they came at dawn

Charles looked down the line, then down at his watch. The hands lit up in the dreek morning light. He allowed himself a moment to remember his last birthday where he received the watch as a gift from his sister, before movement in his peripheral vision snapped him back to reality.

“The boys are ready sir.” His second in command said, returned from his final inspection of the line.

Charles nodded and checked his watch again. 90 more seconds to go.

The time crept by, every time Charles checked his watch he could swear the hands had barely moved. Then, when by his watch there were still five seconds to go, he heard the first whistle blow, then another and another. Without thinking he reached for his own, put the cold metal to his lips and blew.

Its shreek launched himself up and over the trench wall, losing his footing as he collapsed down the other side. A hand grabbed him, pulling him upright.

“I’ve got you sir.”

He didn’t check who it was, just turned and resumed his mad run towards the enemy. Then he heard it, the first crack and wizz of incoming rounds screaming past his head.

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rolling blackout

Daniel smiled in the dark. He hadn’t been in the dark moments before, but the rolling blackouts meant that you were never really sure how far away one was. It made, he thought, the 1970’s an interesting place to live. Which as he already had an interesting life, made things even more interesting.

He had been examining a photo taken by a colleague through a telephoto lens, which showed a very grainy image of a Russian diplomat passing an innocuous looking envelope to an as yet unidentified other party. The issue was that the other party looked uncannily like his boss.

He sat back in his chair, found his cigarettes and sparked up, breathing in the smoke, noticing the orange glow bounce off the walls around him, as he sucked on the filter tip. If this image was of his boss, he would have to be a little careful with how he progressed. Get it wrong and it may result in career, or in fact actual suicide.

He picked up the photo, placing it in his jacket pocket as he stood and left the room. The lights would be out for the rest of the day, so he had time.

Pale Clara

He ran down the hall, Kate following close behind, both laughing, trying to avoid spilling their champagne. It was early morning new year's day 1909.

“Wait for me chuffy!” Kate shouted down the corridor.

Charles pulled up short of the staircase to the attic.

“I do wish you wouldn’t call me Chuffy old girl, it really makes one sound like one of those idle club buffoons.” He retorted before taking a swig from his glass.

“I hate to say it Chuffy, but you are one of those idle buffoons and less of the old please, I’m 17.” She took a gulp of Champagne. “This is a lark isn’t it!”

Charles had turned and was staring, through one squiffy eye, at the hatch at the top of the attic stairs.

“Can you hear that?”

Kate looked up at the attic hatch.

“Hear what?”

“There’s something moving the hatch I swear.”

They stood and watched the hatch together. They had almost become bored, when a voice behind them caused them to jump.

“I wouldn’t go up there if I were you sir. Pale Clara is up there.” Said Smythes the butler. “She don’t take kindly to visitors, never has and never will.”

the drawing room

“How many generations of your family have lived here?”

‘Seven” Charles replied.

“And you’re the one that is going to lose it?”

“I wouldn’t say I am losing it exactly, more that the world just happened to get to its worst as I had ownership of it.” Charles said tetchily.

“OK, well I will write that you’re losing it, the punters will find that more amusing.”

Charles had begun to regret his decision of employing this so called, salesman, to assist him in selling his ancestral seat. It was hard enough saying goodbye to the old place, without his youthful arrogant wit.

“Are there any juicy stories about the place, some old aunt that haunts the place or what not?”

Charles sighed. There were so many juicy stories. Pregnant cousins, drug fuelled sex orgies, drunk grandparents, murderous butlers, but he had one in particular that he needed to get off his chest.

“Well there is one story I know of.” he said conspiratorially, leaning in and lowering his voice to a whisper. “But I’m not sure whether I should really tell you, it is quite terrifying.”

The young man opposite looked over his glasses at me.

“Oh do go on.”

the trouble with stories

“It’s a good story isn’t it?” The man said smiling shallowly across the desk at Charlie.

Charlie tapped keys on his terminal, ostensibly to make it look like he was doing something, but in truth had just typed crap in capital letters and I mean he had literally typed out CRAP.

A single hard knock on the mirrored glass behind him caused him to jump slightly, then delete the word. He had forgotten momentarily that the document he was typing in, was updated in real time on a terminal on the other side of the glass, watched by his superiors.

Charlie hated these interviews, although he would never dare say that out loud. Criticising company policy had dire consequences and if you knew what was good for you, you towed the line.

“Begin next round.” A voice prompted him.

“Mr Edwards, please begin again from the beginning. What happened at the protest?” he said as benignly as possible.

“What do you mean again?” he replied.

“Mr Edwards you just told me!” Charlie sighed.

“Oh that, that was a lie, just a story. Did you like it?”

A faint groan emanated from behind him.

“That’s the trouble with stories.” he said.

New Book

I am writing another novel, well maybe a novella. It is called 200, it is the story of one family over two hundred years, told with 200, 200 word flash stories. I’ve just finished the first 5000 words, It’s a fun way to write a story.