SHOT! (a short story).

SHOT!

The Volvo estate pulled into the lay-by at the edge of the wood. An old blue Renault 12 was also parked, but the driver wasn’t in the car. The woman who got out of the Volvo was in her early fifties, she wore a loose-fitting blue top over a flowery gathered skirt, and flat shoes. She looked around quickly before taking a narrow path into the wood.

The man with the gun parked in the lay-by opposite, three or four minutes later. He locked his Land Rover and hurried across to the wood, taking the same path as the woman.

The man who owned the Renault was forty something and in no way handsome. He was a maths teacher, and dressed like one. But he was a passionate maths teacher; not in-love but harbouring a great lust. He waited expectantly in a secluded glade fringed with tall ferns. The woman in the flowered skirt ran the last few steps towards him, throwing herself into his open arms and kissing him with unbridled passion. They tore hungrily at each others clothes and sank into the ferns.

The man with the gun was a silent hunter. He was ex-SAS and schooled in stealth. Slipping like a shadow through the trees he took in every movement, every sound. Almost invisible in his camouflage gear.

The couple, coupled in the ferns, were in a world of their own. Bits of clothing scattered carelessly around them. Her red silk knickers, his corduroy jacket with the elbow patches.

The man with the gun spotted his quarry. Just as he’d suspected they were in the same place as last week. Same time of day. He smiled to himself and slowly raised his gun.

The couple, ignorant of the man in the woods were going for seconds already. His cords now down round his knees, and her matching red brassiere had joined her knickers. Wild cries and sighs, and moans and groans emanated from the ferns as passions peaked.

The man with the gun squeezed the trigger. He was an ex-SAS sniper. He never missed a target. There was a loud crack as the rifle fired once and then again, and a terrible scream rent the stillness of the wood. Damn! He’d have to use his knife to finish the job.

A minute or two later he was walking back to his car when a man tore past him, attempting to carry a jacket in one hand and hold his trousers up with the other. Close behind the man was a woman in a flowery skirt, white-faced and clutching something red to her chest, part of which tumbled to the ground as she fled past.

The man with the gun set down the brace of rabbits he was carrying and picked up what the woman had dropped. A pair of red silk knickers. It was too late to stop her. She and the man had disappeared from view. He shook his head and grinned as he heard two cars start-up somewhere ahead, then he hung the knickers on a hazel bush at the edge of the path, picked up his rabbits, and headed to the Land Rover.

Author Interview: Jude Thompson

Jack Probyn recently invited me to be a guest on his blog, so of course I agreed. He is also a writer, currently working on a fantasy novel, and his blog has some great short stories and writing-related posts.

Author Interview - Jude

This is my first ever interview/guest/author post – whatever you want to call it. I asked Jude a few questions and she responded.

The reason for this post is to gain a little insight into her career and into her life.

So, without much further ado…

Here’s a quick biography on Jude: she lives in France, enjoys riding around on her motorbike with her husband (weather permitting) and has published a total of four books. Initially, they were e-Books but early this year she started publishing them as paperbacks with CreateSpace. The Mouse and the Microlight and The Stowaways are finished and are on Amazon. You can see all her books on her author blog: https://judethompsonbooks.wordpress.com/. She is a talented writer with a very distinct voice which comes through in some of her short stories and general blogs posts!

1. What is the best part about being an…

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Blogging – Followers, Likes and Comments

Something I noticed a few days ago set me off thinking about the whole Following, Liking and Commenting thing with regards to blogging. I was recently looking at a blog which showed that it had close to 6000 followers. That’s a lot of followers! But many recent posts on that blog had only received up to fifteen Likes and only between seven and ten Comments. Why?

Does it mean that a few thousand Followers have …

Lost interest?

Died?

Had their computers stolen?

Signed up enthusiastically to so many blogs that they haven’t a hope of keeping up with them.

Or …

Were never really interested in the first place and only signed up in hope that they would get a ‘Return Follow’?

I have to admit to being in the over exuberant category. When I come across a great blog, I sign up with enthusiasm, but unless some sort of a rapport develops with that blogger then I can lose interest. I guess I just like to share and feel a connection. And sometimes time-wise, it’s just not possible to Like or Comment on every new post that comes in. But I do try.

There are those who will do anything to get noticed and try to get you to Follow their blog! I recently had 10 or 12 Likes come in, in a block, in my WordPress mail, all from the same person and all Liking comments that I’d made on other blog posts! They had all arrived within a minute or so of each other. I swear the person who sent them barely had time to read the comments I’d made before banging off a Like. Amazing! I bet I deleted them a lot faster than the sender sent them.

Personally I never follow a blog that I’m not attracted by, or don’t have an interest in, so it surprises me when someone whose blog is, for example, solely about fashion and make-up, follows our motorcycling blog. Am I just getting cynical in my old age?!

What do you think about the whole Following, Liking, Commenting subject?

Marjorie’s Revenge

Another short story that may give you chuckle or two. Enjoy!

Marjorie’s Revenge

Under cover of darkness Marjorie Butterworth slipped out of her back door. The night was starless and the autumnal fog hung low as she scurried along the road. She pulled the hood of her hoodie further down over her face whenever she passed a lighted window, head down and hands deep in the pockets of her camouflage trousers. Mrs Butterworth was nearly seventy and not a hoodie or a camouflage type of person, she was in fact an upstanding member of the community and a member of the parish council. But she’d been pushed too far.

The recent council meeting had done it. George bloody Blair! Again! Mrs Fairweather, the butcher’s wife, had brought up the subject of dog-fouling and ways of controlling it, and Blair, the pompous old sod, had jumped in and raged on about dog owners, and why did they want dogs anyway, all they did was shit and bark, and little old ladies should have budgies if they wanted pets instead of rats on strings! The chairman had looked suitably miffed at the outburst and George had sunk back into his tweed waistcoat and wound his handlebar moustache back in.

Marjorie became more furious as she made her way through the churchyard. How dare that bastard allude to her dear little Binky, a most beautiful pekingese, as a rat on a string! George Blair needed to be taught a lesson, him and his unbending, bombastic, military attitude. He was intolerable and intolerant. He’d recently tried to stop planning permission for an extension on a cottage in the village simply because the owners were gay, and now refused to buy his papers from the village shop because the new owners were Indian. The man was a dinosaur.

Marjorie hurried down Brook Lane, George Blair’s house was at the very end, a lovely old Cotswold stone building with wonderful views of open farmland – except he’d only be able to see them from upstairs. The back garden was surrounded by high walls, with ivy trailing over the top. If Marjorie’s plan was to succeed she had to get into that garden. Her cunning plan was to raid George’s pumpkin patch. The old blighter had done nothing but brag about the pumpkin he’d grown for the Harvest Festival Pumpkin Competition and at every parish council meeting his pumpkin got bigger, and was now apparently a pumpkin of Olympic proportions. Marjorie was going to prick his balloon. By way of nabbing his pumpkin.

Blair’s side gate creaked hideously. Marjorie held her breath. The mist swirled around her. After a minute she continued on tiptoeing up the path to the tall arched doorway that opened into the back garden. At least she needn’t worry about a dog hearing her. The big old wrought iron handle on the door was well-oiled and turned easily. She pulled the heavy door open and slipped inside, quickly taking in the perfectly mowed lawn, edged with flowerbeds, and at the far end of the garden she could make out a good sized potting shed. Keeping to the edge of the lawn and ducking under various small trees she hurried down to the shed and dodged behind it. To her delight she found she was standing in the vegetable garden right next to the old git’s pumpkin patch!

Best check all was clear before she got to work. She peered round the shed. A downstairs light had come on. Not a worry. Probably having one of his hideously expensive whiskies he was always bragging about. ‘Give me a pint of Guinness any day,’ she muttered. Marjorie dug in her pockets for her little penlight torch. The small beam quickly picked out an enormous orange blob in the middle of the patch. ‘Good lord!’ she muttered when she stood beside it and took in the size, ‘The mother of all pumpkins!’ Blair hadn’t been exaggerating after all. It wasn’t going to be easy getting this monster home, in fact it was going to be nigh on impossible without a wheelbarrow, and she only had a sack. There was no way she could carry it. But she could still ruin his day. In a few minutes she was getting down and dirty beside the pumpkin with her penknife, carving out an enormous wedge. The moon slipped out from behind a cloud as she manhandled the pumpkin piece into her sack, stood up, and slung it over her shoulder. She was just going to set off when she thought she heard a cough. She froze. Had she imagined it? Cautiously she crept back to the side of the shed and peered at the house. Across the lawn the patio doors were open and the downstairs light was still on. But no sign of anyone. She decided to get out now. Leg it!

Marjorie pulled her hoodie well down over her face and taking a firm grip on her sack she launched herself from behind the shed.

She collided heavily with a tall blonde woman coming from the opposite direction.

‘Aagh!’ they both yelled.

Marjorie, who had lost her balance, and ended up on her ample backside, peered up from under her hood at the blonde in the moonlight. She didn’t get it. Blair had never talked of a wife or girlfriend. The dirty old sod had kept this quiet! The blonde was looking equally shocked. Marjorie noticed she was wearing a bright pink ballroom dancing dress and silver high heels. Her gaze travelled up to the woman’s face – a dreadful make-up job from what she could see between the strands of long blonde hair. Two puddles of black mascara and … a handlebar moustache!

‘George?’ gasped Marjorie in amazement.

George Blair grabbed at a set of earphones which snagged in the blonde hair and whipped the wig off with them. Marjorie caught a few brief strains of James Last’s ‘Somewhere My Love‘.

‘Please Marjorie, I’m begging you!’ George’s voice was stricken with panic.

Marjorie got up, smiling. ‘Dancing round the garden in drag to James Last George. What will the neighbours think?’

‘Please! … Marjorie! … I’ll do anything!’

‘I’m sure you will George. From now on I’m sure you will!’

Marjorie picked up the sack and slung it over her shoulder, the pumpkin would make a nice bunch of pies for the Harvest Festival.

Weekly Wednesday Winspiration… a small idea with big dreams. Re-blogged from Jack Probyn!

I’m re-blogging Jack’s post to see if any of you writers/authors or other sorts of bloggers would like to join in his Wednesday Winspiration. All the more the merrier!

An exciting concept…WeeklyWednesday Winspiration

Bloggers, writers, authors, listeners, readers, viewers, lovers… everyone!

Today – well, just now actually – I had a random spur of inspiration. Or rather, as the image above would suggest, I had a random spur of winspiration. If you haven’t worked it out, it’s a little “win” that has happened to me and has given me inspiration to carry on writing and working hard to become an author.

Winspiration – quite catchy, don’t you think?

Then a concept appeared to me. I thought (and this is pretty much word-for-word), ‘It’s a wednesday… I’m feeling inspired – wait, I’m feeling winspired. That’s alliteration! Why not have Wednesday Winspiration. No, even better! Weekly Wednesday Winspiration!

And so, an idea was formed.

What is that idea? You ask.

Well, virtual reader, writer, blogger and listener, the idea of Weekly Wednesday Winspiration is to give anyone and everyone…

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Guest Post: Author Jack Probyn

Hello fellow authors and writers! I’ve wanted to start doing some guest posts for a while and Jack Probyn from over at https://jackprobynbooks.com has kindly volunteered to be my guinea-pig. (Thank you Jack!). He’s agreed to an interview by way of some serious, and some fun questions (below). Jack has completed a thriller manuscript, and is currently working on the completion of a fantasy novel. He also has a blog with some great content – ideas, thoughts, information, and quirky short stories. A recent short story with a scary twist at the end was ‘Short Story: Bad Pooch’ https://jackprobynbooks.com/2017/05/18/bad-pooch/

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Jack has been an excellent first guest! Here are his questions and answers …

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The next book, or rather my first that I plan to publish before my fantasy novel, is going to be called The Next Destination. It’s a thriller novel set in London, with a detective as the protagonist who is thrown into a deadly situation regarding terrorists and a mode of public transportation… I do not want to disclose too much at this stage!

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

As cliché as it may sound, the inspiration came to me while I was on my commute to my placement job. Hence, probably why trains feature so heavily in it. I just thought “what if…” and then it came to me.

3. Do you have cover-art planned, and will you do it yourself or hire an artist?

I do not have cover-art planned at this moment. As much as I like to think I’m creative, I somewhat lack the artistic capabilities to do anything as important as create a book cover, despite having worked with graphic designers at my job. However, I feel it best to leave it up to the professionals. After all, they’d ask us to write a novel for them rather than do it themselves (I hope!).

4. What, for you, is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

I think that the most important quality in a novel is that it needs to have a gripping plot, something that’s going to excite me all the way through, leave me guessing, making me want to read more. It’s like going to the cinema, in a way. I will watch a film because I think it looks good, not because of how well it is done, because at a first glance all we get is the trailer (or in the case of a novel, the blurb). Only after we’ve begun watching – and reading – do we appreciate the talent and skill that has gone into it.

5. Your three favourite books?

My three favourite books are probably The Shining, by Stephen King (I was – and still am – a massive fan); 1984, by George Orwell (difficult choice between that or Animal Farm); and A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. The reasons for them being that I read The Shining when I was younger, after having been repeatedly told not to by parents because it was “too scary”, and I loved the complexity of the plot and the way it was written. It was the first proper, full length book I had read, and I loved it. The reasons why 1984 is one of my favourites, is because the political undertones fascinated me. To think, that he was able to get away with saying such things! And also, how pertinent the themes in that novel are nowadays is crazy. Finally, my reason for choosing A Clockwork Orange is because I enjoyed the plot, but not only this, the way it was written and the language that Burgess created intrigued me. I believe it could be an influence on why I enjoy “world-building” so much! As you can see, all of my favourite books have nothing to do with which genres I want to write in – but I think that’s okay, because I do not think it necessary to limit myself to only liking certain books from the fantasy and thriller genres. Reading is about having a particular favourite genre(s), but it’s also about enjoying a broad range of genres, too.

6. What strengths of character do you particularly admire?

I quite like writing about strong willed women, who are quite intimidating. I’m not too sure why, but both have appeared in my thriller and fantasy manuscript. I also enjoy an underdog, a shy boy/girl who is quite reserved and underestimated – they always come out on top!

7. Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

This is a tough one. Very tough, indeed. I think it would have to be Tolkien. Just to simply get inside his head for a few hours, see what’s really going on in there – how he came up with The Lord of the Rings and the legacy it has created.

8. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Quirky. Sarcastic. Pedantic.

9. You’re writing a fantasy novel, do you plan to try the traditional publishing route, or go straight to Indie?

I have thought about this for quite some time now, and have weighed up both options. But personally, I think I will go down the self-publishing route, because I believe in the long run it is more beneficial for me as an author. I mean, it is essentially creating a brand for yourself, on your own, without the help of a publishing house to do that for you – what can be more rewarding than that?

10. Do you have any significant scars?

Perhaps significant isn’t the right word. Stupid, yes. Significant, no. On my arm I have a small scar where I “chicken scratched” it. For those of whom that don’t know, a chicken scratch is where you furiously scratch at your skin until it bleeds and creates a scar. Stupid, I know. But I was young, and didn’t know what I was doing. Other than, I’m pretty scar-free. *Touches wood*.

11. If reincarnation exists what do you want to come back as?

A Killer Whale. Hands down. They’re the predators of the sea, and they’re beautiful, majestic animals. Often-times I would only watch a documentary on the sea if a Killer Whale features in it, otherwise they’re just not worth watching. The way they work in teams and come up with creative ways to catch their prey is just ingenious. Usually, I’m sat there, face glued to the screen watching a Killer Whale scene in a documentary while my girlfriend can’t bear to look because of the poor seal/penguin/prey gets killed.

12. If you could have one magical power what would it be?

Another interesting one. I don’t want something mainstream like flying, or invisibility. While they would be cool, they wouldn’t serve much of a purpose. Neither would immortality, because no one wants to outlive the earth and everyone else on the planet. My magical power would have to be something to do with time or the brain. The ability to control others’ thoughts… possibly, but no. The ability to move things with my mind… also interesting, but still no. I think the power to alter time, pause it, stop it, reverse it, fast forward it – everything would be fun. All I’d need is a pen and paper so I can write some brilliant novel ideas down from all of the amazing things I’ve seen.

13. A famous lady you’d be happy to get stuck in a lift with?

Emma Watson. She was great in Harry Potter.

14. At the fairground – Roller coaster or galloping horses carousel?

Roller coasters, every day of the week. Until I feel nauseous, of course, and then I have to come off. But I have been to many theme parks in my life and I love the adrenaline. Every boy’s dream: going fast, something dangerous, and having no fear of your own safety!

A Note From Jack – Thanks for reading!

 

In a Walled Garden …

I haven’t done any creative writing for ages due to so much time spent converting my four e-Books to paperback. But recently I’ve been spurred to get back into practise by a few of my fellow writer/bloggers.  I don’t know where this idea came from, I dreamt it up when we were in the car recently.

In a Walled Garden …

Sunday Morning

A commotion below in the old walled garden disturbed the nest-building jackdaws. One of them peered down from the chimney top, a twig in its beak, head cocked and one blue eye fixed on the woman. A young woman, standing on the lawn with her arms wrapped tightly around her, as though if she let go she would break into a million pieces.

The bird wasn’t disturbed by the sight of the woman but by the splintering crash of a Waterford crystal wine glass as it shattered on the patio, followed by the hoarse shouting of the woman’s husband.

‘You will not leave me! You will never leave me!’ Words steeped in rage and laced with alcohol.

The woman turned slowly, raising her chin and pulling herself up as though to strengthen herself against the fury in his voice.

‘It’s over,’ she said, and she unwrapped her arms, ripped off her wedding ring and flung it across the garden. It hit the old wall and pinged back into the rose bed. It was too much for the man.

The jackdaw watched intently as he charged across the grass roaring in some sort of demented anguish. He was a big man and when he threw himself at her it took them both down; his hands around her throat.

‘I’ll kill you!’ he bawled as they wrestled on the ground.

‘I’ll … see you … in hell!’ The woman choked out the words as she clawed at his face. He tightened his grip, he was too strong for her, too full of black fury and out of control. Her vision began to blur. Light was fading, but she managed to stare up into his eyes as he bent over her, those very blue eyes that she had once lost herself in. He was triumphant now, so pumped by his power over her that he allowed a slight relaxing of his grip. Her life in his hands. It felt glorious. It gave her the chance to suck in one last breath.

‘I’ll come back,’ she rasped, ‘And I’ll haunt you … you bastard … ‘.

A few minutes later she lay still. The husband stood up, pale and sweating, muttering curses and staring around. Thank god they lived in an isolated spot. Then he dragged the woman across the grass, into the potting shed and shut the door.

Sunday night

The man couldn’t sleep even though he was dog-tired; too much on his mind. The work had been hard – lifting the floor of the shed, and then the digging. So much digging that his hands were blistered. But it was done. He finished the whisky in the Waterford crystal tumbler. A shame she’d made him smash the wine glass; ruined the set. It would probably cost him fifty quid to replace it. Bitch. He eased his legs up onto the sofa and leaned back against the cushions. She was staring down at him from the photograph on the mantelpiece over the old fireplace. He’d smash that tomorrow. That picture of the three of them; her, himself, and his best friend Antonio. Friends since college, until now. Now that he’d found out about about the affair. She’d always fancied bloody Antonio with his Spanish good looks, charm oozing from every slimy Latin pore. ‘Bastard,’ he mumbled, curling his lip, ‘Wait till I get my hands on you.’ And then he closed his eyes.

The old grandfather clock in the hall struck three, it’s heavy tones resounding through the downstairs, and then a few seconds later there was another sound, a clink-clink-ping-clink-clingle- ping-ding- clingle-clink … . The man on the sofa woke up. The moon was shining in the window where he hadn’t quite pulled the curtains together. He sat up and rubbed a hand across his face and wondered what had woken him. His eyes were drawn to the little path of moonlight which ended in front of the old fireplace. There was something there, sparkling. He didn’t remember dropping anything. He eased himself off the sofa, heavy-headed, and padded across the carpet. A jolt went through him and he reared back at the sight of a ring. Her wedding ring. He’d know it anywhere, even in moonlight in the middle of the night; the bespoke design he’d paid a small fortune for. How … ? ‘I’ll haunt you, you bastard!’ Her last words slithered into his mind and an irrational fear slammed into his chest and squeezed, squeezed so hard he couldn’t breathe. Squeezed so hard that he toppled forwards and fell with a crash into the fireplace.

Three days later

The doctor watched the men from the mortuary load the body-bag into the sleek black van. He shook his head sadly. Poor bugger he thought, massive heart failure and dying alone like that. He wondered if the police had tracked his wife down. What a dreadful shock it was going to be for her. Maybe she was in Spain, she often took trips there. He looked up as a jackdaw on the roof suddenly gave a shrill cry. It was staring down, eye-balling him. It wasn’t happy. It had found a wonderful shiny treasure in the rose bed a few days ago and carried it up to the nest in the old chimney. His new wife was thrilled with it. They had placed it carefully between the twigs. The next day it was gone.

author of fantasy, fiction and memoir