Archive for the Story Category

The Sophia Instant

Posted in Story with tags , , , , on 13 March, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

“Yes, Mandy, I’ll come to your party. At seven? Okay, great. Yeah, catch ya laters,” She hung up.

       Immediately the inbox flashed on screen. One message waiting.

        Hey, what’s up? R u goin to Mandy’s party 2nite? D. 

      Yeah, sure, she replied.

       Quickly she scrolled down to her phonebook and found Janice. “Mandy just phoned about a party… and you’ll never guess what… Dave asked if I were going… yeah, like, he’s so cool; a real interesting guy.”

      Her bag vibrated; a message.

       Im glad ur goin, D

       Yeah, me 2. She phoned up Sapphire and related the whole tale. “Hey babe, what are you wearing tonight?”

       She turned into New Look for a classy number. Sweet vibrations. “Stitch!!!” She screeched. “I’m good. Yeah, I’m going too… Dave asked me out. Yeah, great innit? Yeah, I hope Josh ain’t going too. Ok, laters.”

       Sophia wandered the cluttered aisles of the clothes shop marvelling at the array of stock held within the white gleaming walls. She seemed bedazzled but eventually chose a white dress. Her legs shifted weight nervously; as if she anticipated something. Her hand touched her pocket; it burned.        Sophia wanted Michelle to phone her. It had to be that way round; not the other way round again. Vibrations brought a smile; possible relief or anticipation; certainly pleasure. After snatching the receipt she legged it out of the shop and whipped the phone from her pocket. Another message awaited her.

       See u later then, D.

       Man he was cool. The High Street was busy. Yeah u 2, she replied. Quickly she sent messages to Sapphire and Janice about her dress choice. It was an essential business that their colour schemes did not clash; unlike her path through life.

       Upon turning a corner she smashed right into a fellow with floppy hair and a clean jaw. Pain erupted in her shoulder as she spun one-eighty. She came perilously close to falling into the mystical herb seller whose main sales pitch was slapping shoppers in the face with her produce. All Sophia saw was an old woman with a poor taste in clothes.

        “Stupid prick,” she muttered.

       Instantly her phone came out of her bag. Fingers raced across the miniature keypad telling everyone on her list, except her mum, what just happened. The phone was thrust into her bag in the expectation of mass sympathy.

       She needed to calm down; a reward for stressful times. Sophia knew just the thing. She turned one-eighty, dove right through the crowd and into Costa Café, not looking at who she bumped into, ordered a café macchiato with marshmallows and sat down by the window. She scrunched her face up; her bag had not vibrated for a while. Her fingers tingled and twitched. Her eyes darted to the bag every other second.

       Were they busy? Did they not care that the floppy haired prick had ruined her day? All the permutations ran through her head. Though, she called them excuses. Did they find it amusing? Were Sapphire and Janice secretly planning to upstage her dress choice? Was Dave chatting up some other slut with his charm and wit? Did she just hear someone click their fingers?

       She could resist it no longer. Perhaps her phone had turned itself onto silent mode; no vibrations. Her hand darted into the bag and began to rummage. The floppy haired, clean jawed, man smiled from across the street; his work done. She did not notice. Sophia grappled with her eye-liner, mirrors, lippy, brush, hair pins, foundation, tissues, card holder, purses, coupons and key rings.

        Then her hand fell upon something cold. Its surface was smooth, hard to the touch yet discreetly pliable. Around three of its six surfaces she felt multiple divisions. In the crowd, and in the corner of her eye, the man melted into the beauty of her town. The beauty she could not see for its blatant lack of hedonistic pleasure.

       From the bag she withdrew a book. Its cover was a tie-dye of Mediterranean seas over a forest on top of which sat a simple white donkey above the words: 

The Silver Donkey

Sonya Hartnett

       She wanted to throw it down. She wanted to have her phone back. Her fingers tingled with thwarted anticipation. Her heart and head screamed to know what her friend’s thought of her incident. Instead she found herself clutching a book she had never seen before. More, Heat, those were her reading not some book.

        An urge burned throughout her to just leave it on the café table or throw it in the nearest bin; just outside of Woolworths. She wondered if the corners of the book could be used to gouge out the silly man’s eyes. As her eyes surveyed the cover, picking out distant, faint, branches and the donkey’s little white ears, the rage faded. It reminded her of those white horses in Wiltshire she saw while listening to Artic Monkeys and The Killers in the car. Read My Mind       She made to leave. Stood up and gathered her bags. The book sat on the table. Blue-green surrounded by red. Her cup was far from empty. She wanted to…

       …turn the first page.

       Words to France; she had never been there. Were the woods the same? World War I brought back dim memories of Wilfred Owen; she felt sad but could not recall why. Then sympathy, genuine sympathy, perhaps for the first time when came the blinded soldier. Her heart leapt then melted with joy at Coco and Marcelle.

       When she turned the last page, a tear in her eye for the ending of a story, she looked down at her table and there sat her phone. Placed beneath it was a simple note with a message and phone number.

       You looked truly at peace reading your book.

       The phone number was hers.


Girl In The Black And White Photograph

Posted in Story on 3 March, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

This piece of fiction was first begun in 2004 but lost when my disks corrupted. It was re-written in part in 2006 but lost when my computer died this year. Today I decided to rewrite it as a piece of flash fiction (under 1,000 words). It has been submitted to The Pedestal Magazine.

      Crowfoot gave the signal then disappeared behind the stacks. Fulk glanced around the library then dove over the counter. The table ran in a horse shoe shape from the Librarian’s office on the right to the main entrance on the left. Beyond the table lay the restricted and reserved books alcove. Today Fulk was interested in neither of them.

       He looked at the cold tea in the Librarian’s cup then rummaged in the small drawers under the table. The first contained spare books of bureaucracy. The second spare papers, old circulations and the red book of the banned. He wondered if he should just write his name in right there and then to save the circus to follow. In the end he decided to allow the Librarian his one pleasure in life. 

      The third drawer, identical to the rest, held a single book. It was a pristine yet aged tome; the leather-bound complete works of Oscar Wilde. A quick peak above the desk saw Crowfoot leading the librarian across the nave and into the modern history section. He opened up the book somewhere between A Woman of No Importance and An Ideal Husband. Somewhere amidst the seven of the seven veils, if one read the notes, he found his prize.

       The black and white photo smelt faintly of age. The picture within had faded just a little. Fulk removed the photograph and placed it in an envelope then put it in his coat pocket. He closed the book up and slipped it into the drawer. Crowfoot was still occupying the librarian in the deeper bowels of the lower mezzanine when he leapt of the counter and rolled into the over-sized reference section. He landed dangerously close to the housewife romance shelves.

      He quietly slipped outside and waited in the refectory with an iced ring doughnut and a glass of orange juice. Five minutes later Crowfoot lumbered in with four books on the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

       “You got it?”

      “Yep,” Fulk patted his pocket then looked at the glossy codices. “What’s with the books? Planning on studying?”      “You won’t believe it but the whole leg fell of my table. Just keeled over onto the floor and broke in three. And you know; a wedge of paper just won’t cut it so I went for the big books. Now, eat your doughnut and let’s go.”

      Fulk cringed as Crowfoot threw the books in the back of his mini as he wiped flecks of icing off his full length leather coat. They turned out of the college and went down Bow Lane which, curved round the edge of town. New houses sat smugly on one side and an old graveyard on the other. As the road went downhill took at right at the Bullring.

       The house they wanted sat in the middle of the identikit Victorian redbrick houses. Cracked tiles and purple petunias led a merry dance to the front door. They knocked on chipped wood and rang the yellowed bell.

      A silhouette appeared down the hall way. Padded footsteps munched softly as she came up to the door and opened it. Erica smiled as she poked her head round the door.

       “You have it?” she asked.

      Crowfoot nodded. “They were freshly defalcated this very afternoon; as anticipated.”

      He took a bow. She jumped with joy, rolled her eyes and danced down the corridor to the kitchen. “Meet me in the front room,” she sang.

      Erica was thin and sprightly, her eyes so alive from their sunken sockets. Her baggy grey jumper danced like fairies in spring. Crowfoot and Fulk took a right and entered the small front room. There was little room. A vast dressing table and cabinet rose up to the ceiling on the left. Its shelves and drawers stocked full of photo albums. Under the windowsill sat Erica’s desk. It was piled high with photography books, magazines and papers. Crammed into the middle, and surrounded by boxes of albums, were three arm chairs and a coffee table. 

      They took their seats. Moments later Erica bounded into the room; her face a paradigm for Wharton’s Olenska flush with innocence and anticipation.

       “Can I see the photograph?”

      “Sure,” Fulk pulled the envelope out of his coat pocket. “You asked me if I would do anything for you and I said, ‘yes.’ In return you promised an explanation.”

      Her lips scrunched up in mock disgust.

      “It is the only photo I do not have,” she picked up a nearby album. “Look, this album is July nineteen-ninety-two, my first year at secondary school,” she flicked it open and showed them a photograph infused with lingering remnants of eighties’ brown. “This is me having dinner on the seventeenth; looks like some kind of spaghetti and meatballs.”

      “You can’t remember?” Crowfoot asked.

      “Who remembers what they ate when they were twelve?” She turned to Fulk. “Before I was born my mother lost her short term memory in a car accident. My whole life we’ve taken photos of everything so she has a memory.”

      Fulk took the black and white picture out of the envelope and looked at it. It was dated, August, 1967. In it was a woman with short Twiggy-style hair dancing in a one-piece dress. Next to her a man in glasses with a mop-top and Nehru jacket posed. For a moment he did not recognise the man but then the glasses twigged.

      “After the accident she contacted her friends and family. Together they made all of these albums. Only one person refused to donate a photograph. It was of the summer ball when she was twenty. The man in the photograph used it to gain a power over my mother. He knew she wanted it desperately and so used it to continually taunt her. That is why I asked you to get it for me.”

      Fulk nodded and handed over the photograph. “Her memory is complete now.”

      “Mine too,” she smiled.

Orchard Garden

Posted in Story on 20 January, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

     Here in lies a snippet recovered from a scrap of paper desperately saved after my laptop imploded destroying the story save a few lone snippets posted online.

      In the afternoon Tortrym found himself lazing in the sheltered garden behind Ithignir Hall. After lunch the Thegn’s daughter, a mischevous seven-year-old, had insisted that the Chief Hallweard, his grandsons and he challenge her to a game of horseshoes. She had of course won easily and gloated about it until she fell asleep under a pear tree. The Hallweard himself nodded off soon after against a rather mossy apple tree closeby.

      Tortrym ended up sitting on a tree-stump with a block of wood and one of his knives. At first the carving had gone towards a horse then he changed his mind to carve a humanoid figure, a girl. As indecision turned his toy into a woody pulp the sun began to wane and shine down Oakenbury Valley. The valley was famed in the right circles of the Kingdom for its vineyards. The vineyards twinkled in the sunlight and he began to muse to himself. “Noon’s golden valley. Enjoying neither dawn, nor, the last rays of dusk.”

     It was while creating such skalds, as poems were called, that he was called by a Burghweard. The man was dressed in the brown livery of Ithignir Hall. “Sir, a rider comes from down the Fosse path. The first such since well, you lot arived.”

     Tortrym tossed the wooden lump aside and stood up. “Where does he hail from?”

     The guy smiled, dirtily, “He claims to have ridden all the way from Burgsted.”

     He was shocked and nearly asked the Burghweard to repeat himself. Then thought better of it. It was his first chance to hear about a brother. “Does he bring word of Cafgar?”

     The Burghweard shrugged. “Best ask yourself. Won’t speak to me.”

     “Right. Let’s see if he will speak to a Prince of the realm. Until then go see if you can rustle up some food and drink for our messenger. Go see that Hallmaiden you like.”

    Tortrym then took himself to the main hall for the grand reception while trying to imagine what had happened to his brothers. The fires of Regensmuth were still etched into his dreams.

School Boy Error

Posted in Story on 15 January, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

     The most globulous and eccentric teacher at Curlywurly Technical College, Bournville, was well known to be Bazil Montageous-Priory. He was a most highly esteemed lecturer of English Literature and Applied Spelling. He had begun life as the well born sprat of upper class loafers. A fine family tradition had them living off the land, socialising and partaking in excessive amounts of ballroom dancing. This lifestyle was not fulfilling enough for Bazil. So, after inheriting his Oxford degree in 1969 he turned his full attentions to politics. At which he failed. Anthony Benn-Wedgewood was far richer and even better connected. So, as a last resort he turned to education; a fine tradition where he could pass on his wisdom gained from summer holidays spent at the MCC.

      After years of teaching in schools as grand as Eton and as bland as Cardiff Comprahensive he had found himself at the brand-spanking (oh he did like that) new Technical College in Bournville educating the latest waves of youths how to spell and read. At times he found it most demeaning yet he applied himself with an eccentric demeanour.

    One day there was a most grand panic in Room H5 in the Honest Hain building. Cries from the half-dozen students echoed down the corridor. The first on the scene was the crusty caretaker, Jim Fork. Upon entering the room he found the rotund lecturer on his back clasping at his chest, his face red and puffy. All around the students looking in shock as Bazil struggled for breath. Jim raced over to his side and loosened his Oxford tie. “Relax Bazil, breath easy.”

      Then Bazil whispered his last words to Jim before collapsing on to the tope carpet, dead. “Which one of you is the devil?”

      As he collapsed he let go of a piece of paper. The crumpled sheet contained scurrolous words doubting the parentage and other virtues of the late professor. At first he looked at it backwards then scrambled it all up but could not decipher it. Jim got up and turned to the class. “Whoever wrote this killed the Professor.”

The students were:

1. The elfine Nanna Addler. 

2. Travel obcessed Mel ii Fey.

3. The ugly, and oft angry, Rolf Trollhatten.

4. Moomin-esque Mo Naantali.

5. Pointy earred Ivor Mist.

6. Lion maned bookworm Tom Gonda.

Do you know who wrote the foul words that killed the professor?



Posted in Story on 12 January, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

The school children had settled down quietly, and orderly. They sat at their desks, backs straight, eyes facing forwards, visages open for studying just as a normal Japanese school child is in every class. They wore their black uniforms and sailor outfits impeccably. Upon their desks were the required textbooks, notebooks and their prescribed dictionaries. Right on cue the bell went and the teacher entered the classroom. He was young, cool and spoke perfect textbook English.

“Today, I can introduce you to your new special teacher. He has come all the way from America. His name is Brad.”

The students stifled their excitement and tried to remain serene as Brad entered the room. He was a tall man. At least six and a half feet tall. His skin was as black as Japanese hair. His voice was deep molasses. “Good morning everyone.”

“Good morning Sir.” They replied in unison and bowed.

“How are you all?”

“I am fine, thank you, and you?”

“I am fine too, thank you. I am very happy to teach you today.”

At this point their cool teacher took over and began to teach from the textbook for twenty-minutes. They repeated after Brad, listened to the teacher attentively and did their extremely taxing worksheets without a fuss. Then satisfied they had worked well the cool teacher turned to Brad, who was waiting patiently, his hands folded behind his back, for his turn. “Mr. Brad, why don’t you play a game with the students.”

“Sure, I would love to play a game with the students.” He smiled.

The students smiled in unison.

Brad walked around classroom towards the door. “This game is called crossroads or crisscross. Everyone stands up and then I ask them questions.”

The students do not turn around but they hear the door lock behind them. “Whoever answers my questions can sit down. The last person standing is the looser. Do you understand?”

The students hear some strange noises behind them but nodded in unison. The teacher turns pale as Brad walks back around the class to the front. Faces turn pale. Brad has turned into a giant killer robot. “What is the name of your Emperor?”

No one moved. Then, one boy quivered and raised his hand in the air. “You.” Brad pointed his metallic arm at him. “Answer.”

The boy’s arm remained wavering in the air. “Eto… eto ne… Taro Aso?”

The boy fell to the floor dead. “Wrong answer.” Brad smiled. “Does no one know the name of their own Emperor?”

No one moved. “I guess not.”

Brad then turned his guns on the whole class. First he pointed his giant robot sized pistol at one of the girls. An innocent girl with red rimmed glasses, a cute haircut and pouting lips. “No!” Shouted the Teacher.

He leapt in front of Brad. “I cannot let you do this. You foul foreign, butter stinking, Deceptajin!”

“Get out of my way Teacher. I need to re-educate your children.”

“No. These are virtuous children. Look at the girls. They are twelve years old, ready to be baby ovens for the good of the nation…”

The cool teacher was the first to die. Slowly one by one they fall as the evil black robot guns them down. The screen fades to black and words in stark red kanji, hiragana and katakana appear on the screen.


“Studying English is dangerous for you.

Any foreign teacher may be a Deceptajin in disguise.”

Then Billy Blanks came on the screen.

“Except American soldiers. We’re safe.”


The Vice-Principal then turned off the TV and turned to his new students. “Time for an introduction…”




Posted in Story with tags , , , , on 11 January, 2008 by Wulfstan Crumble

The light flickered on and off as Kesfanu cowered under the table. Shadows became darkness and darkness became shadows all around her. It was cold. Every time the light came on there was a little tink noise. Tink. Tink tink. The walls glowed blue when the light came on. All around tables and chairs lay upturned. At the serving hatch a cauldron of custard lay on its side, thick lumpy custard dripping slowly on the floor. White papers lay scattered all around. A piece of the cardboard ceiling hung by a tether. The kitchen’s blue lights were the only permanent, if dull, source of light.

Kesfanu looked around her some more. The small window in the kitchen, through which she had climbed, bumped quietly in the wind. The table she had used to block the door sat still. Through the door’s window she saw only darkness. Feeling safer she got up from beneath the table. There were no windows in the cafeteria. Surrounded as it was by classrooms and conference rooms. As the light momentarily flicked on she saw dried blobs of blood. Her knuckles throbbed with pain as she remembered punching him in the face. They had taken her away shortly after.

Many of their coats were slung over the small plastic chairs. Bags and briefcases sat beside them. The light flicked off. The soft glow of the kitchen light helped her feel her way along the table. The doctor had been sitting opposite her and four chairs to the left. She remembered his smile. Tink, tink, tink. The light came back on. Quickly she found his seat. The doctor’s leather bag remained. It was rectangular with two big thick handles. It opened along the middle to form a gaping maw. Inside his medical box filled with syringes was gone. She fished around and found a torch and a scalpel.

The light went off. Kesfanu put the scalpel in her jeans pocket and flashed the torch around looking for her own coat. The coat lay in a heap in the corner parallel to the door and across the room from the kitchen. She picked it up and put it on to protect her from the cold. Outside the wind began to whistle. Tink, tink, tink…. Tink. The light came back on. There turned out to be nothing in her pockets. Not even her mobile phone which she’d left in there. There was however a piece of card. Even before withdrawing it she knew what it was.

The card was the size of a business card. On the front it advertised a Veterinary clinic based in the local Industrial estate. Slowly she turned it over. The message, written in black felt-tip pen remained intact. She had last seen the card in the morning and had dropped it into a bin outside of the local supermarket. The card just said, If you want to escape, meet me in the school cafeteria at nine, Suhayi.