The competition is now closed.
The winner was Anstey Spraggan. Her prize was a first edition of Corners of the Globe (Book 2 in the James Maxted trilogy) signed by the author Robert Goddard.
Here’s Anstey’s winning entry:
Most people were disappointed by the eclipse. They’d expected more. I’d felt like that for years so wasn’t surprised.
“It’s a non-event. You’re stupid to even go. You’ll see nothing.”
My life was one long round of Reg’s moaning; my retirement promised wall to wall more of it.
“Stay here then, Reg. I’m expecting a parcel. Answer the door for me at nine.”
I’d met them in a car park last week, handed over the money in exchange for a clean job.
On the pier, people felt let down by the grey haze. For me, the sun had come out.
We hope you will agree with us that Anstey was a worthy winner.
To mark National Flash Fiction Day on 27 June, we are now very pleased to reproduce here some of the best of the other entries.
The Garden by Michael Allsopp
At the cottage, so old and beautiful, surrounded by wild growing shrubs, grasses and spring flowers, the gardener tended the grounds for the frail grey-haired lady.
For so long she had felt like Sleeping Beauty, waiting for her prince to come along and cut back the growth. Once, she had a grand garden…a long time ago.
Suddenly there was a terrible whirring, frightening sound, fizzing, whizzing, crackling. Then a dull thud. “You’re not my prince!”
Faulty electrics the policeman said…the lady smiled as she coiled the hose. Maybe the next gardener might be her prince?
The Husband by Tricia Brady
“You look a bit peaky darling,” said Bertie to his wife Jessica. “Can I get you some more tea or a slice of cake?”
“I’m fine!” snapped Jessica abruptly. “Stop pestering me,” she yelled.
Irritability, vomiting, then a deep sleep that lasts forever, thought Bertie. He rose from his armchair and went into the kitchen. Yes, he’d had enough of Jessica and her consistent nagging.
Maisie, whom he’d met while shopping was a much nicer person. He enjoyed her company. Bertie cupped his fingers round the bottle of poison. Like his previous marriages he sat patiently and waited.
Untitled by Jenny Byrne
Police draw blank on body in trunk mystery…
“I grabbed the pillow, covered her face, pushed her down. Hate her”.
“You’re saying you murdered Alice?”
“’’s what I’m saying, too the ugly bitch”.
“You know Alice is alive, don’t you? She’s on her way here … we’re confused, why would you say you killed your mother, that’s the chair you know that Georgia, yeah?”
“I killed her, smothered her dead”.
“Mom’s arrived to collect, Sarge”.
“Sorry for time wasting, Sargeant Murray, you know she’s sick”.
“Did I do good, Mom?”
“Real good, Georgia, we’re free. I’m your Mom now, Alice is gone”.
Untitled by Andrew Cassells
A woman is murdered. One clue. “Whodunnit” scribbled on the forehead of the victim using carbon paper. The police uncover no evidence. Chloe Charterwell, a publicity seeking graphologist, believes the murderer to be male, right handed and likely to strike again. The Police dismiss her claims as “pseudoscience”.
A second body bears the phrase “Copy Clue” and the third “Initial Failure”. Chloe launches her book on the back of the publicity.
Her publisher, Hugh Dunnet, is arrested and later convicted of the murders. Chloe is arrested too but released due to insufficient evidence. Her book title: “A Hand in Murder”.
Murdered or Not? by Vivien Clifford
A seemingly dead man’s body, peppered with multiple bloody holes, was lying face down on an art exhibition floor.
“It’s a brilliant waxwork,” Babs explained to her nervous friend, Lynne, but this statement was met with disbelief. Lynne ran to an exhibition official, shouting hysterically, “Call the police; that man’s been killed!”
The official laughingly replied, “Your friend is right! This is a terrifyingly realistic model of a man with gunshot wounds. But he isn’t real!”
Lynne gingerly approached the body, touched it and then cried, “Look, this is real blood on my hand; this is a murdered man!”
Untitled by Gary Cordes
Nobody knew where it came from. But its presence sent a shudder through the entire community. If it was not removed quickly in that heat, the public health risk would be immense.
The village Chief’s daughter stood in awe at the sight. But she was alarmed and confused that her fellow humans, the poachers who slayed this graceful yet huge beast, would dare to affront nature’s beauty – thus relinquishing their right to be called ‘human’ – for the sake of a lifeless tusk, destined to sit on a display shelf and to gather dust in some obscure palace.
Untitled by Madeleine Cordes
As Tim entered the house a slightly acrid smell hit his nostrils – not unpleasant – just like a sharp detergent. At least it wasn’t a dirty smell like in all the others he’d viewed so far. It reminded him a bit of bleach mixed with the smell of the hamburgers his mum had left in the fridge for too long.
Gladys the landlady bustled around him pointing out all the facilities in the room which Tim thought looked really welcoming. “This could be the one” he smiled to himself. “When can I move in?”
As he settled in he heard Gladys whispering in the corridor with Jack her husband. She burbled excitedly ” he’s perfect; we’ll feed him up first” . Tim felt so at home – his new life living on his own for the first time and his landlords seemed so pleased to have him there…..
Untitled by Simon Darragh
‘Obviously strangled,’ said inspector Lestrange, examining the dead drummer. ‘The suspect could be one of the band. Who might dislike the drummer, I wonder?’ ‘All of them I should think, sir,’ remarked his assistant, an amateur musician. ‘We’d better wait for the pathologist.’
When he arrived, Doctor Trepan took one look at the victim’s neck and said ‘The guitarist, from behind.’ ‘Good Lord sir, how d’you reckon that?’ ‘Take a look at those marks. Both sides, but the ones on the right have broken the skin. Guitarists have short nails on the left hand and long on the right.’
Untitled by John Dog
I look intently at my watch, imploring the second hand to move faster. But of course that only serves to make it move slower.
Now I realise I’m holding my breath. Need to calm the fuck down. Breathe. Relax.
I tell you what, when this is all over I’m out for good. No more dodgy deals with dodgy fuckers for me. With the money I make I’ll finally be able to get out from under…
How much longer?
I glance into the rear view mirror just in time to see blue flashing lights heading in my direction.
A Great Deal To Worry About by Giles Falconer
Jeremy had a great deal to worry about: noise, dog mess on pavements and that one neighbour… But the thing which bugged him most was the old MG parked on the Dover Road – just where it narrowed. Day in, day out, as Jeremy returned from work there would be the queue it caused; but from tonight that problem would be over.
Pulling on a balaclava – tag still on, moon high, he silently left his home carrying a can of petrol. Now we would all have less to worry about in Deal…
Untitled by Brian Ferrar
I hadn’t meant to hurt her. I fled down the road. I had only wanted a quickie. The knife was still in my hand. To sample the fresh meat. The knife had to go. If only she hadn’t laughed. I flung the knife into the river. She had laughed at my flaccid member. I controlled my breathing. Her eyes had mocked me. She was only a prostitute. The mocking had made me see red. Trafficked from Romania. The blood from the first cut had shocked me. But no-one would care except perhaps her pimp. I would have to traffic another.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by Jane Francis
“The hills are alive!” sang Martha, surfing the wave of her third orgasm. The Viagra she had stirred into Charlie’s tea earlier had certainly done the trick. ‘ Multiple orgasm, I can tick that one off the list now,’ she thought smugly, gazing at Charlie’s still apoplectic member. How many tablets had she put in?
At the funeral, ten days later, Martha sobbed vehemently. The chance to experience such pleasure, had now gone forever. ‘Still,’ she comforted herself, blowing her nose and looking around the congregation, ‘Two birds with one stone I suppose…’
Alibi by Rowena Hoseason/MurderMayhem&More.net
The post office job was clumsy and dumb. The village was buzzing with busybodies, witnesses in waiting. CCTV footage clearly showed my car’s registration. The counter clerk caught sight of my distinctive wristband. It didn’t take the local CID long to come a-calling, and the arresting officer was full of scorn when he found foreign currency inside the tumble-drier.
Charged with robbery. Guilty plea agreed. 18 months custodial sentence, suspended.
Then my old adversary Jack the Knife turned up dead as a stump. Sorry, Officer, couldn’t have been me. I was making a withdrawal at the time…
Untitled by Judith Ingleby
The sky was bleeding purple from a slash of dawn as Tommy drove the car into Oldport. He swiftly scanned each passing side street, searching for the rental lot and almost at the quay spotted the low brick building and yard. Relieved, he turned in and cut the engine, attempting to shrug the long, night drive from his shoulders. He posted the keys and turned towards the ferry, stumbling a little on uneven cobbles. That’s when he saw the dead girl floating face down in the sea, her blue butterfly tattoo seeming to fly beneath the motion of the waves.
Untitled by Maurice Kanareck
Benny the Ganuf was a professional thief. Not a very good one, but it was a living …
So, when approached to steal a valuable old master painting from the Dulwich Picture Gallery he was happy to oblige.
Came the day, and just before closing, he quietly secreted himself in the gent’s loo until such time as he could complete his task.
And, yes, he gently tucked the painting under his coat to make a successful, undetected exit.
There was only one problem. On presenting it to his client he found that he’d stolen the only genuine fake in the gallery …
Untitled by Tom Leins
Larry-Lee Lomax has shoulder-length grey hair and a week’s worth of stubble along his crooked jaw. He’s skinny like a stray dog, and it is hard to believe that he was responsible for those two shattered bodies.
I still remember the carpet of blood, patterned with bone fragments. The girl’s fingernails were painted slaughterhouse red.
A cruel smile flickers across his greasy lips, but it fades as soon as he sees the hammer hidden up the sleeve of my overcoat.
I lock the door and head out into the murky, relentless rain. Death is something that happens to other people.
Good Cop / Bad Cop? by Ben Muir – Two stories for the price of one (can be read forward and backward line for line giving two different perspectives – both the crime and the solution)
I shook my head and walked through the door.
Another murder to give me sleepless nights.
The guy was lying on the floor, a bullet hole in the head.
The shot killed him instantly.
I saw the gun on the dresser.
There was a struggle in the room, the lamp was smashed.
I’d heard the guy was refusing to pay his protection money. This was the way guys like that were dealt with.
It wouldn’t be easy getting results.
Cops like me are supposed to protect, but sometimes things end up going the wrong way.
Plastered by Vicky Newham
I escorted her into the lounge and ran my hand over the plaster, proud of my handiwork.
Dozy mare copied me.
‘It’s still damp in places and a bit bumpy,’ she mumbled, pointing rudely and sniffing the air.
‘I gutted the place before putting it on the market. All being decorated next week.’ I tried to sound reassuring.
‘So many memories in houses, aren’t there?’ She simpered.
But surprisingly accurate.
Two hours it had taken to hose that cement mixer clean. To prise tooth enamel and femur splinters from its blades.
The last person to look round.
Bus Robbery by Chris Parrett
The bus slowed, as a boy ran towards its rear platform. The conductress stepped back, as the kid jumped on brandishing a knife.
He thrust with the blade, causing the clippie to back off, but she wasn’t the target. The strap to her satchel parted. The boy grabbed the cash bag then jumped clear as the bus turned left.
The thief dived down an alleyway, disappearing into the darkness.
Unaware, the driver began accelerating before hitting a small figure carrying a bag, who ran from an opening, bounced off a pedestrian, then fell in front of the bus.
Untitled by Christina Philippou
I watched the knife slice through, as if plunged through jelly, not meat.
The baby lay still. I wanted to check her, but dared not. Her abductor was still too close, as when they had whisked her from her pushchair and then on through customs.
I had only turned my back for a moment. But they had the same surname as my daughter, while I didn’t, and had walked straight through.
But I had found them.
I sliced again, then wiped the blade on my jeans. I walked over to the buggy. She opened her eyes and smiled at me.
Deadly Scrumping by Paul Shaw
September sun painted the orchard ochre, warming the old man’s back.
‘You want stamens for saffron, Grandad, not bulbs.’
‘Hello sweetheart. Didn’t hear your car. These aren’t crocus. They’re Colchicums. And they’re corms not bulbs.’
‘Here, let me help. Bumper apple crop, if those kids don’t scrump em.’
‘They might – this year. Not next.’
‘Think they’ll grow out of it then?’
‘Some might, perhaps.’
Evening’s blush painted the path homeward with lambent flame.
‘Did you hear about little Hugo’s pony dying?’
‘Shame. Still, practice makes perfect.’
‘Nothing. Now, wash carefully after handling the corms. Tea?’
Quartet by Malcolm Sinclair
Three solo musicians in bizarre deaths: garrotted by guitar string, bludgeoned by saxophone, crushed under piano. Music the only connection.
On twitter, an old photograph goes viral: bass, sax, keyboard, drums. Three dead, the survivor is arrested. Motive and opportunity confirmed. Too much rivalrous envy in society says the prosecution. The jury look convinced. But the drummer’s alibis hold.
He testifies. They never found a decent vocalist. “We told one at audition that they weren’t even good enough to take our picture.”
Verdict: Not Guilty.
Next day he’s found dead, impaled by drumsticks. Around his neck, a photograph frame.
Untitled by Charlie Wade
He points the gun at your head. They say life flashes in front of you before you die but that’s not true. Your life becomes an episode of Casualty.
You’re the bloke at the start cycling downhill; wind in your hair, smile on your face. Camera cuts to the brake cable; old, frayed. Camera cuts to a lorry, driver on his mobile, eyes off the road, approaching a junction.
The finger on the trigger squeezes. There’s no flash, no noise, just a brake cable that’s snapped and a lorry that’s about to hit you.
Reward by Eli Ward
7 a.m. My darling should be home soon. I’ve run his bath according to his instructions, prepared the breakfast he deserves after a long night. He’s always keen to relate how it’s been – the joys of shift work. It’s generally prosaic: the argument with Pompous Pete from accounts, how overworked he’s been. Never a word about her – I’m not supposed to know about her. I set the butter next to the toaster; strong coffee (the way he likes it). Picture him sinking lower in the water; muscles gradually losing their power. Smile as I drive away, thinking of Socrates.
Untitled by Linda Wilson
“What’s on today?” I asked.
My secretary consulted the Appointments Book. “Mrs Laverty’s cat is missing.”
“Fi, since when have we been in the business of finding missing pets? When I last looked, the sign on the door still said Otherworld Investigations.”
“It’s dead,” she commented, as though that explained everything.
“You want me to find a dead cat?”
“No, she knows exactly where the body is, it’s under a rose bush in her back garden. She wants you to find Blackie’s ghost, she thinks he’s been stolen. She was burgled yesterday.”
Bloody hell, some people really would nick anything.