Flashing!

No, not that sort of flashing – get your mind out of the gutter! If you’re expecting a discussion about the virtues of going commando under your best anorak, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. But don’t worry, this is the internet, it won’t be hard to find what you’re looking for 😉 . I’m talking, of course, about flash fiction.

People keep asking me when my next short story will be out. In case you missed the announcement on Twitter (and let’s face it, if you’re following more than a couple of hundred people it’s impossible to keep up with everyone!), the lovely people at Page and Spine have recently published my flash fiction story ‘Dearly Departed’. You can read it for free here:

http://pagespineficshowcase.com/249/category/dearly%20departed/1.html

However, I’m afraid all will be quiet on the short story front for a little while, as I really need to focus my efforts on getting the first draft of ‘When Jimmy Saved London’ (my current novel in progress) finished. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support of my fantastic alpha readers, who have so generously given their time and expertise to help me with this project. There are very few people willing to have in-depth discussions about explosives, hypothetical economic crises and theoretical new technologies with a slightly insane writer, so I count my lucky stars I found three of them! Gary, Steve and Ash, I am forever in your debt, and I couldn’t possibly do this without you!

So, seeing as I keep being pestered for new shorts by some, and moaned at for writing them when I ought to be working on the novel by others, I thought I’d try for a compromise. Below are some flash fiction pieces previously written for various competitions, (and a link to my very first interview – eeeeek!) I hope you will enjoy them. As always, comments are very welcome 🙂

Be patient my pretties, the novel will come… if you’re very good (or very bad, he he) I might share some excerpts soon…

Just Maybe… by N J Crosskey (Winner of MicroBookends 1:27)

Silent treatment, that’s what she accuses me of. Then it’s all: You Never, You Don’t, You Aren’t.

Well maybe I don’t and maybe I’m not. But maybe Glynis, just freakin’ maybe, YOU don’t and YOU aren’t either.

And maybe, just maybe, you sound like a flock of constipated pigeons. Maybe you’re a shrill, controlling harpy who kicks me when I’m down, so MAYBE, just maybe, I Don’t and I’m Not because of YOU.

Maybe I’ll smash your skull in with a freakin’ shovel. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll bury you on the hillside with the other cows…

…Or maybe I’ll just turn the sound up so I can hear the film.

You can also check out my Winner’s Interview here: http://www.microbookends.com/2015/04/21/who-is-n-j-crosskey/

Losing Coral’ Honourable Mention – Flashmob Writes wk 7

Losing Coral (499 words)

I’m wearing a cream blouse.

The air smells of lavender and bleach. The woman beside me kisses my cheek.

“Bye Mum,” she says, and I realise it’s Meghan. Silly of me, must be the new ‘do. She looks so different.

I forget things sometimes. That’s why I’m here; I think… a word flies across my mind so quickly I can’t hold onto it. I chase it, but it’s gone. So has Meghan.

I walk down the corridor to the lounge. The fraying, floral chairs are occupied by people much older than I. The woman beside me must be ninety if she’s a day. I’m only… well, I’m not sure exactly, but I’m much younger.

She smiles at me, I smile back. “I’m new,” I say.

“That’s nice,” she replies. “Have you ever been to Storrington? I’m from Storrington. Course I didn’t work there. I always caught the number thirty-seven into town-”

She talks, a lot. I listen politely as she tells me every nuance of her life. It’s not until she says, “I must telephone my father, he’ll be dreadfully worried.” that I realise she’s crazy.

I look at the others more closely. One of them polishes a teaspoon, frantically, with her jumper. Another gets up, sits down, and gets up again. They’re all crazy. That word I was chasing rushes forward, belts me round the head. Dementia. I’ve heard it a lot. I’ve heard it said about me.

I’ve got dementia. The memory kicks me in the guts, I struggle for breath. I’ve got dementia, and it’s going to consume me, take away everything I am. I look at them all, locked inside their bubbles. Like scratched records, stuck in one groove. How long before I am the same?

Someone starts to wail. I realise it’s me.

I’m wearing a blue nightdress.

The air smells of smoke. My house is on fire! I flee my bedroom, race to the front door. But it’s locked. I can’t get out! I scream, hammering my fists in vain.

“Help me! I’m burning alive!”

Footsteps thunder toward me. Uniformed arms grasp mine, stopping me from hitting the glass pane.

“Coral,” the young lady says, “look at me.”

I’m shaking, but I obey.

“It’s Okay.” She speaks slowly, deliberately.

“My house is on fire!” Why isn’t she panicking?

“No honey. Not now. You’re safe.”

She leads me back down the corridor, sits me down. She tells me things I half remember, things that seem like whispered dreams.

I left the stove on, burned down the house.

“That’s how you came to live with us.” She says.

I’m wearing a green jumper.

I must change before my date tonight. I pick up my mirror to check my lipstick. A shrivelled face, covered in burns and framed by grey hair stares back at me. I scream.

I’m wearing a purple dress.

I sit next to a woman much older than I. “I’m new,” I say.
“That’s nice,” she smiles. “Have you ever been to Storrington?”

Honourable Mention and Special Challenge Winner – Three Line Thursday  wk 27

Viscous secrets, sparkling champagne.
Some things, once opened, cannot be closed.
“Don’t pry, little girl.” Mama poured out another.

‘Heaven’s Gate’ Special Mention – Flash! Friday vol 3-18

Heaven’s Gate (210 words)

I’m never drinking with Seraphim again. Bastards. Getting into a theological debate was a bad idea. Taking the bet was worse.

It’s not that I don’t support the Watcher’s strike. But, closing the gate, forever? My species can’t have got that bad.

Raziel just laughed. “Alright,” he said. “You try. I’ll grant one last place. Just one. And I’ll bet you can’t even fill that.”

So here I am. Scouring humanity. And I’ve probably lost my own slot, what with the coat stealing. But, those gilt-winged gits dropped me here buck naked. I’ll plead entrapment, Pete’s a good guy, he’ll understand.

And I’m losing. Raziel was right, things have changed. The city is a cold sea of scowls and selfish aspirations, drowning kindness in its tide. The crowd may move as one, but they live apart.

A man slumps beside me on the bench, cloaked in dirt and body odour.

“You look like shit,” he says. “When’d you last eat?”

I shrug. I don’t think “fifty years ago” would go down well.

“Ain’t much, but here…” He offers me a half-eaten sandwich. “Reckon you need this more than me.”

I smile, and press Raziel’s crumpled ticket into his hand.

“Buddy,” I say, “you just became the richest guy on Earth.”

The Day Maker
(199 words)

“If I left tomorrow, would anyone even know?” The Day-Maker asked his wife, as he collapsed on the patchwork sofa.

She looked at him, and smiled. He worked so hard, so tirelessly. Whilst all the world slept he toiled. Weaving dappled sunlight to greet their sandy eyes, brewing gentle breezes to kiss their cheeks, or distilling cleansing rains to water their crops.

But lately, the shadows had darkened around his sparkling eyes. He winced as his muscles screamed in protest and rubbed at his back. He needed a rest.

“No,” she whispered as she stroked his long grey hair. “I don’t think they would.”
He breathed a sigh of relief and fell into a deep, dream-filled sleep. And tomorrow never came.

When at last he awoke he was refreshed, invigorated. He gave the birds a brighter song, the sun a more vibrant hue. He hopped and skipped his way through the day’s ablutions. His wife’s heart was filled with joy at the sight.

“Oh my love,” she said, “I think you should skip a day every year! Nobody would miss silly old February 29th anyway.”

He frowned, and thought for a moment.

“I’ll work one in four.” He said.

Party Games (360 words)

“Ziro points for originali-ti-ness you bastards.” Rhys yelled. He pulled at the cuffs holding his hands behind his back. They didn’t give. When he looked down the cracked pavement was spinning, a kaleidoscope of pinks and greys. When he looked up, the streetlight overhead flooded his retinas with a sickening orange haze. He groaned, the bile churning in his guts. What had been in that last pint?

“What’s up mate?” Ed yelled from across the street. “Feeling a little WOOLLY headed?”

The pack of Neanderthals he called colleagues roared, slapped each other on the back and disappeared into the bar.

Great.

At least the inflatable sheep strapped to his middle was covering his (now painted green) modesty. But seriously, how predictable. Welsh name, Welsh parents – doesn’t matter if you’ve never actually lived there, you will, on the eve of your nuptials, end up with a white plastic effigy on your groin. It was horribly inevitable.

God, he needed to scratch his nuts. The thick seam tickled his inner thigh. He wiggled a little, hoping to alleviate the itch. Then stopped abruptly when he realised how his gyrations might look to passers-by.  Just have to bear it. They wouldn’t leave him here long, surely?

The minutes lolloped by. Couples joined at the hands sniggered as they ambled past.  An old lady tutted, yanking her spaniel away as it tried to cock its leg up his lamppost-prison.

A gaggle of high pitched shrieks approached, all tutus and deely boppers.  A young woman wearing a ripped veil, and an oversized “L” plate ran up to him, squealing like a saw drill.

“Hey girls, get this!” She sidled up to him; he could smell the vomit on her breath. She pulled down her top, thrusting her breasts at him, wiggling her yellowed tongue.

Her coven of harpies reached into their bags and pulled out their phones. All at once the true horror of his situation hit him.

YouTube – another crashing inevitability.

He groaned, and cursed himself for his folly. Old Etonian buddies or not, you should never, ever let a member of the opposition organise your stag do.

He’d never get re-elected now.

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