What is a princess to do with unwanted male attention? Perhaps the dark spirit of the river can help. "Everybody knows that a princess is bad news, especially to her father. That was the thought that occurred to King Cympo in the two seconds it took him to fall from the battlements of his castle onto the very hard courtyard below. However, such a thought was unfair as a large part of it was his own fault. A few months earlier he had said, “My dear, I want you to marry Count Gwenki.” “He’s a pig.” “Maybe so, but he is also an extremely noisy member of my council, probably earns more than me and certainly has a bigger army.” “I’d rather die.” Princess Cadarn chose not to die immediately but stormed up to her room, slammed the door and threatened not to come down until her father had changed his mind. The king had no alternative but to forbid any food or drink to be taken up to her until she became more tractable. A fearsome two days followed, during which the palace servants tiptoed around quietly, as if someone had died. Then the princess summoned the cook, ordered two breakfasts and the king arranged a date for the Count to visit. When Cadarn saw the Count she realised that she had been wrong in thinking him a pig. He was more of a weasel. He was tall, thin and his eyes were constantly darting around as if looking for prey..." (This ebook also includes an additional story)
If the public don't have the discipline to watch what they put into their mouths then the state is just going to have to do it for them... "The lines are always long but no one ever complains about that. It’s to be expected. After all, this service is provided by the government. More than that, it’s for our own good.I shuffle along in the queue. The girl behind the plexi-glass window sees me out the corner of her eye and continues to monitor her customer’s products but I know she is thinking about me. The way she purses her lips gives away her disgust. The buzzer sounds and customer 4572 inserts his card into the payment slot. No unauthorised items. His units are deducted, his items are dispatched into suitable biodegradable packaging and off he goes. Relief obvious on his jowly face."
Queen of Clubs
Living alone, currently unemployed, behind with the rent and with only sour milk and mouldy cheese left in the fridge, Henry Merriweather tells himself that “It’s just the usual modern male condition.” Mundane matters don’t concern him greatly because he is on a mission to form a union with his dream woman, the Queen of Clubs. From the standard deck of playing cards. A taut, witty and moving urban fantasy. "Henry Merriweather had been playing Patience for two hours. He shuffled the pack again, flicking the edges of the two stacks and then gradually re-uniting them. It had taken him ages to master this trick. At first he had been all fingers and thumbs but now he was as adept as any croupier. He was somewhere around thirty; possibly nearing forty. Or maybe he had already crossed even that threshold. It depended on his audience: welfare benefits official, local council departments, potential employer or possible girlfriend. He was seeking his perfect woman. He assumed that most men were doing the same..."
No One Ever
“Many who waded through the water coloured it with their blood, wine-red – a new meaning for the wine-dark sea of legend…” The battle of Marathon, fought in a time of treachery, danger and intense fear and superstition, was a military disaster for the Persians. But it was not the end of danger for Greece, and the courier’s famous triumphant journey, commemorated in the Olympic race, carried a frightening secret: “His own shadow, long and thin in front of him, was like a rope pulling him towards Athens; as he neared his destination so it gradually shortened, so the sun rose, so the enemy fleet moved towards Phalerum.” What of the Athenian runner himself? Surely, there was no way he could have known how his feat would be celebrated: “Thousands upon thousands of people running. In all the known world, and even lands beyond.” He would surely not have known or cared how fast he was running. And he would not have been able to predict that two messengers, not one, would be named in the annals. Or would he?
What If and Other Stories
Ten stories rooted in the world of science fiction - What if Hitler had died of a childhood ailment? Can you really change your destiny? The horrors of more than half a century earlier revisited; childhood games across time and space; the girl who wasn't there; an affair that wasn't what it appeared to be; a cinema visit with a difference; strange beasts on an alien world; a cyclical life; the man in the moon bides his time.
The Queen In Red: Welcome To My Truth
Liam A. L
A Fan Fic based on The Red Queen from Lewis Carroll's 'Alice In Wonderland'; The Red Queen has forever had a reputation for being heartless, yet is that truly what she is? Does she not perhaps care for the people who have grown to loathe her?
The Wandering Woman
The spray of the sea brushed his face like the soft caressing fingertips of a beautiful woman. His ship, the Red Shadow, was making good time as it cut through the sea’s waves, sending up small geysers of salty water. The open sea, a brilliant cascade of sparkling azure gems, lay before him and a healthy gust of wind was filling his sails.
When I saw that the Mammy was appearing in our town I wanted to go and see her. I was beginning to forget what a mammy was, but I knew that to have one was important to a boy. The teacher used to show us pictures of mammies in a book. She said mammies were always kind and rosy cheeked and held your hand. ‘A mammy is someone who belongs to you,’ the teacher said. All I remember is a smell.
David G Allen
A man in a suit interrupted the programme. ‘What happened to Noel Edmunds?’ I said. ‘Shhh!’ said Lulu. ‘I want to listen!’ I wanted to know what the banker had said. The man in the suit kept talking. ‘I swear they’re making it up,’ I said. Lulu didn’t answer. She just stared into space. ‘I can’t believe I’ll never see my dad again,’ she said. Not for the first time I feel guilty.
The Cover Story
Brindley Hallam Dennis
Apparently, this story was going to be 'disqualified with merit' from an Earlyworks Press competition...but that was too ridiculous...so they gave it Second Prize! It's on of the stories in Talking To Owls (Pewter Rose Press) and you can hear it read on Vimeo.
We Apologise for the Delay
Aliens on the Underground... London Transport would like to apologise for the delay on the Central line this morning. This is due to the discovery of a nest of… um… The message clicked uncertainly into hissing. The listening intensity of the passengers increased as they waited, but the driver did not continue. Ade closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable explanation. A couple of lanky adolescents in school blazers eyed each other and started giggling. ‘Nazis?’ said the redhead ‘Vipers?’ responded the blond, although they both knew what had been found. The train idled a few more feet into the tunnel.
What if the dead could apologise for leaving you? "The first thing you have to take in – if you're fairly young, that is – what you have to try to imagine is a world where people never heard anything from anyone among the departed. There was no message, not of any type … So, from a world in which there was no such communication, to one in which sooner or later just about everyone would get word. When the phone calls started it was amazing…"
Somebody for Everybody
How he had knocked, Francine could not guess. But here he was. Or at least here was his head. Floating in the hallway outside her apartment, as if it had wafted over on the aroma of Mrs. Singh’s stir fry. Here was the sun-kissed face from his Match.com profile. The broad forehead and faintly hooked nose. Somehow, though, it had seemed like the head would be attached to an equally rugged, sun-kissed body. Had it been presumptuous to assume, at the very least, a torso?