Last Man Standing

They didn’t kill me, just made me wish they had, bastards. We were all there that day, lined up ringside waiting for the off. It was top billing and we were crackling with anticipation, the scent of victory already creeping up our noses and fuelling our self-belief.  Our man was big. The biggest. I mean really big. So big their man couldn’t even reach him never mind hit him. So what, that it was barely a competition? All we cared about was winning. We had bets, we’d make a pile. We’d get the hell out of the gulags and away somewhere warm … Continue reading Last Man Standing

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An older tide, touched

So they walk; ancient crystals of silicon counting the millennia between their toes. For the moment, they are silent. All that could be said has spun away to echo across time in infrasonic broadcast, pulsing its message  from the inferno of inception to the deep, dark, thundering conclusion. But then: Where did we come from? The beginning. Where are we going? The end. Those are our questions too, or would be if we had any place in this way-station. What lies between? I don’t know. What is ‘I’?   Older than the seeds of life carried on meteoric messengers, newer … Continue reading An older tide, touched

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Yesterday was the best day ever

It was the day mum and me had just been to the big shop in town to get my senior school uniform and even the smell of it was thrilling. I couldn’t wait to wear the dark green winter skirt, scratchy or not; and the satchel – well that was glorious! All shiny leather with new, stiff straps and brass buckles. We hurried off down the high street towards the bus stop, mum putting her purse away and me thinking about the bubblegum in one pocket and the thirteenth birthday lipstick Gillian had given me in the other. What was … Continue reading Yesterday was the best day ever

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Bad Apple

Ollie was sitting on the sofa, watching TV, when he first noticed his hand disappear. He was about to scratch his nose when there it was. Or rather, there it wasn’t. Right up to his elbow, it wasn’t. Then, back it came, just as suddenly. It looked a bit electrical around the edges, but otherwise … Ollie held it up to his face, palm first, and spread out his fingers. All accounted for; although the end of his index finger had a slight glow to it, he thought. He pressed his palm up against his nose, and sniffed. Chocolate and … Continue reading Bad Apple

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Letter to a child

To Whom it May Concern You are not my son. I am not your father. You trod a path that is alien to me. We are not family. You took household commodities and fashioned out of them violent and indiscriminate death. No son of mine would do that. No son of your mother would do that. No son of any Lord that I know of or that I can imagine would do that. You are not my son, your mother’s son, our Lord God’s son, nor any son of this beautiful, wonderful humanity of which we are part. You are … Continue reading Letter to a child

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Worth Repeating

‘Tick tock, tick tock’ ‘Gimme the keys, fucking moron!’ ‘…and as the Prime Minister’s car pulls away…’ ‘Tick’ ‘Gaffer tape, Jimmy’ ‘Gaffer tape’ ‘Jimmy. Moron’ ‘Telephone number 0767453. Tick’ ‘Pete’s place, Greenwich’ ‘Bertie likes his cheese! Clever Bertie!’ ‘ARMED POLICE! COME OUT, PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM! COME OUT NOW!’ ‘Any sign of the hostages, Mike?’ ‘No, nothing. Just some bloody bird squawking about gaffer tape and Greenwich’ Continue reading Worth Repeating

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Reunion

Out on the terrace of their friend’s rather magnificent home following their 10 year class reunion, Damian stole a glance at Sonja, her dark hair pulled back and plaited so that her neck and shoulders were exposed. She was statuesque, Athenian, he thought, drawing uncertainly on a largely forgotten classics module at university. Tonight would be the night. Definitely. He had seen how she looked at him, confirming his view that, even at school, there had been a special ‘something’ between them. Once, giddy with a raft of successful exam results in their hands, they had taken over her parents’ … Continue reading Reunion

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No Place Like Home

Maude ran a finger along the shelf ‘Nurse Simmons!’ she called out. ‘More attention to the dust and less to the new registrar if you don’t mind!’ Her senior staff nurse glanced briefly at Dr Tate, raised an eyebrow and hurried back to give the shelving another wipe over with a damp cloth. ‘All done Sister Jenks’ she announced a few minutes later, inviting inspection with a drift of her eyes towards the unit. Maude raised her chin and looked down under her glasses, a formidable matron-in-waiting whose middle name must surely be ‘Dettol’. She swept down the centre of … Continue reading No Place Like Home

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Not David Attenborough

The ice rat scuffed at the frozen tundra, came up with something apparently satisfactory, and scampered off to its burrow. Four more days of filming and we could head north to the Serengeti, that would be warmer for my old bones. I hitched up and rearranged my knees as discreetly as possible, sending two of the juveniles tumbling back into the burrow and ruining the shots we’d been waiting for all day, shit! Mutterings from the crew; the words ‘past it’ and ‘decrepit bloody baggage’  were allowed to float my way. So much for respect. Thirty years of wildlife filming, … Continue reading Not David Attenborough

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Madness

I want to preface this story with some thoughts. The title was a given, a course exercise, and not a choice as such, but I did have a choice about where I went with it. As a professional working for a large mental health and learning disability Trust and in the context of current campaigns to eliminate stigma, I’m bound to say something about how I arrived at this grim image. The exercise was one of perspective and the result is fiction, not fact. That said, I have worked as a nurse in conditions not dissimilar from these and observed … Continue reading Madness

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