Archive for May, 2011

On Thursday, 330Words was delighted to be involved as judge and organiser in the Flash Mob Writing Competition for Chorlton Arts Festival. The evening, which saw 12 shortlisted writers (out of 80-odd) read out their words to the public, went exceptionally brilliantly and we were delighted to also hear readings from Nick Perring as well as the judges at the event.

Our thanks must go to the following people for their contribution to the evening (links are to Twitter and websites):

The short story finalists: Sarah Schofield, Craig Pay, Sandra Jensen, Nick Garrard, Socrates Adams, Lynsey May, Sarah Hilary, Matthew Hull, Sal Page, Nicola West, Michael D Conley, Hannah Lynn.

The artists who created the three winning illustrations: Laurie Pink, Lottie Pencheon, Billy Mather.

For taking a lot of photos: John Andrew Hutchinson.

Everyone else: Seabrook, Dulcimer, Chorlton FM, anyone who spoke about the event on Twitter. And everyone who entered.

Words: 147

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John Cave was sat at his desk when the telephone rang. It was early morning and he was finalising his lessons for the week ahead. He looked forward to discussing the light of long dead stars and feeding off the energy of his young students.

His students were his focus now, and one student in particular. Catherine. Beautiful, shining, new Catherine.

Beside him, and despite the hour, the telephone continued to sound. He didn’t answer. He was too preoccupied with the speed at which he was managing his latest relationship. He looked forward to going beyond the theory once tomorrow’s debate finished and all but one of those bright young things had filtered out of the classroom.

He let the telephone ring.

He knew who was calling and had no intention of answering. He’d not seen her for days. Eight years of intimacy had run its course and the sooner she accepted that the better. He’d handled the breakup well, he thought, severing it once the flow of emails to Catherine became constant and explicit; with physicality all but assured.

No, the caller, his ex, his one time binary, she would get no more answers from him. He’d explained that their relationship was like that of a dead star. When I look at you, he explained to her that last morning in bed, all I am really seeing is the past. You can’t possibly catch me up.

John Cave sighed, a man caught in his own reflections. Perhaps, he thought, she feels a heartbeat is faster than the speed of light.

He liked the sound of that.

Opening an email he wrote: C, let’s make today the day our heartbeats out run the speed of light, JC x.

The last echo of the telephone faded and John Cave sent the email to his latest infatuation, not realising that as fast as the sun may rise, shadows spread even faster.

Words: 320

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Karaoke Machine – £10

I send him out to buy the food for Sunday lunch and he comes back with a karaoke machine. It was only £10 he says. A bargain he says. It was £10 because it only plays cassettes. I’ll dig out my old cassingles he says. A real bargain he says. Then he disappears up the loft. I can hear him moving boxes; sifting through his clutter while I try to make Sunday lunch for his mother with some dried pasta and the limp remnants of the salad drawer.

He emerges covered in dust and with wisps of fibreglass clinging to his donkey jacket. The large box he is carrying clunks and clicks as the tapes in it shuffle about. I open the box and take two off the top. The Key, The Secret by Urban Cookie Collective and Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) by Rozalla. Christ I say. Haven’t you got anything that isn’t shit? I say. He just shrugs and grins like a constipated bonobo. Because I’m not sure your mum is a big fan of 90’s dance music I say.

His mother practically chokes on my pasta bake. I’d never have thought of using lettuce as a vegetable she says. She flicks through a copy of Closer as she eats. I can’t stay long she says. Lewis is on at eight she says. She waits for me to offer to put the TV on. I’ll drop dead first. I pour myself a large glass of wine. Well, this is nice she says. The karaoke machine sits untouched in the corner of the room, its price tag still hanging from a piece of string tied to the inside of the tape mechanism.

Words: 284

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The boy looks at the bear, all hard ice and sharp edges, dripping frost and evaporating slowly in the spring thaw. He thought it would be bigger somehow, as big as a car and with paws the size of his head.

The bear looks at the boy and sees his first feed after the long hibernation. It can smell the boy’s warm blood. Any day now and the ice will have melted and it will be time to leave his winter home.

The boy rubs his hand across the smooth, chiselled ice for as long as he can bear the cold. He looks at his hand and can feel the cold inside his fingers but he can’t feel his fingers due to the numbness. He thinks about licking the bear, wonders what it tastes like.

The bear licks his lips. He can smell the spring, the warmth and the end of his prolonged slumber. His first meal is close; he can hear it through the ice. He’ll have to be patient and still so as not to spook his quarry. He’s an apex predator, top of the food chain, he’ll eat what he goddamn likes.

In his school uniform and scuffed shoes, the boy is invisible in the natural surroundings of the concrete and litter. The bear exudes majesty in his white coat. In his natural surroundings he’d be camouflaged from everyone but here his fleece is a magnet for the curious.

As the ice melts away, the bear’s majestic form is revealed through a slow striptease of drips. The exposed skeleton shows the power in his paws and the violence in his jaw. The skeletal bear has a boy-sized hunger in his stomach but no energy to move. This will be his last spring.

Now the ice has melted, the bear’s novelty has worn off and the crowds have gone. His glory spent, he is retired to the museum to be dusted by cleaners and prodded by school children.

Words: 330

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