Easter Short Fiction – Eggs-treme Measures


Kevin the egg

It was a Friday and Kevin was frustrated, not annoyed, just frustrated. Although he knew himself well enough to know that this frustration could lead to anger. And if Kevin got angry…..well, nobody liked Kevin when he was angry, least of all his co-workers, and certainly not Kevin. He hated himself for it, but sometimes he just couldn’t help it.

Kevin had actually had a very good day up until now. He’d woken up feeling refreshed, the eggs he’d eaten for breakfast were soft boiled to perfection so he could dip every soldier in, he had had a great mid-year appraisal from his boss Jeff, and he had managed to correlate all the figures from last week’s KTS reports. Even with all this joy in Kevin’s life, frustration was threating to get the best of him.

He had just sat down at his desk after coming back from lunch and a smell had caught his attention. It instantly put an image from his childhood in his head. Unfortunately all the memory showed was him looking through the eyes of a mask up at a table full of people who were all looking at something in the middle of the table. What was it on the table? He had to know. Oh he really had to know.

Stuart, one of Kevin’s co-workers, was the first to spot the rising levels of frustration in Kevin. All the usual signs were showing, the scratching of his head just above the right ear, the loosening of the tie, the erratic blinking that looked like Morse code without the sound. And the sweating had begun too, oh the profuse sweating.

Stuart emailed Tom and Kate to alert them, but purposefully chose not to tell Brian, the only other co-worker in their team. Stuart had his reasons for this; past disagreements with Brian over whether the Incredible Hulk could beat Superman in a straight up fist fight was one, the fact that Brian’s desk faced away from Kevin’s was another, but mostly it was because Stuart was a bit of a twat.

Tom looked up from his monitor after receiving Stuarts email and looked over at Kevin; Tom was not in the mood for this. He remembered the last time Kevin had got angry. It was his old colleague James who had got the full brunt it. He really missed James some days. In that particular incident Tom had been casually talking to all his co-workers, about cooking a fancy meal for his girlfriend. Stuart had joked that Tom would burn a salad. Kevin had interjected with, what was in hindsight, a useful tip regarding seasoning fresh meat. James had quipped that Kevin couldn’t boil an egg, and this comment had the effect of turning Kevin in to what Stuart had once coined in an email as Krazy Kevin Kaka.

When Kate saw that Brian was not included on the email, she was very pissed off with Stuart. It wasn’t that she particularly liked Brian, it’s just that Brian had the excel skills she needed to finish the work she was doing. Tom and Stuart were useless at creating pivot tables, Kevin was alright at it, but she wasn’t about to ask him. She was just thinking she ought to forward the email to Brian, when she looked up and saw Kevin shaking with rage and starting to rise from his seat. Tom and Stuart were already pulling the old ‘pretend to be on the phone’ trick that had worked quite well during past outbursts. It had worked well as a deflection of attention when the likes of Mary, Frank and Jerome had left the team. Kate made the decision to look after number one (as she normally did) and picked up her phone and started spouting all sorts of corporate bullshit to a dial tone.

Brian was eating an egg mayo sandwich whilst concentrating on his work. Well it wasn’t so much his work as it was Kate’s. He was sorting all the formulas on a table she had been working on. He did it just because she’d asked. God, Brian really fancied Kate, she was so beautiful to him. He was even putting some nice colours on it to highlight certain data. The first he knew about Kevin having one of his outbursts was while he was applying a lovely shade of vermillion to a set of figures. He heard the Krazy Kevin Kry (another doozy from Stuart) behind him that was so shrill that that he had to shut his eyes. When Brian’s eyes reopened it was with surprise that instead of facing his monitor he was facing towards the beautiful Kate, which was odd as she diagonally behind him. It was nice that he had got to see her one last time before his neck snapped. Kevin instantly relaxed, as he always did after one of his ‘outbursts’.
Kate quickly stood up from her chair. ‘For fucks sake Kevin!’ She exclaimed. ‘I really needed Brian to finish my report.’
Stuart, Tom looked at each other with looks of pure awkwardness.
Kevin hung his head in shame. ‘I’m sorry’ he said. ‘You won’t tell Jeff about this will you?’
The silence continued for what felt like an age until finally Kate said, ‘It’s a good thing you’re a whizz at accounting Kevin. And you’re going to finish my report’ she added. Kevin nodded and went back to his desk.

Tom and Stuart breathed a sigh of relief and smiled.
Stuart, who could never resist a quip after an awkward silence said,
‘Well I always thought Brian was a pain in the neck’.
‘Did you get that from an Arnie movie or something? Said Tom.
‘No’ said Stuart.
‘Well it was shit’ said Tom.
‘You’re shit’ said Stuart.
This made Kevin smile, and as he got stuck into completing Kate’s report, he suddenly remembered what was on the table. It was just an egg. Silly Kevin.

Friday Fiction – Next train in 9 minutes


Village Station

Next train in 9 minutes

The train would be here very soon now and she would be on board.  Laura Pearl, the girl who I grew up with in school, and thinking about it now, I haven’t actually seen in over 35 years.

I’m waiting on this deserted station and I can’t believe just how nervous I am, or is it excitement? I’m really not sure. I haven’t felt quite like this since primary school.

It’s the same feeling I got when Laura, Peter and I would gather together at playtime and just be brimming with nervous excitable energy at being together.

I can remember us in the summer throwing freshly mown grass in the air. All at once I feel incredibly sad. Sad at the time that has passed; sad I can’t go back to that time, sad about Peter and what he had told me before he died.

She sent me a picture so I would recognise her coming off the train. It was hard to process the face in the picture. People often say; “You haven’t changed”, but she had. It wasn’t so much the features or that she had put weight on. It was the smile. In the photo she sent I couldn’t see that insane happiness that I saw every day when I was young. I looked at a photo I’d brought along of when all three of us were young. She was dressed as a Red Indian and Peter and I were dressed as cowboys. She was stood in the middle and had her arms round both of us. Her smile was so joyous, so infectious, actually all our smiles were. We were so happy. It started me smiling and chuckling to myself. I looked around feeling self-conscious, but it was still an empty platform.

Next train in 5 minutes

I’m starting to panic about how I should act when she arrives. Should I behave in a melancholy way out of respect of Peter? Or should I show how happy I was to see her? Would she misconstrue this as distasteful?
I miss Peter so much and I feel so guilty that things didn’t turn out as they should.

When we all moved to secondary school Laura started to find some other girls to hang out with. She would still hang out with me and Peter, but not as much as in primary school.  The longer we were apart the more me and Peter agreed we wanted her around. Then came the point when I told Peter how I was going to go out with her, and that I loved her.
I remember Peter smiling at this when I told him. Although thinking of that smile now, I can see it wasn’t real; it wasn’t even close to the one he wore in the photo I was holding. I think I was too wrapped up in myself to care. God, what a dickhead I was.

I often told her how I felt. She would just laugh at this, but in a way that made me laugh too. I know now the love I had wasn’t the love Peter had for her. She was one of my best friends and I couldn’t separate those feelings properly. She knew how to handle my outpourings of ‘love’ for her whilst keeping us friends.

Next train in 2 minutes

When she moved away from our village with her family to live in France I was sad, but Peter…. I remember Peter not coming out of his house on the weekends or after school for weeks. Even at school he seemed withdrawn, not his normal self.

I went on to love other women and even marry one, for a while anyway. Peter never did. I remember him dating women when we were younger, but I guess none of them ever lived up to Laura.

When he told me in his last days that our friendship meant so much to him that when we were younger he wouldn’t make a move for fear of hurting my feelings, I wept. I resolved to try and find her. I didn’t know if it would do any good, but I wanted her to see him again. I felt like I had cheated them out of true happiness.

My nephew showed me this social media thing and tracked her down, but not in time. I told her about Peter over a fucking email. What is wrong with me?

Next train due

So now here I am with all this guilt and happiness colliding, waiting to see her again.

I hear the screech of the train brakes and look up, it’s arrived.  Only one person is getting off the train, it has to be her right? Who else would want to visit this nowhere village that I never left?

It’s a woman but I can’t tell if it’s her. She looks so classy; she doesn’t fit in with the surroundings at all.

She’s seen me and is walking this way.

My face is blank and my hands are shaking.

Then I see that smile, and without even trying, I’m smiling too.

 

Friday Fiction – Cold Smile


Cold smile

It’s cold today. The ice on the windscreen didn’t want to melt on the drive in. I didn’t sleep, I look awful. My hands shook far too much this morning to even think about makeup. At least I’m here now. Maybe i should try smiling at people today, that could work?

I think it’s been three weeks now since it happened, and no one at work has said anything to me.

There’s been no; ‘Oh Sue, you’re looking a bit glum, how are you?’

Nor has there been any; ‘You’re looking pale Sue. One too many sherry’s was it?’

I hear my colleagues say this sort of thing to each other all the time, but not to me. I don’t even get the ruder stuff they say to each other, which they call “Good natured banter”.

To start with I wasn’t so bothered. I’ve always felt uncomfortable making small talk with colleagues. I’d never bonded with anyone at work apart from Denny. Oh my Denny, who was so easy to talk to. How could it be so easy with him, but so difficult with others? Ever since I spilled my coffee over him, the way he acted, the way he made me feel, and that smile he gave me, my heart melted on that smile like an exquisite ice sculpture being caressed. He was my soul mate from that moment forward.

I know I haven’t said anything to anyone about it, but you know how gossip is. Surely someone would have heard about it and told a few other people in the office.

Someone must know i exist. I mean I’m still getting work assigned to me. It’s very routine work. I do it automatically without thinking. I don’t need to think…..or want to. Not anymore.

Maybe they all do know and are afraid to say anything, I know I would be. It doesn’t stop me feeling alone though.

Denny used to tell me to try and stay true to myself. Not to bend to the will and personalities of the masses. Maybe that’s what i wanted to hear, but now he’s not around it seems like it wasn’t what i needed to hear. I need someone to see me.

The world feels somehow greyer since the accident, or maybe it was always like this and I’m just more conscious now.

I think about ending it all. Is this is what my life now amounts too now, if this is all I’ve got to look forward to.

Would Denny be like this if he had lived? Would he get on with his life if I had died?

I think what it would be like if I had died in that accident. Maybe I did?

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So i havn’t been blogging for a while, What the hell?! Well done Sudo one for continuing to poke me…..in a manner of speaking. Apologies if that story depressed the shit out of you, what a come back huh. And what a way to bring you down on a friday. Well Sudo One wrote the first paragrah to get me to think of some ideas and thats what i thought of. Next weeks attempt will be more up beat….i think.

The Dangers and Joy of composing a Blog a day


The writemare before christmas

This month I have been writing a blog every day as part of my WMB4X aggreement with Sudo One, except yesterday I chose not to.  And why? Well for one I was verybusy and very tired. But the piece I was writing wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to rush it out just to get a blog post out.

I think I may have rushed one or two of them in the past and looking back, im not entirly happy with them. Since the blog I was going to post yesterday was a short story, I didn’t want to put it up half cut for the sake of putting something out there.

Having said all of that, I wouldn’t have produced even half of the good blogs I have, if I hadn’t had the deadline of doing a blog a day. I’ll let you be the judge of which blogs were good.

My advise to you would be to do what ever suits you best. But always keep in mind what ever you put out there on the internet, wether it be on a blog or social media, is there for all to see, and if you say anything rude, contriversal or hurtful, you better mean what you say and have a rational reason for saying it. Because while you might be able to delete it, anybody could have taken it and re used it, given you no control over it. This is advise that a celebrity or two could take note of.

Think before you post.

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Sorry Sudo One, It’s only 29 out of 30 posts, but I think with good reason.

Advertising on people – The Human Billboard


image

Adverts, to most of us are an annoyance. They exist in all manner of mediums that we put up with because they pay for the other thing associated with them that we want to look at like Television, internet sites or mobile phone games.

Adverts also exist in all manner of mediums that we are just exposed to on a daily basis with out choice such as, email and posters or billboards in airports, hospitals, petrol stations, lifts, ATMs. The list goes on.

Some say that adverts are necessary to stimulate economic growth. This may be true, but water is needed to sustain life, but we too much water will kill you. And we are drowning in the amount of advertising that exists in the world.

So why do a lot of us choose to become walking billboards ourselves? People are willing to pay for wear clothes with adverts for products on the front in huge letters. Some will go as far as to tattoo themselves with adverts and logos.

These people are paying for them, and the company is not paying them?

Sorry, but are we happy to be servants to the masters? Or are we not thinking about what we are doing here?

Are we slowly heading toward a Dystopian future, where we are all products of sponsorship (famous people already are). We won’t have our identities anymore, and our surnames will only be things like Apple, Tesco and Coke. And this is how it all starts, with free will.

The companies don’t need to try anymore, we have accepted our fate. Because that’s it, that’s the answer why. They’ve already done it. They’ve created brand loyalty amongst us. Even if you don’t wear it on your person, you own it, eat it or drink it. Then show it off in other ways than wearing it. You talk about it, write about it.

The adverts make it seem so cool though don’t they. ‘All the cool kids consume it, this is the product you should use’, we say. The marketing campaign worked. You are the advertiser.

The Costa Short Story Challenge 2013


image

If you like write, or read and judge, then this is a competition for you.

You’ve probably heard of the Costa Book awards? Overall winner last year was Hilary Mantel. JK Rowling won the best Children’s book section back when it was sponsored by Whitbread. That’s right you remember now, pretty prestigious stuff.

Well last year (2012) they launched a new category for the best short story and very successful it was too. The winner walked away with £3,500. The best thing about this competition compared to others of high value prize and notoriety is that anyone can enter. You don’t need to be previously published; you just need to write a story up to 4,000 words to stand a chance.

On top of that the stories are judged anonymously, so you could be placed higher that established authors, which is exactly what happened last year.  

And for the readers out there, here’s the best bit. From a shortlist of 6 stories that is selected from all the entries by a panel of judges, you get to read all 6 short stories and judge which one you think is best. The one with the most votes from the reading public wins.

I read them all last year and voted on my favourite (‘Don’t try this at home’), Shame it didn’t win. But they were all terrific efforts and enjoyable reads.

The great news is the 2013 shortlist is due to come out any day now. I highly recommend going to the website and having a read. The 2012 entries are currently still there to have a look at if you want to see what last years ones were like to.

More information on this and entering for next years are on the website too.

http://www.costa.co.uk/costa-book-awards/costa-short-story-award/
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For some other cracking short stories check out http://sudoone.wordpress.com Sudo One’s back catalogue.

Top 10 Christmas Films


As there is now under a month till Christmas, and that this 30 blog a day effort is collectively called ‘The Write-mare before Christmas’, it seems appropriate to do this top ten list. Yes in my continuing quest to find my favourite film, doing top tens by categories and sub categories continues with my favourite Christmas films….well films set at Christmas at least. Would they be yours too?

10. Elf (2003)

 Elf

What stands out for me – Will Ferrell’s performance is terrific and laugh out loud at times. The premise of an Elf leaving Santa and seeing the real world had been done before in Santa Clause the Movie, but Elf adds new fun to hold its own, make you laugh and give you that christmassy feeling.

I enjoyed seeing this actor in it – Peter Dinkalidge

Great quote –  Gimbel’s Manager: Why are you smiling like that?

Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite

9. A Christmas Story (1983)

Christmas Story

What stands out for me – This film is more associated with and watched in America. Although for me it still shows the magic of being a kid a Christmas and some realities that come with it. Well worth checking out in other countries too. Oh and this was the film that spawned the iconic image of a false leg lamp shade too.

I enjoyed seeing this actor in it – Darren McGavin

Great quote –  Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.

Mother: He does not!

Mr. Parker: He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare! Read more of this post

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