Longer Short Stories
Pieces of fictional work between 10,001 and 50,000 words, including novellas.
Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon
A story about friendship, loss and seemingly supernatural forces that may or may not be the product of a disturbed mind. "I came to in my own bed, as the August dawn was breaking. I sat up slowly, and next to me on the camping mat on the floor, was my best mate, Shell. The pain behind my eyes made me shrink from the light as I tried to remember the night before. We’d been on the beach, just the two of us. No wait, her brother, Ben, had been there as well. He’d been in a bad way. He’d lost his place on the ‘Back to Work’ scheme for turning up late three days in a row. That meant his benefits would stop. We’d gone out to the local dunes at Druridge Bay, with cans of Magners to try to cheer him up. And, if I’m honest, to keep an eye on him. I stumbled out to the bathroom and heard my mum call, ‘Jo, I’m off to get the bus to Newcastle. Could you give Shell’s mum a call, she wants to know where Ben is. ‘Bye, love.’ The front door slammed shut. Ben. Where was he? I remembered his face twisted with gloom and booze as he’d told me and Shell to get lost and go home. He wanted to be on his own. At the time I’d thought, ‘Sod you.’ Me and Shell’d been rock solid with him and he’d brushed us away like we were nothing. Just flies on his face. Shell must’ve thought the same. ‘Come on, he’s one stupid shithead,’ she’d slurred. Then she linked her arm into mine and yanked me away towards our estate. ‘We’re not the problem here, he is.’ ‘Too bloody right,’ Ben yelled after us. ‘Too bloody right, you’ve caught on at last.’ The wind picked up as we walked away and drowned out the sound of his voice. I don’t know if he said anything else. We swigged the dregs of our cider as we swayed back home, tearful but sure we were right to leave him to stew in his own bad temper. After a quick pee, I guzzled tap water from my cupped hands and splashed some on my face. Then I zombied back to my bedroom and lay back down on the bed. A crow squawked outside my window and the screech split my head in two. I buried my face under a pillow but it made no difference, the pounding didn’t stop. I must have dozed off again because the next thing I knew it was midday. The hangover was still alive and vicious in my skull and part of me wondered if I was dying. Then the recollection of my mum’s words brought me out of myself. ‘Could you give Shell’s mum a call? She wants to know where Ben is...”
Where the Four Winds Meet
Where the Four Winds Meet is the first novella in a Trilogy. This story reveals the emotional journey through time of one man as he tries to discover how his biological father really died. ‘I’m fifty-two years old and today I saw a picture of my father for the very first time. Can you imagine how that feels?’ Bobby is about to open Pandora’s Box to unlock the secrets of his past – but is he prepared for the turbulent secrets which are about to be revealed about his biological father? ‘You know when I was in Germany? A woman came to me and she said, “‘Your husband’s given me a baby as well.’” How will the two immensely different scenarios, one good, one bad, impact upon the present and especially upon his two sons, a moody wannabe rock star and a ghost buster who falls for a mental medium? ‘He was a wonderful man you know, your father. Such a lovely brother to have.’ Bobby uncovers what he believes is the truth and resolves to let the past go – until it surfaces once more to haunt him.
An unlikely candidate for a superhero but this seemingly innocuous plant thwarts various nefarious plots, in particular one to take over the drones used by the armed forces. A story aimed at 10 to 13 year olds. "It looked like they’d just executed the perfect crime. Being light but agile, the three gymnasts-cum-felons had been able to actually swing along the tops of the frames of the paintings in the gallery. They swung from painting to painting, like apes swinging from tree to tree, without setting off the alarms fixed behind each painting that went off if anyone tried to pull them off the wall. They then formed a triangle around the small sculpture that was the target of their robbery, each of them hanging gracefully from the frame of three different paintings..."
David wants to give his wife Kate everything she didn't have before meeting him: security, a nice home, another baby. He wants to be a good step-dad to Josh and erase the memories of Tom, Kate's first love and Josh's father. But none of this seems enough for Kate and after the birth of their daughter she slips into depression, her only solace the run-down summerhouse at the bottom of their garden. When David discovers what he thinks is her betrayal he sets out on a path of destruction. In late 2014 The Summerhouse, a novella, was shortlisted for Gateway's New Fictions prize. "As an animal would its territory, Kate marked the summerhouse with her scents: coconut and vanilla body lotion, coffee and cigarettes, a citronella candle used to deter bugs, the new wood of pencil shavings mixing with that of the rotting window and door frames. Some smells she carried with her all the time – I could tell where in the house she’d been by sniffing the air for the musky aroma of joss sticks which clung to the materials she wore. Her skin always tasted of coconut and her hair of smoke. She hadn’t used it at first what with feeling so lousy throughout the pregnancy and I was all for pulling it down to tell you the truth. But she got so upset if I so much as hinted at it that I learnt to steer clear of the subject. You couldn’t see the summerhouse from the house so it didn’t matter that much, I suppose, but it bugged me that she could get so worked up about what boiled down to an ugly, damp outhouse obviously built by some toff so he could sneak out and screw one of the maids."
The Non-Adventures of Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton
Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton, committed jumper wearers, museum visitors and lovers of minestrone soup, are looking for a way to escape their work in the circus. One afternoon, while sitting in a puddle of spilt breakfast cereal, they decide to follow their dream and bring cheese to the people of Basingstoke. However, the modern world is difficult. Sometimes, one faces prolems that cannot be fixed with a list and a damp cloth. Whether it is cheese-dinosaurs, bakers intent on World Domination, missing hamsters or being locked in a trouser museum, non-adventures are never far away. But for every problem, there is a solution. And as long as Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton have their jumpers, a bowl of minestrone soup and each other, they will find a way to keep their dream alive. This story is aimed at children between 7 and 11 but there's plenty for adults to enjoy as well.
The Lacquered Box
Yasuko works in a brothel in Tokyo. One night she is visited by a new client... "The front door was already closed against the storm, and I thought I was finished for the night. Crossing the landing, I was on my way to borrow a jar of face cream from Mayu, when I heard the bell. Then, Mama-san’s fulsome stream of welcome: of course it was not too late, it was her pleasure, she had the prettiest girls, as well as the most refined and cultivated... Her tongue ran on. That meant a stranger. How old? I paused, silent-slippered, at the top of the stairs. From here, you can see, in Mayu’s words, ‘close enough to spit’. Older men are generally sent my way. The ‘traditional’ clients, Mama-san calls them, those who like my tiny, doll-like feet and hands, and want to kid themselves they’re connoisseurs of high culture. I can even perform a tea ceremony and, in theory, play my late mother’s ancient koto, although I’ve not fitted the pick on my finger since I first left home. Fortunately, no client has ever asked me for that form of entertainment."
The Haiku Master
James Roderick Burns
1 It was ten thirty in the morning, time for coffee and donuts, but Dustin Roberts had other things on his mind. He had slipped out of the prefabricated office unit and onto the shop floor twenty minutes ago, putting up the small satin ‘Java-time!’ banner beside his computer like a friendly mailbox flag, and locking out the screen. Now a cartoon Japanese gentleman in a bamboo-print kimono alternately smiled and frowned at the empty office. Wanda was out for the morning and Steve, the techie geek in charge of the processing software, away at a conference. Dustin wouldn’t be missed.
J A Pritchard
A macabre and dark psychological thriller, ‘The Shadows’ tells the story of Jack, a young and disturbed mobster, living in a hellish world where he is fighting to find answers, fighting to find out what happened in a past that he dare not speak of. With rivals wanting him dead, and his grip on reality ever weakening, Jack must seek to save his life and save his mind before he descends into madness or is buried in his grave. “This is not a normal time, and this is not a normal place . . .”
Trevor the superhero spider
Trevor is a superhero, however he is also a spider so his superhero powers are in proportion to his size. Trevor and his friends come to the aid of the owners of the house they all live in when Mr and Mrs Fairbanks are persecuted by Mr Bartson of Bartson Holdings U.K. (Ltd) and his heavies.