Thursday 30 August 2012


                                                                      Jessica Cooke

Black coffee, no sugar

She stood before me daily, smiling and laughing as she twirled round and round allowing me to inspect every inch of her body without any self doubt or fear of my callousness. Perfection. It radiated from her. Her long hair blacker than the stroke of midnight, her once snow white skin tinted brown where the sun had luckily kissed her. Emerald eyes sparkled as she looked at me lovingly, devotedly. I was completely besotted with her. This was my routine day in, day out.  

       Until one day she didn’t show. I waited, all the while desperately hoping she would appear and grace me with her beauty once more. The sun set on me long before I gave up hope.  I waited for hours, days, until eventually a week went by, and my longing had tripled, when she finally stepped into my life once more ...but there was something different about her; the glow had dissipated. She stood before me and I stared in anguish.

       Her once vibrant green eyes, now embedded within dark circles, no longer sparkled but were heavy with sadness and her skin, tightly stretched across her bones, was almost translucent. All that had made her once so captivating seemed to have drained from her. I could see all the youthful energy had been taken, leaving her hollow. Her fragile fingers trembled as she unbuttoned her blouse and let it drop to the ground; she turned to reveal her once beautifully smooth back now ridden with purple clusters of large, angry boils. With each movement her hard skin cracked allowing thick, dark blood to ooze from the wound.

       As each day passed, she stood before me and showed me the progression of her illness. I watched, forever silent, as the sores took over the right side of her body, spreading across her stomach, over her chest and down her leg. Although her eyes brimmed with dread she managed to hold back her tears until, at long last, it crawled up her neck, resting on her cheek. I watched her as she decayed, forever helpless to her plight.  

       Eventually she deteriorated so terribly that I couldn’t bear to look any longer and fortunately it was then when she disappeared forever. The last I saw of her was a rogue hand that slipped from the gurney, a goodbye, as she was rolled out of my life forever. I didn’t expect her parents to come to me, I didn’t know what to do, I just stood and looked at them as they cradled one another and asked me over and over; ‘Why?’

       In the end her parents left and I was alone. Alone with the swirling thoughts of my lost love, of her beauty and grace, how it always radiated from her... but every so often the raw memory of her blistering body crept into my mind and all I could do was hope I would forget her. After a while everything grew grey with dust and resentment. I see no longer and instead I wait, for what feels like an eternity, for someone else to give my life meaning again.

Jessica Cooke is an aspiring writer based in Salford. She has longed to be an author since childhood and loves to read and write short and flash fiction most of all. She was also the winner of the the Flash-Lit Fiction 2011 online competition.


Thursday 9 August 2012



Roger Noons

a large whisky, without water
James awoke with a start. He was bathed in sweat, although the duvet had slipped to the floor. He realized his heart was thumping, he sensed the high level of adrenaline in his blood and he had a feeling of dread. Something awful must have happened. As he normalized his breathing by slowly filling and emptying the whole of his lungs, he looked about him. Everything seemed familiar, he was in his own bed, in his own bedroom, it was just getting light and his watch said 07.05.
    As he calmed, he realized that what he had seen must have been in a dream. He remembered being in his car which was slewed across the highway. There was shouting and alarms were sounding, and in his mirror he saw blood running down his neck. Rapping on the glass alerted him to the face of a man who was shouting through the window. He thought he heard the words ‘Hang on mate, we’ll get you out.’ The remaining events faded. He was perplexed, as he seldom had dreams and on the odd occasion when he reckoned they had occurred, he could never recall even the tiniest part of the content. He concentrated but couldn’t remember anything else. His body gradually reverted to normality.
    On his way to the bathroom, he looked out of the window and saw that his Audi was parked in its usual place. There was no sign of any damage to the bodywork and it was spotless, as only last evening, on returning from the office, he had driven it through the Auto wash, after he had filled up with petrol. He put it out of his mind and concentrated on his shower.
    Whilst waiting for his bread to toast, he again thought about what he had endured. The clothes that he had worn yesterday were perfectly alright, hanging neatly in his wardrobe. The sitting room was exactly as he expected, having spent last evening at home watching television. He was baffled. As he lifted his coffee cup it occurred to him that if the content of the dream had not taken place, it might be something that was due to happen in the future. That was even more worrying. How could he prevent a car accident other than to not drive? His mind reviewed his diary for the day, and he calculated that he could travel to work on the bus, but tomorrow he would need his car to visit customers.
 On that Tuesday, he did use the bus and the following day he took his car. He drove extra carefully all day and nothing happened. He told his boss about the dream and the effect it had on him.
    ‘I shouldn’t worry James. It’s probably something you saw on TV, or in a film. Perhaps one of your customers mentioned something to you. Forget it; these things happen all the time. I don’t think there’s such a thing as premonition.’
Time passed and James did forget the incident, largely because he attended a sales fair in Berlin, and returned having received orders for goods to be supplied to customers in Hungary, Poland and Romania, which he expected would nett his firm over three million pounds. Not only was his boss over the moon, but the Chairman sent for him to offer personal congratulations and confirmation of a pay rise, extra bonus, and a new company car. In fact he could choose whatever model he desired, up to the cost to the company of £50,000.
    It was whilst looking through the BMW brochures and reading about the various cars, their specifications and performance, that he remembered his dream. He laughed to himself, shaking his head and wondering why he had been so concerned. The safety aspects of the latest models were incredible and it was improbable, according to the blurb, that in the unlikely event of a driver suffering an accident, he would incur an injury. Before he went to bed, he earmarked the model he would order, and chose the colour options of either black or silver.
 ‘Mr. Hancock?’
    ‘Yes,’ answered James, only half concentrating on the voice at the other end of the telephone.
    ‘It’s Corbett’s here sir, your BMW has arrived.’
    ‘Oh, good.’ He was now fully attentive.
    ‘It will be ready for you to collect anytime after two pm tomorrow.’
    ‘Right, thanks, the firm’s keeping mine for another employee, so I’ll get someone to drop me off around four, if that’s OK?’
    ‘That will be fine sir; we’ll look forward to seeing you then.’
    James was not a car enthusiast; he often repeated that it was a box, to get him from A to B. The thought of his new vehicle did however cause a shiver of excitement, as he checked his diary for the following day. At the very least, his customers would be impressed when he drove onto their car parks.
 ‘Alan, as you’re having my Audi, would you like to take me to Corbett’s tomorrow afternoon, so I can pick up my new car?’
    ‘Of course James, what time should we leave?’
    ‘About three, if that’s OK?’
    ‘No probs. mate, I’ll sort it.’
As they traveled to the car dealer, James listened, as Alan excitedly described how his girlfriend of nearly six months, was looking forward to being chauffeured around in an Audi.
    ‘She thinks I’ve really made it, although it’s three years old. How soft is the leather on the back seat James?’ he laughed.
    ‘I’m afraid I don’t know, I obviously don’t get the opportunities that you do.’
    All James needed to do was insert the odd yes, or no, as his young colleague kept up his commentary. He heaved a sigh of relief when they arrived at Corbett’s. 
It took over an hour for the formalities to be completed at the dealership, as although James believed he was sufficiently experienced in the operation of modern cars, the Sales Manager insisted on the full spiel. I suppose that’s a must when you spend so much money with them, James thought.
    It was therefore almost six o’ clock when James drove away his new, black hatchback. Within a mile, he was on an A road, and as he relaxed after selecting fifth gear, he appreciated just how powerful his new car was, so he eased back with his right foot. He thought that before he set off, he should have switched on the radio, as it contained a satellite receiving facility that automatically advised him of the weather conditions and any upcoming road hazards.
    He decided not to attempt the operation while he was motoring along, so was unprepared when he turned a corner and saw a car on its roof in a field on his left, and two vehicles wedged against the central reservation barrier. He switched on his hazard lights and braked so that he could park on the nearside of the highway. As he climbed out, he heard emergency alarms in the distance.
    A glance to his left indicated that the driver of the Mondeo had escaped from his upside down silver saloon and was standing scratching his head, no doubt wondering how he had got there. After checking behind him and registering a slowing Land Rover, James skipped across to the central reservation, where he identified the car with the crushed front. He peered through the shattered side window and saw Alan’s head at a strange angle, resting on the steering wheel. There was blood running from a gash on his forehead.
    As the ambulance drew up alongside him, James was about to shout, ‘Hang on mate, we’ll get you out’, when he remembered Alan’s last words. ‘Actually James, now I’ve got your motor, I might dump Lucy, I reckon I can get somebody better.’
Submission from Roger Noons.
 I began writing fiction in 2006, and have become addicted. I try to write at least a little every day. In the last two years I have begun writing poems, and some of my output is non fiction. I hope soon to publish a slim volume of 26 short stories, and by the end of the year, a novella.


Friday 3 August 2012


 Roger Noons
a large glass of a Provencal Rosé 

Looking back, I still cannot believe it, although initially, it felt like a regular Wednesday. The alarm sounded at seven thirty, my wife got up and complained that she had to do everything, then she went downstairs and turned on the radio in the kitchen. I showered, shaved and dressed smartly, as the night before, I had checked, and saw that I had an appointment at eleven am.
    At two minutes to eleven, I arrived outside the large Edwardian house on the edge of town, in an avenue near to the cemetery. Number twenty appeared much like the others in the street, having been constructed prior to the days of speculative building using uniform designs, and having been well maintained. I gathered my equipment and presented myself at the front door.
    After ringing the bell four times, the door opened, and I found myself staring up into the eyes of a well-built lady of my height, in fact she could have been over six feet. ‘Yes?’
    ‘Good morning, Madam, I’m from Moving Studios, I’ve been commissioned to photograph, Victor?’
    She looked me up and down and sniffed, her head on one side. ‘I’m afraid he’s not quite ready, but you can come in and wait.’ She turned, but over her shoulder, added, ‘please wipe your feet, and be careful with all that equipment; you may scrape the furnishings.’
    I followed her along an ill-lit hallway, until she stopped and opening a door, said, ‘you can wait in here. I have converted the drawing room into the studio in which I would like Victor’s portrait to be created.’ Although she said no more, she stared at me as if awaiting a reply.
    I took the opportunity to appraise the lady. She was clad in a kaftan, which brushed the floor and rose to her throat. It was a hectic pattern of reds, orange and bright yellow. Her face was entirely white and her hair, also orange, looked like she had knitted it herself, despite having lost the pattern. As I took in these final details, she began to scratch her backside.
    Assuming I was required to reply, I said ‘Thank you, if you would like to tell me when Victor is ready.’
    She nodded once, as if that concluded our discussion, and left the room, carefully closing the door, lest I assume, that I should attempt to follow. I looked around what I assumed was an office cum library, as three walls were covered by book shelves which had few gaps. I wondered if Victor was some sort of academic, possibly a writer, often working from home.
    When she had not returned within ten minutes, I began to unpack my gear. Taking a camera body from my bag, I fitted an appropriate medium telephoto lens, checked the battery and settings, and was screwing it onto my tripod when the door opened and I was amazed to see a carbon copy of the woman who had let me into the house, except her hair was jet black, and her garment was dominated by blues and purples.
    She smiled. ‘We’re ready for you now, if you’d like to follow me.’ She looked at the bag of lights and stands, which I had carried into the room. ‘Those won’t be necessary,’ she pointed, ‘Hannah has decided that Victor should be recorded using only natural light.’
    ‘OK,’ I said and holding the tripod out in front of me added, ‘kindly lead on.’
    The room which we entered, was entirely black, the floor and ceiling had a matt finish and the walls, door and window frames, had been brushed with gloss paint. There was only one item of furniture, which was placed near the large, bay window, which began a mere six inches above the floor. Between me and the chaise longue, I was pleased to see a free-standing screen of white satin, which would serve as a reflector.
    When I rounded the screen, Hannah announced, ‘this is Victor.’
    Sitting on the purple, brocade-covered bench was an overweight, white cat, I assumed a Persian. He obviously shared the women’s hairdresser, as well as their publicist. He was the ugliest feline I had ever seen, and sneered at me as I placed my tripod opposite his mean face.
    ‘Isn’t he handsome,’ Hannah declared, ‘I hope you will be able to do him justice.’
    I think I must have done, as the account was settled within forty eight hours of the framed photograph being delivered, to 20 Victoria Avenue.

BIO - Roger Noons began writing in 2006, when he completed a screenplay, for a friend who is an amateur film maker. After the film was made, he wrote further scripts, then began short stories and poems. He occasionally produces non fiction, particularly memoirs from his long career in Environmental Health.