Before The Contamination my job was much easier. I’d never complain, of course, but stopping Outcasts from scaling a 188-foot waterfall to flee has been tough since they drained Lake Erie.
Bulgaria was the last to fall. They even had hotel bellboys, for fuck’s sake.
Robert knows too much. At first light, I run the bath, yank out his Pain Threshold chip and throw him in the water.
‘You can’t expect a crushed child on your watch to go without consequences.’
After more than two weeks of 50-word stories, I thought I’d combine a couple to expand into a longer piece.
If you are interviewing grieving parents in their cramped Victorian living room, try not to knock a photo of their dead teenage daughter off the mantelpiece.
The vacuum whine woke him every morning.
She met him once in the communal hallway to apologise, her son lingering behind a haircut.
Unused swings wobble in the breeze. An disheveled man, can in hand, chases a pigeon, staggering, burning fury in his bloodshot eyes. The taunting bird hops in a large circle until, bored, it hauls itself […]
The Union flag stood tall in scruffy gardens, thrashed violently on the aerials of speeding white vans, draped lazily across windows of now-darkened pubs. Victory. The windswept rock was cleansed, thanks to one woman, in […]
Mum’s birthday today, don’t forget. Swipe to clear. Huge earthquake in Bangladesh. Swipe to clear. Police hunt for missing toddler in Derby. Swipe to clear. I love you. Swipe to clear. 86 dead in suicide […]
Aika shut out the world, gripped the scissors in her right hand and cradled the baby’s head in her left. Her training had prepared her for this and yet her heartbeat was deafening, her breath […]
Hello! With my first full month of freelance writing now completed, I just wanted to get a few notes down about these 50-word stories that seem to have taken over my life. I only started […]
‘The barbarians are coming,’ proclaimed the king. And so, the people prepared for war. A sacrifice was left outside the walls. The wait was agonising, but no one came. ‘Where are the barbarians?’ demanded the […]
He rides the buses, leaving stickers on the windows. Blood orange, with white writing. Come Home Cameron. The city that swallowed his son unspools. He stares at colour-coded maps of vast, monochrome housing estates. YOU […]
The advert had promised adventure, action, yet here he was in the Bahamas, building a circular green fence to protect the crops from an unremitting wind. ‘You joined at the wrong time, Haddon,’ barked his […]
The salesman on her doorstep reeked of old perfume. The knot of his tie pinched his neck and it dangled too long, tapering over his groin like a desperate plea. Sweat pooled on his upper […]
The Royal Ballroom was not accustomed to motorbikes careening through its windows, but the helmeted man had a message. A red triangle on the seal told the King all he needed. ‘A storm nears,’ he […]
‘We need better sunrises,’ said the Prime Minister. ‘They will make people happier, more inclined to behave.’ So a deal was done with Peru to import their sunrises in exchange for social healthcare. ‘I don’t […]
Deep in the valley was a distant village with no cars. ‘This won’t do,’ said Henry Ford, and he sent his best man to investigate. When Lloyd returned, he had perplexing news. ‘They have nowhere […]
The boys skipped Geography to dance on the WW2 pillbox, until a desperate shout from inside: ‘I’m trapped, please get help.’ ‘We can’t. We shouldn’t be here. We’ll bring food.’ They visited Adam every day for […]
Derek waited, calm. His flight had been smooth and he’d found somewhere in Vegas that sold chips. They were good too – Cromer pier quality – but he was beginning to wonder if this black […]
The evacuation was swift. Abandoned, he sat on the pier and waited for The Wave. A hand rested on his shoulder. ‘Come, we don’t have long.’ ‘Not with you.’ His brother sat down. ‘Your pride […]
The village paperboy was given a wonderful send-off before leaving to sprint for just under 10 seconds for his country. Pride poured through the streets. The same mob saw him home, picketed the newsagent, demanded […]
He waits, obedient. To his right are three more, identical, until he marches alone and there she is, as ever. He inches forwards, to where white becomes black. They smile. ‘Perhaps this time will be […]
White on top of white on top of white, his rig claws for frozen-lake traction as his eyelids bounce, sleep and death the same. Then, a silhouette at the roadside. He slows alongside. A companion, […]
Neon vacancy signs flashed as the bee crawled across the bed, apologetic. ‘I’m sorry I cannot fly, for the season is late and I am heavy of heart.’ But Amber panicked and Ryan, also startled, […]
In between the stars we found us and everything we had ever known. Every kiss, every punch, every smile, distilled into a dot, spinning in the black infinity. The thrill of a reunion. The ache […]
Lewis was surprised to see Grandma at the gates. ‘Where’s Mummy?’ ‘Silly thing, did she forget to say I was picking you up?’ She gripped his hand. ‘Come on, we haven’t got long.’ Lewis looked […]
So this is it. No longer employed. I am exposed to the world and its madness. Time to leap into the cold water.