Saturday, 6 February 2016

They’re all foreigners abroad | Book Excerpt

Travel / Humour
by Stuart Wright

Ear plugs (During August)
If you go abroad during the month of August then ear plugs are absolute ‘must’ accessories. Foreign industry just about closes during the month of August and many, if not most foreigners, head for the local coast for their annual month’s holiday. They shout, they shout a lot. You can be on the beach, in a restaurant, on a pleasure boat, or anywhere you care to name on a foreign coast and you will experience a complete and utter ear bashing. Foreigners are completely incapable of having a nice quiet conversation, they just shout. You will probably think that they’re arguing but it’s just normal behavior to them.
Take some ear plugs because they do your head in!

Ear plugs on the plane
Some people suffer from severe headaches during take off and landing on aircraft and we have to sympathize with these poor unfortunate people. In order to overcome the problem, some altitude sufferers use these spongy ear plug thingies which are usually bright yellow. Have you seen them? You can be sat there on the plane minding your own business and having a quick gander at the other travellers when all of a sudden your eyes lock onto the person sat opposite to you. What’s wrong with their head? Is their brain melting? These bright yellow spongy bungy thingies have started to work their way out of this persons ears and they look as though they have some radio active gunk coming out of their head.
‘Oh, it’s just some of those spongy bungy thingies; thank God for that!’

Saturday, 2 January 2016

SEVEN | Rippercide | Book Excerpt

Genre: Fiction: Crime and Mystery, Thriller / Suspense
Author: Peter Hodgson

The side streets branching off Blackpool's Seaforth Road resembled the alleys of a foggy Victorian London. The noise from the slow traffic smothered the rumble of the Irish Sea, its waves toppling as they succumbed to the Promenade's robust walls, foaming on their retreat. The austere red-bricked houses faded from view, resembling figments of the imagination rather than part of the austere construction of the town's dwellings. Taxi drivers left their engines ticking over whilst waiting to take customers into the town centre where they could enjoy further drinks, music and dance. Groups of boisterous men and women were keen to make the most of their Friday night out.
The weekend had begun.
Raucous laughter and chanting from the lager merchants rang out. There was bound to be a fight or two as the night progressed, and you would be sure to come across a couple of discarded half-eaten Chinese takeaways and splatters of vomit along the way.
At 10 p.m. the music of local band Hot Fever thundered from the stage of The Elms public house, renowned for its heavy music, underage drinkers and pot smokers. The band's second set was in full swing. Its four members lapped up the attention and adulation from the crowd during their performance of an original song called ‘Smash Me Out’ which featured a heavy bass line that never left the key of E. Despite the bad weather conditions the usual patrons had turned up to revel in the atmosphere.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Stop! … don’t go any further | Serendipity – A miscellany of short stories | Book Excerpt

Fiction: Short Stories
by John Butler

With trembling hand, the driving instructor wiped the beads of cold sweat off his brow. It was not that it was a particularly warm day, in fact, now, as autumn drew to a close, there was that foreboding snap in the air that reminded us that winter would soon be upon us.
His face was a sickly shade of white and his eyes were closed in an unnatural tightness. For several moments he said nothing, then, making a visible effort to control his breathing, broke the long silence.
The driver, Miss Jarvis, an attractive young woman of about eighteen, turned in her seat and looked at him.
“Are you all right sir?” she asked in her best caring voice. At his command she had slammed on the brakes of the little red Fiesta and brought it to a shuddering halt.
So far, the examiner had sat through her test in stony silence. As he turned to answer her enquiry, she noticed his deathly pallor had slowly given way to an angry red. He looked like a ripe tomato about to burst.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Folly Under the Lake - Book Excerpt - Chapter 1

Genre: Fiction: Crime and mystery
Author: Salema Nazzal

“We can’t possibly turn down an invitation to stay the weekend at Witton Park!” exclaimed Florence Brewer heatedly to her husband Joseph. “Walter and Blanche would be most upset. Walter has spent a small fortune getting the folly built, and he’s dying to show it off to us.”
“It’s not so much a folly as an underwater smoking room by all accounts,” mused Joseph, leaning back in his chair, and looking up at the ceiling. “They say the domed roof is made of glass and you can observe the fish swimming by while you’re puffing on your pipe. I must say I’m rather keen to view the thing, but a weekend with the Sinnet family is almost more than I can stand. I know he’s my father’s oldest friend, but the way he constantly clears his throat in that way. He never used to do it and I find it bally annoying. Blanche is pleasant enough but I just can’t fathom either of them. I must say, I think…”
“I don’t care what you think. We’re going and that’s final,” interrupted Florence, peering at her reflection in her powder compact through half narrowed eyes. “It’s not like we’re inundated with invitations, though I can’t work out why. The word about town is that he’s imported some marvellous marble statues that are dotted about all over the estate. I’d like to feast my eyes on them, plus all the improvements he’s been making to the house and grounds.”
“It certainly sounds like he’s been splashing his cash around,” said Joseph in a jovial voice. “I’ve heard the three lakes are quite fascinating.”

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Treachery and Triumph - An Anthology of World War II Stories

Genre: Fiction: History / World War II (Anthology)

Darkness and Light By Steve Morris
This story is based on a true account of an escape from Auschwitz


Is that a straight enough answer for you?

There is no other word for it. It was hell.

People ask me how it felt to escape and assume it was a wonderful feeling. I can tell you that I’ve spent every single day of my life since then thinking about the place and the prisoners in there. For that reason, in many ways, I’m not sure I ever really escaped from it.
19 June 1942

We talked secretly. Saturday morning would soon come around (although the fact that it was Saturday rather than any other day meant absolutely nothing in there).  Saturday was a work day. Saturday was a cold day, like the rest.  Stanislaw, Jozef and Eugeniusz were with me. Together we would make the four. It would take all four of us and a whole lot of luck. We had decided that Saturday was to be the day because there was always a change of routine. At noon. There was a tiny window of opportunity. We had been watching our captors carefully in our fear and our hatred. On Saturdays some SS men always left the camp to go to spend time with their families until Monday. That left gaps. The camp had grown and merged with a neighbouring camp. By then there were thousands of SS guards there. There were many more of us, but we never seemed to be around for long. The camp ran like clockwork. The clock, however was a cold ticking killing machine. 

Although I had long lost track of calendar dates and lived in a time when weekends and holidays were a long-distant dream in a living nightmare, I seemed to have lasted longer than many others. My survival for the length of time was largely due to ‘luck’ after having being given relatively light work by one of the Kapos1. I kept out of the way of trouble by means of my ‘cleaning’ job of dragging the dead to the crematorium. I worked as part of a pair. My partner carried legs, I carried the arms. That didn’t mean I escaped the constant kicking, however. Nothing was ever done quickly enough for them. In ultimate irony, work indoors often meant a better chance of survival, especially during winter where there was some warmth to be found. Seasons never seemed to change. Time meant nothing. The weather was bitter. It was always bitter. We barely felt glad to be alive. No one escaped, we were told. We also knew that a punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation.  They wouldn’t have shot us. That would have been easier for us. I’d seen it. They liked to reduce us to food-craving animals. Some lost their faith. ‘There is no God,’ they said. ‘How can he let this happen?’

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fierce Thunder - SOMMERS

Genre: Thriller / Suspense, Adventure
Author: Courtney Silberberg and Jacquelyn Kinkade Silberberg

Mountain biking at the Big Bear Ski Resort, high above the Los Angeles basin in the middle of summer, was like being on a different planet. The once crowded, manicured ski runs where virgin powder once lay were now unpatrolled, barren, mountain bike trails. An accountant, who was also an extreme sports enthusiast at the corporate offices, had realized a ski resort could run basically year round, hence, greater revenues and stronger balance sheets.
Chairlifts carried both bikes and bikers up to the top, where lodges that fed hundreds during the winter months, now worked with a skeleton staff, parading in bikinis and shorts.  It was in sharp contrast to the congested, smoggy metropolitan area below, as it was pure up there, the air and water clean. The crisp blue sky canopied any danger for the rough and tumble adrenaline junkies the trails attracted, making for an exhilarating place to go, as it was supposed to be fun.
It probably wasn’t fair. At least that’s how Dr. Brad Sommers saw it in that glimpse of time and space that passed before he was forced to react. Of course “fair” wasn’t one of his favorite words at the moment.
An athlete, the twenty-nine year old Sommers was riding hard, too hard, stressing the mountain bike to its limits, pointing down a narrow, winding chute. The gravel and sand rooster-tailed up from the trail as his rear, knobby tire found grooves and then hopped between them, inches from peril.
Sommers tightened the muscles in his strong arms, gingerly maintaining and sensing his precious balance… shifting, leaning. He was a good biker, instinctive, but it was almost futile, as this downhill ride was equivalent to gliding over shiny black ice, and going down or catching an edge here meant falling off the mountain. But Sommers didn’t care about that. He was on a mission, trying to forget, cope maybe; with the odd hand fate had dealt him.
The phones kept ringing in his head and cryptic messages about appeal decisions, court dates and where his case was headed if he didn’t respond bounced around in his brain like his tires skirting between the ruts for precious traction.
His case.

Monday, 14 September 2015

How I (almost) Dodged The Draft

A Reluctant Recruit | Wartime History / Biography
by Derek Rosser

There were seven of us in that poky little office. They are scattered far and wide across the globe now but I expect that, if they ever read this, they will recognise themselves.
We were all engaged in a common pursuit called ‘Avoiding Conscription’. The last ‘War to end wars’ had been over for about eight years but the government of the day, in its wisdom, found it necessary to maintain the armed forces at full strength to ensure our continued survival.
Needless to say those of us upon whom the burden was likely to fall did not support this point of view. We were, however, given little opportunity to argue our case.
The ritual began at the age of eighteen when all males were obliged to register for National Service and be subjected to medical examination. The examination appeared to consist of coughing while the examiner retained a firm hold upon your vital appendages. To make absolutely certain, you were instructed to touch your toes while he carried out a close scrutiny of your posterior orifice.