The Deadline


  • Your story must include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions (describing whatever you want):
  • One of these six descriptions MUST appear in the first sentence of your story. (The rest, wherever you like.)

The Author closed his manuscript, running ink-stained fingers over the scratched and weather-worn leather sleeve. The pages came together with a slight huffing sound, a sighed communion of secrets. The Author painfully straightened his hunched shoulders, feeling the bones crack as they shifted into an unfamiliar position. The Author’s ageing dog fixed him with a baleful stare as he stood and edged around the enormous grandfather clock that was currently taking up most of his small one-bedroom house. “Don’t give me that look, Scribe” he grumbled, as he squeezed himself into the kitchen and started to make himself a peanut butter and jam sandwich. “Sustenance is required if I’m to save the world”. Scribe, unimpressed, turned his stare to the uncurtained window which rose over the Author’s desk.

Outside, the world was in turmoil. Clouds boiled an angry red in the sky, accompanied by ominous snarls of thunder and illuminated with spider veins of quicksilver lightning. People were running about haphazardly in the streets, breaking shop windows and looting with abandon and without purpose. Others stood, mouths open, taking photographs on their phones and uploading them onto social media #endoftheworld (currently trending). Yet others were attempting to make every moment count: cradling babies, hugging grandmothers, falling into vats of previously off-limits ice cream, feverishly copulating, or whatever else people who had only minutes to live, did. Every now and then, police and ambulance sirens emitted shrill, piercing whines and it was to this soundtrack that the Author resumed his seat and re-opened his manuscript.

The wooden floors of his house groaned under the weight of their unexpected guest. The enormous clock had appeared out of the blue, in tandem with all hell breaking loose outside. Just another augury of the end of the world, albeit one seemingly just for the Author alone. The oddest thing about the clock apart from its presence in the first place was that it was going backwards. The time on its clock face was utterly inaccurate – it had started with both hands on 12 (even though it was 9 am on Sunday morning) and since then the hands had steadily moved backwards. The clock’s shiny, silver pendulum swung ponderously to and fro and boomed out chimes counting down the hours. The Author wouldn’t have had any idea how much time he had unless someone hadn’t helpfully stuck a post-it note on the pendulum with the number “72” written on it in thick black marker. He’d taken that to assume he had 72 hours to… do something. And he had decided that thing was to finish his book, because it was the one thing the Author had failed to do in his long and literary life. A bestseller multiple times over, he had retired in a funk of gloom because he knew that he had one final book inside of him, but, like a stubborn tooth, it refused to budge. Instead of pouring out onto the page like all his other books had, this one had stayed resolutely inside of him, clogging him up like a blocked drain. Continue reading The Deadline

Meetings and Misleadings with Drummer Boys in Airports

Or, Meeting Gypsies of the Bohemian Variety at Airports – Part 2 (Click here for Part 1)

There he was. I don’t know how, but I’ve always been able to spot drummers from miles away. He was tall. Muscular. So buff you wouldn’t believe. He was faced away from me, but I could tell he was handsome. There were a few other people at the airport cafe, but I only had eyes for this big, manly drummer. It was destiny that we were at the airport at the same time – and although I had said no to his earlier request to meet, I was too curious to let the chance pass me by. Privacy be damned.

Funny. I didn’t know what he looked like, but somehow, I just *knew* that I would know him as soon as I saw him.

I was concentrating so hard on what I was going to say to this man, that I tripped and caught myself on a chair nearby, accidentally tapping the shoulder of the person seated there. I steadied myself with a mumbled apology and turned to the beautiful man who was still oblivious of my presence. I reached out and touched his shoulder.

“Excuse me” I said, trying not to sound nervous. “Are you RD?” Continue reading Meetings and Misleadings with Drummer Boys in Airports

The Proposal

…to my best friend, who told me she would marry me if we were both single at 60.

The Proposal

When we’re 60 and wrinkly and funny and old,
We’ll get married – and how everybody will scold!
We’ll be the scandal of Colombo (or should we move out of town?)
There’ll be finger-pointing in public but we’ll just laugh them down.
Our house will be mad – can you imagine the mess
Of art and trinkets and shoes and dress?
We’ll have some cactus in the garden – there can be no doubt.
Music will play all the time and the neighbours will shout.
Dylan, Dave Matthews, Cocorosie, Pink Floyd
Anyone with bad taste we’ll politely avoid.
There’ll be mirrors all over, each with a different frame,
It’ll be crazy, it’ll be cluttered but it’ll never be lame.
We’ll have a cupboard especially for clothes that are godey
When we’re sad we’ll dress up and laugh our blues away.
There’ll be sunshine and music and laughter and noise
And – if we have a pool – maybe even a porpoise.
The porpoise would dance and play underwater,
We’ll have hundreds of dogs, no need of son and daughter.
You’ll paint, I’ll sing, we’ll cook and clean
But it’ll never be a chore; there’s too much fun in between.
With us a broom will never just be a broom
But an excuse to sing “Big Mistake” while we’re sweeping our room.
Flowers will bloom on all our window sills,
We’ll save up all our money in funny little tills.
We’ll pick some of those flowers and wear them in our hair,
We’ll spend some of that money on scarves to wear.
We’ll have friends around us all the time.
We’ll have spaghetti carbonara and tequila with lime.
At this rate, my darling, I fear I am sold –
I cannot WAIT to be 60 and wrinkly and old.


The Cypress Cottage, by shortcherryberry