December 2015 – the end – Four Shreddings and a Numeral by Martin Bolton

Four Shreddings and a Numeral

by Martin Bolton

The waiter at the Swindon Travelodge was strangely nervous. Sweat glistened on his twitching brow.

“I’ll have the lasagne,” said Simon.

“The… the lasagne,” the waiter tugged at his collar with one bony finger and gave a maniacal, high-pitched cackle. “You’re… you’re absolutely sure you want the lasagne.”

“Yes please.”

“I recommend the fish and chips,” argued the waiter. Perspiration poured freely down his face.

“The lasagne please.” Continue reading

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December 2015 – the end – The End by Matt Bolton

The End

by Matt Bolton

“In the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Amen”.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was many years ago”.

“Continue my child.”

“I have been angry for a long time, as long as I can remember”.

“Do you know why you are angry?”

“Somebody hurt me when I was very young; someone I trusted. They hurt me deeply and over and over. These are the first tears I have shed in so long”.

The young man’s tears coursed down over his cheeks in hot, shameful floods. They were a purging, and gave the man space for the breath to continue. Continue reading

December 2015 – the end – Untitled by John Pilling

Untitled

by John Pilling

We were sitting at our usual table in the back of Benny’s coffee shop when Charlie looked around then leaning forward pulled a copy of our local free newspaper out of his breast pocket and passed it to me.

“Have a look at that mate “he said quietly.

“What am I looking at?” I said.

“Inside the front page…down at the bottom.” Inside the paper there were two articles, one a puff for our local garage and the other showing a happy looking family mother, father and two children standing by a pile of suitcases on some sort of dock with a huge ship behind them. The caption read “local family takes world cruise.” Continue reading

December 2015 – the end – The Ultimate Trip by Alex Bottle

The Ultimate Trip

by Alex Bottle

The Ultimate Trip™Maldives holidaycame with a free snorkelling session – one of the few things that prised Lenny and Lara Dawson from the All Inclusive bar. Fanie, the perfectly toned guide,explained coral bleaching. Lenny and Lara exchanged blank looks. They walked out a few paces,trying to protect their feet from the crunching dead shards, before donning their fins and taking their first tentative breaths underwater. Lara pulled up and snorted when she forgot to exhale through her mouth instead of her nose. This amused Lenny no end, but both were disappointed at the ghostly algae-stripped structures harbouring only a few hardy fish.

“I expected better,” Lenny complained as they splashed their way back onto the beach. “It’s all white. We didn’t clock up 10,000 Air Miles for this.” Continue reading

December 2015 – the end – Worm by Simon Evans

Worm

by Simon Evans

This sorry tale all started when I went to Specsavers for a routine eye check. They found some sort of ‘shadow’ or ‘blemish’ or ‘scarring’ behind my left eye. The follow up appointment at the Eye Hospital involved no small amount of head scratching and reassuring vagueness. Ultimately I was told not to worry but that they had to keep an ‘eye’ on it (ha ha). The following year I was told that the shadow had grown and that there was ‘cause for concern’. During the months following this check-up I began to experience dizziness and occasional blurring of vision. A blind patch was appearing. My dreams were becoming more confused and vivid. I was worried. Continue reading

December 2015 – the end – Grandmother’s Cottage by James Bolton

Grandmother’s Cottage

by James Bolton

It was approaching the end of the summer, and for Jim Stapleton that presaged the annual week at his grandmother, Gretchen’s cottage. Jim decided that, as this was his last day of work before the ominous week, he would take one last chance to enjoy some peace.

He walked home from work this day, through the park at dusk, attempting to soak up the tranquillity, willing himself not to think of that woman he was forced to spend every last week of August with. Jim lit a cigarette and savoured the searing hit it gave his throat and lungs, shivering gleefully at the brief head rush it gave him. He hoped the drug would burn away gnawing thoughts of Gretchen, and that its smoke would erase any images of her from his mind’s eye. Continue reading

November 2015 – inside out – The Team Leader by Simon Evans

The Team Leader

by Simon Evans

Twas the night before Christmas and I was just finishing stacking the dishwasher. My daughter entered the kitchen holding a glass of wine and placed her free hand on my shoulder.

“Come on Dad, the kids are waiting. It’s story time.”

“Well I shouldn’t keep them waiting then!”

I grinned from ear to ear and walked through to the living room. My grandchildren were sat, all three of them, beaming in front of the Christmas tree. Continue reading