I was about twelve-years-old when my brother, James, came home from the supermarket carrying an enormous cardboard box and announced that he was going to live in it. He had been behaving strangely for a while. My mum said it was a phase he was going through and she didn't like to antagonise him too much; he was prone to emotional outbursts. Nevertheless I think she worried when he took that box up to his bedroom and climbed inside.
It was a big enough box. It must have once housed a lawn-chair or a widescreen TV. My brother would sit in it with his legs crossed or lie on his side with his knees brought up to his chest and pull the lid flaps down so that nobody could see him.
The first night, when my mum called us for dinner, he made no answer so she sent me up to get him. I remember sneaking up to the box, which he'd placed at the foot of his bed, but not daring to open the flaps and look inside. I put my face close to it and whispered that mum said our tea was ready.
He told me to bring it up. Mum refused of course, I think she considered starving him out, but as the evening wore on she relented and from then he took all his meals in this new home. He'd make me put his food outside the box and when he'd finished he'd leave the empty plate and mug for me to pick up, though I never once saw him do this.
Sometimes I'd set his plate down then make a big show of leaving: stomping my feet and slamming the bedroom door - but I'd tip-toe back and wait for him to pop out, like a Jack-in-the-box. He must have known I was there because he would never emerge until I'd grown bored and left, even if this meant letting his dinner get cold.
He managed to keep this up for three days before my mum started going into his room and trying to persuade him to come out. Like me, she never dared to open the box flaps. Instead, she would sit on the edge of the bed and talk to him in a quiet voice.
At first she would chastise him, tell him he was crazy and threaten to cut off his food supply. When this didn't work she'd try bargaining, once even offering to buy that guitar he was always going on about.
This, too, would always fail so she would inevitably end up subjecting him to long (and what I thought were boring) monologues. She'd fill him in on the latest gossip she'd heard from June at the fruit shop or what had been happening at work, that kind of thing. She could chatter into the air for at least half an hour but James would never reply.
When this had been going on for a week she called a doctor, who laughed when he heard what my brother was up to, but on my mum's insistence referred him to a counsellor, who paid a visit on James's twelfth night in the box. The counsellor was a tall man with lots of grey hair and an unusual tendency to turn his mouth downwards when he smiled.
He wore a loose-knitted cream jumper with faded blue jeans and was called Bruce.
I thought Bruce seemed like a nice man but my mum was not impressed - she told me later that she thought professionals ought to dress better - and she was upset when he insisted on talking to my brother alone.
Bruce was in the bedroom for about ninety minutes while my mum and I paced about downstairs and tried to concentrate on boring episodes of Eastenders and Coronation Street. I thought that he was going to appear in the living room with James under his arm and that everything would be solved but all Bruce did was give a downward smile and say that in his opinion James didn't need a counsellor; his reasons for staying in the box were perfectly rational.
My mum demanded to know what had been discussed but Bruce refused to tell her. He said it was 'confidential'.
Then he told her not to worry; my brother was keeping clean and visiting the toilet, though obviously taking great care that we never saw him.
He said it would all sort itself out if we gave it enough time.
The train station was full of children, a mass exodus of sorts. Some were crying, others were brimming over with the obvious excitement of their impending 'holiday'. A variety of ages, the children were all dressed in their best clothes and stood around on the platform with their boxed up gas masks hung over their shoulders and suitcases littered around with their names and destinations printed on them.
'Now you listen to me Billy,' his Mother said. Her voice wobbled a bit.
Fiction - Incident Number 33217 By Grant
Colonel Hafetz strode purposefully down the hall of the Knesset. He gripped the attaché case firmly and braced himself for his meeting. A quick reveal of his ID causes one of two guards stationed to open the door and announce:
'Mr. Prime Minister, Colonel Hafetz.'
Colonel Hafetz enters and a silent Prime Minister gestures him to sit.
The Colonel places the silver case on the desk, unlocks it and turns it to
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Summertime By Julie Hines
The curtains of early darkness are drawn back for summer.
Gardens become beautiful this time of year.
Contrast of flowing colour. The fragrances of the pink Fuchsias draped in deep purple emphasizing their elegance. The Stock has a powerful aroma. Yellow Marigolds resembling regimented soldiers.
Placing the bulbs into her basket, she made her purchase.
Fiction - Fiend By Jarrett
It happened when I was only seven. They let their eyes off of me for only a moment and he snatched me away. I never saw them again. They are the only ones I ever loved. In fact, it was so long ago I don't even remember how it feels, and to be honest I don't want to; I'm sure it will only bring pain.
I don't know why he did it. I'll never fully understand why he did, but I've come close. I guess like me he yearned for that same feeling so many people take for granted, love.
Fiction - Leonard By Frankie Lassut
Ring ring, Ring ring ...
Leonard smiled, and tubbed his hands together. He picked up the phone, and went into voluntary professional mode:
'I've got nothing to live for. The credit card companies are threatening to take my house away to
pay my bills, which they have piled the interest on.
My wife got fed up of it and left with my children, and my firm has collapsed.
I don't know what to do.
Fiction - One All By Mike Watts
The knock on the door sounded official; usually callers just pressed the bell, but this morning, they didn't...
Dean's heart rate moved up a notch.
'Who the fuck's that?'
He stood up from the chair that he was slouched in and walked over to the window.
Parting the curtains slightly, he observed two powerfully built characters standing there.
One was holding a clip-board; his sleeveless arms were loaded with tattoos
Fiction - The Dance Of The Pheasodile By Tim Roux
I have to admit that I am in a bit of a predicament.
I have regained consciousness to discover myself swinging upside down outside the plate glass window that wraps around the lawyers' office where my wife works - where she is a partner, in fact. I am bumping up against the pane as I dangle here. I can see several of the office staff taking pictures of me with their mobile phones, and feverishly distributing them somewhere over the ether.
Fiction - Conversation By Scott Rorrison
Rome! Have you ever seen the Colosseum? Beautiful isn't it; how strange it is that things of immense beauty contain contrasting qualities. From the outside tourists marvel at the grand scale and arresting architecture, it is ideal for a photograph or postcard. Step inside, though, and a whole complexity of emotions will haunt the senses. Stand on the arena floor and wonder how many men and women have followed your steps into oblivion.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Mother From Hell (following on from A Depressive and a Botched Suicide) By Laura Fry
Outside, a woman in late middle-age tries to look through the large crematorium doors.
Despite the November wind, she is dressed in six-inch stilettos, thin stockings and a tiny mini skirt which leaves nothing to the imagination.
One mourner hears a sound over the music and makes her way outside, aghast.
Fiction - Loved Ones By Emma Williamson
I remember the day my mother and father split up. All the family had gone out for the day with our parent's friends, Claire and Craig and their two daughters, Lauren and Molly. Me and my two younger brothers, Jasper and Cohen were in the ball pit with Lauren and Molly.
'Silver, drink!' Jasper announced, he was only 3 years old and hadn't quite grasped the concept of full sentences yet.
Fiction - What Colour My Dear? (Exercise in experimenting with different voices)
By Michelle Dee
"What colour my dear?"
"Blue. Yes blue to match my mood."
"Why so blue dear on such a promising day?"
"Well I'll tell you. I have just this moment been turned down yet again for employment; that is the third this morning if you please. I am doomed never to find a suitable position.
Fiction - Replacing Sheila By Gary Clark
She was a sorry sight Sheila, sat all day in a corner of the room, moving only occasionally to look through the window when the front gate rattled or a car door slammed.
But it was never him and her watery eyes soon closed again, sadly, as she returned to her fitful dozing. Old age takes its toll on us all eventually.
Poor Shelia, cast aside like an old
Fiction - Equus Mal-Amour By Frankie Lassut
Every time Roger fell out with Trudy, he took it out on Selina.
Saturday nights were the worst. Roger and Trudy would go out pubbing, Selina would of course stay at home, dreading the unhappy couple returning at 12.30 - 1am.
It was always the same. Selina would hear them coming up the lane.
"Don't you fuckin deny it! I saw the way you looked at her!"
"Oh, stop being so fucking stupid!
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Sundog By Amanda Lowe
I have my yellow boots on to walk the dog who is scratting at the door, he knows it's time to go. Outside, he's running ahead like a mad thing as my yellow boots squelch flat fields, left foot, right foot.
Striding along the bank, lost in thoughts, I stop and gawp at a sundog, reflection of the sun in the sky. The sun and its doppelganger side by side, striving to outshine each other.
Fiction - The Lie of the Land By Steve Rudd
So I ran.
I ran, and I ran, and I ran.
Nothing means anything when eagerly anticipated phone calls never come.
All those wasted Sundays slumped beside the phone add up.
Ah, heartbreak. You've got to hate it. But you've also got to take it.
The hardest thing of all is resisting the urge to break the ice, to ring first,
to put words into your mouth
Fiction - Too Late To Call By Sarah Ann Watts
The bus pulls out of the station. I check my watch - I am not too late. I close my eyes, pretend to sleep.
The witching hour is yet to come. I told you I would be home by midnight. You like to know where I am. I tell you I can protect myself and you shake your head in doubt. 'Be careful. It isn't the same world.'
I laugh at your fears and paint my lips and smile.