Friday Flash Fiction – Moving On

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Dave got the idea from the television news. If tents and living pods could be dispatched to disaster areas why couldn’t homeless people in his town be helped. Dave wasn’t actually interested in humanitarian projects abroad or at home until the tent arrived in his shop doorway. Owning a shop was part of his plan to help rejuvenate the high street in Lower Sandbourne. The once thriving parade of shops and smart flats had gone downhill over the years, mainly due to the property activities of Dave and his brother, now he hoped to reinvent himself with ethically sourced gifts and fine food. There was nothing ethical about the origins of most of his goods, but smart labels impressed the chattering classes who could no longer afford to live in Upper Sandbourne. The Sandbourne Traders Association was pleased with the rebirth of a shop that had been an empty bakers and a blot on the high street for several years.

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And then the tent had appeared. The doorway that presented excellent window display space was also a perfect size for a one man tent.

Dave had dispatched the first resident and his bedding to another town, but with the new CCTV and his new image this was no longer an option. The bleeding heart owner of the pet shop next door was certainly no help. She gave free dog food for the tented one’s sad eyed mongrel. Dave couldn’t complain as it was the dog that kept customers coming. Instead of being put off by having to step round a tent and over a pair of feet sticking out, the locals eased their conscience at not offering him their spare rooms by lavishing their attention on the dog and buying him unwanted cups of coffee.

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The pod idea was enthusiastically supported by the locals. Dave’s gang of unqualified builders were used to makeover services to cover up structural defects in Dave’s property empire, so giving shipping containers a makeover was no problem. The council were happy to be seen doing something. By allowing the cabins to be sited on the car park they had just closed down for development, the residents could not complain about the loss of their convenience to such a good cause. The local family run garden centre was persuaded to provide plants and planters and the whole site looked quite pretty as spring blossomed. Sandbourne Hardware donated tins of Hammerite and most of the residents took a pride in painting  their cabins to look individual.

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Carried away by the great publicity stunt the garden centre built raised beds for the local school to grow vegetables and as the settlement grew, most of the occupiers appeared to be happy, including those who had been made homeless by Dave in the first place. He did wonder how the metal containers would fare in a heatwave, or next winter, but by then the council would have evicted everyone to build the lucrative block of unaffordable apartments; a scheme certain to be tendered out to one of his subsidiary companies. Dave knew he would get the contract, he knew too much about certain councillors for them to turn him down.

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In the meantime the shop doorway was tidy and the shop thriving. But trouble was afoot. Dave, the council and the growing jolly band of volunteers had assumed all the homeless would be grateful and no plans had been put in place to address the ‘complex issues’ of some residents.

Jack from the Sandbourne Gazette, who had been watching Dave for years, ever since he re-emerged from his short spell in gaol, had been biding his time. He had even less respect for the council and planned to snare them both. Syringes and other drug paraphernalia were found tossed amongst the round lettuces and spring onions and children started telling their parents about the scary man and the nasty woman at their garden. A row erupted over who was actually overseeing the project. Jack ensured that newcomers to the area would discover Dave’s past and his future plans.

But Jack reckoned without the initiative of the majority of residents who did not want to lose their new homes. They enlisted the help of the national media and Jack’s moment of journalistic fame was lost. The council hastily sent in their new street team, its numbers boosted with a few of Dave’s friends. Under cover of darkness and with a little subtle bribery, they removed the undesirables to a new assisted living project under a council far away. They were replaced by more acceptable homeless. Gardening resumed and volunteers set up ‘everybody together’ coffee mornings and suppers.

The project received national acclaim and most forgot once again about Dave’s past. Though his shop was doing well it hardly afforded the income he was used to, he would have to bide his time before getting another building project underway.

 

Read more short stories – dip into this selection

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Everyone welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Best Sellers

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If there is anything better than writing a best seller, it is writing a best selling series and a best selling series in a popular genre is sure to be a winner. The way to fame is for your series to be adapted for television, so that everyone knows you have written lots of best selling books, even if they haven’t read them.

Fame may come at a price, murder. Crime thrillers are always popular with the public and that’s not hard to understand; we all like to participate in the thrills without actually being killed ourselves. We all like to guess who did it from the comfort of the sofa without having to pound dark alleyways or lonely moors.

You only need three things for your fabulous fiction.

One or more dead bodies.

One or more detectives.

An interesting setting.

Optional extras are a few interesting characters who insist on getting involved in the investigation.

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I love a good crime thriller and some knitting after dinner, we all need a break from writing and computers. At Cheztidalscribe sub titles are our favourites; everything from gritty Paris to dark brooding Wales, from sunny Sicily to bracing Iceland. At present we are watching Trapped, set in a small town in Iceland; the fact that this fascinating country only has three hundred thousand people does not hold them back from having plenty of murders.

Much as I love hearing different languages and seeing a change of scenery, not speaking the language and never having visited are good reasons not to try and write novels set in another country. But there is still plenty of scope for new crime thrillers set in the British Isles. Popular novels can be set in ancient university towns; Morse in Oxford, Granchester in Cambridge. Then there are gritty cities such as Rebus in Edinburgh. Equally popular are quiet villages with an unbelievably high rate of crime, Midsomer Murders or islands such as Shetland where bodies appear at an alarming rate for Jimmy Perez to deal with.

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So let’s choose a place with beautiful scenery and scattered remote houses which the police can never get to in time. A detective who must be divorced or widowed and a local population who don’t trust him, because he is an outsider. His only friends are a simmering love interest with a fisherman’s wife and the local vet, doctor or vicar who helps solve every case. The detective inspector can be of either sex, but their constable or sergeant will always be of the opposite sex.

I am going to set my series on the beautiful Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Iona, I have only been there once, for a few hours, but that won’t deter me. There are only about 120 permanent residents and it is only three miles long, but that needn’t prevent them having a serial killer; with lots of tourists coming over on the little Caledonian MacBrain ferry who knows what could happen and as visitors’ vehicles are banned this gives the police a head start on chasing them.

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When television producers adapt your thrilling best seller there may be some compromise. Your stocky dark brooding hero is replaced by a well known tall blond actor and they film most of it on the mainland because it’s cheaper. The programmes are so popular you have to write more novels at a frantic pace, if not you will find your intelligent stories replaced by increasingly ridiculous plots and your name will appear only at the end of the credits – based on the characters created by…

But the good news is your book will now appear at the front of the book store with the covers your friend designed with his holiday photos replaced by dramatic pictures of the television star on location.

Good luck.

 

Flash Fiction Friday – 963 – Stolen Identity

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Amelia DeVere was dreading her birthday; Brian and the girls were coming round with her present, a lap top. They had given her several other choices; a clever phone, an eye mask, a lozenge or was it a capsule? She had plumped for the lap top, at least she wouldn’t be expected to put it in her handbag and use it. She was quite happy with her mobile phone that didn’t take pictures, buttons 1, 2 and 3 were programmed for the local mini cab firm, Jenny next door and Brian.

But Amelia had not realised the full implications of her choice until it was too late.

You’ll be able to Facetime Aunty Phoebe in Canada and see pictures of the new baby on Facebook.

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‘I just want to do e-mails’ said Amelia, on the offensive as she answered the door on her birthday morning.

‘Of course, we need to do that first. But just think Gran, you would have been the first to know Constanza was expecting, instead of the last.’

Just as Brian’s marriage was breaking up, her younger son Roger had got his act together and met someone. It didn’t appear they were going to get married, but now she was pregnant they had reluctantly left the Orangutan sanctuary and returned to Constanza’s hometown, Melbourne.

She was soon sending Roger an e-mail, AmDev@gmail.com

‘Can we have lunch now?’ she pleaded.

‘In a mo Gran, let’s just look at Facebook and make sure there are no other Amelia DeVeres… oh look, there are…

Are you this Amelia DeVere?

They all laughed at the young woman with spiky rose pink and sky blue hair, but then Amelia felt rather miffed at seeing a member of the family she didn’t know.

‘That’s probably not her real name Mum,’ said Brian ‘look, she’s an author, got her own author page.’

‘Can we look at it?’

‘No, you have to be her friend.’

‘I don’t need to be her friend if I’m a relative.’

The screen was flashing, artificial fingernails were skimming across the keyboard.

‘Here’s her Amazon page,’ said her granddaughter ‘…author of fruity romances Strawberries in Surmmer, Peaches for Pandora, hundreds of reviews… The book every twentysomething must take on holiday, published in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.’

‘Let’s read a preview’ urged her sister.

Amelia had to admit she was quite impressed that they could turn the pages of a pretend book. ‘Let me read, I’m getting used to this lap top… Pandora ran her slender manicured fingers through the dark hairs on Mickael’s chest, then across his firm tanned stomach, bringing to life his…’ she peered closer with her bi-focals at the small print ‘bringing to life his what?’

‘I don’t think that’s your sort of book Mother’ said Brian, hastily moving his large hands across the keyboard.

Images flashed across the screen, more frantic tapping by the girls.

‘Look Gran, Uncle Roger’s accepted you as a friend, they must still be up, probably midnight there.’

Suddenly the bemused grandmother was confronted with a black and white picture of an alien, but her granddaughters screamed with delight.

‘It’s a boy, you’re going to have your first grandson.’

‘They can’t have had the baby already.’

‘No, they’ve just had the scan to tell the sex; four hours ago 23 comments and 40 likes already, you can make a comment.’

‘That’s revolting, looks like one of their Orangutans.’

‘We all looked like that once, in the womb, I can’t believe how ultrasound has improved since we had the girls,’ said her son ‘but I don’t think I would put it on Facebook.’

The girls giggled ‘We can’t put what Gran said, how about Wonderful news, do u want to Facetime tomorrow?’

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Over lunch the girls discussed Constanza and why there were no pictures of her on Facebook and would Dad pay for them to visit their new cousin, but Amelia returned to the subject of the other Amelia.

‘Of course I would know if she was a real DeVere, can I complain if she’s an impostor?’

‘Let’s Google and see what else we can find out.’

‘Yes, never mind the dishes, let’s get back on the lap top’ she said.

She was surprised to see her own DeVeres mentioned, but it was Amelia the novelist who had page after page of blue writing devoted to her, image after image came up as they visited websites. The young woman was everywhere, The Word Hut, Writers’ Room, Romantic Novelists Association, Twitter, she even had her own Blog.

‘Why does she think we want to know how the romantic holiday with her gorgeous man went?’ puzzled Amelia.

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But after the family had left she felt compelled to switch the lap top on and practice her new skills. She couldn’t resist Googling Amelia. The writer was planning to attend literary festivals and book signings, perhaps it would be possible to see her in the flesh…

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A few days later the grandmother’s notebook was full, she was pretty certain she had looked up every internet mention of Amelia and written it down, she had also read the openings of all her books. She wasn’t even very good at writing, the older woman wondered how she had become so famous.

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A week later the door bell rang; Amelia DeVere was very surprised when a plain clothes policeman introduced himself. He was equally surprised to find she lived alone.

‘D.I. Benson, C.C.U. Cyber Crime Unit. We’re investigating the stalking of a young woman, she has been trolled on Twitter, someone’s hacked into her e-mails, various other online abuses… I can’t go into details. We noticed that the most on line activity connected to her internet presence was coming from this locality, we may need to take your computer away to be examined.’

 

Read more short stories in my four collections;

from 99 pence.

 

 

Sunday Salon

Two novels, a short story collection, a family reminiscence and Big Issue magazine.

Sunday Salon starts on a positive note; five stars for a very enjoyable real life read and my review published on Amazon. I was especially interested to read this book as we took our children to Norfolk on several holidays, but not on a boat!

5 out of 5 stars    The days were far from lazy, but it was the holiday of a lifetime.

23 February 2019

Verified Purchase

This truly was a getaway holiday. The family left a busy part of London for the peace and slow pace of life on the Norfolk Broads. It was also an adventure as they had not handled a boat before. Two sisters, four children and two dogs had to adapt to life in the confines of a boat. Fortunately the weather was good and the sun and fresh air come across in this warm story. There were plenty of places to visit along the way and the family enjoyed everything from the beach at Great Yarmouth to the castle at Norwich. If you have been on boating holidays or are contemplating one do read this book. Lots of us will know the experience of planning a holiday, then worrying if everyone will enjoy it, trying to please all ages etc. The two sisters weren’t sure if all the children had enjoyed themselves, but it turned out that they talked about it for weeks after and years later enjoyed reading this book and recapturing memories.

 

 Out of the four books I have finished reading recently this was the only review not rejected by Amazon. I have absolutely no idea why. The Thank you for submitting … and   few common issues to keep in mind were exactly the same for each book. You can read them below. This has happened to me only once before.

An Australian, a US and an English author, no bias on Amazon’s part then! All were Kindle books bought on Amazon.UK

 I have posted the reviews on Goodreads, but we all want our reviews to appear on Amazon…

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines

25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia

27 Jun 2012     by Margaret Lynette Sharp

 

  from Janet Gogerty on 25 December 2018

Romance guaranteed.

A gentle read to dip into. These are stories of life and love. Mostly romantic love, but also family tales. Young love and mature love feature. Whether you are young or older but remember decisions and choices, taking advice or following your heart, you will enjoy these tales. The stories of mature romance often feature reunions and second chances. Perhaps these tales could be set anywhere, but if you have lived in Australia you will know that it is a big country a long way from the rest of the world. If your romantic interest goes overseas or even over to Perth or up north, you know that is likely to be the end of your hopes, unless they return…

A few common issues to keep in mind:

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
  • Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

 

Father Figure by James J Cudney

from Janet Gogerty on 17 January 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story that explores the darkest side of human nature and the most uplifting.

This is a novel that packs in a lot of life. The author explores many aspects of human love and that uplifts it from being just another story of childhood abuse or a teenage romance. Two time periods, two very different places and two girls on the brink of adult life. But this is also a mystery thriller with some chapters that will leave your nerves in shreds! Sometimes it’s best to leave your whole life behind and create a new one, but can you ever keep the past closed? There is a rich cast of characters who will provoke every emotion. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I am looking forward to reading more.

 

Shadow With Nowhere to Fall    Mark Lamming

from Janet Gogerty on 24 February 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story of friendship as well as love.

I loved the opening pages and the unexpected event which propels us into the lives of William and his family. His life is about to fall apart and the reader may think he is going to get his comeuppance, but is he a good person at heart, can he atone for the past? This is a real rollercoaster of a story, a love story, but not a cosy tale of mature love.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Nowhere-Fall-Mark-Laming/dp/1999649060

 

Big Issue Magazine

I wrote a blog the Christmas before last and have continued to buy the magazine weekly if possible – James became a regular, I passed him on my way to writers’ group. Later on he apparently got a job and somewhere to live, replaced by Mark who is also easy to have a chat and laugh with. Homelessness has got worse, I have no answers, but every Big Issue seller is a person doing their job and they have the opportunity to engage with the organisation and get other help as well.

But this is a review and I genuinely enjoy reading the magazine.  I turn first to the back page where they feature Big Issue seller of the week. Then there are plenty of interesting articles about real life, the arts and always some good insights by the founder John Bird. A neat non glossy ( better for the environment) mag. that is handy for reading on the bus or out and about. At £2.50 no more than the price of a cup of coffee, so why not try it.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/christmas-issue/

https://www.bigissue.org.uk/

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Journalism

TERROR GRIPS QUIET CUL-DE-SAC AS BODY IS FOUND

Report by Charli Dickenson for Sunnytown Gazette

Police were called to Primrose Close, Sunnytown this morning following reports of a suspicious death.

Mr. Ron Wood was just returning from fetching his newspaper when he was shocked to see blue lights flashing. Talking to News South at lunchtime he said it was normally very quiet in their neighbourhood.

Mrs Anne Fletcher told Sunnytown Gazette that she had been out walking her four year old Labradoodle Rosie in the Sunnytown memorial recreation ground when she was startled by sirens. On returning to Primrose Close she was very worried to see an ambulance and thought it might be Mr Trotter at number six, with his heart.

‘Then I saw ambulance crew going into number nine, I don’t know her name, I think it’s her son who comes once a week. Then a police officer, in one of those yellow jackets, says do you live here Madam and I said number three, what’s happened and he replied he wasn’t at liberty to say.’

Mr. Bert Todd who lives next door to the bungalow being investigated thought it might be an incident involving plutonium and said they had never had plutonium in Primrose Close before.

Police later confirmed that a ninety nine year old woman had died in her home at Primrose Close of natural causes.

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Fewer people are buying paper newspapers these days and local newspapers are also under threat. If you have bought a local newspaper lately you may well have lost the will to live, or at the very least wished you hadn’t bothered. You could go on line and look at the same news for free, but that is even more depressing if it features comments by the public; the public being those who have nothing better to do or no one else to listen to their opinions.

The comments usually look like this, only ten times as long.

Comment deleted.

The Sunnytown Gazette does not tolerate comments that are abusive.

Another shop brake in, oviously the yusyool yobs from..

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People over eighty shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Hanging’s too good for them

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Are the days of real journalists and press photographers over?

Newspapers just have to wait for readers to send in their own photographs or report instantly from their mobile phones as incidents are actually happening.

 We are all journalists now, but to be a top journalist you have to have a blog. Bloggers are the new press, but we don’t have to worry about keeping our editor happy. Whether you present daily reports on your dog or political commentary on world events you are a journalist. Your blog is a newspaper with colour supplements, far more interesting than the heavy Sunday papers.  But we still share something with the printing presses of old, we are usually up late at night getting the next edition out.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 400 – The Yellow Door

‘So Mrs Green, take this prescription with you and leave by the second door on the left.’

Mrs. Green trudged wearily along the dreary corridor of the surgery then hesitated at the yellow door. She had never noticed it before, there was no number or name. Warily she pushed it open and was blinded by a bright light, sunlight. Shielding her eyes, she realised she was in a beautiful walled garden. The old lady had often wondered what lay at the back of the doctors’ surgery.

A child’s laughter floated towards her and a little figure appeared running along the gravel path. The child stopped then ran back to a young woman sitting on a garden seat, head back, eyes closed. The older woman approached, but seeing the blissful expression on the mother’s face she perched herself on the other end of the bench, not wishing to disturb her. The child shot off again and Mrs. Green looked around for a father or granny, concerned he might run away, but the garden was safely enclosed. She noticed other seats, other people sitting or strolling and up in an old apple tree several children were perched.

The old lady unfolded the prescription.

NHS Therapy 3,000 hours of sunshine,  to be taken daily. If you miss a dose take double the next day.

There must have been a mistake, now she would have to go back and ask about her tablets, but in the meantime she needed a rest. The scent of the flowers brought back childhood memories. A stroll along the path to admire the herbaceous borders would be very pleasant, but first she would close her eyes and feel the sun on her face. The happy chatter of the children was soothing and she was so glad she had come to the doctors’ this morning, although she could not recall which of her conditions she had come to see him about.

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Doctor Brown gazed out of the upstairs window of the staff room and turned to his colleague.

‘Who would have guessed it would work so well, of course this weather helps, but rain hasn’t put off the diabetes type 2 group. They were glad of it after all the planting they’d done.’

‘Yes, the pharmacist says she’s issuing half the prescriptions, especially for anti-depressants and blood pressure medication.’

‘…and the attention deficit disorder group are doing much better at school.’

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Friday Flash Fiction 725 – The Skies Above

I never tired of watching the skies above. Living close to the airport the sky was never empty. At night I counted the lights, four in a row coming into land, no room for error. On winter mornings as I got up early for work I was never sure which were stars and which the passenger planes circling, waiting for their turn to land.

But this morning something was different, a shape dropping gently, slowly; higher than the other aircraft, lights unfamiliar, not a helicopter. As the night sky turned to indigo the shape became a luminous jellyfish floating in the deep blue of the ocean, the world turned upside down and inside out. I was transfixed, not afraid, not afraid at that moment.

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As the sky lightened I discerned a darker shape beneath the rainbow coloured dome; still so high in the sky it was hard to tell if it was ascending or descending. But even as I blinked I saw it becoming larger. I rushed through the house to the back garden to get a better view, all thoughts of getting to the bus stop in time for work forgotten. The feeble early morning light disappeared as a giant canopy blocked the whole sky. I hardly dared allow my eyes to follow the heavy cables that hung below what I now realised was a giant parachute. The cables twisted and jerked as they were manoeuvred by the dark shape attached to them. The shape took form as it slowly descended, legs and arms flailing. The garden security light came on to reveal a human shape; I hoped it was a macabre joke, a giant inflatable doll, strung to a parachute that was about to cover the whole of my large back garden.

Saucer eyes stared at me, a gaping mouth uttered a sound that caused the ground to tremble beneath me and a hot wind, tobacco scented, blew me backwards. Before I could attempt to recover and retreat indoors there was an almighty splintering of glass as my greenhouse was crushed out of sight by a giant boot. And even as a tiny part of my brain urged me to get indoors and save my family I felt a rush of wind on my cheek and the other boot flattened my house as if it was cardboard.

I fought to escape as the canopy that had looked like gossamer high up in the sky now crashed around me with its deadly weight. As the breath was about to be squeezed out of me, my paralysed brain seemed to revive and make time stand still. I observed the hand that raised up the canopy, each digit the size of a tree trunk, a hand that could rescue or crush me. Hysterical laughter shook my body for a moment as I pictured myself telling the boss ‘Sorry I’m late, but a giant landed in my garden.’

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What was he, a giant of legend? Or perhaps an alien; we imagine them as either strange monsters or green coloured humans, but why not a distant planet populated by homo sapiens who just happen to be ten times our size? For a bloke who wasn’t a great thinker I was doing a lot of thinking, there was a strange silence that was comforting. The hand was not touching me, joined by the other hand it lifted the crumpled structure clear so I was staring into the face, but it was too vast for me to discern its expression.

It had been the titanic parachute shielding me from the noise; now the air was filled with the shrieking of sirens and the shrieking of my neighbours. How many seconds had passed since the boots destroyed my home and woke all the neighbours? The control tower must have been tracking him before I even left my front door. What would the emergency services do, call in the army? I almost felt protective of my giant, I hoped they wouldn’t harm him. As another hot wind blew me backwards and the ground vibrated I realised the deafening rumble was the word sorry. I knew then that he must have intended to land on the runway and as his hand stretched out to pick me up I hoped he didn’t mess up the next part of his plan.

Friday Flash Fiction – Reach for The Stars

 ‘Why have you waited till bedtime to announce you have to present a project on infinity tomorrow? When did the teacher tell you about it?’

‘I can’t remember, it might have been at the beginning of time, or was it Tuesday, but does time have a beginning?’

Sometimes Helen wondered if her son had been here before, he didn’t seem to be like other eight year olds, but then she hadn’t had an eight year old before, or a younger brother, though she did recall being eight and thinking all the boys in her class were stupid.

Sebastian was in the enrichment group at school and the teacher had taken the project to heart; perhaps he was running out of ideas to challenge the half dozen children, who were not allowed to be called clever or cleverer, but had extra interests. Helen’s scientific knowledge was confined to listening to programmes on Radio Four such as the Infinite Monkey Cage, but she had gathered enough to know that even scientists freaked out at the thought of infinity. They could cope with the thought of the edge of the observable universe being forty six and a half billion light years away, but not with the uncertainty of infinity. Sebastian’s Dad was night shift at the soap factory, so it was no use waiting till he got home to help them.

Instead of a bedtime story she tucked Seb in and they Googled infinity on her smart phone.

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Mr. Struthers was hoping for great things from his group, especially Sebastian, as he was hoping to get material for his blog Help, my Child’s a Genius.

Sebastian stood in front of the class.

‘The good thing about infinity is you can write endlessly about it and you can’t get it wrong as nobody understands it, including my teacher. But I do understand the universe as my mum helped me last night. Professor Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing, one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. But theory two, I’m not sure if this was mine or Mummy’s idea, if the universe is infinite it will go on forever so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the universe we can see with a big telescope is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or what is outside it and that makes us go all shivery. But the third theory which I think my mum got off the radio is supposing the universe curved round on itself, then it wouldn’t have an edge and maybe it wouldn’t be infinite.

And that would probably mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter, or crossed a small part with a chord we would be in a different time, so that means time travel could be possible. I think grown ups do time travel because they are always saying things like I don’t know where the time has gone. The other possibility is that time is an illusion and that’s how magicians do magic.

The other thing I discovered, though Mr. Strutthers didn’t ask us to do this, there’s lots of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, I would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we remove the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, though I’m not sure what a thimble is. But it means the rest of the universe is not that big after all, it just has lots of space in it.’

‘Well done Sebastian’ said Mr. Strutthers ‘and you said it all off by heart. Have you written it down to hand in?’

‘Not on paper, but it is written on the blog Mummy and I just started.’

 

Into Infinity

Writing about infinity presents endless possibilities. Most of my scientific understanding comes from listening to BBC Radio Four while doing the housework or cooking. The Infinite Monkey Cage is a programme combining comedy and science which I can understand, then there was the serialisation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s last book Brief Answers to Big Questions; if I didn’t take that all in I blame it on domestic interruptions or a noisy washing machine.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w

Here is my handy guide to the universe. I think Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing; one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. I prefer my theory that if the universe is infinite it will go on forever, so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or work out how much more of it there is. Apparently even clever scientists, who can cope with the thought of billions of light years, still find infinity a bit creepy. They are no different to young children ( or was that just me? ) who ask ‘Who made the universe?’

‘God’ the parent replies and then they ask

‘But who made God’ or ‘What’s outside the universe?’

Another theory is that the universe could curve round on itself, making it both finite and infinite. Could that mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter or a chord we would be in a different time, thus making time travel possible? But is time merely an illusion? If so, time travel is still on the cards…

Talking of space, there is a lot of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, a person would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we removed the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, so perhaps the universe is not so big after all.

Whatever the truth, authors who enjoy writing about time travel are never going to concede that time travel is impossible. Science fiction writers in general vary from those who are scientists to those who make it all up and who can prove them wrong if they set it in the future; unless a book reviewer travels to the future to check…

If you want to stretch your mind and go somewhere different why not dip into Someone Somewhere.

 

Flash Fiction Friday – One Thousand

The Last Job

It was Oliver Twister’s last job. His family, those who were still speaking to him, thought he was going straight. Well robbing a betting shop was not theft, the punters had already given their money away.  His family and the probation officer thought he was clean and he was more or less, given that he could no longer afford to pay the drug dealers. Money was short; hence his latest plan. Nobody would stop him, who would risk their life to save the bookie’s money? Not that they would be risking their lives, but if they believed they were about to be shot or gassed they would flee the shop.

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It was Bill’s last visit to the betting shop, that’s what he had vowed to himself. He was supposed to ring his ‘Gamblers’ Anonymous Buddy’ if he got the urge. But this was not gambling, it was a certainty; he had followed the horse since she was a filly and everything was in her favour for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot. The jockey had notched up several wins with her, the wet weather made for the soft track that she loved and Ascot was her ‘lucky’ course. When Bill read in Racing Times that the favourite was out of the race with a tendon injury, he knew he must place one more bet.

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It was Samuel’s first visit to ‘The Bookies’. He had won ten pounds when he bought himself a lottery ticket for his eighteenth birthday, that in itself had been an act of rebellion against his Exclusive Brethren parents. A bloke at work assured him this was a good omen and gave him an excellent tip for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot; there was no reason why his parents or the elders of the church should find out. The only problem that he could foresee was that he had not a clue how to place a bet. When he walked into the shop trying to look casual, the first person he saw behind the counter was Lara, the beautiful girl he had worshipped from afar when she was in upper sixth and he was in fifth year.

‘Is it young Sam? I bet you don’t recognise me,’ she trilled ‘don’t tell the elders you’ve seen me working here, my aunty goes to your church. I need a part time job, my student loan isn’t enough.’ She helped him place the bet. ‘Just in time, you can watch it live on the telly in five minutes.’

There was only one other customer in, who looked like a regular, but their cosy chat was suddenly interrupted.

The door burst open and a gun entered, followed by an outstretched arm belonging to a large man wearing a contraption on his face that looked like a gas mask. They could not hear properly what he said, but they got the general idea when he waved his gun at Lara and Samuel. As Lara screamed, another primeval cry came from Bill the regular punter. He launched himself at the masked man, catching him off balance, but it was not enough. For a split second Samuel was paralysed with fear, but he focused on the dangerously waving arm and pistol.

Somehow the robber was face down on the floor. The older punter was sitting on him and Samuel had the arm pinned to the floor.

‘Don’t touch the gun,’ said Bill ‘it might go off.’

Samuel knelt on the robber’s wrist to make sure the weapon stayed at floor level, pointing away from them. A muffled cry came from the robber.

‘Shall I press the alarm’ said Lara, rather belatedly.

‘Not yet love, the race starts in two minutes.’ Bill pressed down heavily on the robber’s shoulders. ‘Nobody robs our bookies, no one threatens our Lara.’ He felt like a cowboy.

A faint gurgle was the only reply.

It seemed a long wait till the race started, but in seconds it was over. Bill cheered, while a confused Samuel asked which horse had won. Lara pressed the button.

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The police were quick to arrive and Lara was thrilled to be surrounded by hunky officers, who seemed more interested in her welfare than the prisoner.

‘I pressed the alarm button straight away’ she said.

‘Well done.’ They turned to the men on the floor. ‘Okay chaps, don’t move till we’ve got the handcuffs on.’

The prisoner did not try to resist; when Bill and Samuel struggled to their feet the prisoner did not move at all. The officers turned him over and with difficulty removed the fake gas mask.

‘Bloody hell.’

Suddenly all hell did break loose, one officer was urgently calling on his radio for an ambulance, while the others whipped bits and pieces out of their first aid pouches. Something was put on the robber’s blue face and a policeman started blowing, while another pressed on his chest.

Just as Lara kissed Sam’s cheek to thank him for saving her life, he looked down at the body and realised the full implications. He fainted.

Bill raised his feet while Lara patted his cheek.

The paramedics shook their heads, but soon had the man on a stretcher with an oxygen mask where the gas mask had recently been.

As the sirens receded into the distance the remaining officers chatted for a few moments in a surprisingly light hearted manner. Bill thought he heard one say ‘Oliver Twister’s finally got his come-uppance then, he won’t be missed.’

They put on more serious expressions as they turned to the two men.

‘We have to arrest you for murder of course, but it seems like a clear cut case of self defence, the CCTV will prove you saved the young lady’s life. You don’t need to worry about being charged with murder.’

‘CCTV,’ groaned Bill ‘I’m not worried about the murder charge… my wife will kill me when she finds out where I’ve been.’

‘We won’t be on the news will we?’ said Samuel ‘How am I going to explain this to my parents and the elders?’

‘At least you both won some money’ said Lara sweetly.