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24/06/2019
19/06/2019
18/06/2019

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Bryan Thomas

 

Drabbles

Bryan Thomas Merits

3 most prolific17 most esteemed

The Booger Man

Growing up in Illinois in the Eighties, my life was quite idyllic. There was only one persistent dark cloud on my perfect horizon - the Booger Man. A faceless enigma. Adults were supposed to know everything, but nobody seemed to know anything about the Booger Man. I would often lay awake in bed at night wondering what he looked like, if he was married, if he had kids, where he lived, what type of car he drove, that kinda stuff. Now, as an adult, I know all of the answers to my childhood questions... because I am the Booger Man.


Final Performance

Tonight would be their final performance. A throwback to the days of variety shows and music hall, the show would be a 'thank you' to the many loyal fans that had supported them over the years. Spike, Bruiser, Chaos and Mauler were waiting anxiously behind the velvet curtain. Spike's nails were drumming on the floorboards, his top hat tilted, covering his left eye. Curtain-up was only a minute away. The air inside the theatre was crackling with expectation as the four Pit Bulls awaited the announcer. The curtain rose to rapturous applause, "Ladies and gentleman: The Dangerous Dogs Act!"


Horoscopes

Greg flicked through the newspaper and stopped at the daily horoscopes.

Aries: A short journey will lead to you making a small wager. Today is your lucky day, a lucrative day that will end with a big surprise!

The bookies! That could be the small wager! Greg grabbed his coat.

Arriving at the bookies, he scanned the form for the next race - 'Greg's Windfall' was 800-1! He put fifty quid on the nose. The horse romped home.

As Greg was leaving with his wad of notes, the sign above the bookies fell off the wall, killing him stone dead.


Bug Hunt

"Hi, I'm Summer Kimball, the new secretary," she said, all killer heels and cascading blond curls.

"Jeff," I replied, shaking her hand.

For the following fortnight, whenever possible, I followed Summer discretely around town. One afternoon, she came out of the drug store and turned left down an alleyway.

This was the opportunity I had been waiting for.

Forcefully grabbing her arm, I said, "I know 'what' you are."

Fear erupted in her eyes.

I plunged my switchblade repeatedly into her stomach.

"Damn you to hell!" she shouted.

Seconds away from death, her body took on its true, insect form.


Stars

Seven-year-old Jade and her father were looking up at the stars in the sky.

"Gosh, Daddy, I've never seen so many stars before."

"That's because we are far away from a major city, so there's virtually no light pollution from large buildings, houses, street lights or anything like that."

"Do all of the stars have a name, Daddy?"

"Some of them do, but not all."

"There must be millions of them, Grandad said that each star is somebody who has died and gone to heaven."

"Grandad is right."

"Point it out to me, Daddy. Which star is Mummy's?"


Puppy Love

"Mum, can we have a puppy for Christmas? Katie's just got one and it's adorable."

"No, absolutely not! I'm not spending my Christmas cleaning up after a puppy. I'll have enough on my plate looking after the family."

"I'll do it."

"Emily, you won't even eat a rogue garden pea that has fallen off your fork onto the kitchen table."

"Eww! Gross!"

"So you're not going to scoop puppy poop, are you?"

"Um, no."

"That's probably your father at the front door, he forgot his key this morning, let him in, please."

"Yayyyy! Dad's brought a puppy with him!"

"Nooo!"


Ghost Writer

I retired from my career as a civil servant recently. Finally, I was able to begin the novel that had been taking shape in my mind for years. The first chapter was a real struggle, I nearly gave up. The second chapter was a different kettle of fish, even though there were no kettles or fish involved, it just flowed, like somebody was dictating the whole thing to me. I finished the third chapter late last night. Today, I fired up my computer and the forth chapter was finished! But I didn't write it, and I live on my own...


The Curate Bird

"Mum, have you heard of a curate bird?" said Simon.

"No, I don't think so. It's certainly not native to this country. It sounds like something exotic, from the Southern Hemisphere, maybe?" said Simon's mother.

"I wanted to write about it for my natural history project. I've looked on the Internet and I can't find any information, not a single photograph or a video clip… nothing at all."

"Are you spelling its name correctly?"

"Duh! Yeah! I'm not five, Mum."

"Then it doesn't exist."

"Of course it exists - only a curate bird could lay a curate's egg."

"Simon! You birdbrain!"


Ziggurat

My daddy is a bricklayer. He's always building weird stuff in our garden, 'projects' he calls them. Nobody sees them as we live in the country, surrounded by trees on all sides. Two years ago, he started his latest project, 'a present for Mummy' he whispered to me - 'a stairway to heaven'. Every weekend he worked, brick by brick, step by step, until one afternoon when he said to the family, 'I've finished'. The steps reached all the way to the sky. We watched Mummy as she climbed the steps and disappeared into the clouds. We never saw her again.


Fairy Tale

Me and Mr. Blenkinsop (my beloved Golden Retriever) were taking our daily constitutional in the local woods. While walking alongside the stream, I decided to veer off and take a look at the fairy ring of mushrooms that I had spotted the previous day. As I got closer, I could swear that something was moving inside the ring. Bloody hell! Fairies! Five of them! I couldn't believe my eyes. Mr. Blenkinsop sat at my side, tilting his head with curiosity at the small figures. My neighbours are always saying that I'm away with the fairies - they were right all along!


Face Value

We always go to the shopping centre on Saturdays. Me, Mummy, Josh, and Daddy, if he's not working, but he usually is. Mummy parked in the below ground level car park. We like that one because it has a huge escalator that brings you right up into the centre of the shops. We could see the backs of the heads of the people in front of us on the escalator, but nobody seemed to be talking and the shopping centre sounded quiet too. Mummy got off the escalator first, that was when she screamed… none of the people had faces.


Kicking the Habit

For thirty years I've been a smoker.

Following a health scare, I was advised to 'quit, or die'.

Nicotine patches? They didn't work for me.

E-cigs? I'd look a right numpty with those daft things.

A friend recommended a hypnotist by the name of Big Ged. He sounded more like a bricklayer to me, but I was getting desperate.

"Come in!" said Big Ged, as I entered his not-so-humble abode.

I sat in a large armchair. "Your eyelids feel heavy (they didn't), you are feeling sleepy (I wasn't)."

Then everything went quiet - the stupid bugger had nodded off!


Entrenched

After three days, the rain had finally stopped. Jack had had his fill of the French climate. Holding a wad of crumpled paper against his thigh, he began to write…

Dear Mum and Dad,

I hope to be home soon, although you may see me before this letter. Me and the lads are keeping our spirits up, despite the weather and other distractions. As you know, it was my nineteenth birthday yesterday. I missed your birthday cake dreadfully, Mum.

Your loving son,

Jack

Behind him, a low cloud of phosgene gas crept towards the trench that Jack was sitting in.


Chaste No More

She was the fairest maiden in the kingdom, nineteen summers old, the king's daughter, and desired by many.

"Sorted!" said the queen's hand maiden, "your daughter has been fitted with the chastity belt and this is the only key." She handed it to the king.

The king would be gone for six months.

"Nooooo!" the king wailed on his return. "How could this have happened? My daughter is with child, this is surely the work of the devil himself - or black magic."

"Actually," said the court jester, "it is neither - the town locksmith got your daughter up the spout."


Life in the Fast Lane

Liz and her friends were dancing at the edge of the dance floor.

A sharp-looking guy approached and asked Liz to dance.

They moved to the centre of the floor.

Liz fluffed up her feathers and shimmied for all she was worth.

"You're a nice mover," said John. "Do you fancy coming back to my place for a bunk up?"

"Blimey, you don't waste any time."

"I like to grab life by the horns. So, are you interested?"

"I suppose, I'll just tell the girls that I've pulled."

John, aged 93, led Liz, aged 87, out of the dance hall.


Don't Lose Your Head

He'd admired her from afar for some time.

He hoped that she was interested in him, but she was playing it cool - typical female.

Approaching with caution, he took a few steps towards her.

Her head turned slightly in his direction. She wasn't giving anything away.

He moved in close, real close.

She stood her ground, things were looking good.

Carefully positioning himself, he climbed aboard.

He wasn't interested in a meaningless quickie. No wham, bam, thank you ma'am for this guy.

Hours later, he was beginning to flag.

Then suddenly, the female preying mantis bit his head clean off.


Zombies

The zombies are everywhere now. There's no escape.

Every country. Every city. Every street.

Automatons. Obsessed. Possessed.

Only the very young are free of the curse.

"I'm here, Mummy? Daddy?" There's no reply.

Hordes of children abandoned at the gates of technology.

The forgotten digital orphans. The true living dead.

21st century kids. Ignored. Bored. Flawed.

They too will fall prey to the saviour.

The zombies prod... and stroke... and scroll... and gabble.

Their devotion is all consuming. They worship without question.

Who is their hollow God? Their false Idol? Their attention thief?

Any mobile phone you care to mention.


Valentine's Day Off

Jill prodded the calendar on the back of her kitchen door. "February the 14th today - Valentine's!"

"Is it?" said Andy.

"Six months since we first met."

"Doesn't seem that long."

"I suppose you haven't got me a card?"

"Er, no," said Andy.

"A bouquet of roses?"

"No."

"Something sparkly... and expensive?"

"I don't do sparkly and expensive."

"An exotic holiday? The Maldives, perhaps?"

"Certainly not."

"So you haven't got me anything, not even a measly bloody card?"

"Listen, luv. I'm just your plumber. All I want to do is fix this leaking tap and get the hell out of here."


Freebies

Today's ebook freebies are just about ready for posting to the website. One final check to see if there's a varied selection which will hopefully cater for all tastes:

Maintaining Absolute Power by Dick Tater

Overcoming Austerity by Penny Pincher

Identifying Scalp Problems by Dan Druff

Mind-Blowing Multiple Orgasms by Vi Brator

Who Shot the President? by Cliff Hanger

Surviving Marital Breakdown by Ann E Mosity

First, Catch Your Sheep by B Steality

DIY Facelifts by Di Section

Avoiding Wedding Day Disasters by Jill Tid

Fifty 10-Minute Pasta Meals by Al Dente

Bankruptcy - The Harsh Reality by Inna Mess


Rebel With a Cause

"That's forty-five pounds and sixty pence. Do you have a Clubcard?" The checkout girl said.

"No, I don't."

"Would you like a Clubcard?"

"Not really, I'm a loyalty card rebel. I think they are responsible for most of the evil in the world today."

"Really?"

"Sure, I wrote about it in my novel: Loyalty Cards and the Downfall of Western Civilisation."

"Sounds like a riveting read," she said, warming to my cause. "Do you want Cashback?"

"Nah, don't believe in it."

"Evil?" she offered.

"Absolutely, grab a copy of my new novel: Cashback: The Carbuncle on the Arse of Humanity."


Pioneering Surgery

The operation in progress was being beamed live to hundreds of different hospitals across the globe. Markus Gray and his team were hoping to make history as they attempted a pioneering operation that could potentially enrich the lives of millions of children worldwide. Everything went smoothly. Months of preparation came to fruition in the space of less than ten minutes on the operating table. The team had dared to dream, dared to think the unthinkable, but they had, and the world would be a better place for their dreams - they had successfully separated a teenager from their mobile phone.


Bag for Life

"Five pence! Five pence for a bleedin' plastic carrier bag!" said Jim, incensed.

"Yep," said the checkout girl.

"But they're free in Tesco."

"Not any more, it's one of those EU Directive or UK Government thingies. You know, saving the environment."

"Bloody diktats, is there nothing sacred that they won't interfere with?"

"Apparently not. So, how many bags do you want?"

"Um, five."

"There you go," said the checkout girl.

"Thanks for those, luv."

"You could save yourself a lot of grief by getting a bag for life."

"I've already got one, I've been married to her for thirty years."


The End of the World

"The world is going to end tomorrow," said Emily.

"Pfft! Yeah right," said James.

"Seriously, I mean it."

"And you know this... because?"

"Because I'm a demon."

"A demon! You don't look like a demon to me."

"We don't all have horns and red eyes you know."

"I thought you did," said James. "Do something demonic right now."

"Like what?"

"I dunno, make a dead goat appear."

"I'm a demon, not a magician." Emily fixed him with a piercing stare. "Don't forget now, it 'will' happen tomorrow."

James was certain of one thing, for a ten-year-old, Emily was scarily convincing.


Seismic Ripple

"Mum, can you remember what you were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated?"

"I wasn't even born then, but your gran would be able to. Why are you asking?"

"Um, school homework. I have to write about an event that created a seismic ripple in the public's conscience to such an extent that they can all remember exactly what they were doing when they first heard about it."

"I know one."

"Is it the Nixon/Vietnam thingy?"

"You're not even warm."

"The toppling of Thatcher?"

"Nah."

"Princess Diana's death."

"Nope."

"Mum! Tell me!"

"It was when Robbie left Take That."

"Hmmm."


The A-List

Jim and Harry were having their daily constitutional at their local pub.

"Have you heard of Brangelina, Jim?"

"Yeah, of course I have."

"What is it?"

"It is not an 'it' as such, it's actually a 'they'.

"A 'they'?"

"Yeah, Brad and Angelina, I thought everybody knew that?"

"I didn't. Why one name for two different people?"

"I dunno, it's an A-list celebrity thing - the whole is greater than the sum of its narcissistic, self-obsessed parts," said Jim.

"I see, so if Madonna hooked-up with George Clooney, I suppose they'd be Madlooney?"

"Sounds about right to me, Harry."


Sinister Snowman

Seven-year-old Lucy got out of bed and crept across her room to the window. It was 3:00 am and she didn't want to wake her parents. She pulled one of the curtains open, just enough to see the front garden. He was still there. The snowman she had built with Jessica and Amy that afternoon. Jess had given him a stubby Chantenay carrot for a nose. Amy had used some bark chippings to make a toothy smile, but before they could give him eyes, it had started to snow - heavily. Now, he had eyes... and they were watching Lucy.


Robot

The world's media had descended on Newcastle University, England. The main hall was packed to the rafters as Professor Johnson and his team unveiled 'Kristina' - the world's first sentient robot.

After Kristina had introduced herself, the professor invited questions from the media.

"Professor, Dan Oliver of KQXL TV, Chicago. Kristina is obviously female, but how female is she?"

"Kristina is anatomically perfect. She is fully capable of a sexual relationship. One of my team has made advances to her on several occasions. To date, her response has been consistent."

"And that response is?"

"Not tonight, pet. I've got a headache."


Young Blood

The naturalists group were sat around a table in a room above the town library. There were seven women 'of a certain age'.

"I'm quite excited," said Joan.

"We need some young blood in our little group," added Alice.

There was a knock on the door.

"Come in!" said Dorothy.

A man in his twenties entered, wearing an overcoat that reached to his ankles.

"Take your coat off," said Miriam.

He did, and he was stark naked.

"What the hell are you playing at, young man?"

"You said join out naturists group," he replied.

"I said 'naturalists', you cloth-eared fool."


New Year's Resolution

"So, hubs, have you made any New Year resolutions yet?"

"Just the one."

"A new car, is it? I know you've been promising yourself one for a few months now."

"Maybe next year."

"A widescreen TV with a surround sound speaker system?"

"Probably not."

"I've got it! A new computer?"

"Nope. But I am going to replace something with a newer model."

"Hmm, is it mechanical or electrical?"

"Neither. It's more... kind of... organic."

"Organic? Now I'm intrigued."

"I'll give you a clue. It starts with a 'w' and ends with an 'e'."

"I can't think of anything."

"Wife."

"WHAT!"


Doing the Duck Face

"Kelly, are you alright?"

"Fine, why?"

"This is the third time today that I've noticed you pulling a peculiar face in your bedroom mirror."

"I'm practising my duck face."

"Duck face!"

"You need a great duck face to take a great selfie, Mum."

"Vacuous nonsense!"

"Mum! It's what my generation do, we're living it large."

"You're living it shallow. To think that people went through the hell of two world wars so that your generation could perfect their duck faces!"

"Is the sermon over, Mum?"

"Is the duck face over, Kelly?"

"Not yet, another two hours should do it."

"Kelly!"


God... and Stuff

"I'm struggling with my faith, Mum," said Anthony.

"Why?"

"How can I believe in somebody I can't see, can't talk to?"

"You can always talk to God."

"But is he listening? I asked him to let us win the lottery, but we haven't."

"Faith isn't about material possessions, it's a spiritual thing."

"Picking me up from school in a forty grand Range Rover Evoque is as spiritual as it gets, Mum."

"Pfft!"

"Take Satan for example."

"I'd rather not."

"Hellfire and damnation sounds cool."

"Not to me."

"I've decided, I'm gonna tread the path to hell."

"Enjoy the journey, heathen."


Jungle Fever

On paper, it looked like a good deal: A fortnight in the jungle, all expenses paid, and a fat cheque too. Pete was tempted, the TV show had a well-documented history of reviving the careers of has-beens and never-weres. All he had to do was belittle himself in front of millions of TV viewers. With a heavy heart, he contacted his agent. "I can't do it," he said. He was well aware that his reputation would be tarnished forever by his association with the contestants. Pete the cockroach knew 'I'm a Celebrity - Get me out of Here!' was not for him.


The Creature

The creature was hideous, bloated, almost reptilian. It lumbered inelegantly, but purposefully towards its goal. The arms flailed, the legs crooked, almost buckling. Its leathery, ill-fitting skin was ashen and heavily wrinkled. The eyes bulged, they were crazed, maniacal, moving independently of one another - like a chameleon on methamphetamine. Its nostrils resembled hair-lined entrances to a pair of vast, subterranean caves. The mouth gaped, the tongue marinating in saliva, as the creature's sulphourous breath overpowered everything in its path.

"Go on, luv, give us a kiss," the creature demanded.

Eight-year-old Josh hated it when his nan came to visit.


Off-White

"That meeting was a shitstorm," said the presidential aide.

"Why?" said the lowly minion.

"Obama's changed the name of the White House."

"He can't do that! Can he?"

"He can, and he has. Apparently the words 'white house' have 'subliminal racist undercurrents'."

"That's nonsense."

"Off the record, I agree. Colour me cynical, but there's more to this decision than meets the eye."

"Really?"

"Yeah, Dulux recently scored a five-year deal to supply the paint for all U.S. government contracts."

"And?"

"When the painters have finished, the White House will be renamed the White with a Subtle Hint of Peach House."


Chilli

"I'd like to speak to the manager please."

"Um, hold on, I'll get him for you."

"Hi! I'm the store manager."

"Chilli."

"What?"

"Chilli! It's in everything! Chilli marmalade, chilli ice cream, chilli baby formula, chilli hair conditioner, chilli wine, chilli jelly, chilli muesli, chilli washing powder, chilli toilet cleaner, chilli custard, chilli toothpaste, chilli butter, yada yada, freakin' yada."

"People like chilli."

"We don't have any bloody choice!"

"That's not my fault, sir."

"Do you have one item in this store that doesn't contain chilli?"

"I don't think there's any chilli in our petrol... yet."

"Give me freakin' strength!"


The Futility of Lust

Wow! I've just seen the most wonderful creature at the top of this hill (I'm at the bottom).

Okay, she's no oil painting, but there's just something about her. I've got to meet her.

I mosey on up the hill.

Ten years later and I'm still only halfway up.

I can see her much clearer now.

She's withered on the vine a bit.

I think I'll head back down the hill.

Another ten years and I'm at the bottom of the hill again.

I've just wasted twenty years on a female! I never learn.

I hate being a bastard tortoise!


Memory Foam

Alan traced his finger lovingly along Samantha's hairline. He followed the line of her nose, hesitating for a moment before continuing over her full lips. He then ran his finger over her left cheek with his delicate, surgeon's touch. He was precise, almost mechanical, until his actions gave way to a shiver, sexual in its nature, which ran throughout the length of his body as he recalled the deed with vivid clarity.

He returned the pillow that he had smothered Samantha with to the cupboard. It sat alongside another four pillows. Soon, Alan would add another pillow to his collection.


Waiting to Shine

I am mute, and inert.

I am elusive, and desired.

The weight of a million centuries bears down on me.

The pressure is relentless, the temperature stifling, but I go on.

I need oxygen, but I do not breathe.

I am trapped, seemingly forever, in this prison of eternal darkness.

I may be captured, if that is my destiny.

I will be taken far away from my place of origin.

But that is when I will bloom.

I will be cherished, held, touched, caressed... even loved.

And I will shine. Oh how I will shine!

For I, am a diamond.


Men in Uniform

So this burly guy approaches me wearing a freshly pressed uniform, with a truncheon dangling from his belt. "Ooh, hon!" I said. "I'm loving the truncheon thing."

He glared at me.

I reached out and tweaked the end of his truncheon with my thumb and forefinger. "My, that's a big one," I said.

He continued glaring at me.

I ran my fingers through my hair and looked into his big, blue eyes. "Come here often?" I teased.

"Smith! Get your bloody arse in gear and follow me to the prison warden's office," he barked.

Assertive too! This one's a keeper!


High-Vis

"Mabel, stop curtain twitching and come away from the window," said George.

"There's something going on next door," said Mabel.

"Like what?"

"It must be something important, there are various people milling around in high-vis waistcoats."

"The days when a high-vis waistcoat signified somebody of importance are long gone, Mabel. Everybody and their dog are wearing one."

"Oh my god! They're carrying Mr Jones out on a stretcher and he's covered in blood."

"Is he dead?"

"He's not moving."

"He's not wearing a high-vis waistcoat, is he?"

"Actually, he is."

"I'd say he got what was coming to him then."


Sexting

"Sweetie?" said Kelly's mother.

"What?"

"You're supposed to be revising, from your frenetic digit activities it doesn't look like it to me."

"I'm sexting."

"Sexting!"

"Yeah, everybody in school does it."

"That doesn't make it right."

"I bet your friends are sexting all the time, Mum."

"Pfft! I doubt it."

"And Gran, she's probably sexting too."

"Kelly! That's nonsense, of course Gran isn't sexting."

"I'll phone her and ask."

"Don't you dare!"

"Too late, I've called her. Gran, it's Kelly, I want to ask you something."

"What did she say?"

"She said to call her back later, she's busy sexting."


The Lonely Witch

Morganna was a lonely witch.

Her biological clock was ticking.

Like most stereotypical witches, she had one helluva conk on her, and one helluva wart on said conk.

Thumbing her spell book, she dropped a wide variety of unsavoury items into a boiling cauldron.

"I don't want a Mercedes, I don't want a computer, all I want, is a perfect hooter," she chanted.

Ping!

She had the nose of a supermodel.

She uploaded her profile photo to singles website, desperateforagoodstuffing.com

Suitors were aplenty.

She found a beau.

They married.

Their kids were as ugly as sin, but that's another story.


Fat Wallet

"'Fat wallet syndrome', that's your problem," my GP said. Which I thought was a bit rich coming from someone who earns seventy-five quid an hour.

"Which means?" I said.

"Sitting at your computer with your wallet in your back pocket is affecting the sciatic nerve, aggravating your back condition."

"So I swap my wallet to the other pocket?"

"No. Put your wallet in your jacket pocket."

"And what about the chiropractor, who said that one of my legs is shorter than the other?"

"He's wrong. It's far worse than that."

"Really?"

"You actually have one leg longer than the other."


The Bouncer

'Job vacancy for you, mate.' They had said to me at the Jobcentre. 'Security'.

I've worked at the roughest nightclubs in the city, had my nose broken on several occasions, so I wasn't relishing more of the same.

Thankfully, the punters here are more laid back than your average pissed-up, nightclub psycho. My deep voice is usually enough to knock the wind out of their sails when exuberance gets the better of them. Maybe my 'broken nose' days are in the past, I'd certainly like to think so.

Yeah, I think I'm going to enjoy being a bouncer at Mothercare.


Mission Control

Mission Control fell silent.

"Initiate launch sequence, Apollo. Fire primary boosters."

"Roger to that, Houston. Initiating launch sequence. Firing primary boosters."

"Primary boosters 100%, fire secondary boosters, Apollo"

"Firing secondary boosters."

"Secondary boosters 100%, Fire main engines."

"Firing main engines."

"Main engines at 86%, Apollo."

"86%? Abort launch, Houston? Can you confirm?"

"Negative, Apollo. Await launch confirmation. Main engines 91%... 96%... 100%. You are 'go' for launch, Apollo. I repeat, you are 'go' for launch."

"Dinner's ready!"

"Abort launch! Abort launch!"

James and Anthony tore downstairs.

When you are 9-years-old, launching a space rocket from your bedroom is hungry work.


Blind Date

Alan was twitching like a water diviner's rod above a subterranean lake.

"Alan! Relax," said John.

"I can't, I'm far too nervous."

"Have another whiskey then."

"What's the girl's name again?"

"Um, I can't remember, Casey? Cassie?

"I hope she's better than Amanda, she was a non-starter."

"Yeah, I admit we messed up there."

"I'm relying on you guys to get it right for me this time."

"Pete knows somebody who's been out with this girl, apparently she's a real goer."

"I sure hope so."

"They've arrived! She's the blonde standing next to Derek."

"You bloody numpties! That's my sister!"


High Noon

The midday sun was relentless.

Zach looked at his timepiece, it was 11:57.

'I'll finish you at noon tomorrow,' Muldoon had said.

Zach loaded his gun and placed it in its holster.

Zach's gang were long gone, they weren't men enough for this fight.

He would have to tackle 'Mad Dog' Muldoon on his own.

He planned to shoot Muldoon first, and worry about his cohorts later.

As Muldoon's party turned the corner, one of them shouted, "Look out, Mad Dog!"

Zach drew his weapon, aiming at Muldoon's chest. He squeezed the trigger and... nothing.

His spud gun had jammed.


Evil Ted

"Mum, can I sleep in your bed tonight with you and Dad?"

"Not tonight, Amy, your father is up early tomorrow."

"Aww, Mum!"

"Look, here's Edward Bear for you to sleep with."

"I don't like him anymore."

"Amy! He's been your favourite for years, and Daddy bought that medical kit for him yesterday so now he's Doctor Edward Bear."

"I don't like him."

Amy's mother kissed Amy on the forehead and left her bedroom.

Amy pulled her duvet up, covering her face.

Edward Bear opened the medical kit and selected the trepanning instrument.

For Amy, a boring night lay ahead.


Moobs

"Crisis alert!" said Harry.

"What's up?" said Jim.

"I was picking the missus up from her Zumba class and the instructor coaxed me onto the dance floor."

"That's it?" said Jim.

"The class were in hysterics, I nearly gave myself a coupla black eyes, my moobs were all over the show."

"Moobs?"

"Yeah, you know, man boobs."

"Oh those."

"Yeah, 'those'. It's just not right, men having boobs."

"I wouldn't worry about it unless you get a red light situation."

"Give me an example."

"When you're at the bar and some bloke tries to cop a feel of your hooters."


Damaged

Huge brown eyes, a shock of curly blonde hair, that's Maisie.

'I'm nearly four' she said to me yesterday, as her sweet innocence melted my heart.

The wretch that is her biological father will be out of prison soon (again). That's when all hell will break loose. The endless drug and drink-fuelled arguments between her father and mother. The threats, the violence. Her mother fleeing to a neighbour's for safety.

Maisie's eyes have seen things that no child should ever see.

There's a 'Maisie' living near you, there are tens of thousands of 'Maisies'' across the country.

Damaged, beyond repair.


What's Wrong, Pookie?

"What's wrong, pookie?"

"Nothing, Dad."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure."

"Come on, be honest, is school getting you down?"

"Um, yeah. It is really."

"You don't have many friends there, do you?"

"A few, well... maybe three."

"Are you being bullied?"

"No."

"Are there any teachers that you don't particularly like?"

"Quite a few actually."

"Never mind, the summer holiday is coming up soon."

"I can't wait."

"Aww, I wish that I could help you, pookie."

"There's one thing you could do for me, Dad."

"What's that?"

"Stop calling me pookie, I'm the school headmistress for Christ's sake!"


Bipolar

"Alan!"

"Rachel!"

"Listen, Alan, before we go on our first date, I've got something to tell you."

"Um, okay."

"It's important to me because it's about who I am... what I am."

"Go on."

"I'm bipolar."

"Okay."

"That's all you've got to say? You don't have any questions to ask me?"

"No, none."

"It will play a huge part in any future relationship that we might potentially have, you get that, right?"

"Rachel, it's a great achievement and all, you've been to the North 'and' the South Pole, I totally get it. Can we go to the pub now?"

"Hmmm."


Ankles

"Err... what happened to your ankles?" said Andy.

"My ankles? Nothing. Why?" said Joy.

"They're kind of... thick."

"Thick!"

"Yeah."

"Andy, a woman's body changes when she's had children."

"But your ankles were the first thing that attracted me to you."

"So I'm not attractive anymore?"

"I didn't say tha—"

"Yes you did. Why didn't you marry a bloody giraffe, they don't seem to get 'thick' ankles after giving birth."

"Okay, I can see where this is heading. I think I'll go out for while."

"Off to the pub then?"

"No, the zoo actually, I'm going to ogle the giraffes."


Selfie

"Mum! I've set your Facebook page up."

"Thanks, sweetie. Here's my shelfie photo."

"Say what? Shelfie? I think you mean selfie?"

"No, it's a photo of my bookshelf."

"You're yanking my chain, right?"

"Not at all."

"Um... Little Women, Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm - Animal Farm! Ewww! Is that bestiality and stuff?"

"Anna, Animal Farm is a classic of English literature."

"It sounds totally pervy to me."

"Everything sounds 'totally pervy' to teenagers."

"Seriously, you can't have that on your Facebook page."

"I can, and I will."

"Yeah, well don't expect me to send you a friend request."


Modern Art

The sphincters of the staff at London's hottest new art gallery, The Malevolent Easel, collectively tightened when art critic Morgan Periwinkle arrived. If his review was anything less than a sycophantic slobberfest, the gallery would be toast.

Morgan ummed and ahhed until one exhibit grabbed him. "This installation is a freakin' masterpiece!"

Gallery owner, Singeon Fotheringay, shuffled uneasily. "Um, that's cat vomit, a mangy moggie followed you in and barfed in that corner."

"It reminds me of Emin at her best," said Morgan.

"Isn't that a contradiction?"

"Button it. I'm the art critic, it's worth five grand of anybody's money."


Wuthering Heights 2014

"Heathcliff! Heathcliff!" shouted Cathy from the local council estate.

"I'm over here, luv," said Heathcliff, festering with brooding magnificence behind the wheel of his tricked out Renault Clio.

"Do you fancy ravishing me on the moors, babe?" said Cathy.

"I dunno, it gets a bit parky up there at this time of year and I haven't got me thermals on," said Heathcliff.

"So, what are we gonna do then, any bright ideas?"

"Jump in," said Heathcliff. "I'll take you to the car park at Tesco."

"Pfft! Ravished in Tesco's car park! That's not very romantic."

"Every little helps," said Heathcliff.


The Girl in the Mirror

"Pro ana," whispered Katy, in school assembly.

That evening, April typed the words into the search engine of her computer.

She had taken her first tentative steps towards self destruction.

The websites were frequented by kindred spirits. April had found her new home.

When she hit puberty, April slammed her body into reverse gear and floored the accelerator.

Eventually, her periods stopped.

Every day she would look at herself in the mirror and see a fat, ugly girl. Her self-image had disintegrated.

April died two days before her fourteenth birthday, her emaciated body weighed less than her parents grief.


Catwalk Capers

"Nooo! Nooo! Noooooooo! Melissa has bloated up like a freakin' airship, she'll never fit into her outfits for the show!" shrieked top designer, Alphonse.

"What happened?" said Emilia Ash, head of top London model agency, Skinny Minnies.

"She had breakfast," said Alphonse. "On a catwalk day!"

"Christ! What did the stupid cow eat?"

"A beansprout."

"I've told the girls a thousand times, a glass of champagne with a cocaine chaser, absolutely no solids on catwalk day."

"Remember the good old days?" said Alphonse. "Kate, Helena, Naomi. Those girls were pros, they could live for a month on a f*ckin' cornflake."


My Lost Love

I'm looking at a photo of Jo and myself in Victoria Park, taken about a decade ago. We were so in love, and yet it still feels like yesterday. Jo's infectious laugh, her passion for life ... now long gone.

Jo is sitting in an armchair, she steals a glance in my direction but there isn't a flicker of recognition on her face. Her green eyes, still beautiful, are now portals to a sea of emptiness - heartbreaking emptiness. I often thought that I might lose Jo to another man. I never dreamt that I would lose her to Alzheimer's.


Toilet Humour

"J-O-H-N! How many times have I asked you 'not' to leave the bloody toilet seat up?" Alison shrieked from the bathroom.

"I dunno, sweetheart. I kinda lost count after two hundred, or was it three hundred?"

"Enough with the smart mouth, I'm serious."

"And how many times have I told you? I 'do not' leave the toilet seat up, okay?"

"You what! There's only you and me in this house."

"Once again, I 'never' leave the toilet seat up, and I can categorically prove it."

"Oh yeah, and how can you do that?"

"Because I always pee in the sink."


The Sentinels

Standing outside of the double doors, I hesitate for a moment. I'm familiar with the scene that awaits me and it chills me to my very core. I push one of the doors open and go inside. The sentinels are still there, emotionless, their digital displays glowing in the half-light. Coloured LEDs wait patiently, ready to alert the knowing to any changes. Sometimes, I want to unplug every damn one of them and just curl up on the floor with my pain, but I can't, because this array of life support machines are the only things keeping my husband alive.


Fuzzy

"Pfft!"

"What's wrong, Esme?"

"Homework, that's what's wrong, Mum."

"There's no point in getting all flustered over it."

"Seriously, Mum, it's totally wrecking my head."

"Can I help at all?"

"Sure, what do you know about fuzzy logic?"

"Umm, not much, but your father has used it for years."

"He has?"

"Yeah, pretty much everything he approaches he applies fuzzy logic to."

"I didn't know that."

"Yep, it's true."

"Could you tell me precisely how he applies his reasoning to decision making for example?"

"It's quite straightforward with your father, every decision he makes is 85% fuzzy and 15% logic."


Politicians

"Don't get me started on politicians," said Harry, slamming his pint down onto the pub table.

"Nowt wrong with 'em," said Bert.

"Nowt wrong with 'em! Remember when some bright spark made all the polytechnics into universities?"

"That was a good idea."

"Good idea my arse, a few years later the country woke up to find it had three million media graduates and only twelve f*cking plumbers!"

"Um... now you mention it that does ring a bell," said Bert.

"Waste of bloody space, the lot of them."

"What happened to all those media graduates anyway?"

"They went into f*cking politics!"


Alone With my Thoughts

I open my wardrobe door and take out a wedding dress.

Now, it's a few sizes too small - comfort eating, they call it.

Originally it was a hire dress, but circumstances dictated that I would have to own it... whatever the cost.

April, Lydia, and Harriet never did get to wear their bridesmaids dresses.

While I never got to hear the peel of the church bells, or to feel the confetti falling upon me like multi-coloured snow.

I can still vividly recall the sound of the stolen car, as it mounted the pavement and hit my fiancé head on.


Duck Tales

"Mister Reynolds, you've been claiming incapacity benefit for three years now?" said the Jobcentre adviser.

"Yes."

"You have this... Anatidaephobia."

"I do."

"I see, and it means that you think you are being watched by a rabbit?"

"Duck."

"What?"

"I'm being watched by a duck, not a rabbit."

"And is this duck with you today?"

"Yep, he's over there, in the corner."

"Are you sure it's not a dwarf wearing a duck onesie?"

"I'm positive."

"What did our doctor think about this?"

"He's not 100% convinced."

"And what did the duck think of our doctor?"

"He thinks he's a quack."


Dragons' Dinner

Perspiring heavily, Ian entered the den.

The four dragons' were basking in the soothing rays of financial solvency.

Ian took a deep breath and made a confident pitch, offering a forty percent share in his unisex beauty products company.

Never a man to be swayed financially by a tub of rhubarb and lemongrass facial scrub, Peter abruptly declared, "I'm out."

Like a well-manicured Freddy Krueger, Deborah unfurled her claws.

Anticipating a clean kill, Duncan slunk back in his chair.

"Ian, I'm loving your products," said Deborah, "but I'm uncomfortable with the name of your company. Seriously, come on, Ethnic Cleansing!"


Suffragette

"Pfft!" said Samantha.

"Let me guess, homework?" Her mother said.

"I've got to write an essay for college about some woman with a dopey name."

"Dopey name?"

"Yeah, Emmeline Pankhurst."

"The suffragette?"

"Yeah! You've head of her?"

"Of course. She was instrumental in securing the vote for women in this country."

"Big deal."

"Yes, Samantha, a very 'big deal' actually. She was imprisoned, and prisons were brutal in those days, we have a lot to thank women like her for."

"Whatever."

"Which reminds me, the local elections are next week, you will vote, won't you?"

"Nah, I can't be arsed."


The Royal Mail

"Excuse me?" I said to the postman.

"What, mate?"

"This letter?"

"What about it?"

"It's addressed to 88 Ash Road."

"And?"

"This is number 23."

"What's your problem?"

"You've posted it to the wrong house."

"As long as it's the correct road we ignore the numbers and bung 'em through any letterbox."

"You're kidding me, right?"

"Nope, new rules, it saves time."

"Saves time!"

"Yep, the householders can sort out what belongs where."

"But I'm expecting my monthly copy of Tit and Bum Magazine."

"Judging by the smile on the guy's face at number 37 I'd say he's got it."


Much Ado About Nothing

"Adam, how did the school swimming gala go?"

"It was brilliant, Mum. John came first in the backstroke and Melanie came second in the butterfly, I enjoyed it muchly."

"Muchly! That's not a proper word."

"But everybody says muchly in our school."

"Well they shouldn't."

"Even the teachers say muchly."

"Pfft! Teachers aren't what they were in my day."

"Mum, nothing is what it was in your day. What word should I have used?"

"Greatly."

"I enjoyed it greatly. Is that better?"

"Yes, a lot better. Don't get sloppy, Adam."

"Thanks, Mum, muchly appreciated."

"I don't know why I bother."


Weapon Dog

"Mum? What's a weapon dog?" Simon shouted from the hallway.

"You know those ghastly boys who hang around in a big group in the park, the ones with the shaved heads and tatoos from the council estate? The dogs they have are weapon dogs." Simon's mother said.

"But why 'weapon'?" said Simon.

"Because they use them to intimidate people, it's just like brandishing a knife."

"I see."

"And no, you can't have one."

"I've already got one, it's attached to my left ankle, there's a lot of blood on the carpet and I think I'm going to fein—"

*THUD*


Spiders

"Mummy?"

"Yes?"

"Do spiders feel pain?"

"Umm... I'm not sure really. I don't think they have a central nervous system so they probably don't."

"What if mummy spider had an accident? Would daddy spider and baby spider be upset?"

"I dunno... spiders are quite simple. They don't do feelings as such."

"So baby spider wouldn't be too bothered if daddy had an accident too?"

"It probably wouldn't spoil his day, if that's what you're thinking. I'm presuming baby is a 'he' of course."

"Thanks, Mum."

"Why all the questions?"

"Because I've just pulverised three spiders with your meat tenderising hammer."


Fido's Bits

"Mum?"

"Yes, Michael?"

"Why did you take Fido to the vet last week?"

"He had to have his nails cut."

"But Dad said the vet took his knackers off."

"Great."

"What?"

"Nothing, Michael."

"Dad also said Fido is a eunuch now. Eunuch sounds like an elf or a pixie, I think I'd like to be a eunuch."

"Michael, you do not want to be a eunuch, okay?"

"But could I be?"

"No."

"Are you sure, Mum?"

"You could, but you'd have to have some of your bits off."

"My bits?"

"Your 'boy' bits."

"Umm... would that be painful?"

"Ask Fido."


The Noble Art

"Mum, can I join that new boxing club on Sycamore Avenue?"

"I don't want you going into that area, it's really rough around there particularly at night."

"But it would be good for me."

"Ha! Good for you! Matthew, boxing is for hooligans."

"But boxing is a noble art."

"Noble art! Pfft. I've never heard such nonsense. Noble art my elbow."

"Boxing teaches you discipline and respect for your opponent, Mum."

"Discipline and respect for your opponent you say?"

"Yep."

"Maybe you could give it a try, I suppose."

"Great, now I'll be able to smash Tommy Hunter's face in."


A Matter of...

"You've got a big problem with your front matter." My gynaecologist says to me as I'm laying with my eyes closed, legs akimbo, in the clinic.

"I have!" I say.

"It doesn't look good," he says.

I've still got my eyes closed. "Will I need an operation or something?"

"No, a printer should be able to fix it for you."

Say what? "A printer?"

"Yeah," he says.

I open my eyes and he's sitting reading at his desk. Er, hello?

"Yeah, three typos in the preface of your novel," he says.

Jeez, he was talking about my freakin' new book.


Girl Power

"Mum? Me and Jessica from school are feminists now."

"Oh. Okay."

"You don't mind, do you?"

"You're twelve now, sweetie, you can make your own decisions about certain things."

"It wasn't easy deciding what type of feminist I should be."

"There are different types?"

"Yeah, I'm more of your 'right on, sister' type of feminist, while Jess is a 'dual systems theorist'."

"A dual systems theorist!"

"Yeah, it's all about patriarchy, exploitation in relationships with men, capitalism in the workplace, yada yada yada."

"I see."

"It's complicated being a feminist, isn't it, Mum?"

"It certainly is, sweetie, it certainly is."


The Vulture

Day One

He watched, and waited, and waited, and watched.

There were no carcasses in the valley.

Day Two

He flew, and soared, watched and waited.

But there were no carcasses in the valley.

Day Three

He watched, waited, flew, and soared. He imagined he was a military drone, although his big beak and feathers were a dead giveaway that he wasn't.

Not a carcass in sight.

Day Four

He flew, watched, soared, waited, shuffled, scratched, farted and pondered.

Not one carcass - zero, zilch, nada.

Day Five

There was a carcass in the valley! Unfortunately it was the vulture's.


Tired

"What's wrong, Jack?"

"I'm tired, Mum."

"Have a nap then."

"I'm tired of life."

"At 12-years-old? I don't think so."

"Living under a tyrannical regime is really wearing me down."

"Nonsense, anyway we don't have a tyrannical regime in this country, thank goodness."

"And I'm tired of working for the man."

"Jack, you've had a paper round for a fortnight, that's hardly 'working for the man'."

"I need to split this whole scene... kickback for a while... gather my thoughts and stuff."

"Before you split the scene go and tidy your bedroom."

"See what I mean about a tyrannical regime?"


The New Teacher

"How was your new teacher today, sweetie?"

"Miss Armitage? She's really nice, she's very pretty and she has really long black hair."

"She sounds lovely."

"She is. We all like her."

"Wonderful."

"She has two teaching jobs."

"She works in another primary school as well?"

"No, she does her other job from home."

"She must be doing some sort of home tuition then."

"I think that's what she said but she uses a different name from her name in school."

"Really? That's a little unusual."

"I suppose."

"Did she happen to mention her home tuition name, sweetie?"

"Yeah, Miss Whiplash."


Digital Death

Raphael was responsible for countless murders, albeit as a character in Digital Death 3 - his favourite computer game.

He held the eight-inch blade up to the light above his head as he admired its clinical simplicity.

On the table in front of him the bindings bit deep into nineteen-year-old Lucy's wrists and ankles.

He ran the tip of the knife blade in a straight line from her throat to her navel without drawing blood.

Lucy's body recoiled.

Screams in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound were all well and good, but it was now time for Raphael to experience the real thing...


Squirm

"Dad?"

"Yes, sweetie?"

"We were doing biology in school today and the teacher—"

"No."

"But I hadn't finished."

"Ask your mother."

"But you don't know what the question is."

"Again, ask your mother."

"Aww, Dad!"

"No."

"It's nothing bad, honestly."

"Hmm."

"Pretty please?"

"No."

"Pretty please with sugar on?"

"Not even with sugar on."

"I'll never ask you another question again... ever."

"Ever?"

"Yep."

"Can I have that in writing?"

"Nope, but I'll text it to you - deal?"

"Go on then."

"What does ejaculate mean?"

"Bethany! You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

"Yep, just to watch you squirm."


Cereal Killer

If a whole town could shit itself en masse, that's what the inhabitants of Coalthwaite were doing.

There was a murderer on the loose and Franny McSween was on the case, although realistically the case was on him, and it was a damn heavy cross to bear.

"Christ, Franny, I've never seen so much blood from a single body before," said Michael 'Doris' Day.

"The killer really went to town on this poor cow," said Franny.

"What's the MO on this one?" said Doris.

"The same as the previous murders - battered to death with a box of Frosty Flakes."


Junior Magic Circle

"Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the Junior Magic Circle open day. Most of you probably noticed young Megan on your way in, she has been trying to produce a Great Dane out of a thimble. Yeah, good luck with that! Kids eh? The star of today's event is Darren, who as you will soon see is chained and handcuffed underwater in a glass casket on the stage behind me."

The stage curtains open.

Gasps ricochet around the audience.

"Darren's been underwater for fifteen minutes now, he's no Houdini so the smart money is on this being his last performance."


The Big C

The medical team gathered around Mr Smith's bed.

"I can tell by the look on your face that this isn't going to be good news," he said to the consultant.

"You've got The Big C," the consultant replied.

"How long before I drop?"

"Two... maybe three days."

"That's all!"

"You have one of the worse cases that I've ever seen."

"Gawd."

"Here, take this tablet."

"Is it cyanide?"

"We're not allowed to give patients cyanide anymore - EU Regulations and all that nonsense."

"What is it?"

"It's senna."

"Senna? I thought you said I have The Big C?"

"You do... constipation."


Dough

Jeff arrived home from work early. "Sweetie?"

"Yes, hon?"

"Did a parcel arrive today?"

"You mean that bread maker that you ordered off the Internet? It's in the kitchen. It looks a bit small, you should have got one from Argos like I suggested."

"You didn't open it, did you?"

"No, I haven't touched it, why?"

"No reason. I'm going to try it out in the shed."

"The shed! If you must."

Thirty minutes later Jeff returned holding a crisp twenty pound note.

"That's not a loaf," his wife said.

"No, it's a counterfeit twenty - that's my kind of bread."


The MOT Test

"Did my car pass?"

"Which car is yours?"

"The red Fiesta, over there."

"I'm afraid not, madam."

"What's wrong?"

"Well, your grankel shaft is cracked and the foo foo sprocket is completely shot."

"That sounds bad, how much will it cost?"

"About two grand."

"Two thousand pounds!"

"Old cars, you see."

"I'll just get my boyfriend, he used to be a mechanic but now he's a professional boxer, he'll know what you're talking about."

'Boyfriend' is six feet five and built like a truck.

"How much did you say it would cost again?"

"Call it two hundred quid all in."


Cold Caller Gets Cold Shoulder

"Can I interest you in fibre optic broadband, Mr Jenkins?"

"I've already got fibre optic broadband, thanks."

"Yes, but ours is ten times faster."

"Than what?"

"The national average."

"And what is 'the national average'?"

"Nobody really knows, it's a mythical figure used for promotional purposes."

"Hmm."

"Our wireless router connection is five times more stable than our competitors."

"Mine's already stable. How can yours be 'five times more stable' than stable?"

"It just is."

"How do you know?"

"Because it says so on my freakin' script."

"Hmm."

"So, can I Interest you in our fibre optic broa—"

"No."


Nail Bomb

"You can't park there," said the traffic warden.

"It's an emergency," said the blonde bombshell.

"Are you having a heart attack?"

"No, I've broken one of my acrylic nails."

"Some emergency. There's a car park 600 yards away."

"600 yards! In these heels!"

"Drive away - now!"

"I'm a hand model, I've got a photoshoot in an hour."

"I don't care about your handjob in an hour."

"Handjob! You sniveling little council jobsworth, you're enjoying this, aren't you?"

"More than you'll ever know."

"What am I supposed to do with this finger?"

"Oh I can think of a few things, madam."


Frankenfruit

"Gladys?"

"Yes?"

"I thought we were having fruit salad after our meal?"

"We are."

"Then what's this in my bowl?"

Gladys entered the dining room. "That's a melon pear."

"And this?"

"That's a peach strawberry."

"Hmm... what happened to good old apples and bananas?"

"Boring, hubs, boring. Apples are 'the missionary position' of fruit."

"So what would a melon pear be then?"

"That's more your 'reverse cowgirl' type of fruit."

"Gladys, this stuff is Frankenfruit, and besides I'm quite happy with the missionary position."

"I know you are but me and the milkman prefer 'reverse cowgirl'.

"The milkman!"

"Oh shit."


I Spy...

"I spy with my little eye something beginning with s," said Harry, as he looked out of the window of the train.

"Sheep?" said his sister, Poppy.

"Nope."

"Scenery?" said his mother.

"Nope."

"Squirrel?" said Poppy.

"Nope."

"We give up, don't we Mum?" said Poppy.

Her mother nodded.

"Shitehawk," said Harry.

"There's no such thing," said his mother.

"Dad says shitehawk all the time," Harry protested.

"Your father says plenty of things but that doesn't mean they're right."

"I saw one hovering at the side of the track," said Harry.

"That was probably a kestrel, now just forget about shitehawks."


Collateral Damage

"George, there's a Mister Adetola on the phone, he wants your bank account details as he needs some collateral to access a fortune that has recently been left to him. He says he will give you 5 million when he gets his money."

Mabel passes the phone to George.

"You snivelling little maggot, trying to swindle an old age pensioner, you can stick your fortune where the sun doesn't shine."

George hangs up, fuming.

Mabel starts to read the local newspaper. "Erm, George, have a look at this."

'Local Man Inherits 80 Million Fortune' is the headline.

"Oops," says George.


The Dealer

Kyle approached the shadowy figure in the dimly lit alley. "Have you got the stuff?"

The figure took a block covered in silver foil out of the inside pocket of his leather jacket.

Kyle took the block and opened one corner. "It doesn't smell right, is this cut?"

"I don't do adulterated stuff, man." The figure said, pulling another block out of his jacket pocket. "Try this."

Kyle sniffed the merchandise. "That's better, but you're holding back on me."

The figure produced another block.

"That's it. That's the good stuff. What's it called?" said Kyle.

"Green & Black's 70% Cocoa."


Elvis Has Left the Building (A Furrytale)

"Elvis is dead," said 8-year-old Emily.

"Elvis died years ago, sweetie," her father replied.

"Not your Elvis, 'my' Elvis."

"Oh, your chinchilla."

"You never liked him, did you, Daddy?"

"I'm not keen on pets that can shit their own body weight on an hourly basis."

Emily ran out of the room.

That afternoon family and friends were gathered around a rodent sized hole in the garden.

Pallbearers Lucy, nine, and Cressida, seven, lowered Elvis into the hole.

"Would you like to say something 'nice' about Elvis, honey?"

Dave ignored his wife's shark eyes. "Elvis... he came, he saw, he shat."


The Dilemma

"Dad?"

"What?"

"Jimmy's father has done something bad."

"How bad?"

"Really bad."

"Do you want to tell me what he's done?"

"I do... and I don't. I kinda promised Jimmy."

"So, you are facing a bit of a dilemma, son."

"Yeah, I suppose."

"It's a criminal act, right?"

"Some people would see it that way."

"I think I know what it might be, don't say anything, just nod if I'm right."

"I will."

"Jimmy's dad has murdered someone."

"What! No. He hasn't murdered anyone, he's bought a season ticket for Manchester United."

"That's a heinous crime by anybody's standards, son."


The Chicken and The Egg

"I came first!" said the egg.

"Rubbish!" said the chicken.

"Without me you wouldn't exist," said the egg.

"No. Without me 'you' wouldn't exist," said the chicken.

A cockerel strutted into our fictitious scenario, stage right. "Without me 'neither of you' would exist," he said, puffing out his chest.

"I'm not having it," said the chicken.

"The point is you 'did' have it, sweetheart, and that's where junior here came from," said the cockerel, gesturing towards the egg.

The egg and the chicken pondered the cockerel's argument.

"Sorted!" said the cockerel, who knew a done deal when he saw one.


Frankenveg

"Jack, I'm not happy."

"Why?"

"Mrs Dalrymple's gone overboard on this Frankenveg, her garden is full of the stuff."

"Frankenveg?"

"Yeah, polka dot beetroots, radish peas, aucariac—"

"What's aucariac?"

"It's a cross between an aubergine, a carrot, and celeriac."

"Is it edible?"

"Even if it isn't judging by the photo on the seed packet it will make one helluva sex toy."

"Nice."

"I think some of those vegetables may be carnivorous."

"Carnivorous! That's silly."

"There are runners coming through our fence, I'm convinced they are after my bacon hostas."

"Bacon hostas! What was that you were saying about frankenveg!"


'That' Question

"Hon?"

"Yes?"

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"Compared to?"

"What do you mean?"

"I need a comparison. Does my bum look big in this compared to the back end of a ship? Or, compared to an amoeba in a thong?"

"Does an amoeba have an arse?"

"Unless it shits out of one of its ears, I would imagine it does."

"I'm confused."

"Ask me the question again."

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"And?"

"And what?"

"Compared to?"

"I don't know."

"Pfft."

"Hon?"

"What?"

"That 'back end of a ship' - that was a compliment, right?"

"Of course."


Dragons' Den (Circa 1495)

"So, Leonardo, this is a drawing of your thingamajig?"

"Helicopter," said Leonardo.

"This... 'helicopter' - it does what exactly?"

"It is powered by the figures in the drawing, they make it fly vertically."

"It would fly straight upwards!"

"Yes."

"That's incredible, but what if the men got tired and could no longer provide the power required?"

"It would crash to the ground."

The dragons' shifted uneasily in their seats.

"And you think this could be useful for?"

"I dunno."

"I'm sorry, Mister da Vinci, but I'm not going to invest, I really don't see this one getting off the ground."


The Reviewer

"I'd like to review your new book," she said.

"What are your credentials?" I said.

"I'm an Amazon Top 100 reviewer, I will also put the review on my blog, which gets 100k-plus hits a week - every week. There are my Twitter and Facebook pages too."

"Hmm... I'm kinda low profile. That's a lot of exposure and you might not like my book."

"Then again, I might. You would also get a 5 star gold badge for your author website."

"I would!"

"Sure, if your book deserved one."

"Hmm."

"So, are you going to send me a review copy?"

"Nah."


XXX

Ted Hunter, America's foremost news reporter, entered the giant distribution warehouse of Depth Charge, the biggest pornography producer in the world.

"This place is absolutely vast," said Ted.

"It's the size of sixteen baseball stadiums," said CEO Chuck Kulick.

Following Chuck's enthusiastic prompts, Ted looked at random DVDs on his guided tour of the warehouse.

"Chuck, you've got some pretty weird stuff in here, what would you say is your hottest niche seller at the moment?"

"Crustaceans."

"Crustaceans?"

"Yeah, crustacean BDSM in particular is flying off the shelves at the moment."

"What category would that come under, Chuck?"

"Hardcore Prawn."


The Collectors

"I've caught another one!" Elizabeth shouted.

"Well done," her father replied. "How many have you got now?"

"Seventeen."

"That's two more than I have."

"They are funny little things, aren't they?"

"Yes, Elizabeth, they're quite peculiar."

Elizabeth peered into her jar. "I can't tell which ones are boys and which are girls."

"It's not easy but with a little experience you'll soon be able to. When we get home I'll show you how to asphyxiate them and you can put them in your new display cabinet."

"Daddy, what did you say they are called again?"

"Humans, Elizabeth, they're called humans."


Lightning Lil

The atmosphere was electric at the dog track.

This would be Lightning Lil's 100th race and she had won 87 of her previous races.

The bunny tore past the waiting dogs, as much in fear for its life as any electro-mechanical bunny could be.

Sock Puppet took the lead, followed by Vajazzle, Headshrinker, Custody Battle, Shitehawk, Jiggery-Pokery and last but not least, the appropriately named Brewers Droop.

Gasps of disbelief came from the crowd as they realised Lightning Lil had failed to start.

Lil had to malfunction sometime, after all this was 2085 and all of the greyhounds were robots.


You're a What?

"You're a what?" said the guy sitting opposite me on the train as he peered over the top of his glasses.

"I'm an indie author."

"Right. And that means?"

"It means I do everything myself and self-publish my books in electronic format to Amazon."

"Hmm... no hardcopies of your books then?"

"Nope."

"So you're not a real author?"

"I'm an author and a physical entity, so quite real."

He leaned across and prodded my leg to confirm the latter. "How many books have you written?"

"Seven."

"Any bestsellers?"

"Nope."

"Indie eh?"

"Yep."

"So you're not a real author then?"

"D'oh!"


Not Quite J.K. Rowling

Final draft completed: Check.

Professionally proofread and edited: Check.

Formatted for umpteen different versions of the Kindle: Check.

Cover image and illustrations by Britain's premier illustrator Salmonella Snodgrass: Check.

Killer blurb completed: Check.

Launch date tweeted, facebooked and approximately 100 book bloggers/reviewers sent a review copy: Check.

Uploaded to Amazon: Check.

Clicked "save and publish" button: Check.

Phew! Now I just have to wait 24 hours or so...

And there it is! Whoopee! My first book sitting proudly on the Amazon virtual bookshelves: 101 Things you can do with a Dead Budgie.

I wonder if it will be a bestseller?


Chop Sueycide

Jin Zhou was standing atop of the fat fryer of The Trembling Tiger Prawn Chinese Takeaway.

"I'm going to jump in," Jin shouted.

"No!" pleaded Gan as he turned the fryer up a notch.

"Our father says the business will never be mine, I must take my life."

"No!" said Gan.

"I can't do it, my love for you, Gan, is too strong."

Burly Gan grabbed Jin, punched him, and dropped him in a large vat of batter mixture. He then threw Jin into the fryer.

Despite a golden, crispy coating, Jin survived.

Gan was charged with assault and battery.


Cat Flap

"Have you seen him yet?" said Sophie, a particularly precious Persian.

"I've heard he's cocky and arrogant," said Lucretia, a Siamese.

"Ladies, ladies, give the guy a break, he's the new kid in town and we should give him a warm welcome," said Albert, an ageing ginger tom.

"I will reserve my judgement until I meet him," said Lucretia, haughtily.

Maurice, an Egyptian Mau, strutted across the young peony bed and faced the group. "My my, which one of you two foxy felines would like to get jiggy with Maurice the stud muffin?"

"Hmm, about that warm welcome," said Albert.


Baby Blues

"We are experiencing teething problems with our new scanner, Mrs Smith. You won't see baby on the screen but I will print an image for you instead."

"Okay."

"There's your printout."

"What's that blob?"

"That's baby's head."

"And that blob?"

"That's another head."

"And that blob?"

"That's baby's third head."

"MY BABY HAS THREE FREAKIN' HEADS!"

"Yes. That would come under the NHS umbrella of diversity."

"I'm carrying a freakin' three-headed alien and you're talking about umbrellas!"

"One second, our tech guy wants a word."

"Apparently the printer is 'ghosting' so baby only has one head."

"Only? Freakin' NHS numpties."


One Hundred Years Young

"Jeff Randall here, broadcasting live for Buttercup Radio and I'm with Ethel who is one hundred years young today. Is that your telegram from the Queen, Ethel?"

"Yes."

"You must be so proud."

"I am."

"I believe you worked at the American airbase for over thirty years, which must have been interesting."

"Yes, it was."

"Ethel seems to be a lady of few words. I think she is a little overwhelmed so I'll ask her one final question. Ethel, 100 years, any regrets?"

"Plenty, those American pilots were randy buggers, I wish I'd screwed a few more of them."

"CUT!"


The Book Signing

"I like a man who knows how to handle an exclamation mark," she purred, running a blood red fingernail over the cover of my book.

Her T-shirt bore the warning: DANGER - CONTENTS HIGHLY FLAMMABLE.

I reached across the table and slid my cigarette lighter closer to me - just to be on the safe side.

I opened a copy of my latest novel.

"To Aphrodesia," she purred.

"Anything else?" I said.

"Love, David," she said.

"David? I'm Bryan Thomas."

"You're not David Wailing?"

"No. He's at Waterstones on the High Street today."

And she was gone.

Without my novel.


Pregnant Pause

"Mum, can me and Darren go to my bedroom for a couple of hours?"

"No, Amy, you can't."

"We just want to listen to music and stuff."

"It's the 'and stuff' that worries me."

"Darren's mum lets us go to his bedroom all the time."

"I'm not Darren's mum. In this house we have different standards, Amy."

"Aww, go on, just a couple of hours."

"Amy, don't push it."

"What's the big deal, Mum?"

"I don't want a pregnant 15-year-old daughter. That's the 'big deal'."

"Oh, right, the thing is... you can stop worrying because I'm already pregnant."

Silence.

"W-H-A-T!"


The Wine Class

"And now, my favourite grape variety - Cabernet Sauvignon," said Nigel. "To me, this grape is the Russell Crowe of the wine world: It has huge presence. It's unpredictable. And it will slap you right in the chops without warning. So, Algenon, let's have your opinion on this Chilean red."

"I'm getting—"

"Yes?"

"I'm getting a head-on collision of blackberries and burnt seagull droppings. I'm getting pan-fried crotchless panties with a hint of badger snot. I'm getting brake fluid, Scottish peat, pungent armpit, and a low note of kippers in tarmacadam sauce."

"Everything but the kitchen sink, eh?" said Nigel.


His Punishment

Eight boys stood behind, and to both sides of Andrew. He knew that trying to run away would be futile.

Josh, the cock of the school, rolled his sleeves up and fixed Andrew with a menacing glare.

Andrew knew three things were certain: It would be quick. It would be harsh. The pain would be excruciating.

Behind Josh, around one hundred and fifty primary school pupils stood in silent anticipation.

Andrew was ten-years-old but he would have to take his punishment like a man, and anyway, as far as he was aware nobody had ever died from a Chinese burn.


The Mexican

He slinked into town one balmy July afternoon.

The desert sand filled every vacant wrinkle on his face.

He hadn't eaten for three days.

He licked his dry, cracked lips.

His legs felt weak.

His body felt weak.

A comfortable bed was a distant memory.

People pointed.

Tongues wagged.

The stranger kept walking.

No familiar faces.

No friendly faces.

Twenty miles to the next town.

A mangy mongrel looked him up and down.

He returned the disdain.

He turned a corner.

And then...

A young girl patted his head.

"Mum, look at this poor Chihuahua, can we take him home?"


Stargazy

"Oh. My. God. What the hell is that?"

"It's Stargazy Pie," said Alison.

"But there are fish heads sticking out of the crust."

"Yep."

"That is just wrong on so many levels."

"Rebecca, get a grip, it's a fish pie, not a serial killer."

"And you thought you'd bake it, because?"

"Because I want to win the Golden Lentil competition."

"Ha! Fat chance."

"I think I've got a good chance, actually."

"Duh. The clue's in the title."

"I'm not with you."

"The 'Golden Lentil'."

"Yes?"

"G-o-l-d-e-n L-e-n-t-i-l."

"I'm still not with you."

"It's for vegetarian dishes only. V-e-g-e-t-a-r-i-a-n."

"Oh shit."


School Homework

"I ain't done nothing for my homework, Miss Fairhurst," said Michael.

"Really? Well done, that's a first."

"Say what? Miss."

"You've just told me that you did your homework."

"No I didn't, I said I ain't done nothing."

"Michael, If you 'ain't done nothing' then you must have done something."

"Say what? Are you yanking my chain, Miss?"

"No, Michael, I'm not, so let me see your homework, right away."

"Seriously, Miss, have you been smoking some really freaky shit?"

"I ain't been smoking nothing," said Miss Fairhurst, as she winked at Michael.

"Ahh," said Michael, "I get it now."


The Mind Reader

Today, Alan had a small audience.

They seemed relaxed enough, so he began.

He focused on number one, but he couldn't get anything.

He did the same with number two... again, nothing.

Three, four, five, and six, were exactly the same.

Number seven - the last to arrive, he had to get something from him.

"Formaldehyde," Alan said. "I'm getting formaldehyde... and scalpels?"

Number seven seemed indifferent, as if the words meant nothing to him.

Alan glanced at his watch, his lunch break was over.

Maybe cadavers at the mortuary are not the ideal audience for a beginner, Alan thought.


Fluffing Her Diet

"Hey, Chubbs, how's your diet going?" said James, prodding his wife's muffin top.

"It's going really well."

"I'm asking because it looks to me like you are gaining weight."

"If I eat 1,000 calories a day, which I'm doing, I'm allowed a reward."

"A reward? Like a new pair of shoes?"

"No, silly. Something naughty."

"Like a gangbang with the postman and the meter reader?"

"No, silly. Marshmallow Fluff."

"A teaspoon is okay, I suppose."

"No, silly - a whole tub."

"A whole tub of Marshmallow Fluff! Chubbs, you really haven't got the hang of this diet malarkey, have you?"


Holdup at the Holdup

"Everybody hit the deck!" The armed robber shouted.

Everyone lay on the floor apart from one elderly man.

"Open the safe, old-timer, and fill this bag with cash," the robber said.

"We don't have any money, would you like me to put some sausage rolls in your bag?"

"Sausage rolls! Quit stalling and fill the bag or I'll blow your freakin' head off."

The robber approached the old man and pointed the gun at his head.

"I've told you already, we don't have any money."

"This is a bank, isn't it?"

"Yes, this is a bank - a food bank."


Young Love... and Stuff

Mavis, 76, was reading in the appointment room.

Two teenagers sat behind her.

"Oh my god, I was totally in Jason's bedroom last night," said Aleesha.

"Shut up! I'm so jealous," said Kaylee.

"Yeah, I was pulling his shirt off and he was getting my top off."

"Noooo!"

"Yeah, and he said, 'I totally want to have sex with you and stuff'. And I said, 'I totally want you to have sex with me and stuff'."

"Noooo! Did you... do it and stuff?"

"Nah."

Mavis put her book down, she was totally glad that she wasn't a teenager and stuff.


Writer's Block

Sheeeeeit!

What's going on?

I can't think of anything.

I've got off the train at Airhead Central.

Hello? Author calling brain.

Words please - now!

Nothing.

This is serious.

I write, therefore I am.

I don't write, therefore I'm toast.

I suppose a paragraph is too much to ask?

Okay, I'll settle for a sentence.

Brain? Are you there?

A word, damnit.

Pleeeeeease?

Pretty please?

Arrrrgggghhhhhhh!

Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!

Okay... chill.

C-a-l-m d-o-w-n.

Relax.

Think of fluffy stuff. Gamboling kittens.

That's better.

Now, where do I get my best inspiration?

The throne!

*Goes to the bathroom with laptop*

Eureka!


So You Want to Be a Writer?

"So, Mr Johnson, you're interested in our creative writing class?"

"Yep."

"We prefer our students to have some previous experience as this class is particularly popular."

Silence.

"Mr Johnson?"

"Yep?"

"Do you have any previous writing experience?"

"Er..."

"Anything at all, a diary... perhaps?"

"Nope."

"Poems?"

"Nah."

"Flash fiction?"

"Never heard of it."

"Drabbles?"

"Whattles?"

"Something, anything?"

"I've got some betting slips from the bookies."

"Hmm, not quite what I had in mind."

"Ah!"

"Yes?"

"Nah."

"Oh."

"I fill my tax return in every year."

"Brilliant! You're already an accomplished fiction writer. See you Tuesday evening at 7:30, Room 3."


Angry Birds

"Oi! Watch where yer goin' with that pram, yer dozy cow, you nearly ran over my foot."

"Shut it, gob almighty, or I might just accidentally run over your face."

"Is that right?"

"Yeah, that's right."

"Fancy yer chances, do you?"

"Against you? Anytime."

"Listen, I'd spark you out with one punch, yer scrawny titless wonder."

"In your dreams, bingo wings."

"What did you call me?"

"You 'eard."

"Yer scrawny little cow, why don't you just take yer pram, and yer ugly kid, and just jog on."

"Right! That's it!"

And that was when the feathers really started to fly...


The Killer

"Murderer!" said ten-year-old Ian.

"I... I didn't mean to... It just happened," said nine-year-old Luke.

Ian scrutinised the victim. "Why Luke? Why?"

"I don't know... I... I just—"

"Just what?"

"I just didn't think."

"And now you've taken a life."

"It... It was an accident, okay?"

"Luke, I was watching you, it was no accident."

Luke lowered his head and looked at the floor.

"Let's go, before someone finds the body," said Ian, prising a rolled-up magazine out of Luke's hand.

A fly lay motionless on the window ledge - all six legs in the air.


Her First Time

Her First Time

"Is this your first time, Mrs Smith?"

"Yes, it's my first time."

"Don't worry, everything will be fine."

"It's alright for you, you're a man."

"Relax, deep breaths... and push."

"Urrrrggghh."

"And again."

"Urrrrggghh."

"Good, more deep breaths now."

"This isn't easy."

"Focus, you can do it."

"I feel faint."

"Just relax, nearly there."

"And puuussshh."

"Urrrrggghh."

"Okay, not long now."

"I don't think I can go on, it's too much."

"Keep breathing, come on now, deeeep breaths."

"Urrrrggghh."

The car's engine burst into life.

"Thanks for the push, Mrs Smith, I'll just about get to work on time."


I know it's down there...

I was in total darkness.

I fumbled around in the drawer for my torch.

And then in another drawer.

And another.

Ow! That was bloody sharp.

Where is the damn thing?

There!

Not much light, the batteries must be low.

I stand at the top of the stairs.

I know it's down there.

Slowly, I begin to make my way down.

Step by step.

There it is.

Silent.

Motionless.

Just like the last time.

Tentatively, I reach out.

Just a little bit closer.

I flick the trip switch.

And all of the house lights come back on.