September 2017 Comp

Sun, Sep 10 2017 09:37am IST 1
3685 Posts
Mon, Sep 11 2017 12:39am IST 2
63 Posts
I couldn't resist but have a go at this. You should know that you have the great honour of being the first people to read anything written by me.
I couldn't get any of my ideas straight so I just sat and started typing, this is some of what came out. It was 612 words long. It took forty minutes to write and about three hours to trim it down to 400 words. I just hope it still makes sense! Laughing

It was hot, and completely impossible to sleep without sheets, without the familiar comfort of their weight. It frustrated his senses, no matter how much the conscious mind tried to reassure its subconscious counterpart that it was time to start that essential process of sleeping, it just wouldn’t happen.
Neville Baxter sat up, wiped his sweaty chest and looked at the window. Bright moonlight lit the room, he cast a thin shadow as he reached for the glass of tepid water on the dresser. It was as if all the forces of nature were conspiring to keep him awake tonight. He pushed the curtain aside, and looked out at the desert landscape, the moonlight had transformed it into an alien silver and black world.
Except for an orange glow to the south. The alarm by the bed read 2:45, too early for sunrise, besides the sun rises in the east. There was a strange greenness to the glow too. A fire maybe? No smoke though, there would be smoke, it would be visible on a clear night like tonight. The orange-green glow pulled at him softly. It felt like how the static from a nylon rod pulls at a thin stream of tap water. Gentle and insidious, it pulled faintly at his thoughts. It was uncomfortable that gentle force, pulling and pulling. He opened the window and climbed through trying to find some relief from it’s pressure. The dusty ground was still hot under his bare feet. Soft formless fingers twisted round the very physical fibres of his synapses and pulled him onwards, he shambled frantically on for mile after mile. Then, panting, exhausted and filthy, it let him go. He returned to himself in an instant and dropped to his knees, oblivious to his physical state he felt nothing but relief, euphoric relief, at the return of his normal functioning mind. Then, there it was. The sobering sight of a huge alien craft, glowing orange green. His eyes saw only the black and white of a moonlit night, nonetheless it was there, an almost blinding, green-orange radiance. He knelt there, naked and trembling with exhaustion, staring at the spacecraft. There was no time to run, no way to resist that pull, that excruciatingly gentle tug. Pulling him once more, towards a doorway that was slowly opening, like a mouth that was about to savour some especially delicate morsel.
Mon, Sep 11 2017 05:22pm IST 3
827 Posts

The Door

It wasn't the first time I had fidgeted on this hard seat, eyes fixed on the shiny veneer. But I was convinced it would be the last. It was an unusually wide doorway, for a single leaf door. I can understand now that it was designed to be imposing; intimidating even. Above the top architrave, attached to the oak panelling just left of centre, was the grey metal box with three round lights; red, amber and green. The red light shone brightly. Wait.

Julian's parents had been in with the Headmaster for, well, for a long time. I could hear the rhythm of voices, but not the words. Didn't need to in the end; the triumphant look on their faces when they passed me on the way out was enough. He'd expel me this time.

If it was just about me I wouldn't be too upset about that. I had never really felt comfortable at Grammar School, and I knew I didn't belong here. My Primary School teacher had made it clear to the whole village there had been some sort of mistake when he got over the shock of the 11 Plus results. But my parents had been so proud, even though it cost a fortune to buy the uniform, the special this, the essential that. I just didn't see how I could ever go home.

There was a flaw in the veneer. I stared at it, knowing from experience that when the light changed to amber I would sense or see it. But it went straight to green. That had never happened before; a bad omen, certainly. I knocked as boldly as I dare and opened the door. He sat behind the huge desk in his black gown and habitual smirk.

"Do you know why you are here?" He asked.

"I think so, Sir."

So what have you got to say for yourself?"


The Headmaster sighed theatrically. "Why did you assault Julian and his friends?"

"It was what they were doing with the frogs, Sir, blowing them up with straws."

"Come boy, you have dissected frogs in biology, haven't you?"

"But they were already dead, Sir!"

"Don't raise your voice at me, boy!" He thundered. "Get out and wait for me to decide what I shall do with you!"

The veneer went a bit blurred as I stared at it. Please let it be the cane!

(399 words excluding Title)

Mon, Sep 11 2017 09:53pm IST 4
669 Posts

The Hut

The man was on his way back across dry wasted moorland. The sirens that had spooked him had long since faded away. He mopped the sweat from his forehead, pushing back damp hair. He’d left the door unlocked when he ran, something he never did. He must get back.

He climbed up out of the gully he’d stopped to hide in, making sure there were no police around. The stone hut was still far away, but visible in the distance. He was beginning to calm down, his breathing quieting. Everything was going to be ok. No one had found out his secret. Why would they come looking here anyway? It was only his paranoia bothering him.

The door of the hut began to swing open outwards. Instantly he stopped and crouched down. Had someone got in? Were they taking her? There was no way she could have got the chain off her ankle without help. But, as he watched, she came out of the door, a lone figure, hesitant as a frightened animal, holding a bundle that he knew was the baby. His son.

She cast one glance around, failing to spot him in his kakis, before taking off like a gazelle, barefoot, ragged, with her dark grubby hair, running straight in the direction of the road in the distance. Cunning little bitch. She thought she could just leave him? After two years? He’d get her. He stood up and started forward.

Something about the way she was running, hugging the baby to her, still casting glances round every few paces, stopped him. Look how frightened she was. He’d done that to her. She was just doing her best: trying to protect herself and her baby. Trying to protect them both from him.

A vision rose up in his mind of her and his son in a proper home with a proper Dad. A better version of himself maybe. Someone who hadn’t been ruined by the things that had happened to them, who hadn’t become cruel, someone he could never be now.

Her figure got smaller, receding into the distance. There was still time. He was much faster. He could still catch them, subdue her, hurt her, bring them both back. But they didn’t deserve that. He sank to the barren ground shivering, curled up like an animal in pain, and the darkness in his mind grew.

399 words, including title

Tue, Sep 12 2017 12:32pm IST 5
Monica Handle
Monica Handle
16 Posts

An ordinary thing

There were six chairs in the maternity waiting area, the usual uncomfortable hospital rubbish. There were four men, sitting hunched and staring at their shoes. There was a long silence, which he was not appreciating. Every few seconds, one or other of the men would glance up at the nearby security door. Now and then, someone would walk over to it and peer through the porthole window.

It was probably his turn. He stood and asked, “Do the nurses come out to see us, or do we press that buzzer?” The man closest to him said, “They do come out, but who knows when? Sometimes they answer the buzzer, it’s worth a go. Was yours Caesarian?”

“Oh, yes. Some problems, you know.”

The man didn’t acknowledge the possibility of problems. “Well, they have to wait for the anaesthetic to wear off. I’ve been here two hours.”

Sure. It would be a long wait to see her and the baby. He sat back down.

One of the others went off for a walk. They could hear his feet slapping down a long corridor, then after five minutes he returned with a tiny plastic beaker of coffee.

He thought it would pass some time to do an ordinary thing; get himself an espresso. Maybe a daring double. “Where’d you find that?”

“Down there, keep left. There’s a machine, but it needs the right change.”

He searched pockets but no luck. The man next to him smiled and handed over two coins. “It’s on me. No cigars here!”

An hour later they were down to two. The others had been called in and must have left by another exit. He’d had enough. He nodded to his coffee saviour and said, “Time for the buzzer.”

The porthole showed nothing. There was the short leg of an L-shaped corridor and walls with posters, but no nurse in sight. He pressed, and waited a minute. He was about to press again but suddenly a uniform appeared.

“I was wondering if she’s awake. Can I visit them?” He gave his name and the nurse turned to a wall-mounted phone. After some mumbling she opened the door and waved him in.

“She’s not quite right to see you yet. But your baby’s upstairs. Didn’t you know?”

He was halfway to the first floor when the thought came.

This doesn’t feel right. Not right at all.

[400 words with title]

Tue, Sep 12 2017 07:02pm IST 6
139 Posts

Okay, here's my stab at it.

393 words.

‘They’re just mushrooms,’ Deacon teases.

I stare at the mushrooms, each ring bigger than the last.

‘It’s strange,’ I mutter.

‘What’s so strange about it?’ he argues.

Deacon steps into the innermost ring.

‘What are you doing?’ I hiss, snagging his sleeve to pull him out.

The tiny hairs on my nape are erect.

Amused eyes twinkle at me over his shoulder. My crush surges forward, romantic notions flooding my brain. I blink, quelling the desire to feel his lips on mine. I’ve been crushing on Deacon since we met in the woods months ago. I was walking Monty, and Deacon’s spaniel took a liking to him. We met every morning after that, in the woods bordering my estate. Then Monty passed away, but Deacon still meets me for walks.

‘Come on, Lana,’ Deacon chuckles and laces his fingers with mine.

I stare at our hands. He’s never held my hand before, and I don’t realise he’s pulled me into the centre circle until it’s too late. I meet his gaze.

‘I’ve been waiting a long time for this,’ Deacon murmurs and tucks a length of hair behind my ear.

We’re so close I can feel his breath, warm and minty, and I stare at his mouth.

‘Where?’ I whisper.

His lips pull into a smile then form my name. I realise he’s speaking and meet his gaze. Instead of whiskey I find violet, his irises glowing amethyst. His lips press to mine, kiss exploring and brimming heat. I melt against him, fingers curling into his midnight hair. Deacon rumbles and pulls me closer. My fingertips brush his ears and I pull away.

I gape at his pointed ears. Golden skin, violet eyes and – are those wings? I stumble back and vibrant hues frame his body. Pink, lime, indigo – shades of red, with yellow and orange.

‘Deacon?’ I whisper.

‘Welcome home, Lana,’ he grins, flashing incisors I didn’t feel when he kissed me.

‘Home?’ I squeak.

His smile warms, eyes burning indigo. ‘If you’ll stay with me?’

‘And if I won’t?’

His smile falters. ‘The fairy rings will take you back.’

I frown at the mushrooms. ‘And you?’

‘I can’t go back.’

‘Maybe if I go back-’

‘I’ll be stuck here and you there,’ he cuts in. ‘Remain with me, my Lana, or be parted forever.’

I meet his hopeful gaze.

‘Deacon, I-’

Tue, Sep 12 2017 11:14pm IST 7
181 Posts

Nana's Little People

"And you see that little patch of dark green, that square shape in the middle of all that yellow?"

"Yes, Nana."

"Well, that's the doorway to where they live, Tuppence. Just there. But we need to be ever so quiet now, no more than whispers and just tiny, delicate footsteps from now on. Ok?"

I said nothing and chose to nod my head instead. This was the most exciting moment of my entire life, I was about to see the 'Little People' from Nana's bedtime stories.

As we edged closer, not daring to breathe, I glanced at my grandmother and her excited, wrinkled eyes. “Only on this day and only at this time is it possible to see them,” she’d informed me at the start of our walk through the woodland.

It was magical here, even more so since Grandpa had passed. Nana and my mother would walk hand-in-hand over the fairy bridge, chatting away and picking flowers alongside the stream that ran at the bottom of the garden. She always had a smile did Nana, Mummy too sometimes. Nana would take long sniffs in the air and would search for the sunbeams to beat down on her face. She loved her cottage nestled away here in the quiet.

I could see the doorway now. It was no bigger than the nine-year-old hand I held out in front, but still clear amongst the buttercup laden knoll that lay ahead. As the sun edged west on this warm summer afternoon it lit up the path and glittered the doorway green, just as Nana had said.

“Quiet now, slowly,” she whispered, as she held out her arm to prevent my excitement getting ahead of her.

She knelt, and then tugged the sleeve of my blouse to do the same.

“Watch. Look at the door, Tuppence.”

“I gazed, daring not to blink. Dandelion fairies floated in the air, a whistling breeze blew them skywards and as they fluttered I saw a golden shape jump up to grab one. I sensed it was a small animal of some sort, a squirrel maybe, possibly even a small fox. But then as the dandelion fairies cleared, I noticed it wasn’t an animal at all.

I gasped.

Nana’s hand moved across my mouth and we looked towards each other. Tears welled in her eyes and then a beaming smile.

“Little People, Tuppence. Wonderful, wonderful, Little People.”

399 excluding title

Tue, Sep 12 2017 11:27pm IST 8
237 Posts
First competition attempt... Here goes nothing! (400 words excluding title)


The end of the hallway, third door on the left. Identical to its carved oak sisters lining the walls except for the difference that it’s locked. Never touch the key, Franny. Never touch the key. It lives on a leather strap around his neck. He never takes it off apart to unlock the door and lock it again behind him. I never see. But I hear. Late at night when he thinks I am asleep. The muffled thumps of his boots as he brings them in. When silence is reinstated, I tiptoe down the stairs.

The end of the hallway, third door on the left. My ear presses against the cold brass of the lock. I listen to strange songs made of screams and whimpers laced with his raspy laughter. I am obedient, a good girl he says, but. Curiosity grows in my chest, its roots spread deeper every day until it takes over me. Still I bind my time, until the evening when he has too much wine. The evening when I refill his glass as soon as empty. Later, when the moon is high and he is snoring beside me, my fingers work the leathery knot until it’s free. Never touch the key, Franny. Never touch the key. Its heavy brass radiates with his warmth and the gleam of his sweat. Every move could be my undoing but still. I brush my lips against his stubbled cheek. “Sorry Daddy,” I atone. Then. I slip out of his bed and pick my nightgown—a whiteness pooling on the dark hardwood floor.

The end of the hallway, third door on the left. I slide the key into the lock. The door whines open. I stand in the doorway. The floor of the windowless room is coloured with the pain that has been seeping out their wounded bodies. A bitter rusty smell tickles my nose. On the left, the instruments he uses to make them sing line the wall—gruesome shimmery decorations. A dim light outlines a hapless shape in the corner. A pile of bruised flesh under auburn hair. I don’t need to see to know. They all resemble her—the dusty portrait presiding in the library over mouldy books. I cross the threshold—bare feet on the cold flagstones and I shiver. At the pulsating warm breath caressing my neck.

“Never touch the key, Franny. Never touch the key.”

Wed, Sep 13 2017 07:32am IST 9
2387 Posts

Untitled (398 words)

Such a silly thing. A spider caught in the leather straps of her backpack. She had seen it dangling from a silver lifeline as she swung the pack from her shoulder, watched it land on the rocky ground and scurry away, but not before the sharp sting of its bite on a sliver of uncovered skin made her curse.

The cramping started in her calves - spasms of pain as she ran. She stopped to ease her muscles, tried to steady her breathing, and became aware of the heat around the puncture site. That, and the swelling she felt beneath her fingertips, was so much worse than she expected. Fear surged through her, increasing her heart rate. Did she imagine she could feel the spider’s venom like tiny pin pricks flowing through her system?

Ironic that she had been sent to this strange world for safe keeping - unaccompanied as she herself had decreed - with promises from her council that they would come for her when the enemy was in retreat. How long had she been here? Weeks? Months? Her head swam and she struggled to think.

She stumbled… sprawled forward onto the rocky path… paraesthesia coiling around her legs like rope. It was already too late. She could no longer feel her toes. Was this how her life would end? Alone in an unfamiliar landscape? No. This couldn’t be it. At least let her eyes rest once more on the doorway.

She dragged herself to the top of the ridge while she still had some power in her upper body. Spots of blood oozed from cuts and scrapes on her hands and arms, but she felt nothing, except shards of breath as they carved a path into her lungs. Keep… going… almost… there….

The way home lay opposite at the base of the mountain. An arch of silver cut into solid rock. So far away. So very far away. And so deep in shadow as the sun began its descent, as to be almost invisible. Her eyelids fluttered. Rays of gold set fire to an indigo sky and copper flames leapt across the mountain top while rivulets of rust cascaded down the mountainside like blood through open veins.

As darkness crept in from the corners of her vision and her forehead touched the dirt, a wedge of light widened in front of the doorway.

Wed, Sep 13 2017 10:25am IST 10
57 Posts
The Narrowing World

It began in earnest after I’d broken my leg falling downstairs. I was coping, I could wheel around on my office chair, bright green cast sticking out as I swished around backwards. I could cook, load and unload the dishwasher and washing machine, shower and was slowly climbing up and downstairs on my arse. Progress was being made.

That evening, I heard a shrill whistle, some sort of disturbance outside, perhaps another protest outside the police station opposite? I shut the windows but the sound persisted, insisted. I wheeled around the flat, trying to determine a direction, eventually opening the front door. The pressing noise of the fire alarms.

I could hear other noises, doors banging, footsteps. I shouted “Hello” and my neighbour appeared. I knew him by sight only, although a friend staying over had heard him having sex through the walls. Didn’t get up much of a rhythm, apparently. He said something, about finding out whether the alarm was real, and disappeared down the stairs.

I rang the landlord. I assumed it was a false alarm as I couldn't smell any smoke. There were still other voices outside. I packed my phone, purse and keys into a bag and sat on my wheelie chair by the open door to my flat, crutches to hand.

Mild panic, with the door open the alarm was very, very loud. And I had no idea what was going on. Realising that I couldn’t use the lift to get out of the building. How tenuous my ability to cope with a broken leg really was. Wondering how long it would take to get down the stairs on my bum. Wondering how long I would have to stand around outside before everything was back to normal if there really was a fire. I didn't see any more neighbours, presumably they were all outside.

Only the noise of the alarm, over and over and over.

TV pictures of fires in my head. Real disasters. Disaster films.

Sirens outside, but then I did live opposite a police station.

Where was everyone else? Was I forgotten?

Just a girl sitting in a doorway.


The fireman told me, if it was a real fire, I would be thrown over his shoulder and carried down the stairs.

I don’t go out much any more. I might not be safe in here, but better than out there.
Thu, Sep 14 2017 01:29pm IST 11
871 Posts
Thanks to all for entries so far, a great haul already, but still just over two weeks to get an entry in. I'd also like to shamelessly use this platform to point entrants in the direction of the Cloud short story challenge 'Whispers and Glances', which is well worth having a go at. It's the latest in a string of challenges that have produced some of the best short stories I've ever read. While we're on short stories, do have a look at the Stories for Homes blog - that collection comes out soon and features more great short fiction for a great cause.

And a clarification - for future reference if there's an ambiguity in the rules, I'm happy to interpret it in favour of the entrant. In this case I forgot to specify whether the word count was including or excluding the title, so let's make it excluding (with apologies for those who managed to work their title into the word count).
Thu, Sep 14 2017 03:48pm IST 12
56 Posts

God’s Eye

The only lights on the screen were the hallucinatory flashes of distant A-bombs. When the clerk had discovered Flickwater was a doctor, she ushered him down dark steps, slamming the entrance behind him. Contagion, she’d said, with a shudder. Moans and outstretched arms greeted him, some with their flesh sloughed off. Already, an age had passed.

But as he patched, one patient’s obsession brewed and receded; a ragged, grey-haired woman, straining toward a heavy set of double metal doors. Through them, was all she would say, her voice a shaky deadnote, limbs tremulous with palsy. One bony finger rattled the padlock. Throoough … themmm.

What lay outside? Nuclear devastation? Escape? Judgment? Brown puddles shook with each fissile thud, getting closer as Flickwater cleaned and sutured and comforted. Someone had a stereo but it played only one song and the deafening rock volume was stuck at such apocalyptic levels he could barely think.

The woman became his only companion. The others were too sick or fearful, or had expired in a malodorous pile.

The inscrutable doors beckoned.

Throoough them, she wailed. Flickwater half-imagined metal booms shaking the outer panels. He lifted the boltcutters.

Shall I? his look said. You want this?

Go, the woman’s gesture replied. Take what is given.

But he couldn’t. Her look of ravaged, blasted fear prevented him. What would be there? In dreams he pictured a giant quivering Eye, vitreous floaters spinning across its filmy surface like Jupiter’s long-forgotten storms. The woman’s rising agitation rose in merciless increments until he was sure he would strike her with the boltcutters.

He seized the handle. There was a flash of doubt, but he was a doctor, first and foremost, with a duty to care. The chain shook, urging him to pull them open as the woman’s awful gaze begged him, and there were no choices anymore.

Brightness streaked through the crack, over pale forms in cleansing thunder. Flickwater raised his hands but the unholy light pierced cowering flesh and bone and his fingers clutched the sides of his head, pressing, gouging, keeping something out – or in – as he collapsed to his knees, puny under the pitiless glare that blasted neurons into resistless paths idiot with sudden knowing. There they were, all huddled mankind, and to say the Creator found them satisfactory was purest profanity.

In God’s eyes; whispered the woman’s voice. Her arm fell away. I am still.

~ * ~

Three hundred and ninety-nine words

Thu, Sep 14 2017 04:21pm IST 13
2184 Posts
Right of Passage

I witnessed a wedding night bedding when just eight years old: my father’s simple sister to a man who’d buried three and had a pack of brats to care for. My mother watched the ceremony with mixed pity and disdain.
Were she still alive, would she similarly reflect on mine?

Not that I believe myself simple.
Over-trusting, perchance. I refused to acknowledge the cruelty which spiked the drunken glee of those who urged me from the hot, feasting hall, conscious only of the grey eyes of the man I had just wed, watchful but no longer fond.
Some half dozen young women accompanied me – some to the fore, others following, each bearing a candle – into the cold and up the narrow twisting stairs. They tramped raucous laughter along a corridor, through a door to a chamber dominated by a high-mattressed, curtained bed.
I succumbed to their untying and unlacing, their turning me dizzy, whilst pretending not to hear their comments on the pallidity of my nipples; narrowness of my hips. Accepted their assurance that ‘twould be best to remove my drawers. Unhappily aware of their barely-muffled giggles, I climbed onto the mattress, whereupon they arranged me among the pillows as enticingly as the butcher does his loins of pork, spreading wide my hair.
At last they declared me ready – for roasting? (And no, I knew enough to know it would not be that!) – set one candle on the chest, and left, the echo of the iron latch dropping. But the draught from the closing of the door quenched the flame and I lay in darkness with only the pungency of just-snuffed candle to keep me company.

I must, to be woken by the quiet thud of wood on wood, have slept. Still in darkness, but now aware of another breathing person in the room. Attempting silence but creating a rustling of clothes I could not picture. Muttering with impatience at recalcitrance of garments; tugging succeeded by thumps, by grunted success.
Floorboards creaked as he approached. I breathed in, anticipating the woody spice of the man who stood beside me in the church, air in and out his nose between quiet voicing the responses. But what I got was animal. Was salt-bodied, breath-blasted wine gone sour. Was earthiness: stabbing, shifting, grunting.
An urgent, ill-mannered stranger. Who made himself weightily, painfully familiar with my hitherto unmolested body.
Who made me into wife

[400 words plus title]

Fri, Sep 15 2017 12:19am IST 14
67 Posts

Hello Wordcloud, I missed you. I'm sorry if I'm a pain, I'll piss off, hmmm :) xx

This gave a lot of pleasure, 2 hours, took it to 398, but just couldn't do it, up to 425. Probably needs another draft/roll of 'sense,' but that's no fun. See you in morning.

Door Derelict

We possessed a front door when the agent showed us around, stated quite clearly on her inventory.

That first week - in a white plastic kind of door way - the mechanism malfunctioned and our door thumped impotent against the frame, unless a west wind blew.

Then, we lay in bed with the door wide open, and awaited a tip-toe up the stairs. And we imagined the dark knuckles, strangled together in that bed, or on the landing if we were lithe/lucky.

My wife whimpered on her pillow:

‘Call a locksmith next month,’ she said.

I said ‘will we ever earn enough for a locksmith, baby?’ and stroked her bottom in manly re-assurance.

Later, somebody nameless broke the patio doors out the back end.

Frustrating to operate with the flick and the switch, and the flick and the ‘fuck it,’ said our youngster, intoxicated. But there was only sea that side of the house. Who ‘wades in from water at the dead of night?’ I said, ‘Hitler, a Viking, a refugee?’

I scratched at my chin.

Worst-case scenario, surrender the fridge, the bathroom, blankets and a ‘couple of Shetland jumpers,’ I said. ‘Those are my limits,’ I said.

And considered equally a life where string would not fail me, a fix of the front door facility. Drinking my mug of tea, shipping forecast to the ears, a sigh in satisfaction that the door was locked by me. Such fantasy awaited tutelage on-line.

For the time being we relied upon the growls of our 23 year-old ‘son.’ Lodged downstairs, he was our guardian over guitar, unwashed in his bandana, and our family-brown teeth.

Yet this was no final solution.

‘He will go to university,’ I said to my wife in that bed again. We were so often in bed here at night-time.

‘Is he going, is he really and when?’ she said.

I said ‘to study dentistry, and never come back to us, everything will be fine & perfect soon.’ Then I brushed only her hair on that pillow.

Sadly, we also had no door to the bedroom. There was no door to the bedroom, I say. Only a simple hatch swung ‘round the corner from the four-poster, like a saloon door.

One night that lad staggered past this hatch. Naked in the bedroom at 3am. My primary instincts were all set on fire.

‘Got a rizla, Daddy?’ he said.

I screamed back in German down the duvet. But found the Golden Virginia, and steered him away with my more softly-softly strategies.

Those were our doors.

Fri, Sep 15 2017 06:17pm IST 15
871 Posts
Sat, Sep 16 2017 05:11am IST 16
3228 Posts

Gao, Mali. (A true story)

The road trip from Bamako was uneventful, notwithstanding numerous potholes that our driver negotiated with a natural skill. The view of the savannah, if one cared to look, was one of a desolate landscape mostly obscured by dust clouds thrown up by the land rover’s wheels.

Not that it concerned me, I’d worn out the ‘oh look at that’ T-shirt; nevertheless the thought of visiting Gao, one of the most remote sites of a humanitarian Aid outpost promised to be a rare event – one that I would never forget.

Africa never lets me down. What I imagined to be a township with little amenities let alone a hostel that catered for Bed and Breakfast guests, had exactly that. A terraced stone block with pebbled paths leading up to three wooden doors – I was given the key of the left one, and my colleague took the right one. The middle one was empty. So they said. Outside her door sat a squadron of fat toads who seemed to do nothing but croak.

Lucky me.

My pathway was bereft of any such life, and once inside a bed awaited me. Clean sheets and shuttered windows to keep out mosquitoes. Another wooden door opened to a bathroom with shower.


We didn’t linger there as afternoon work took precedence, followed by an evening meal and wine at a local restaurant. Very civilised.

Later, we returned to our quarters. Lamps lit up our paths. Toads were still chilling out, warbling at the moon. I said goodnight, opened the front door, and hit the light switch. Undressed, opened the bathroom door, switched on the light and walked over to the shower. Turned it on.

Waited a few moments before hearing a scrabbling noise at my feet. Looked down to see a trickle of cockroaches emerging from cracks and crevices and up the drain hole, turning to hordes seemingly chasing me as I backed out and slammed the door.

Undeterred, they emerged from underneath while I flung open the front door, and jumped on the mattress. Being shocked was an understatement, my whole body trembled.

They poured out the open doorway as if going to war, only to be met by an opposing army of growling toads.


Next morning, after debugging the shower, I could wash and joke about it. But, needless to say, we never opened the middle room door.

396 words.

Sat, Sep 16 2017 11:11am IST 17
248 Posts

Three Doors

I was deid when I stepped through the confessional door, though it was the gallows trap that killed me, ye ken? Mind, ye could say it was the whisky that did for me.

If only, if only. I hadna drank on market Saturday. I hadna ridden hame on a midnight storm. I hadna stopped by the haunted kirk to see whit the music and lights were. There were some as wizened hags and some as maidens, new flowered. But one was a woman, ripe and fair. Broad-hipped and dark haired, I defy any man with red blood in his veins, to say he wouldna have watched that dance.

They caught me, of course. And dragged me to Auld Nick, who laid his fiddle aside. He was eight feet tall, if he was an inch and black and hot as hearth bricks. “Of fornicators and drunks, I have plenty,” he says. “Send him back to his kin. But mark him, mind. Mark him well.”

Then my dark haired beauty tore my shirt and laid her tongue to my nipple and bit of my breast and so condemned me.

On the Sunday, I confessed to Father Creach, the pious, hypocritical auld bastard. By the next Sunday, I stood accused as warlock and consort of witches. Creach, with an eye for the diocese chair, made sure he led the ecclesiastical court. I bore Satan's mark on my breast and so I was hanged. No one to pull my legs and break my neck, I hung for an eternity of smothering agony then nothing.

When next I saw the light of day, my dark haired beauty was astride me, her breasts swaying with the rhythm of her hips. The milk that dripped from them to my lips, was as bitter as gall and I filled her, utterly and completely, and when she rode me over the edge, what I poured into her was as cold as iron on a winter's dawn.

She slid off me, with a wet slurp. Her hair pooled on my chest and she made a noise of satisfaction, deep in her throat. “My beautiful man,” she said.

What would you have me do, wife?” I asked.

“Whatever your heart desires,” she replied.

I lifted her and rose, for to me, she weighed no more than air. “Then to begin, I would have words with Creach.”

(398 words)

Sun, Sep 17 2017 10:52am IST 18
2184 Posts
"Bump" while you've Sunday to work on an entry ...
Mon, Sep 18 2017 08:10pm IST 19
2387 Posts
Bumped again...
Tue, Sep 19 2017 01:52pm IST 20
173 Posts
Right, here's my entry. First time I have entered one of these comps. This is an embellished story from my teenage years, on my home island of Guernsey, Channel Islands.

For context, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British isles to be occupied by the Nazis during WW2. During the occupation, the islands were heavily fortified and the batteries and bunkers were constructed with slave labour from around 16,000 prisoners from various defeated armies of Germany, predominantly from the USSR. After the war ended, the fortifications were left standing, as they were simply too difficult to remove and at the time there were other priorities for the liberated islanders. The majority still stand to this day.

Anyway, here is my entry (395 words)

Bunker Nights:

2003 – my generation’s summer of love. The heatwave brought 40 whole degrees of sunshine to the islands. We’d arrive by default on the golden sands down the base of the cliff around lunchtime. We’d surf or skim all afternoon, then we’d light a driftwood fire, using pages of our neglected textbooks as kindling and sit beside it for hours as night fell, sucking on bottles of beer stolen from our parents’ fridges.

One evening, this girl – Sally – it was her birthday. She wanted a proper party. Everyone climbed back up the 400 steps to the bunker that stood vigil over the bay, a concrete monolith five stories high; so removed from its vibrant surroundings. The doorway was down in a trench filled with brambles. Jacko’s dad was a gardener and the little shit ran back home and nicked his hedge cutter. So we got in through a haze of 2-stroke fumes.

Sally sent texts and soon enough there were around 30 of us packed into this thing, this unwelcome monument to fascism. We purged the evil from the bunker that night – filling it up with love and laughter. The air was thick with sticky smoke and beats from a big old stereo. Bottles clinked as we kicked them drunkenly across the floor, then rolled down the steps to smash to pieces. Jeff Le Page brought up his paint and spayed the walls – red, yellow, green – all the colours he had. As I admired his mural I saw it, above the door frame. Set into the cement, a faint inscription. When I held my cigarette up, the orange glow defined the letters and numbers sharply.

‘Joszef Jaszec – 5/9/42’

The tail of the two was extended, as if the hand of the writer had been whipped away. Suddenly, I needed air. I stumbled out the doorway; just as poor Joszef had 61 years ago, except with a rough hand on his shoulder and a Luger held to the back of his head. Outside, Sally and Jacko were getting off. Predictable. I turned around sharply, coming face to face with the wall to the side of the entrance. There, right there, the unmistakeable mark of a single bullet. Around it, a slight discolouration – a brown stain – sucked deep into the concrete.

Despite our best efforts that night, those doorways still hold blood. They will forever.

Wed, Sep 20 2017 08:07am IST 21
58 Posts

Couldn't resist having a crack this month! 342 words (including title).

The Door Slammed Shut

It was only when I saw him that the penny dropped. It was then that I realised.

His shivering frame, rocking back and forth, arms clasped around his legs. I should have been there. I told him I would be there. Keeping your word was part of the promise.

“What happened?”

The policeman, all fluorescence and static in the wintry night, looked dead at me, stroking a greying beard. “Who are you?”

“A friend,” I lied.

“Well, sir, I'm sorry to tell you this, but your pal here’s been in a fight this evening. Ambulance is on its way, but I can't get a word out of him.”

“Mind if I try? Speaking to him, I mean.”

“Go ahead.” He motioned towards Graham, and waved his female companion, a young officer with pale skin, to make room.

I knelt beside him, but I don't think he really noticed me. “Hey buddy,” I said. “It's me. Can you tell me what happened?”

He looked up towards me, met my gaze. He said, “I think you know what happened. Where were you?”

“Sorry, mate,” I said.

“Fuck off.”

“Why did you do it?” I asked him. “Why didn't you wait for me?”

He spat blood out onto the floor, hacked and spat again. “I’m always waiting for you,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for you since the day we met.”

The ambulance arrived, and the paramedics looked him over. One of them asked, “How does this feel?” as they pushed fingers into his ribs. His contorted face told them everything.

They put him on a stretcher, loaded him into the back. “You coming?” asked the skinnier of the two men.

My mouth opened, but words didn't come.

From the back of the van, leaning out, the other paramedic said, “Look, are you coming with your friend or what?”

“No,” I replied, “I don't think I am.”

The door slammed shut, as the two strangers took Graham somewhere I hoped he’d find better company. Some hero I turned out to be.

Wed, Sep 20 2017 02:25pm IST 22
1297 Posts


Three doorways.

Undressed stone archways with heavy, looming keystones, each cut with a different symbol. I was concentrating on the familiar to avoid looking at the impossible.

Behind me, my companion began to tap his foot. ‘Well?’ he asked.

I didn’t look around. Once had been enough.

‘What do they mean?’

I pointed at the symbol on the first door. The sign for infinity.

‘Endless possibilities. A new start,’ he said.

Images flickered on the other side of the doorway, forever changing, shifting. A desert sunset, a city high-rise, a racing car, a woman with a pram. I jerked my gaze away as nausea stabbed my stomach.

‘And that one?’ I moved across to the next where a carved eye stared down at me.

‘Not everyone gets that door,’ he said. ‘But you have the choice to go back.’

I studied the drama going on, on the other side of the door. A crumbled car, the flash of emergency lights.

‘I’m badly injured?’ I guessed.

‘Well, bad enough to be here, but not so bad that the doorway is closed. Your life hangs in the balance. You could go back.’

‘To what. Am I scarred, crippled, paralysed?’

‘That’s the trick, isn’t it? You can’t know. It’s a leap of faith.’ He found that bit funny. The doorway wavered, faded, solidified again. ‘Looks like you’d better decide quick if you want to go back there.’

I clenched my fists, and turned to the last door

‘And that one?’ I asked.

The keystone was carved with weighing scales, and the door showed nothing but filtered light.

‘Isn’t it obvious?’

I swallowed. ‘Judgement.’

‘Judgement indeed.’

I looked back and wished I hadn’t. He settled his wings with a rustle and gave me a far from angelic smile. Those teeth were way too pointy.

‘For the very good and the very bad the decision is easy, but for you…?’

I stared at my life through the second door. Friends, family, everything I’d worked for all lay through there, but so did other things. Obligation, debt, bad decisions and regret. Love and familiarity tugged at me, but so did the thrill and fear of a new start. How could I decide?

The angel started his foot tapping again. ‘I’m missing band practice for this,’ he muttered. ‘Come on already. CHOOSE.’

Wed, Sep 20 2017 02:34pm IST 23
1297 Posts
Forgot to say - 386 words
Wed, Sep 20 2017 09:39pm IST 24
806 Posts

Let me out

Threeday. 08.29. I’m standing before the blue door, waiting to step out. I expect the sun will be shining up the street like yesterday morning, and Oneday before that, and Fiveday before that, and every day. I’ll nod to Tom who’ll be emerging from number seven opposite, he’ll smile, then we’ll all turn - my other neighbours will have stepped out too - and follow our shadows towards the towering Factory, mingling with hundreds of workers all going to the same place.

08.30. A click. That’s different. The door flashes to red, not the green of opening, then back to blue. Or did I blink, was the red the inside of my eyelids? Red is the error colour. My door can’t have broken can it? Red will auto-notify the maintenance department, and stay shut like blue. I need green.

08.31. Still blue. My chest feels tight. I’ve got to get to work. I’m not behind, exactly, but yesterday’s output was below target after rework for the component fault. A hinge, would you believe: all the electronics that goes into our doors and the problem was two pieces of metal joined by a pivot. Out of tolerance, the pivot too thin, deforms under load.

08.32. What will my supervisor say? I can’t just stand here.

My blue door is immovable, like it’s supposed to be. I should know. The Factory produces two hundred and thirty five of them each day, and they can’t be dispatched until they’ve been through Quality. Me.

Perhaps I can get Tom’s attention. Tom’s in Finishing. He seems friendly, but everyone is nice to Quality. No-one wants their work to be out of tolerance. No-one wants to slow the Factory down, but we can’t ship imperfect products.

08.33. No response to my thumps. I should be there. I should be sitting at my workstation, pushing the button to get the first unit brought over, quickly recording the test results on my clipboard. And doing the extra tests, because of the fault yesterday.

08.34. Another click. A flash of red.


My door is gray.

There’s a puff of air, the gray moves a millimetre, two. I use fingertips to pry it wide. Then it takes all my weight to slam the door, and hold it shut.

I used to wonder why the door keeps me in. Now I know it keeps something out.

400 words excluding title

Fri, Sep 22 2017 10:36am IST 25
1575 Posts
Another Nice Morning


The old feller comes into the kitchen. He glances at me with his usual ‘Who the hell are you?’ face and says, ‘Is the tea done?’ I pour him a mug and slide it over the worktop. ‘Gotta get to work, Dad,’ I say, grabbing my keys and heading for the door. I can do without watching him inspect the room – watching those suspicious eyes flicking here and there. When it kicked off I was worried about him, thought he was losing his marbles, but it don’t seem like that now. More like his miserable old bastard side emerging: like a game he plays to piss me off. He touches things, runs his hands over them, opens drawers and look inside. Then just shuts them. Sometimes he stares at my face and I can see his eyes doing little movements as if he’s searching every single detail.

He picks his tea up. ‘Any post?’

‘No, Dad. It’s Sunday. I’m on overtime.’

‘Oh, Sunday.’

He’s not looking at me now, he’s looking back over his shoulder, through the door into the sitting room and just for a moment it’s as though he sees something I don’t.


There’s a Chris in this kitchen. I waited on the threshold to see if I could catch it happening, but it was a waste of time. Always is. This Chris has thick brown hair but it’s him OK. The kitchen’s got cream coloured walls and brown tiles with a flowery one every so often. I hate that. I ask for tea and he pours me a cup in a blue mug. He says something about work, but I’m not really listening.

Looking round, I wonder whether I’d still recognise what the real kitchen looks like. I’m sure it had white walls and tiles. Bit more tasteful than this anyway. For a moment I’m tempted to step back into the sitting room and then re-enter the kitchen just to change it. But I can’t summon the enthusiasm.

The tea’s not bad. Yesterday’s Chris made shit tea: weak and milky. ‘Any post?’ I’m not really interested. It won’t be for me. He replies. Apparently it’s Sunday.

I’m going to go back into the sitting room. I wonder what it will look like this time. I stare through the door. It won’t look like that. I think ‘Goodbye, Chris’ and a tear rolls down my cheek.

400 words

Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up.