Fiction, The Billingham Challenge: The Gap between the Willow trees

Sudo One loves a contest, so he set a challenge. A writing challenge. He writes an opening paragraph of a story for me to complete and I write a paragraph to start him off. He named it the Billingham challenge in honour of Mark Billingham the crime writer, who did the same thing for a competition in which I came second. You can see that effort here.

So here is my Short Story with Sudo one’s opener in brown. I’ve called it ‘The Gap between the Willow trees.’ Enjoy…


The Gap between the Willow Trees – A Short Story by Gary Shaw (AKA the Resident Weebler)

The Willow Trees (Monet)

She waited with baited breath.

With any luck the groundwork had paid off. Tonight was the night it was all going to come to fruition, the stars in the inky night sky were, she hoped, aligned. She deserved it, didn’t she?

It was time... her time, Annie’s time.

Annie had been told about the creatures by Freda Percival, a long time resident of Hillfrome, her place of work, over two years earlier. At first she disregarded the stories as flights of fantasy, even madness. But after what had happened to Freda, what she’d seen with her own eyes, they must be able to do to her what they did to Freda.

Waiting in the woods, which surrounded the Hillfrome Estate, she watched the space between the twisted misshaped willow trees.  It had been a year ago today that Freda had gone missing from the home and Annie had found her here. A year ago today that the creatures had come through the gap in the trees and she had seen those black creatures crawl over Freda.

In her fifties now, Annie had regretted how her life had turned out. She had no real family to speak of. An only child, her parents passed on, she had no children, and the man and life she had always dreamed of had never arrived. She had so much love to give, and now nearing the autumn of her own life, only had the residents of Hillfrome to pour it on.

It was Freda that Annie had warmed to the most. The two ladies would often sit on the wooden bench at the rear of Hillfrome house on warm evenings, looking down on the vast wood that lay at the foot of the hill.  They talked of older, better times and how they both wished they were younger. Annie was reminded of her mother’s kindness as they spoke. So when Freda started to speak of magical creatures in the woods that could make them young again, she felt a terrible heartache. She remembered how her mother had started saying nonsensical things before her mind decayed, and how Annie had to look on as the mother she knew slowly disappeared. Read more of this post

The Envelope – Short Shory – By Gary Shaw (AKA – The Resident Weebler)

Show logo

It came in the post on a Saturday. Yardley barked at the door, as he always did when post arrived. We heard him sniffing something; he let out a low whimper and trotted off towards the back of the house.

The whole family were gathered in the lounge watching The Show, it was my younger sister Lybena who’d picked the large dark red envelope up from the mat after hearing the dog. She announced to the room, ‘It’s for Oliver.’ She brought it over to me on the sofa, passing my mum and dad next to each other in their individual chairs. They saw the colour of the envelope and their attention shifted from the telly to the journey of the envelope towards me. When I had it in my hands they sat forwards on their seats and stared at me. ‘Turn off the telly Brian’ my mum said. My dad fumbled about for the remote, hit a button and the telly muted. ‘Turn it off I said!’ She lent over to grab the remote. ‘I meant to, I meant to’ he said. ‘I just hit the wrong button is all. Calm yourself.’ He was holding the remote at arms length from her and continued, ‘although you know we’re meant to be watching this, there could be an update, it is the rules after all. What if an Enforcer pops by?’ Read more of this post

Save Me – (Short Story / Monologue)

                                                                                Save Me – By Gary Shaw

I don’t think I can do it any more. I’ve already saved five people today, and that was just on the way over here. And now, here you are, just waiting to be saved.  I’ve got to draw the line.

No, please don’t beg, you’re making me feel awful here. I’ve got a life to lead too you know. What you do for a living?

That’s nice. But let’s say you wanted to change careers, what would you do? Join a few recruitment agencies, look around on the internet? Me, this is it, I change jobs, people die.

Well yes, I could just save you and have done with it, but don’t you understand, every victim will keep saying that to me.

Of course you don’t understand what I’m talking about. Given your current situation, I don’t blame you. Although what I do blame you for, is getting yourself in this predicament in the first place. Read more of this post

Long time no see – (Short Story)

He waited in a pub in Brighton. On the table in front of him were a drink and a mobile. He checked the time just as someone took the seat next to him. The newcomer smiled. “Hello Dad. Long time no see.” He didn’t smile back. “I thought I told you if I ever saw you again I’d kill you?” The other person nodded at the mobile. “Waiting for a text to say your truck’s arrived in Dover? I’m afraid there’s been a change in plan.” Read more of this post

The Lions Eyes – (Short Story)


I was walking across the Forbury Gardens, under the war memorial lion, when I saw two men trying to kill each other over a set of golf clubs. One guy was skinny, malnourished, in grubby shorts. He was fighting, but being beaten by a man in a pinstriped suit – this business man grabbing an iron from the golf bag and landing two serious hits on the skinny man’s chest. The impact of metal on bone went thudding out across the grass.

A police siren howled, cops voices yelled. The skinny guy turned and fled, disappearing in a few seconds. I kept walking, past the victorious pinstriped man, who was laughing to himself. I went though the iron gates, down onto the Forbury. The skinny man was hiding there, trembling, with blood on his shirt. The loser. But he made me listen to the story. Read more of this post

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