The Tin Soldier
Carl Taylor was a mediocre middle manager in a local government planning department. He had gained his promotions through longevity rather than talent, and while he held the title, he didn't really manage much. But this role suited him; it paid him a reasonable salary and didn't require anything beyond his nine-to-five. What kept Carl occupied were his many side projects, each with the promise of making enough money to bring forward his retirement. None of them had managed to bring him closer than a night out or two. He had made diaries, sold T-shirts and mugs, and even tried Forex, but it had been short-lived and low-returning. The only thing he managed to make any kind of success with was his eBay store.
The man who gleers
Buying a weighted blanket did not help me sleep as was promised. But then then hot milky drinks, late night baths, lavender and meditation were equally ineffective. I’d try again tonight, once I’d finished my book I would put it down, shuffle down into the warmth of my bed and flick off the light. But would he be there? The man who I see when I turn off the light. The man whose dark silhouette stands behind the door, looms in a corner, peers from round the bathroom door or stands guard on the landing.
- Runner-Up in the Under a Spell Challenge
- Top Story - September 2023
Don’t go down there.
I walked down King Street every day. It is always busy, it’s light airy and alive. The towering sandstone buildings stand like benevolent guards between you and the rest of the city. Running parallel to it is Albion Road. It is grey empty and always dark. Between them is an alley. It is black as night even in daylight. I don’t want to go through, there’s always a man halfway down holding a match illuminating his twisted, broken grin. Today I had to, today I walked down, he raised the match to his lips and blew. It went black.
The Hangman’s Mirror
The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own, I didn’t know who it was but they looked as miserable as me. I don’t even know why I chose to look into it, it was there and hell, I wasn’t ever going to see my own face again. There’s no point in offering me any pity as that is something I don’t deserve, my trip past the mirror was my own doing and I owned it, even as the hangman placed the noose around my neck I didn’t flinch, apologise or beg for mercy. I killed them, i killed them all and let me be very clear I enjoyed every last minute of it. No. This was where my life was always heading and it was in its own way, beautiful. But that mirror i wish that i had never stopped. That I had never looked into it because I am there, now and forever.
- Runner-Up in Time Traveler Challenge
The Cooper ExpeditionRunner-Up in Time Traveler Challenge
Everyone knows where they were when British President Cooper was assassinated. 12.42pm May 29th 2069 walking through Bristol during his campaign for re-election. It was the trigger for the country’s fall into authoritarianism and the catalyst for a complete shift in the politics of Western Europe. For many it was the beginning of the end of democracy and the starting point of every major modern history book. If there was a single event that defined the 22nd Century it was this.
An Olympic Struggle
The IOC have announced that from 2036 all competitors at the Summer Olympic Games will have to reach athletic standards. Regardless of discipline everyone will have to prove they are an ‘Olympian’ by running and swimming 1500 m. There will not be a time limit but all must demonstrate this before being allowed to compete.
Gradwell Web Design had been in Sheffield for nearly three years when Fiona Davis landed her first job as a designer. It was her first job since leaving university and she was desperate to impress. For someone as talented as Fiona it wasn’t hard to demonstrate it through her creativity but she also wanted to do it through her productivity. Whenever a deadline loomed she made sure it was met regardless of how unrealistic it was. This meant she utilised the very modern set up of the Gradwell offices and could be found leaving or arriving at times most other people would be fast asleep.
There was a moment, when I was younger, that I think I may have encountered true darkness. I tell you this as something of a warning, that out there, in the most mundane of places, there are things so malevolent that imagination defies belief. I think I was fortunate, not for the encounter but for the ability to have learned the lesson.