Anni Telford wins Stork Mini Short Story Competition

We are delighted to announce Anni Telford has won Stork Mini Short Story Competition for her short story entitled ‘The Pauli Exclusion Principle’. Our congratulations to Anni and all shortlisted authors.

Also shortlisted were:

Another Bloody Christmas by G W Colkitto

Curry for Christmas by Ashley Meggitt

More Blessed to Give than to Receive by Ian Shine

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition.

 

About Anni Telford

A Glaswegian by birth, I lived and worked in England for many years as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists, which taught me a great deal about the nature of humanity and the fortitude of folks under extreme circumstances. Now retired to beautiful Galloway, I spend my time writing, I am now a member of the Society of Authors, studying writing at Edinburgh Napier University, walking my dogs on the beach and musing on how lucky I am.

The Pauli Exclusion Principle

Space

Space is the three dimensional representation of everything we observe and everything that occurs.

Molly watches as the curtains open and the coffin slides slinky along the oiled rollers towards the hidden furnace. How can a nineteen stone man be reorganised into the space of an urn? Where does the rest go? She understands how flames consume, after all she’s a physicist, but there’s a dark whisper that even when someone is cremated the rest of them can’t just float off into the clouds with the grey wisps that come out of the chimney. The thought of the dead floating back down to earth with the snow seems too disgusting and she really doesn’t want them to be able to get him back.

Time

Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them.

She was just nine when Mum announced she was going to remarry, It’s her Stepfather’s mortal remains which are disappearing into the scarlet kiss of the fire; the man who taught her that space is relative and conditional upon time. It quite literally struck her when her new Daddy came home from work one day and laid about him in a fury, blaming it on Molly’s  toys on the living room floor. After he slapped her a couple of times and threw her into her bedroom she heard him shouting at her Mum that she ‘should control her fucking brat.’ That was the first day that he systematically beat her mother on the breasts, stomach and back. In the twelve years which have passed between that first beating and the funeral today they have cried together many times.

Molly survived in her restricted spaces until she was fourteen and the dreadful Wednesday evening he pushed her mother down the stairs and she was rushed to hospital. That night Molly’s narrow bed offered no safety from his presence; her internal spaces were invaded. He maintained his assaults after her mother’s return, sneaking into her room and smothering her with his heavy, grunting body. Mother slept; the Prozac and diazepam making her insensible to her daughter’s need. Molly didn’t blame her then and still doesn’t, not at all, University had taught her all about the Pauli Exclusion Principle. She had to take matters into her own hands; after all, no one else was going to help them.

The Pauli Exclusion Principle

This effect is partly responsible for the everyday observation in the macroscopic world that two solid objects cannot be in the same place in the same time.

As the sound of Elgar’s Nimrod fills the crematorium and the curtains close her mother, light as the child Molly once was, slumps against her side. She’s watched her mother shrink over the years, eroded by a husband who was relentless in his aggression. Now it seems she hardly fills the space of her size eight coat. The Celebrant and mourners come forward to offer condolences and Molly feels herself swell. He was burning away to virtually nothing whilst Molly and her mother were growing with every breath they inhaled. She smiles, causing two of the mourners to look at her askance as they mutter words which they feel appropriate. Molly catches:

‘Sorry for your sad loss,’ and, ‘Must have been a blow, especially at this time of year.’

Molly’s smile widens and she squeezes her mother to her side, leans in and kisses her cheek.

‘Happy Christmas,’ Molly whispers.

‘Thank you, sweetheart, it was a lovely present.’

 

Shortlisted stories:

Another Bloody Christmas by G W Colkitto

Curry for Christmas by Ashley Meggitt

More Blessed to Give than to Receive by Ian Shine

 

About G W Colkitto

G W Colkitto is a member of Read Raw, has had short stories and poetry in magazines and anthologies and two ebook novellas released; The Case of the Hungarian Foot released by MX Publishing, The Case of the Antiquarian’s Study released by Endeavour Press.  Winner of the Scottish Writers’ Groups’ Showcase short story competition 2011 and their poetry competition 2012.

Another Bloody Christmas

Spence grunted, twisting his fake gut from side to side. ‘This look OK?’ he asked. Adam was preoccupied, his left foot stuck half way into his boots.

‘Am I OK?’ Spence stepped forward to stand directly in front and Adam looked up.

‘Yea,’ he said and then froze staring. ‘Get it off. If Santa sees that bloody beard we could lose this work for ever, then nothing could save you from Lupus. Look, we all enjoy this night. Do you want to be the vampire that screws up? Do that and I’ll kill you, forget Lupus.’

Spence fell back before the rage, pulling the red-stained beard from his face.

‘Just a bit of fun.’ He tossed the beard aside.

Adam pulled Spence close so that his face was inches away.

‘Grow up. I’ve seen it before. Cockiness. It gets them in the end. Lupus hates you and would love to rip out your throat.’

 

Lupus was waiting. ‘Come on. You’re last. The elves are fidgety. Nasty little green buggers. Pity they taste so horrible.’

They had barely taken the last seats at the back when Santa stumbled in.

‘You can almost smell the spices from the mulled wine’ whispered Adam.

Santa raised his arms for quiet.

‘The doors shut with the last Santa back, so if you are late back, sunlight will stream in.’ He stopped for effect. ‘You know what that means; dead vampires. Remember it’s a world waiting to trap us, so let’s be careful out there.’

 

Spence’s night settled into the usual routine, the occasional ‘Yo, Ho, Ho.’, the odd cheery wave, lots of slipping down chimneys. He kept the lusts in check heeding Santa’s advice about not delaying. He had been one of the last back the previous Christmas and met Lupus at the entrance, literally frothing at the mouth. It reminded him there was a bit of werewolf in Lupus. Last on his schedule of presents was ‘Miss W Lash. Red Basque and leather bondage set. He licked his lips.

The house was lit by scarlet candles. The scent drew him forward.Abattoir, sprang to mind. On a table by the fire he dipped a finger in red, heart- shaped dabs, which decorated a white plate. His finger lingered in his mouth, his tongue rolling round the taste of hot sticky blood. He pondered Mulled Blood, touch of cloves, hint of cinnamon, eastern European. He sipped.  ‘No. Chilean with some old world Spanish thrown in, perhaps conquistador.  And a little of …Can’t quite place.’

The note caught his eye:

Come down and see me, Big Boy.

 

Spence saw the open door to the side of the fireplace. He descended to a room lit by more candles. She stood naked before a gilt framed mirror.  He swayed towards her, began to panic, eyes wavering ‘why is she laughing, why can I not see her in the mirror.’ He remembered Adam’s words of warning,’Cockiness. Gets them in the end.’ The unknown flavour in the wine came to him, drugged, as he folded to the floor.

Lupus hovered by the doors to the Great Hall, constantly checking his mobile phone.

‘How are we doing?’ asked Adam.

‘One missing.’

‘Who’s screwed up.’

‘Your friend Spence.’

On the horizon the sleigh appeared. As soon as it was through the doors the elves slammed them shut.

‘Spence, a friend? I told him if he messed up I would do him. Where is the bugger?’

The sledge was empty of vampire.

On Lupus’ phone Adam saw a text message flash.  ’Breakfast awaits, xxx Werewolf Lash’

 

Curry for Christmas by Ashley Meggitt

About Ashley Meggitt

Ashley is 47 and is trying to break his pavlovian reaction to life (not the dribbling bit – I’m happy with that), a condition that sneaked up on him over the years but that antibiotics wont shift. The ointment of writing seems to be having more success. He lives near Cambridge with his wife and, at their convenience, his two children.

Curry for Christmas

‘What do you mean Christmas has taken a taxi to Brick Lane looking for a curry house,’ said Capo in amazement. ‘Christmas is a bloody abstract concept. It can’t just walk out, it doesn’t have any frigging legs.’

Ops coughed, ‘It appears to have manifested itself into human form. Christmas is now less abstract and more, well, stract.’

‘Shit, that’s not even a word Ops. Wait, don’t tell me it manifested itself as Father Christmas.’

‘No,’ said Ops, ‘Jonny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Seems Christmas enjoyed the films.’

‘What? How the hell do you know that?’

‘It mentioned it to Billy when it borrowed fifty quid from him to get the taxi.’ Ops realised he’d just dropped Billy in a bucket of the proverbial stuff.

‘Jesus Christ Ops, Billy should have put the place in lock down not lent it money.’

‘Of course, but Billy thought it was Jonny Depp. He’s a big fan you know.’

‘I don’t give a shit if he knows his inside leg measurement or can play the theme tune to Pirates of the Caribbean on the piano with his todger. He shouldn’t have let anyone out without clearance, I’ll pin his nut sack to the wall for this.’

His office door opened and Mono walked in.

‘Speak to me,’ said Capo, ‘and make it so I’ll understand. No geeky crap.’

‘Sure,’ said Mono. ‘Ok, the abstract concept storage facility was upgraded a few years ago to cope with concept bloat, too many people spinning out the concepts and keeping them active for far longer than they should. You know, Christmas sales in October, leaving Christmas decorations up until March, that kind of thing.’

Capo rolled his eyes. ‘Get on with it,’ he growled.

‘Well, we think that extracting the increasingly bloated concept from the general consciousness and compressing  it to such a high degree in the new storage units put it in a bit of a unexpected state.’

‘Unexpected in what way?’ said Capo narrowing his eyes.

Mono looked at Ops, who simply shrugged.

‘Well, it seems that given the right trigger, so to speak, the super compressed concept could bootstrap itself into a conscious state capable of taking on human form.’ Mono shuffled his feet nervously.

‘And what was the right trigger exactly?’

‘Silly string,’ said Ops. Capo looked at the pair of them.

‘Silly string?’ he said. They nodded. ‘In the storage facility?  It’s a bloody clean room isn’t it?’

‘Technically yes,’ said Ops, ‘but with Christmas just around the corner the Monitor team felt that a bit of festive cheer wouldn’t go amiss.’

‘Well,’ bellowed Capo, ‘Christmas isn’t round the damn corner now is it, it’s down Brick Lane scoffing a curry.’  Ops and Mono were smart enough to remain silent.

‘Right,’ Capo said after a moment, ‘we’ll re-engineer Easter as a temporary replacement like we did with the last arse up the Monitor team made.’

Ops grimaced, ‘We did have a lot of problems with people singing the wrong hymns and trying to buy chocolate rabbits as Christmas presents. There was quite a lot of unpleasantness.’

‘Do I look like I give a toss. Just sort it.’ Ops’s mobile rang. He answered it.

‘Right,’ he said, ‘yep, well tell it it can’t.’ He hung up.

‘Might have a bit of a problem with the plan Capo.’

Capo raised his eyebrows scarily high.

‘Easter says it wants to go for a curry too, and can it take Schrödinger’s cat with it.’

 

More Blessed to Give than to Receive by Ian Shine

About Ian Shine

Ian Shine is a journalist who lives in London, but has also lived in Poland, Russia and Portugal. After 10 years of thinking about it, he has finally got around to trying to write fiction. He completed City University’s short course on novel writing earlier this year.

More Blessed to Give than to Receive

I did it because of the John Lewis Christmas advert; that’s what I’m going to tell the court. After I saw that snowman risking life and melting limb to get his snowwoman wrapped up nice and warm in some winter woollies — which he may as well have presented in Trojan horse wrapping paper — I finally understood: Christmas is the perfect time to do it; it’s practically invented for this sort of thing; I mean, look at what wound up happening to Jesus.

So, to my chronicallylactose-intolerant teenage daughter, who wears a WWJD bracelet that I wish stood for something illicit, the butter baste on the Turkey and the mashed potatoes are just for you. Jesus would forgive me.

To my son, the 20-year-old adrenaline junkie. I did some research on the internet, which you constantly accuse me of being unable to use properly, and I found a really disreputable firm that arranges bungee jumps. I’ve booked you a 300ft drop. I know you’ll do it topless to show off your abs, but you might want to consider getting charity sponsorship and wearing a T-shirt. Is there a charity for victims of their own egos? I’ll let you look that one up online, if you can break through the firewall I’ve set up.

To my dad, the borderline alcoholic, enjoy this bottle of whiskey and VIP brewery tour. You can drink as much as you want.

To Mark. We used to work together. I know you’ve got no other friends, but I really don’t know why we still meet up once a month for a drink. I’m just writing to let you know that I’ve changed my email address and phone number, and amin all likelihood moving out of my house after Christmas. Further details not enclosed, although I hope you make good use of this knife sharpener.

And to my wife, who said she wanted nothing more than a picture-perfect family Christmas featuring festive jumpers, a perfectly clean front room and plenty of good lighting for the photos she will post on Facebook to make all her equally superficial friends jealous, your first present is inside this shoebox, which is empty apart from the Christmas list you gave me in early September. The little drawings on it are all my own work. Your second present is in the driveway. It’s the next model up from the one the neighbours bought last month, and the brakes have already been cut.

To the judge and jury, I tell you that this Christmas, I truly felt more blessed to give than to receive, and you can never take that away from me.