Archive for October, 2010

The government slashed and burned with such ferocity, no-one listened to the screams of the poor. On November 14th, the economy collapsed with a thunderous roar: every major company went bust.

They tried to riot, the populous in their sackcloth togs, throwing their tin begging bowls with impotent anger. But the powers had ring-fenced the army so batons broke ribs and the hungry puked blood, sodden in warm red defeat.

In the murky autumn evenings, the tooth fairies still plied their trade, silent except for fingernails scrabbling on crumbling roof tiles. They’d scuttle through houses, sniffing for teeth under pillowed heads, trying not to jangle their coin bags.

The people would reach under their pillow on waking, feel the cold coin then weep with bitterness and delight. The pound or two they got for their tooth was extra gruel from a street vendor or a part-traded blow job from a needy neighbour.

Then came desperation. The poor would slaver through bloody mouths, having caved in their teeth with a brick, waiting for a night-time windfall. The white sprites flew in celebratory circles while their fairy dust clogged chimneys and gave thin boys asthma.

Some people revolted at the fairies’ power: “They don’t even give wishes.” The protesters created a black-market supply of cheap supermarket toothpaste. “Brush twice a day,” they said. And they slowly starved the fairies of income.

One by one, the fairies would drop from the sky, toothless and weak, exhausted from carrying an unwanted haul of coins, until there were millions of broken bodies littering the pavements.

A ravenous public tore off wings and feasted on the creatures’ bellies, devouring an endless supply of fairy limbs. The fairy dust poured from split guts into their mouths like champagne: it was sweet to the taste and fizzly on the tongue.

The dust got between teeth, formed tiny wells of sugary bacteria on gums. No-one noticed. They slept deeply, clutching their toothpaste. They dreamed of the future.

Words: 328

Read more of Fat Roland’s work on his blog.

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He had been first horrified, then furious, when his fifteen year old son, asked for a David Bowie CD for Christmas. Storming into the front room he had all but shouted at his wife “I remember that David Bowie from when I were Adam’s age. Poncing around on Top of the Pops all purple glitter and silver eye make-up. I’m not having it. I’m not having any son of mine dress like a bloody fairy.”

She looked at him with a mixture of amusement and mild anger. “Oh come off it. You are being ridiculous. He wants a CD not a metallic jumpsuit. That boy is his own person. Not that it would matter anyway but I’m pretty sure Adam only wants the bloody thing because Mary O’Brien likes David Bowie. He’s always been soft on her. Let kids be kids. It is only music. ”

“No. I’m not risking it. Kids that age are too easily influenced. You say they just like the music but it’s more than that. They start copying stuff. I’ll have a word with him. See if I can’t persuade him to have a Bryan Adams record instead.”

Adam was insistent that all he wanted was a Bowie CD though so Charlie decided to change tactics; to play a smarter game. He bought Adam, David Bowie: The Best of the Early Years. A collection of the songs that Bowie recorded for the Pye and Decca labels in the late Nineteen Sixties. Well before the glam, the cocaine, the mascara, and the androgyny.

His great plan backfired. At first his son just started dressing like Anthony Newley, adopting the eccentric mannerisms of the music hall, but over time it got worse. The pipe on the mantelpiece, the fishing rod and the red wellies in the hall, the long white beard, the bright red cheeks. And each night, accompanying the muffled beats that seeped through the floor-boards and into the front room, that incessant, high-pitched, jolly laughter.

Words: 329

Read more of Ben’s work at Who the Fudge is Benjamin Judge?.

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Manchester Blog Awards winner

330 Words was delighted to have won Best New Blog at the Manchester Blog Awards last week.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us and congratulations to the evening’s other winners.

A special thanks goes to Clare, Ben and Dave who were kind enough to read their 330 entries on stage during the evening. You can read more about their experiences of that here.

Words: 62

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Deano sat on the kerb, face in his hands, bawling. I’d told him he was too young to come with us, but he wouldn’t listen.

Kelvin stared menacingly at me, one of Deano’s grubby trainers in each hand.

“You are such a wuss,” he declared.

“Am not. I just don’t wanna do it.”

Deano’s mum would kill him. Ever since his dad went, she’d been a bit loopy. I’d seen her lay into him before and it had scared the shit out of me.

Kelvin scowled and spat on the ground. “Fine. You’re next, pea-brain.”

“You’re the pea-brain…”

Kelvin swung round and punched me hard in the stomach. I didn’t expect it, and the ferocity of the blow shocked me. Winded and shaken, it was all I could do to lie on the pavement and try to catch my breath.

Marcus laughed at this point: a cold, mocking snigger. He gripped my ankles and started to pull off my trainers. I writhed as hard as I could: they were only a couple of weeks old and I loved them. DC’s. Black with a gold emblem near the heel. More than mum could really afford; but I’d begged her. They weren’t laced up of course, so they came off all too easily, despite my attempts to wriggle away.

Kelvin had already tied Deano’s shoelaces together and was launching the coupled trainers high into the air, time and again. Eventually he succeeded. They dangled cheerfully from the overhead wire, still swinging from the momentum of being thrown. My DC’s soon followed, snagged on Marcus’s
second attempt.

Deano, still crying, had run off. He didn’t make it all the way home. Blinded by tears and awkward in his grimy socks, he stumbled near a kerb and lurched into a Transit van. Those swaying trainers reminded him of the day he’d found his dad two years ago, I just knew it.

I’m glad I wasn’t in anyone else’s shoes that day.

Words: 326

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I’d never seriously considered time much until today.

Not in any real sense.

Only in the way we all do.

What time is it? What time shall we meet? I’m late. I’m early. I’m on time.

All convenient ways to describe our immediate relationship to the time in which we live.

But they don’t explain time itself.

They don’t remotely begin to explain the complexity and the enormity of those three seemingly simple words – past, present, future.

Of course, until today I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t considered it.

That’s the thing with unknowns. Until you know them, you can’t possibly realise they’re unknown.

And once you know them, they can never again become unknown.

That’s the thing with time too. Once you realise the future is the present, it quickly becomes the past.

What was the future is replaced with another future. Something that, until this present, could never have been the future.

And that future in turn becomes the present. Quickly to become the past.

And on it goes. Relentlessly.

It was the offer of their time machine that sparked my thoughts.

An opportunity to break the shackles of time. To correct past mistakes. To prepare for future surprises.

But when they explained to me I could re-visit the past but that I couldn’t change it, I realised the only way I could shape my present – and therefore my future – was with the knowledge I already had.

I already knew the only past I could ever know. What I knew could never become unknown.

And when they explained to me that any future I visited would be created by my act of visiting it, I realised it was a future but not my future.

What I wanted to know could never be known. The only future I could know was as a result of my present.

I politely declined their offer. They didn’t seem at all surprised. Somehow, I suspect they already knew I would.

Words: 328

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The artist and the scientist held hands at the edge of the room.

The artist, the left side, tilted back his head, soaking in the whole. The installation reflected in his eyes as he contemplated the existence of such a project. He was overwhelmed; this was art.

The scientist, the right side, spent time to examine each individual bulb. She measured the flashes and, to the best of her considerable ability, estimated the age and gender of each pulse. She felt her retinas expand and contract with each passing second and she was overwhelmed. This was science.

In the restaurant, the scientist ordered a toasted sandwich. The artist, spaghetti bolognese.

He twirled the chaos carelessly around his fork, splashing the silk tablecloth with lumpy red specks. She, wielding a scalpel, cut her meal into identical blocks, delicately placing each square into her mouth.

Over dinner, she spoke in considered consonants, analysing each string of thought before voicing her conclusions. The artist spoke in excited broad strokes, barely chewing his food between each new barrage of uneven sentences. There was an art to their relationship.

The artist hurried upstairs as soon as they returned home. The scientist smiled from the kitchen, listening to him rummage in the chaos for a fresh canvas.

Two measured spoons of coffee, 200ml of water and 20ml of skimmed milk later, she retired to the living room and continued to read through the periodical she had started at 10am that morning.

It was midnight before the scientist ventured upstairs. The artist was asleep, slumped on an old wooden dining chair in the corner of the room.

Smiling, she gently prised the brush from his multi-coloured fingers. The artist stirred but did not wake.

After placing the stalk into a bowl of muddy, brown water (red mixed with blue mixed with green), the scientist stood back to admire the artist’s endeavours.

She smiled, before lightly tracing Fibonacci’s spiral across the painting. There was a science to everything.

Words: 330

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When God was bored He usually took it out on Job. That poor bastard got it in the neck a lot. One minute he was swimming in his own private pool and holding court on his own daytime TV show, the next he was face down in his own piss, wondering where his next meal would come from.

After the first ten or twelve times, and the first ten or twelve wives, Job became numb about the whole thing. It no longer rocked his faith like it used to; in fact it kind of reminded him God was just around the corner and coming home pissed, truth be told. Although he never quite knew when it was coming, Job became a dab hand at making the best of it.

This one time, the latest time, Job was sleeping. God leant over him and brushed a moonbeam from his face. Sorry son, He whispered, but the bastard Devil put me up to it. This time it could get rough.

Normally it went down that Job only woke after the fact, a face full of bruises, his fortune gone and a summons stuck to the side of his face. This time, however, something woke him up. Something told him it was different. Maybe it was the beard.

The sight of Him was beautiful and terrifying, like being trapped in the path of a tsunami but rich enough to survive. And Job was a survivor. He knew he’d recoup whatever he lost.

But this time was different. This time he was awake after so long.

God pulled out a rag, made from clouds or Angel shit or something, and wiped it across his sweating face. Tomorrow’s rain would scorch the earth.

Job, son.

Said God.

You know that I love you.

Then, His breath volcanic, God took everything.

Words: 304

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When I heard the war was over I barely dared to breathe in case I missed hearing you come home. I heard your whistle in the evensong of birds, your key turning in the crackle of the fire.

Each morning I walked through the fields to the shore, certain that I’d meet you coming back. I believed in you even when the other wives said prayers for their husbands and began to move on.

That summer the crows came, a cackling army scattering blue black feathers across the paths. At night their cracked talons grasped the gutters as they watched the darkness creep across fields heavy with

Then, one by one, the men came home. Bags clinking with foreign treasures, faces dark with memories and grime. They sat in clusters, cackling and preening over their escapades until the sun went down and the beer turned them mean. Then they sat brooding silently or lashed out with sharp tongues.

Months passed. You didn’t come and I lost the harvest. Every night I sat and looked out over the shorn fields until my eyes made you up from tree branches and shadows. I lit candles in every window so you could find your way home in the dark.

They said I was lucky, the bewildered wives who hid their new bruises beneath their dresses. They spoke of broken men weeping like children, of gentle husbands who had grown a taste for holding them down on the
bed. At first I hated them, their soft, trembling, treacherous mouths, their ungrateful tears, their bodies touched by someone else’s hands.

But it’s been almost a year now and I’m starting to be afraid. The crows gather on the roof and beat against the windows when I light the candles for you. The men fall silent as I walk down to the shore, their gleaming eyes tracing the outline of my body under my robe.

Wherever you are, I need you to come home.

Words: 329

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Penniless, shamed, she wraps herself in bubbles, held tightly in place with cheap tape, to replace the lycra that they had stripped from her when her grip on Dalos failed. Shamed, she scales buildings with deep envy, like they, the men, had rights to make such tall heights from glass and steel, while she is punished for a mistake that killed her heart quicker than it killed her partner, but with no less crushing force.

A celeb with failure on their shoulders is worse than life in the United Scabs of America, so the bubble wraps around her head as well and while many people glance, few recognise. In the early daze she strolled the Mancunian coast, dancing through the flotsam scum and her weight bounced up to a level that her belly betrayed.

So she trained, hard, harder still, until she was better than she had ever been and now she scales buildings in minutes, leaps impossible lengths, riding the city smogs, to land with grace upon a pinhead or better.

But superheroes had their day and the chancers, the cheap imitations, the rejuvenists don’t get a look in, don’t get a say. She can’t even invent a name for herself and Ljubreah doesn’t slip off the tongue anymore.

So down it will come, with a bolt of stolen electric, sucked from the underground generators, which she now holds aloft like the morning sun to grab the Headlines and the Broadsheets and the Roundheads and Cavaliers, before she thrusts it south to strike at the centre. She leaps, flips, an impossible length, and lands with grace, upon a shorn lamppost, standing proud in her wraps afore the cameras, striking a pose that Dalos fell in love with.

She hates tall buildings, hates their masculinity and their pride. She hates the city, hates its swords and its hoardes of zombies. Hates the coastline of Manchester, never clean, never pleasant.

And she’s not too fond on heights anymore.

Words: 328

Follow David on Twitter or read his blog here.

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We’re delighted to have been nominated for two awards in the Manchester Blog Awards: Best New Blog and Best Writing For A Blog.

If you’ve liked the stories on the blog, please feel free to vote for us at We’ll buy you cupcakes.*

And good luck to everyone nominated too.



*Offer not redeemable at this time.

Words: 50

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