From the Writers' Ink...

Read excerpts of pieces from NWI members

Things we do for love by Michael J. Richards

“Hey, Jack,” I say. “Look at these. I got them off eBay. Not bad, eh?” I sort through my fishing-tackle box. “What do you think? £6.38 for five.” I hold up my fishing-floats. I smile. “Porcupine quills.”

Jack leans forward. As ever, his black hair falls over his eyes so he can’t see what he’s looking at. He never combs his hair. I’ve tried to get him to get it cut but he doesn’t. To shave it off, like me.

“Where’d you get them?”

“Saw ‘em in town,” I tell him. “Went in. Took a look. Came home. Got ‘em off eBay.”

“How much were they in town?” he says.

“6.99.”

“And how much postage did eBay charge you?” he says.

“Two quid.”

“So how was eBay cheaper?” he says.

I work it out. “Oh yeah,” I say. “What a dipstick.”

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Excerpt from While Glancing out of a Window, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from  Amazon UK

 

What we did in the 1970's by Deborah Bromley

I was really looking forward to this party. I had been thinking about it for weeks. I think Ellen was just as keen but she's a lady who doesn't give anything away so I had to make do with little smirking expressions over breakfast or subtle hints during the ad breaks on TV. Of course, everything was "pas devant les enfants". Which made the planning quite awkward as Samantha, our middle child, was having a birthday party on the afternoon of the adult party. Party talk was in the air and I had to keep my brain in gear to make sure I didn't slip up. Ellen would have had my balls in a vice if I had said anything smutty.

You can see where I'm going with this. But you don't know the half of it, really you don't. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. The plan was to have Sam's party (which would likely result in the lounge being trashed) at three o'clock then see the little dears off home with their parents around five. My mum was coming to the kid's party and going to babysit for us, so we could get off a bit early to get to Graham and Laura's house.

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Excerpt from the forthcoming anthology by Deborah Bromley - Challenges from the Writers' Group (Spring 2018)

 

 

All in working order by Chris Wright

Holding the bandages, the nurse stepped back. I looked at the hands. It was hard to think of them as mine as yet, but there they were. A very obvious and angry red join ran between the familiar flesh of my arms and the transplanted hands now attached to them. It felt wrong.

Cradling Matthew in her other arm, Angela reached out to touch me. “We knew it wouldn't be easy.”

“Yes, Mr Burroughs,” Dr Frazer added. “Give yourself time to adapt. For now, let's just worry about how well the transplant is taking. Can you feel this?”

He drew a feather against the back of my new left hand. I smiled as I felt a faint touch, and again as he moved to the other hand.

“Yes! I'd almost forgotten what that felt like.”

“Excellent. The scans looked positive but we like to know for sure. Now to test your movement. Remember, don't expect too much.”

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Excerpt from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available from Amazon UK

 

Tell me a story by Pat Aitcheson

Tell me a story. Give me tales of a thousand nights, warm scented breeze in my hair, sand in my shoes. Take me to the farthest pole, blue-green fire dancing in the sky, every breath clouding in crisp night air.

Tell me a story. Let me taste salt sea tang while scorching sun beats down on wooden decks. Show me dolphins, flying fish, great whales breaching white-topped waves. Let me glimpse bright eyed merpeople watching deep under the surface, waiting.

Tell me a story. Carry me on red and silver rockets to vast silent space stations where the brilliant stars never go out. Show me galaxies born from cosmic dust. Bring whispers from strange aliens and even stranger, once-human creatures.

Tell me a story. Lead me up the tallest mountain, rocks skittering away under exhausted feet, lungs screaming for oxygen. Describe that joyful promised land seen only from the summit. Inspire my belief. Take me there on wings of faith.

Expand my horizons. Play my emotions. Cloak mindless chatter, soothe unthinking wounds, only with words. Let me shed this skin, be someone else, somewhere else, sometime else. Let me be lost and found. Give me distance, just for a while.

Tell me a story.

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Taken from While Glancing out of a Window, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

A New Beginning by Beth Heywood

The fresh breeze blowing off the sea whipped through Agnes’ long blonde hair, lifting it momentarily before billowing around her forehead and shoulders. For the first time since she could remember, she felt free of worries and free of cares. Most importantly, she felt free of her past. She sighed. She’d get through today and it would be, as everyone said, a new beginning.

She raked her fingers through her tangled tresses, turning her gaze to the sand dunes and the treacherous emerald and turquoise water beyond them. Maybe it was the effect of her new medication, but today she could truly see and appreciate nature’s beauty. 

She turned around to survey her companions. Conservationists. Middle-aged, bespectacled tree-planters. Not one of them without the requisite stick, woolly hat, stout walking shoes. Not to mention the thick socks that went from knee to ankle. Even the women. But that was fine. Without her medication, she’d be angry even to be in their company.

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Excerpt from While Glancing out of a Window, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

The Vanussians are Coming by Gordon Adams

“This is a grave moment for the Human Race,” said the World Controller, standing up to address his audience. He adopted his most sober tone to address the small room, which was full of his senior aides.

“There is no doubt now: the Vanussians are coming. They intend conflict with Earth. We are tracking a fleet of around ten thousand Vanussian combat spacecraft heading directly towards our Solar System. We have at most four days before they arrive within range. The superior technology of the Vanussians means we will face an awesome display of firepower. Thankfully, we have an even greater power with which to fight them.”

“What’s that?” asked the Deputy Consul for Eurasia.

“Why, the power of ideas!” He smiled and glanced to his right, towards a spotty youth sporting a pink shirt. Sitting alongside the youth was a pretty young woman in a bright yellow dress.

“We will fight the Vanussians through the power of… advertising!” added the World Controller with gusto.

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Excerpt from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Nick Johns

I’d only bitten her, see, not eaten her.

That’s why you must always finish your prey. But I was an inexperienced hunter in those days. I had returned to ripping flesh off the old lady when I was attacked from behind.

She knocked me down, eyes flaring red, as wild as anything I ever saw. I rolled and snapped at her heels, brought her down. That’s always a good tactic, stops whatever you fight from running off, or from catching you if you run.

So, I got my first good look at her. She was magnificent. A great grey sable with black points, teeth dripping with my blood.

I forgot all about the kill, bit her neck and tried to...

Well, maybe that’s a tale for when you’ve got a bit more fur on your bodies... but as we fought, the full moon set and the change came upon us.

I woke, hungry and hairless, cold as always, and found her waking beside me. As I explained my part in what had happened to her, she attacked me again. But when calmed down, we shared a haunch of her grandma and decided how to explain the carnage.

So, I became the hunter who saved her and fought off the beast. She invented the whole story, even that stupid red cloak...

Hello, dear. Just telling the grand-cubs how we met!

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Taken from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

It's Not Easy Being a Superhero by Jason McClean

It’s not everyday that you find out you have a superpower.

Bunsen Burners are powerful little gas torches that you find in science classrooms. They are used to heat liquids and other things as part of experiments.

Adrian thought they smelled a bit. Something horrible enough to make you want to stay away but not enough to make you sick. The nasty smell was added to gas so you could tell if it was leaking.

Today’s experiment sounded stupid. But Adrian had learned that normally, when they sounded stupid, that was when he was about to be amazed by something. They were going to see if they could make wet paper burn.

Mr Claws told the pupils to take the paper from the beaker filled with water and hold it in the flame of the Bunsen Burner. Adrian carefully picked it out of the water and held it over the flame

It was soaked in water and he didn’t expect it to burn.

Steam rose from it. He reckoned if he left it long enough, then it would burn once all the water was evaporated.

Mr Claws then told the pupils to bin the damp paper and pick up the paper soaked in ethanol. As ethanol was a fuel, Adrian expected it to burn. It duly did so. As the flames ignited all around the classroom, there were gasps from his classmates, shrieks of fear and delight.

Adrian’s hand was warm. It was uncomfortable, so he crushed the paper until the flames were extinguished.

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Taken from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

A famous villain by Allan Shipham

Are you that smell at the end of my snout?

Or the shadow I saw when the lights went out?

Are you the creak at the window I mistook for a bird?

Or the underfloor scratches I thought I heard?

 

Are you the presence I feel all of the time?

That makes my skin creep and makes my hair climb?

I’m learning about you, I don't like what I hear,

you fill me with dread and you fill me with fear.

 

They say you're a villain; you're out for our souls,

confusion and mayhem are your spiteful goals.

I think that I know you, know what you're about,

If you ever come near me I'll scream and I'll shout.

 

You're quick and you're vicious, but most of all mean. 

You don't care who you've chosen, you've never been seen.

When others tell lies the bells will chime.

Sick to my stomach, I feel all the time.

 

I imagine you know me, you're plotting deceit,

I'm hoping to God that we never meet.

You keep me guessing, you keep me thinking,

I better watch out, you’ll pounce when I’m blinking.

 

You're the subject of stories since times of old,

you're out to destroy me like a cough or a cold.

Just when I think that I've worked you out, 

You surprise me and crush me.

The famous villain is... Doubt.

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Taken from While Glancing out of a Window, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

Nothing by James Dart

Total and complete emptiness. It was as if Ivy had lost her senses. She tried to scream but no sound came out. She couldn’t even feel the muscles of her jaw move. It wasn’t that she couldn’t move. There was nothing to move. She could not feel her body at all, only the terror bubbling within her, the fear of eternity in this void. She would have cried if she had tears to shed, or eyes to shed them from. Still her mind rattled. The silence seemed to be consuming her.

Ivy’s eyes snapped open. The creaking of the boiler and rain pattering on the window told her that she was back in her room. Tears streamed down her face. Her fists were clenched so tightly that they threatened to pull apart the old scars on her wrists.

Usually her bad dreams were about her days in school. The sound of mocking laughter and horrible insults would echo in her mind and she would feel the bruises on her arms again. She would be in a full classroom again. Like always, the seat next to hers was empty.

This was different, though. She wondered if this would be the norm from here on in. After all, she had not been in secondary school for years. Being bullied wasn’t really something she was afraid of anymore. Maybe those nightmares were finally tapering off, only to be replaced with nightmares where she lost everything she had gained since then and was totally and utterly alone. Just her luck.

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Excerpt from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK

 

It is written by Elizabeth Parikh

… she then slithered away enjoying the shifting, warm sand on her belly and forgetting the crisping skin in an instant. A flick of the air advised it would be wise to travel south.

The road from Agra to Doora coated the car’s windows, baked its sticky leather seats and filled the engine’s throat with dust. The vista stretched, as wide as it was long, unchanging, endless grains of sand slowly shifting through an unspoken hourglass. Iridescent waters appeared and melted. The road burned into the tyres and Lennon, high on LSD, no longer could tell if she was going forwards or backwards.

The snake skin by the roadside, curling into a ball of decay, was snatched at by the wind, thrown upwards and deposited on the oncoming vehicle. It hit with a slight thud but for Lennon, an apocalypse had begun. Throwing the car back and forth and across heat that oiled the flat of the road, maps, empty cups and rock samples flew around the spinning machine. Lennon braked hard until only two wheels were touching the road. The car teetered dangerously – a balanced, upright needle.

Lennon had the power to decide whether to stick or twist and, at that precise moment, one successful sperm finally burrowed into her last decent egg. Lennon decided to stick and the car crashed back down on all fours to the road. Fate then spoke directly with an Irish accent; if Lennon wanted to take hallucinogenic drugs, she would be saved each and every time. Lennon thanked Fate for the message and felt safe.

Hari could remember every single moment of his life. He remembered being held for the very first time. He was sat in the crook of a left arm, and facing him, in his mother’s right arm, was the version of himself he had shared a space with for so long.

They had both taken it in turns to kick their capsule, one after the other, and a lifelong love of patterns began. The kick would sometimes be replied with a slight pressure, a hand, a communication from the other side, which made Hari and his brother squeal with delight.

One day Hari’s brother stopped kicking. And at the same time, no matter how hard he kicked, over and over and over, the hand never came. Hari put all of his energy into staying awake and kicking. He saw the hand press into his brother but never to him. So he kicked some more.

Now, on the outside and, staring from his mother’s crook at the twin that continued to be still, Hari waved his tiny arm frantically. He could see a head, black hair, facing the other way, watching the unmoving baby. Hari waved his arm for as long as he could, and screamed, but the head never turned to him. Lennon was suspended in time but Hari was ready to explore his new world. Nothing would stand in his way.

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Excerpt from Talking Without Being Interrupted, an anthology by Northants Writers' Ink. Available to buy from Amazon UK