Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ellie

Roger Noons


small glass of brown rum


After she had finished washing up after supper, the old woman went outside to smoke a roll up. Where on earth she acquired the tobacco leaf, I cannot imagine. It had the colour of a three day old cow pat and smelled like rotting hare. To my amazement, I never heard her cough despite her admission that she had begun smoking prior to her teenage years. Her black hair retained its gloss. Her ebony skin was lined, deep creases and their tributaries. One day I summoned up the courage to ask how old she was. She said she had forgotten.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Accident

Neta Shlain

Drambuie  

Mira gently shut the door behind Andre.
     
Daylight was beginning to poke its nose from under the winter blanket. Covered by the veil of dawn, Andre crossed the orange trees grove and flew through the thorny wet grass. He was determined to catch the six o clock bus for work so that he can have a longer lunch. Mira said they could meet.   
     
He emerged at the low fence of the foggy motorway.
     
The reflection of the night’s warmth had suddenly washed all over him. It’s been a year and a half now since the big day, and all throughout the pregnancy, his life was so idyllic that he could hardly believe it was happening to him. How did he, the orphan, the nomad, the miserable lover, the sheep herder become so happy…?
     
A blink of the bus in the distance brought him back to reality. He had to climb the fence and cross the road and be fast about it.  A brief glance over the shoulder and he sprinted.
     
Two hours later, as soon as she left home, Mira was stuck in the traffic. The road was closed due to a major accident. A car’s windshield was shattered, and a massive dent deformed its bonnet; from one glance she could tell it was a total loss.
     
When she reached her office, police officers were already waiting for her. She knew right away.   

About the author 

Neta is a 38 year-old  mother of two. She is Ukraine-born, Israel-raised, UK-based. She writes poetry, non-fiction, short stories, and for children. 

 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Eternal

Ann Dixon

Redbush Tea


Bella De Sang scanned the assembled crowd on the platform. What a dull, lifeless lot they all seemed, she thought. She had hoped to find an interesting and good looking travelling companion to help relieve the tedium of the long journey down to London but none appealed to her.

      The station intercom suddenly crackled into life,  announcing the imminent arrival of the London train to Euston. As one, the crowd picked up their luggage and slowly made their way to the platforms edge. It was then that Bella spotted him., a handsome dark haired man standing near the ticket office. He turned towards her and Bella drank in his rugged good looks. Now there was a man she could happily spend a few hours with she thought. He had a muscular build and a fine chiselled  face that even Apollo might envy. A mop of unruly hair, curled cheekily towards his large almond shaped eyes; but - a sudden pained expression spread  across his face. Deep furrows lined his brow changing his features from heroic to pitiful. Bella watched in fascination, as the young man  limped awkwardly towards the train. Not that his limping  mattered to her of course, her plans did not require physical perfection, just a healthy fascination with the opposite sex.     


      Unaware of Bella's gaze, Ben slowly made his way to the train. He shuffled along the corridor and selected an empty carriage at the rear, hoping fervently that he would be left alone. The last thing he wanted was to be forced into meaningless conversation with someone he didn't know. Through long periods of illness he had lost his lucrative position as chief executive of Marlow and Sons, and  Mira, his long term partner, had recently left him for an oily bank manager. His now somewhat reduced funds, had meant giving  up his beloved luxury apartment overlooking the River Thames, for a pokey little studio flat in Darrington. Life was at an all time low for Ben and he simply wanted to be left in peace.

       After stowing his briefcase in the luggage rack, he sat down for what he hoped would be a silent, solitary journey.  Minutes later however, the door slid open and in walked  the most stunningly beautiful woman he had ever seen. Dressed totally in black, she was tall, slim and supremely elegant. She closed the carriage door and before sitting,  pulled down the window blinds. Long, diaphanous white hair wafted softly across her pallid face. Her eyes, a  hypnotic violet and her sensuous full mouth painted deepest red - fair took his breathe away. She sat down directly opposite him. Her gaze was overwhelmingly captivating and so intense, that it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Ben was transfixed by her fervent, bewitching stare and could not look away.

      The train gradually gathered speed and was soon singing its rhythmic tune.  Bella leant forward to observe her handsome Apollo more closely. It had been an extremely long, time since she felt so strongly attracted to anyone and why this young man should appeal so much to her, was a bit of a  mystery to her.

       As she held him in her gaze she drank in his rugged looks, but then, as she probed his handsome features more intently, she also sensed his pain, his loneliness and an all consuming sadness.  There was a time of course, when despite those wondrous looks, she would have dismissed such a physically weak creature out of hand, but this young man was different  somehow and Bella was determined to help him.

       'Why not come and sit here,' she said to him, her voice deep and sonorous. Her long, china boned hand, indicated the seat next to hers. A  mesmerized Ben did exactly as he was bidden. 'Now!  close your eyes,' she instructed. Ben dutifully obeyed. Bella revealed her fangs and with a delicious tenderness, she drank the exquisite, dark, ruby elixir of his life. The taste was sublime.
       
       When  Ben eventually opened his eyes the train was pulling into  Euston Station and of his alluring travelling companion there was no sign.
His mouth felt desert dry and when he stood, his head was a  little light, but that apart, he felt inextricably stronger and healthier than he had done for many months and his heart now throbbed with a strong, steady rhythm. He collected his suitcase from the rack and made his way off the train without the merest trace of a limp.  

       Before heading off to visit his specialist, and eager to quench his thirst, he headed off to the station cafe. Ahead of him in the queue stood a young, pretty, blonde haired girl and Ben felt strangely attracted to her. He watched as she ordered a latte and sat down in the deserted courtyard at the back of the Waiting Room.  Ben needed something stronger and ordered a double espresso.

       With espresso in hand, he strolled into the courtyard and sat down opposite he, eager to examine those delicate features more closely. . He sipped his espresso. The girl looked up and their eyes met. Without warning, a dark all consuming  sadness flooded his mind and a strange alien feeling stirred within him. His eyes blackened and Ben's ice white fangs slid gently over his lips. Yes! The taste would be sublime.

The Fool

Richard Hough

a cocktail 


A beautiful girl sits at an angle of forty five degrees from me. With clear, blue eyes and blonde hair cascading over her shoulders and stretching down her back, she is exactly the sort of woman I would have lusted over when I was her age – about thirty years ago. In fact there are similarities between her and my wife.

I stare as she chats confidently with the brunette friend sitting opposite her. I suddenly realize I’ve been gazing too long and I see that she has caught me. I am slow to turn away but I notice her own gaze has lingered too long or is that the wild imagination of a man entering (or indeed in the heart of) a mid-life crisis.

I’m sure I must redden slightly as I turn away desperately trying to pretend I was simply looking around the coffee shop and she just happened to be there.

Then the dance begins. In my vain attempts not to look at her I stare at improbable things – the backs of chairs, counting the screws which hold them together; the bark of the tree a few feet from the front door; the signs on the walls which I have read a thousand times before. It’s hopeless. I cannot resist the lure of this nemesis whose blue eyes are for swimming in. I chance another look, then another and a third. Each time, she is looking at me and on the final occasion, she smiles at me or perhaps it’s at something her companion has said. My heart is pounding, my head throbbing. I have to know. Am I a mad, old fool or is my life about to change forever? I surreptitiously slip off my wedding ring, storing it carefully in my pocket and haul myself from the chair which sighs with relief.

About the author 

Richard Hough has been writing since he had a joke published in his favourite boyhood comic, Sparky. He has self published one novel and is currrently working on a second in the spare time which eludes him almost completely. He has a wife, two sons and two cats choose to live with them for the time being.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The letter

Roger Noons

 

a glass of sweet sherry


It was undated, but the colour of the paper confirmed its age, together with crinkled edges and split folds backed with sellotape. The card in which it was inserted had long since faded, the shape of a heart, a feint line. I recognised my father’s handwriting.

My dearest Rosemary,

You are a language I’ve learned by heart. A dialect, a patois; the words of native speakers, known only to those who love, those who place someone else on a pedestal, ahead of themselves.
Your hair, a magical mass of golden filaments; your eyes, so deep, I could drown in their orbs with no oxygen available, and your lips, painted or not, sweet, sensuous, desirable when open or together.
I do and will always love you.

Bernard.

I found it on top of the contents of my mother’s jewellery case when I was sorting out her effects during the week following her funeral. I frowned; my mother’s name was Joan. Rose was her sister. When I was younger, people always said that I featured my aunt.

Monday, 13 February 2017

2m Peter

Robin Wrigley

vodka on the rocks


I remember the first time he came in for his paper for two reasons, one it was Valentine’s Day and secondly Lizzie fell instantly in love with him. He was shy, nice looking and very tall, well over six-feet. When we found out his first name was Piotr, we knick-named him ‘Two-metre Peter’, behind his back, of course.
     We discovered his name and that he was Polish after he had a parcel delivered to our collection service – he said it was a present from his mum, in Krakow. These details however, were the only thing that we found out about him for quite a while. As I mentioned he was shy, very shy to the point that his eyes diverted away from me the instant our gaze connected on the odd occasion that I was able to serve him, which was not often, due to Lizzie all but wetting herself to get there in front of me. I didn’t mind really being as how I had a steady boy-friend and at four-feet ten, me and him would look rather like the monkey with the giraffe as Lizzie put it when she thought I also fancied him.
     It was the week that Lizzie called in sick that I got a chance to observe him a bit better. Firstly he was very polite even though his English was a bit strange sometimes. He didn’t smoke, or at least didn’t buy his cigarettes from us. He read the Daily Express. When I asked him if enjoyed it, he made a slight tilt of his head, looked at me for a split second and said it was okay and bought it because it was the cheapest. He explained he really only read it to practise reading in English. The content didn’t really interest him.
     He always wore a blue coverall that looked immaculately clean unlike the majority of local workers who came in to the shop. When it rained he wore a bright red waterproof jacket which again made him stand out from the local men who never seemed to alter their dress to suit the weather conditions.
     He had a shock of strawberry-blond hair that looked like he had trouble controlling it as it constantly fell over his right eye causing him to brush away with the back of his hand. His hands and fingernails were clean and he didn’t wear any jewellery or have any tattoos as far as I could see.
     I would never confide in Lizzie, though, for fear of her thinking I was competing for his charms; in reality I just felt kind of sorry for him because he seemed – I don’t know -not just lonely but adrift in a foreign place. He was different but in such a nice way.
     Strangely enough he did seem to open up just a little with me, which to be honest was probably because he sensed that I was not trying to flirt as Lizzie always did and enabled him to accept friendliness at face value. I was dying to know if he was married but instinct told me that question would be a step too far.
     I found out he worked at a local boat-builders as an electronic technician which accounted for, I assume, why he managed to keep so neat and tidy.
     There was no question about it; for all the moaning about the number of Polish immigrants in our city this guy certainly was a bonus.
     But no sooner had we got used to Piotr’s face lightening up our drab shop every morning, he stopped coming in, just disappeared and we never saw him again.

For Lizzie it was Love’s Labours Lost I guess, (and me a bit, if I was honest). But guess what? Lizzie’s booked a holiday in Krakow – can you beat it?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Which doctor?

Mike Olley 

 Voodoo Tequila with a pinch of salt

In the morgue, Dr Browning observed Professor Fox's naked lifeless body. It spoke volumes to him; in death the old man was just as curmudgeonly: 'For God's sake use the scalpel, Browning! This is a pathology department, we employ scientific method only. Determining cause of death by occult means is not only reckless, it is also unethical. Pure mumbo-jumbo. I will not stand for it.' But there was nothing the dead man could do now, the department belonged to Browning.
Satisfied with his work, Browning packed away the ouija board and filled in Fox's post-mortem report: death by supernatural causes.

About the author 


Mike Olley writes short fiction. His work has been published in several anthologies. A designer by trade, he's also quite a good carpenter and grower of cactus plants. Originally from London, he spent a few years in Spain before a quirk of fate brought him back to live in an English seaside town.