On Saturday morning I was set a challenge on Twitter – write a short story that involved no living thing. So I had a go…
I have added another six cards to The Last of Logan, an experimental story of childhood grief told through a series of Pokemon cards, which takes us to the halfway point of the piece.
Thought it might be nice on a Saturday to spread the love a bit and post up links to some of my favourite short fiction of the last week.
In a nondescript outhouse in the joint security area of Panmunjom, Joo-won watches as the enemy completes its theatrical changing of the guard.
One of my stories – The Great Weight of Ordeals – has been featured on The Drabble today, which is a lovely old thing to happen.
Losing again. He stands and shuffles, avoids eye-contact. A deserter avoiding the rush.
We can see you sneaking out!
Through the turnstile, he hears those left behind bellow their futile chants, demanding one final effort.
Vicarious Jones was given a wonderful send-off before leaving to sprint for just under 10 seconds for his country.
There was bunting, a street party and the primary school headteacher presented him with a messy collage of the Union flag.
At half-time I ask Graham if he’s Graeme with an ‘e’ or Graham with an ‘h’. He looks at me odd.
‘What does it matter?’ he says.
‘I was just wondering, you know, if I send you a card or something.’
‘Why would you send me a card?’
When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost - and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl. TS EliotFound this quote from TS Eliot this morning and it speaks to exactly what I was writing about here. Anyway, as you were...
Thought I’d practice some dialogue. It began as a 100-worder and grew. I quite like these three characters, might work on them some more. Strong language.
I hover on the pavement, waiting for my new workmates to follow me out of the building. Home is left, but I think Amy goes right. I point right.
He checks the clock. 2.34am.
He listens to the rolling tide of her breathing, and sighs. His bedside clock ticks. The boiler stirs briefly, whirring for a few seconds before clicking off into silence.
OK, I’ve been writing some more this morning, warming up for some larger project work this afternoon and something seems to be happening. It seems all my flash fiction absolutely must have an exact word count.
It was very realistic. It reminded him at first of that McEwan novel. James had been off chasing Pokemon, yet in the sickening thirty seconds between lost and found, Adam found wonder in the brutal clarity of horror
Fifteen minutes after turning out my light, Dad is back in my room. I simulate the breathing pattern of a sleeping child as he lies down next to me and puts his hand on my back.
Look, every super-hero has to take a break and ponder their place in the world. Anyway, while Captain America had his existential crisis over a tea-cake on Saturday, I made a decision.
She smiles apologetically when they meet in the communal hallway each morning.
‘Sorry about the noise,’ she’d said when they first met, her son lurking behind a haircut in the doorway. ‘It’s my thing.’
A couple of people asked me about the song that sparked yesterday’s ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, so here it is. Meanwhile, today’s 50-worder marks the 35th straight day I’ve put up a 50-word story…
Wednesday night is party night and it’s my turn to bring the music. He usually staggers in about 11.
Steve arrives at the polling station without a placard.
What good is that? I say.
Moral support, he says.
But no one knows you’re here.
I kick lazily at the dead leaves and wait for them to file past and offer one last condolence before drifting back to unchanged lives.
The next day: Ring ring. Dad picks up.
We’re watching that fat nanny film.
George carefully mops up the remaining bean juice with his last bit of sausage.
‘Did you know,’ he says, stabbing the food into his mouth, ‘Franklin Roosevelt won a silver medal in the Peru Olympics in 1891?’
Someone in my dictionary is up to no good. Words slip, slide; old truths melt away as new ones emerge, dark and glutinous, always just out of reach.
We watch children mourn their futile endeavour as the tide engulfs their sandcastles. Ellie lies with me as the water laps at our feet and we find his ghost in the clouds.
I thought it might be nice to share this on a Sunday evening. We all have those times as a writer, hell, as a human being, when it doesn’t feel like it’s worth all the bother. It’s a slippery slope my friends.
We find shelter from The Horde in the old courthouse.
Casey marvels at the cornicing, the domed ceiling, the utilitarian furniture.
We skip Geography, race to the cliffs and dance incoherent patterns on the roof of a World War Two pillbox. Harry pulls his trousers down and pees over the cliff edge until the wind blows it back onto his legs and the three of us collapse in laughter.
That’s not really how it works.
You can’t really rob a spa.
Gavin put the gun in her mouth.
I want a free massage. Now.
How can a violin be haunted, I said. Maybe it’s got a ghost living inside it, like a little mouse, he said.
‘Truman, you can’t expect a crushed child on your watch to go without consequences.’
Derek Granger stands up, gulps down his Coke and burps. I stare out the window at the July snow.