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October 2023

Short Piece by Thomas Nixon

Tomorrow's News

It came to life, every now and then,

to play songs, from another time

or tunes, yet to be written.

On discovery, the whole neighbourhood swarmed to the sound

families from all over, travelling leaps and bounds.

Some, even paying by the pound

But the Joneses? Well, they were just happy to have people around.

Many evenings, they gathered by the radio for beer

with food aplenty, and a keen ear.

And while they sat by the fire, gossiping over tea…

at the dining table, passing the butter.

they never even heard the broadcaster’s stutter…

the announcement, of World War Three

Feedback from Bobby:

 

Shotley Bridge Murders, Chapter 6

Tuesday 6th December: the police are stuck, Dan needs a coat, Eric and Isla-Jane still aren't going out and more...

Help please reviewers - I've spent weeks wrestling with this chapter and I don't think I won....

Feedback From Thomas

Despite not having prior knowledge of the story, I was really impressed with how the chapter was able to relay past events to the reader without the information feeling forced or expository. The plot unfolds organically, with a new section of story being brought forward with every character, so even though things are repeated, the way that information is shown always comes with something new attached, like a new piece of information, or the same story with a different perspective. Each subchapter is concise, though I felt that the last two scenes did drag just a little bit in terms of pacing, the one in the cafe particularly.

There was also some confusion when multiple characters were in a scene, but that's because I'm not caught up on the who's who of it all.

Thomas Nixon - Flash Fiction 3

Spoilers

Yin was still getting used to it, even after twenty-three years. 'It's a birth defect,' she said to herself. ‘Or... that's what I call it. I can be in multiple places at once. No, not like that. I'm talking about time. Past, present, future.’

The apartment door opened then, Grace stepping out as she caught Yin's eyes. 'I'm sorry, can I help you?'

'This is where we fall in love,' Yin said. It was useful to be blunt sometimes. That, and the past couldn't be altered.

'What?' Grace stared at her.

'We fall in love: here. But in two years... it's complicated. And then…’ Yin scoffed, ' And then: I beg for you to take me back and... sorry, they're all merging together and-'

'Hey, hey,' Grace stepped forward, taking her hand. 'Do you want to come in? I can get you some water.’

Yin smiled. 'I'd like that.'

Special Offer


'What's his name?' Clarissa asked, a crimson fingernail scraping down his cheek.

'So, this handsome man here is Harvey. He's twenty-seven, makes around 50k a year, and,' Christopher paused for emphasis. 'He’s single.’

'Oooh,' the girls shrivelled at once. 'We've just got to have him,' Melissa said. 'How much?'

'So we're offering him at $1,899, but: we've got a special deal for a 24-month payment plan. $95 per month, interest free.'

'And he won't remember anything?' Clarissa asked. 'About his, y'know... his past'

Christopher smiled. 'We erase all memories as per store policy.' Then, looking into his eyes...

'He'll be whatever you want him to be.'

Meltdown

Reactor Meltdown Imminent! The klaxon shrilled, in the voice of Holly Willoughby, who'd licensed her voice out for emergency broadcasts aeons ago. but bubbly and calming this wasn't. If the reactor wasn't repaired, a slow and violent death was the least of their troubles.

Peter mantled the ladder, a crimson ooze dappling from below, growing stronger with every descent. Ok, deep breaths, Holly said. First of all, are you ok? I hope so.

'I'm ok,' Peter said, her voice echoing into his very soul.

Good. It feels very strange indeed, with this reactor melting down, but let's try and stay positive…

Feedback!

Three more thought-provoking snippets from Thomas!

Spoilers - I think this is clever - but also - is he nice? He's been here before - does he take advantage? Is this a love story or the start of a nightmare for Grace?!

Special Offer - poor old Harvey! I wanted more here - a bit more background, a longer piece please! Your 101 words here needs extra...

Meltdown - I think this is my favourite of this set, Holly Willoughby's voice being licensed out and then used as a bot voice to manage an existential crisis! Good stuff...

Thomas Dixon - Flash Fiction 2

Rainy Days

Xiang was waiting, something he'd been doing his whole life. Something he was very good at. He twirled the umbrella between his thumb and forefinger, letting it dance in the air as its sheen filtered through cloudy skies. Clockwise, then counterclockwise. The crowd flowed through the street as he observed, waiting for his mark.

Then the yellow boots appeared, sploshing down on the cobblestone puddles. But Xiang was frozen, his umbrella tightened in a vice. The target waddled ahead, their tiny hand harnessed into their mother's fingers.

'Forgive me,' Xiang whispered, as he lowered the umbrella's ferrule, and pulled the trigger.

 

Kat’s in the Bag

'Morning Kat, you alright?' Peter asked.

'Oh, I'm canny,' Katherine said, her voice delivered in a peculiar echo. 'You want a cuppa?'

'No, don't trouble yourself,' Peter sat down, clicking his pen and opening his logbook. Katherine swallowed hard, the sound amplified. 'Now, how's things been this week?'

'Alright I suppose. Kieran started at his new school - seems to be enjoying it - and little Jane's started riding her new bike as well.'

'Did you see her riding the bike?'

'Oh, I couldn't. People would drop dead if they saw me! But I've heard she's getting on well,' she said, then smiled.

(Reference Image:) https://unsplash.com/photos/a-woman-sitting-on-a-couch-with-a-paper-bag-on-her-head-479rJrzXXQw

 

The Same Coin

'Don't move!' The officer screamed. Sierra complied, palms open and wrists crossed, the shadow of her shaking hands imitating a pigeon's wings against the wall.

'Please... This is a mistake.' Sierra's lips quivered, her woven stature crumbling. She had never seen a gun before, never stared down its barrel. Two rectangles slapped together, two innocent shapes uniting to spread fear and death.

The officer stopped, but his eyes fell to her hip, where her card read... Attorney-at-law.

He spoke, but his words were stillborn, an amalgamation of apologies and regret, his hands collapsing as his body turned to flee the scene.

 

Feedback!

Rainy Days - I love the visceral imagery here - the slow realisation that it's the child in the yellow boots that's going to get it ... 

The "something"s put me off. They're sticky words that slow down the pace. What about if you removed them?:


Xiang was waiting, something he'd been doing waiting his whole life. Something he was very good at it. 

 

Kat's in the Bag - This made me laugh once I'd looked at the image, which you need in order to understand the text. Your internal sense of how noises would change from within that space was really funny. Does the text need more of a clue for anyone who can't access your picture?

 

The Same Coin - I struggled a bit with this one. Your flash fiction normally has me gripped. This one didn't grab me. Also - aren't bullets round? Wouldn't the barrel's internal structure be two tubes, not rectangles. Sorry, I got stuck on the shape of the gun components....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Nixon

Thomas is our first contributor - see below his dark material, perfect for Halloween!

Speed Demon

Fast cars and high risks. It's what he was all about. Skidding the Lambo over the bend, its tyres squealed in either pain or ecstasy. He couldn't decide which. That's when he jacked the stick, shooting the bird up to 80, throwing it up the mountain like a rock from a sling.

He didn't see the herd that were crossing. He never heard the Shepherd's bell. 80 became 100, just as a sheen of red hit the windshield, flesh-strewn fur splattering over sun-kissed glass.

But he didn't lose momentum. 100 evolved into 120, and counting.

Fast cars and high risks. It's what he was all about.

 

Speaker for the Dead

Every night, the news read out the names of the dead

Every night, I sat, and listened

And every night, there were so many. The young and old, buried together by a sigh from the newsreader's lips, never to be spoken again.

And every night, I begged to hear your name, so I wouldn't have to suffer anymore

And every night, I cried

And every night, I prayed

Then one night, the war ended. And the dead were put to rest, for the final time

And that night, I wept more than any other…

Because I knew you were still alive

 

The Bay

There are bodies in the bay. But this is a known fact. They bob on the surface, face down, dredged up by trawlers and fishermen alike. They're blank slates, fingertips bleached, their faces nondescript. Mr. and Mrs. Doe, all the way. This started years ago, o'course. Nowadays they don't even make the headlines, just a running total beneath the sports section.

In the end we incinerated them. But they're still here. I see them in bed. Corpses sprawled over the sheets, staring with vacant eyes, icy blue lips moving without a sound. 

But I don't wake up. Because it's no dream.

FEEDBACK FROM BOBBY:

Overall - I love the stories that you cast in just 101 words, the imagery is so strong and the tale might be short, but you convey a beginning, middle and end in each one. My practical head got in the way of speed demon, but see below for more feedback...

Speed Demon - I love the recklessness of this, the sheen of red - my only wonder is whether if he'd hit a sheep, he wouldn't have crashed, or that the impact of the vehicle against a solid object might at least have slowed him down?!

Speaker for the Dead - perfect for this time of the year, approaching Remembrance Sunday. You hint at the emotions here, and I wonder if you could give us more for the imagination, something more tangible about the person away at war? Your flash-fiction here reminds me of The Tin Nose Shop by Don J Snyder, a much longer version of your narrative with tons of emotion in it!

The Bay - oooh - super-spooky - I love this - the drama, the mystery, the acceptance of just another set of corpses, nameless, numbers recorded below the sports section as if the town/village has just got used to this... Great!

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