – fields of rubble and twisted girders littered the horizon.

Utter destruction.

Ah well, I suppose it could be a lot worse!

9th November 2012

Hunter

The vultures are circling – given a chance, they will swoop and grab whatever they can get, whilst other predators, like myself, wait patiently – hearts pounding and nerves taught.

The eyes of the pack watch those around them, anxious, suffused with barely concealed violence.

There is movement amongst the throng and I home in on my target… watching, waiting for the perfect moment – a distraction, a slip, an opportunity to strike.

Then it happens.

Bodies plunge into the fray – I lunge, then fall back, triumphantly snatching my trophy from another’s grasp.

Yellow label! Reduced to clear… and I shall eat tonight!

1st November 2012

Gardener’s Gripe

I’ve never been particularly green-fingered – to be honest, I think my garden would do so much better if I stayed well away… but I feel I have to make some sort of effort!

My vegetables are more, well… veget-unables! My flowering plants are absolutely pants, and my shrubs are completely full of grubs!

I bought a book on garden pests – and now I know the most damaging pest in my garden is… me!

But perhaps I’m wrong – I know a good workman never blames their tools, but I’m utterly convinced there’s something badly wrong with my garden spoon!

22nd October 2012

Marks & Spencer

So, I’m stood in the checkout queue when I catch the eye of this guy – full length, leather coat, white mohawk and eyes like infinity… he’s the image of Kiefer, stepped straight out of ‘The Lost Boys’.

Suddenly, I’m plunged into darkness, organ music swells to fill the air and a cold wind whips a fog across my vision. I glance down at the bottle of chianti in my hand and stare in wonder at the thick, viscous blood it now contains.

I am transfixed, unable to move.

A voice pierces my reverie…

“Do you intend paying for that wine?”

15th October 2012

Planet of the Apes

Remember that scene at the end of ‘Planet of the Apes’ – the bit where they find the Statue of Liberty on the seashore?

That’s always bothered me…

How come that’s the only thing recognisable that survived the nuclear holocaust? Nothing left of the cities, the roads or even the underground places that you think would have made it through. Yet the one single thing that did survive had to be an icon recognised the world over.

Am I missing something here?

And surely, if you were a sentient monkey, wouldn’t that be the very first thing that you melted down for scrap?

26th September 2012

Liposuction

Bring ’em on, I say. All those lovely wobbly thighs and tummies… get ’em signed up for the surgery, switch on that sucker and away we go! They walk away with their newly firm skin and taut bodies and we make lots and lots of lovely cash. Everybody’s happy!

Plastic surgeon? Me? No – I’m the disposal guy.

Ever wondered what happens to all those bucketfuls of fat? Tthat’s where I come in…

I add the strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, package them up and that’s a fresh new batch of McDonald’s milkshakes ready to roll. Cash in hand! I’m loving it!

15th September 2012

Elastobean

I’m telling you, this is going to be all the rage when it’s launched – sure it takes a while to get your head around the idea, but once you do, you’ll be wondering why no-one’s thought of it before.

Elastobean – the only gum that’s all natural: completely derived from broad beans.

The first gum to be healthy, sugar free and bio-degradeable, (no more ugly marks on the pavement!). What’s more, you don’t even have to stop chewing for dinner… heck, you can even have it for dinner!

It’s what gum chewers have always wanted, they just didn’t know it!

9th September 2012

Chocolate Teapot

Criticism always… “You’re hopeless:  you’re about as useful as a chocolate teapot!”

I’d show them.

Their words spurred me on; determined to prove them wrong, I threw myself into my studies and then built myself a successful and highly profitable business from scratch.

Now, two doctorates, (one in food technology and one in art and commercial design), and some tens of millions of bucks later, I can finally have the last laugh:

Not just chocolate teapots, but a whole range of chocolate cookwear – all guaranteed completely ovenproof, microwaveable, dishwasher safe and useful for a lifetime in the most demanding kitchen!

2nd September 2012

Band Practice

It was a crazy idea – that’s what you get when you mix booze with musicians. I blame Cyril – a plumber by day and an idiot when drunk.

Of course, we were drunk too, which is why plumbing together all our instruments seemed like such a good idea.

The next time we met, Cyril brought his tools and soon we’d created a whole new instrument from the brass and woodwind section!

We took a break before trying it out, leaving Cyril to make the finishing touches.

Damn fool plumbed it into the mains… half the orchestra drowned on the first note.

22nd August 2012

Solstice

The fingers of the sun’s morning rays reached out, touching the monoliths: casting their twin shadows across the prepared table.

The priest smiled, raising his face to the heavens in thanks, as the warming light fell upon the offerings of grain, fruit and flesh, carefully prepared before him, awaiting their destiny. He reached for the knife, then paused, surveying once more, the scene before him.

The pattern of light and shadow, cast by the salt and pepper pots formed a perfect frame for the bacon, eggs and toast. He nodded appreciatively.

There’s something almost religious about a good cooked breakfast!

12th August 2012

Random Selection

 The server’s been down for two weeks and we’ve had to resort to the old-fashioned method of selecting juries.

Electoral registers spread before us, we soon grew tired of sticking pins in the list to come up with twelve random people – it was just so boring!

Then someone had the bright idea of themed juries, it’s a lot more fun and much easier than selecting at random.

Wednesday’s theme was birds…

Mrs Partridge; Mr Swift; Mr Gull – you get the idea?

Tomorrow’s jury is looking good; we’ve gone for colours this time…

It reads like something from Reservoir Dogs!

8th August 2012

Last Rites

The machine screams… a single, monotonous wail, somewhere around top C. I want to cover my ears but nothing wants to move.

Electricity tears through my body: Once, twice, three times – yet I feel no pain, although my body jerks and heaves with each blast.

A stranger is pummelling me and, distractedly, I watch the melee of concerned faces, listening to the barked commands.

Then, they stop.

A voice… “She’s gone”

Then I start to shout and scream, but no sound comes out – helplessly I watch as the life support is switched off and they close my eyes, for ever.

29th July 2012

Charity Shop

I’m stuck!

Hemmed in: spiky-limbed revolving clothes rails to the rear, a pushchair to my right, prodding at my feet, I stare fascinated at the old woman’s bottom hovering in front of me.

She’s poking determinedly through the box… you know the one: stashed away in the back corner, full of nameless tat not worth giving a space on the shelves.

Shrinkwrapped ‘fittings’ from long-gone flatpacks; odd plastic objects of dubious nature and stray bits of cutlery.

Standing, she smiles at me triumphantly, waving her find in my face…

One a half pairs of plastic nipple clamps!

Bargain!

16th July 2012

The Magic Word

Nothing special about them – just bits of paper, sometimes with flowery adornments, but often as plain as can be – yet print the magic word on them and they attain an authority that belies their humble stature.

By virtue of their power, we can swim a length of the pool in our pyjamas and rescue rubber bricks from a watery grave; we can profess our intelligence, even call ourselves ‘Doctor’…

They can tie us to another for life, or break the bonds of love; declare us fit or condemn us to the padded cell.

Amazing what the word ‘Certificate’ can do!

4th July 2012

Higgs Boson

The scientific world was rejoicing – news flashed around the world: ‘CERN discovers the Higgs Boson’. Finally, the famed ‘God Particle’ was within our grasp. Forty five years of scientific endeavour had paid off and scientists the world over smugly proclaimed, “We knew it was there, all along!”

Meanwhile…

God smiled to himself and sat back comfortably on his throne.

“Not bad”, he said, “but no cigar”, before creating a brand new exotic particle and flicking it outwards into the majesty of creation.

“Let’s see how long that one keeps you occupied”, he chuckled, before settling down for his Sunday nap.

1st July 2012

Nukular

As a child he’d always struggled with certain words, constantly frustrating his parents and teachers…

“It’s ‘nuclear'”, they’d say, exasperated – “new-klee-ah”, only for him to respond with ‘nukular’. It would always be ‘nukular’ to him.

Now he was all grown up and had made a top-notch career for himself, such things seemed unimportant: take the current crisis he had on his hands, for example.

An aide rushed up, “Mr. President, sir – they’ve launched… we’ve gone to DEFCON 1!”

Grimly, the President flipped the cover off the big red button, finger hovering – “Time for a perscription of nukular firepower, I reckon!”

20th June 2012

Mr Pork Pie

Odd name for a cat, don’t you think? If ever there was a cat meriting a hat, it’s him – a proper Yorkshireman’s pork pie hat, with ribbon and feather.

He’s a tweed-jacketty sort of cat, puffing a fragrant briar, shotgun under arm and brace of pheasants at his feet – a gentleman about town, with admiring ladies swooning in his path… but life’s too short for fripperies – there’s serious sleeping to be done in the summer sun and a full bowl of crunchie indulgence to be enjoyed.

(He’s not really like that – I call him Mr Pork Pie because he’s tubby!)

9th June 2012

Vampire

There’s a lot of misunderstanding and bad press about vampires – maybe some of it’s deserved, but that’s not always the case.

Sure, they look scary and the whole pale skin, sleeping in coffins and sharp pointy fangs thing isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but the same could be said about other lifestyles.

Take the whole drinking blood scenario – just because the living dead might occasionally indulge doesn’t make them all bad… most are more than happy with some gourmet sausages or a bacon sandwich.

you don’t believe me?

Ask the vampire I keep in the basement… she’s a strict vegan!

3rd June 2012

Barbecue

Lying on the beach, eyes closed against the glare of the sun, the niggling thought that she was possibly overdoing the tanning distracted her. Sighing, she thought, ‘just another few minutes’ – it felt so good.

Much, much later she awoke; roused from her sleep by the delicious smell of the family barbecue. In the distance, she heard her dad call out: “Sue! I’m about to light the barbie – are you joining us?”

About to light it? So what was the wonderful smell?

Opening her eyes, she screamed at the sight of her char-grilled body, lightly smoking in the afternoon sun!

26th May 2012

Zothan: The Man Of Iron

I found him in the Yellow Pages, under ‘Superheroes’: ‘Zothan – The ultimate protector!’ – he sounded just the ticket, so I ‘phoned him.

“Is that Zothan, Man of Iron?”

“Yup indeedy”, came the response in a Southern drawl.

“I need ultimate protection… can you help?”

Eventually, we negotiated a price and he agreed to start next week.

“It’ll have to be after Wednesday”, I said, “the bed’s not arriving until then.”

His confusion was obvious, so I decided to spell it out…

“Look – I’m buying a new bed, and I really need a top notch mattress protector…”

Why’d he hang up?

20th May 2012

Snot Bubbles

In the late thirties they first appeared on the streets, rapidly replacing crack cocaine as the abusers’ substance of choice. Cheap, they were; easily manufactured and with a more potent ‘high’ than any other narcotic out there.

The ‘snot bubble’ tag appeared when people found a faster hit was possible by sticking a wrap up each nostril. Soon junkies, craving even more, switched to plastic bags over the face.

Many suffocated.

The government responded with a hugely successful ‘Safe Snotting’ campaign, advocating sensible use through the memorable strapline: “It’s snot what you do – it’s the way that you do it!”

13th May 2012

Childhood Horror

The dreaded moment had arrived. All the niceties of the afternoon’s play were little consolation for the horror that was to come.

Backed into a corner, the child shivered and tried to hide the terror.

Pallid, leathery skin sprouting hair-filled warts; milky, unseeing, red-rimmed and watery eyes; and, worst of all, that snaggle-toothed, thin-lipped mouth, drooling and wet, its fetid breath fanning the youngster’s skin.

Closer and closer it came – there was to be no escape – then, the dry and rasping voice uttered the inevitable and dreadful words…

“Come and give grandma a big goodbye kiss!”

5th May 2012

Tourist Trade

Business certainly wasn’t booming! Hardly surprising, considering the bunch of ‘artisans’ he employed.

Oh, there were plenty of tourists; they just weren’t buying his products – the sculptor chipping away at a huge slab of marble was a prime example of why…

“Pocket collectables! Not garden statuary!”, he yelled at the hapless mason.

As for the design team… doodling ‘flying machines’ wasn’t good business!

His best artist offered a painting for inspection: “She looks constipated!” – “She’s enigmatic”, came the response.

Back in his office, he wondered if mother was right after all: “You… a businessman? Leo DaVinci,  you’re hopeless – you’ll never be a success!”

28th April 2012

The Devil Bunny of Skelopteris 3

The creature advanced towards them, its shapeless form and baleful eyes bearing down upon the two adventurers cowering in the corner. A sickening glow emanated from the alien’s Staff of Ire, tainting the air with the pallor of decay.

“Doctor!”, screamed the Doctor’s comely young assistant, throwing her arms around the Timelord, and burying her face in his shoulder.

The creature stepped closer, menacing, raising its Staff…

“And cut! That’s a rap folks, take five”, the director smiled happily.

The Devil Bunny stared at his arch enemy… “Fancy a cuppa?”

“Don’t mind if I do”, replied the Doctor, “my treat!”

 21st April 2012

Joutia Souk

i paused, momentarily – my foot hovering in mid step. Someone had called my name.

But not here, so far from home. Here, i am a stranger in the crowd, an unknown face lost in the clamour of the marketplace.

Unnerved, i listen and hear only the babble of foreign tongues.

There it was again – clear over the tumult. A moment of indecision. A choice – turn around or move on…

i choose. My foot finds the pavement below and i walk on – no glance over shoulder, no recognition, no going back.

i blend into the crowd, and disappear: A stranger, forever

 14th April 2012

April 6.00pm

Great clouds, smoke-grey bastions of the heavens, threaten to smother pale blue skies and the gulls cry mournfully overhead. Capricious gusts, like disorderly children, tug and dance, playing ‘catch’ with snatches of the sweet and earthy smell of river clay.

Frowning at the sky, pedestrians hide away within the depths of woollen coats and hats: “it’s going to rain… roll on Summer!”

Not me.

I slow my step, breathing deeply; I savour the vitality of the moment. Summer can wait – its turn will come and, as the first heavy drops fill the air, I let Spring have its way.

10th April 2012

Nothing To See Here

They waved us on… “Nothing to see here, move along”, urgently gesturing with their torches for us to pass by.

Suddenly, a young child darted through the crowd, deftly evading the grasping arms of the police. As they broke ranks, the crowd surged forward, craning their necks to catch a glimpse.

A collective gasp escaped from the assembled crowd, then silence – the only sound, a young boy’s weeping. The lad turned to face us, tears streaking his face, a scrap of red and blue fabric, rescued from the crater, grasped in his fist.

“It’s true”, he whimpered… “Superman is dead!”

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