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  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Past Contest November 2016 Short Story Contest - Instructions and Entries Here

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest' started by Tenderiser, Nov 1, 2016.

    This month you have two options for a prompt. Build a story using one or both of these prompts as inspiration, as loosely or literally as you like...

    Prompt Option 1: Your story is set on bonfire night. There's something strange about the Guy Fawkes effigy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night)

    Prompt Option 2: Kanye West is elected president of the US.

    [​IMG]

    Requirements
    • 1,200 - 5,000 words
    • Any genre
    • Any style
    • Polished to the best of your ability
    How to Enter

    Post your entry as a reply to this thread. It will be automatically anonymised. Please title the story and include the word count.

    You will be able to post entries until 14 November at 23:59 GMT.

    Voting

    Voting will run from 15 - 30 November. There is no fixed voting criteria: voters will choose the story they think is the best.

    Winner

    The winner will be announced on 1 December. He or she will get a shiny medal under their avatar, automatic entry into the annual Hall of Fame contest, and their winning story featured in the WritingForums annual ezine.

    Get writing!
     
    cydney likes this.
  2. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Senior Member

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    I'm not old, unhip, and not English, so neither of the topics interests me.
    But y'all have fun!
     
    A man called Valance likes this.
  3. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    Cherry Pop

    (1,237 words)​

    I have landed in the promised land. I step out of the plane. Around me, security guards are wearing diamond rings. I’ve heard that those were personal gifts from the president himself. That’s why I am here. To plead for President Yeezus to finance my childhood dream and business idea. It’s a yogurt shop, it’s nothing new and no bank in Britain has agreed to finance it, so I must go elsewhere to seek my fortune. Every January, President Yeezus of the USA hosts a competition. Everyone can enter their business idea - as long as it will be realized in the USA, but only ten contestants are selected to actually come meet the president in the White House and plead for his support.

    “Mrs. Banks, President Yeezus will see you now,” says the woman who has welcomed us all.

    I recognize her from TV. Her name is Kylie Jenner, and I believe that she’s related to the president somehow.

    I step inside the Oval Office. It’s decorated with posters from the President’s well-documented days as a rap artist. One of the posters shows the president holding a microphone next to a confused looking younger Taylor Swift, who’s holding a MTV award. Underneath the poster hangs a sign that reads: “Speak your mind and they shall hear!”, a quote which I remember from the president's victory speech that he gave in form of a rap song. His last rap song, as he then declared. Mr. President Kanye West “Yeezus” will not rap a single song before Tibet is free.

    After waiting for a good ten minutes, the lights suddenly starts to flash. I hear a drum beat, and I feel something rotate under me. The president has exchanged the floor with a rotating stage! I suddenly think that this could be what President Clinton II and President Yeezus very public feud was about. As I recall, President Clinton II publicly warned the future President Yeezus not to be presumptuous and start decorating before he was elected. The day after, Mr. West had made a video explaining to everyone that he was an ambassador of politics, and if crooked Taylor Swift would win, he’d have to interrupt her victory speech. It was his duty to the public and to his generous spirit.

    The drum beat stops, and I see President Yeezus before me. He is guarded by two men in black, and I am pretty sure one of them is Will Smith. The other one could be DJ Jazzy Jeff, but despite my teenage crush on the latter, I am not completely sure.

    “Mrs. Black,” says the president.

    “Mrs. Banks,” I correct him.

    “Smith!” bellows the president.

    The tall man, who I guess is Will Smith, bends his head, and President Yeezus gestures for them all to leave. He holds up a hand to me and tells me to wait there.

    I wait. The lights flashes, and I hear the drum beat again. It lasts for around a minute before President Yeezus and his men in black are once again before me.

    “Mrs. Banks,” says the president.

    I bow and am humbled to have the president address me. I can feel the man in black, who is not Will Smith but could be DJ Jazzy Jeff look at me. He removes his sunglasses and recognize me from the time that I dressed up as a giant heart for Valentines Day, and I stalked the DJ during his entire trip to London.

    “Mrs. Banks, I am going to be direct with you now,” says the president. “As you know, I am a spirit of generosity and genius, and I make it my duty to spread my generosity and genius to everyone who is in need of it.”

    There’s a pause, and President Yeezus eyes me up and down. DJ Jazzy Jeff puts his sunglasses back on.

    “Mrs. Banks, you are in need of it!”

    My heart speeds up, and I feel light headed. I can’t tell if the president is complimenting or criticizing me.

    “Imma gonna be honest with you. Your idea sucks! The world has enough yogurt, and you show a profound void of originality. I only invited you here because my generosity and genius told me to tell you this!”

    President Yeezus exchanges his sun glasses from the red pair he was wearing to a black pair that are identical with the ones his men in black are wearing. He claps two times to the left, and a faster drum beat is heard, as President Yeezus and his companions rotate back out of the Oval Office.

    Soon after, I feel myself escorted out by Kylie Jenner. Before she lets me go, she hands me a leaflet titled “If you’re a Katy or a Taylor, you’re doing it wrong! - How to be a genius for dummies”. Everyone who leaves the White House receives the leaflet. It’s basically a transcript of the president’s victory speech. Then Ms. Jenner contemplates between two other leaflets. Her phone rings, and she nods and makes a decision. She throws away “How not to be a nobody” and hands me “How to accept that you’re a nobody” and smiles and escorts me off the premises.

    It was a let down, but I have never been to Washington D.C. before, so I decide to use the rest of my day to see my surroundings. Perhaps I’ll even take a look in “How to accept that you’re a nobody”, and I hope that it does have some tips on how not to be a nobody.

    In a nearby park, there are some protesters. They voted for Miley Cyrus they say, and I recognize Donald Trump among them, which is strange. I am not in the mood for protesting, but I still sit near them because there’s a nice smell coming from them, and it’s making me feel all calm and happy. I can also suddenly vision things that I have never visioned before, and I believe that these protesters could be my guardian angels.

    The next day, I am sitting in the plane and on my way back to London. I’d hoped that the USA had been where my dream and fortune would be realized, but perhaps I am just not made for selling yogurt.

    “A yogurt, ma’am?” asks the flight attendant.

    “Yes, please,” I nod.

    I could do that, I think. I could become a flight attendant. I’d get to travel the world. I’ve always wanted to experience more, and I like flying. My worries just seems smaller from up here. And I might even get to go back to the Oval Office one day. If I do, I hope that Miley Cyrus will be president. At the thought, I lean back in my seat, take a spoonful of my cherry-flavored yogurt, and I’m quite happy that I get to be a nobody.

    Ten years later, here I am again. I’m awaiting my flight to take me to the Oval Office to meet President Disney, who has, at last, woken from his frozen sleep. I am not trying to plead for anything this time. I already made my fortune if not in cash. But I won a competition, and I’d like to see the White House again. It might have changed. Because no matter how much we try to make the world stay still for a second, it seems that it just never will.
     
  4. dbesim

    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Lord Medley (1, 822 words)

    Ellie throws some twigs into the fire. The giant flames licking as far up as the sky. There is a glow over Ellie's face as she stares at the tall flames, licking up high and burning the Guy.

    There's always something evil about this occasion but she doesn't know what. It's something to do with the spirit of burning this man. Sure, he's a puppet, but even he doesn't deserve that. Why do we even celebrate this? Poor puppet.

    A cold wind blows over as Ellie pulls her jacket closer and shivers. She stares at the burning effigy. There's a movement. Ellie turns around momentarily distracted by the children laughing behind her. She turns back around and there it is again. A movement. Over the sound of the strong-blowing wind, Ellie thinks she hears a murmur. Or is it mumbling? And it's coming from the effigy.

    "STOP THE FIRE!!" Ellie screams. "There's something in there!"

    "Huh?" A couple of guys burning the fire turn around. "I said stop the fire!" At that moment one of the boys who's part of a group swears and suddenly takes off running.

    "Sh*t!" says Ellie. "I'll deal with him later." In the meantime she runs for the nearest fire-extinguisher, which isn't far from the back of the building where the toilets are. As soon as Ellie gets back to the Guy, she releases the clasp and lets out the air. There are two or three people in the crowd who begin helping.

    Once they get the flames out, Ellie runs toward the puppet. She could hear the sound of choking coming from it. There's someone inside.

    Ellie moves forward trying to figure out how to open him. There's a crowd behind her. Eventually, Ellie figures out that his head comes off first. Ellie takes off the costume and there's the choking man inside. His face blackened from the soot of the fire. He's sweating, beads falling from across his face.

    "Get back everybody," Ellie commands. "Are you okay?" She says addressing the guy in the costume. He coughs and splutters. She carefully gets him out of the costume.

    "Yeah, thanks to you," he coughs. Ellie waits for him to let it out. She checks his chest to make sure he's breathing okay. Thankfully, he seems to be recovering.

    Ellie didn't notice before but now she sees the man is an old guy and has something wise about his dull, blue eyes. "Who are you?" asks Ellie. The guy coughs out a gust of air. He raises his blue eyes toward Ellie.

    "I'm Lord Medley," he says, "Pleasure to meet you."

    "Hold on," Ellie says. "You're a Lord?"

    "Pleasure to meet you," he says. Ellie takes in a deep breath then releases. "So what's going on here, Mr Medley?" she says. Lord Medley har-humphs.

    "Those... insolent little fools," he says pointing a finger toward some direction, "have tried to burn me to the stake," he says, his eyes soften. "But you, my love... Well, you saved me."

    "They tried to burn you. But why?" asks Ellie.

    "Why?" says Lord Medley. "Don't you know? They tried to kill me so they could make... what's his name... Kanye West... President."

    "Kanye West?" asks Ellie, "But.. how?"

    "They know I hold the ranks in Parliament," he says, "Don't you see? This is no different to what happened when... Guy Fawkes.." he begins to cough.

    "Guy Fawkes? When he tried to blow up Parliament?" "... When tried to take over," Lord Medley manages.

    "They want to make Kanye West President?" Asks Ellie. "And you hold the reins on that?" Ellie stares at him blankly for a moment. Then, in a passing second, the first signs of laughter begin to erupt in her throat

    "Of course," Lord Medley says," .. for they know my rank." "They want to make Kanye West President?" she repeats. This time she doesn't hold back and falls over the floor laughing.

    "And almost killed me at that!" "Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

    "Madam! Calm down! Please!!"

    "Oh, this is the funniest thing I've ever heard," says Ellie. "But, come on, let's clean you up." She lifts him up and guides him out through the crowd. "Where do you want to go?" Ellie asks after a while. "To Parliament, if you please." "Okay, sure," says Ellie. "We can go with my car. Um... I've got it parked there up the road." Ellie and Lord Medley walk slowly toward the car. "Ow, my ribs," says Lord Medley. "Careful," says Ellie. There's still soot on his face and his clothes seem pasted to his body but at least he's OK.

    "So what exactly did they say they were gonna do?" asks Ellie.

    "Well.. you see.. we Lords... pass bills so... what they wanted was me... to draft that Bill here in England that would open the door to making Kanye West the President of America."

    "Can you do that? That's genius," Ellie says.

    "Madam, where there's a will there's a way." After a pause: "I flat out refused, of course."

    "Of course," replies Ellie.

    "Now I can see exactly why you think this is amusing, young lady."

    "No, not at all," she replies. "You're just like... a modern day Guy Fawkes, that's all."

    "Oh, spare me the irony," he replies.

    "Well.. okay.." says Ellie, "Um.. Lord Medley.. why don't you take a rest for a while and we'll deal with the situation better tomorrow morning, huh?"

    "You don't believe me?" he says.

    "Oh, of course I believe you," says Ellie. "But you just need to take a rest. You've been through a lot for one night."

    "A rest? A rest? While those pesky fools are out there trying to take over."

    "Just for the night," Ellie intercedes. "You need it. I mean.. we both need it." Lord Medley stares at Ellie briefly, before giving in, "Okay, I suppose that would be the most sensible thing to do." Ellie parks the car over the back of the Houses of Parliament. "That's right, it would be." He hastily gets out of the car and shuts the door. "Good night, Mr Medley," she whispers.



    On the drive back home, Ellie takes a right-turn heading back to the ground where the fire was. Ellie shivers, wishing for something warmer. Across the playground, Ellie makes out the blurred shape of a couple of boys huddled together. Isn't that them? The boys who broke away? She can't quite make it out. Who else would be hanging around here at the dawn of night? She approaches.

    "Do you get paid to look this conspicuous?" she calls out. The boys turn round. Ellie gets closer. Yes, that's them. "A little birdie tells me you were planning to takeover Parliament today? On bonfire night? How original."

    "We're not doin' nothin'," a guy says, "Just mindin' our own business." He takes a puff of his joint and passes it through the group.

    "It's none of your business!"

    "Nobody ain't tryin' to take over nothin' " someone says.

    Ellie notices a small radio drumming rap music in the back. A guy comes out of the shadows. "Hey, aren't you the chick who rumbled us today? You know she was fly," he looks her up and down. "hmm... So are you," he murmurs. Ellie blinks. This is unbelievable.

    "A Lord was nearly burnt to a crisp today and you're hitting on me? "

    The guy takes a drag of his joint. He fiddles with the knobs on the radio. The rapping gets louder.

    "Do you like music like this?" he says.

    "What's that got to do with anything?"

    "No do you?" he asks. "Of course she don't," someone else says, "She's too prim and prissy for it!" "Shut your mouth!" shouts another.

    "Am I missing something here?" Ellie says. "Yes you are," says the boy. "You see, we like this music." "So?" she says. "So? Do you think they want us listening to this sh*t? You think they represent us? Respect us? Hell, no, we're the underdogs." Ellie takes a step back.

    "You know what we want? We want a government who lets us listen to this sh*t. We don't want trouble, we want our sound."

    "So?"

    "So?" the guy says, "We want recognition from World Leaders. Guns, knives, drugs," he gives Ellie a sleazy look, "Sex.. alcohol.. all of it." Ellie lets it sink in. "Well you're deluded."

    "No, we're not b*tch!" he says. "We're gonna make Kanye President." Ellie laughs. "Jeez, I thought you guys were out of your minds but this is taking it to new levels." "Miss, he can't do nothin' about it. Don't take him seriously."

    "Well.. You tried to kill a man today." Ellie pauses. "If that's not enough to report you I don't know what is." "Aw, miss, really, we mean no harm. We just want to be understood."

    "OK, look," Ellie strokes her chin. "You give up your little conspiracy plan and I'll let you guys go, OK?" "We never thought nothin' would come by it," the boy says, "We just don't want to be the underdogs, that's all. We want to be represented." Ellie gives the mob one last long look. "Alright you pack it all in and I'll pretend it didn't happen. Is that fair?" "Yes, ma'am, very fair." The boy balls his hand and reaches toward Ellie, "Touch?" he says. Ellie stares at the fist and touches.

    "Now git!" she cries. The boys quickly break away.





    Ellie calls into Lord Medley's office the next afternoon. "Hello? Lord Medley?" There's some static on the phone. "Who's this?" he says. "It's Ellie. The girl who saved your life yesterday?"

    "Oh! Ellie, yes," he says. "How are you Ellie?"

    "Well, I'm calling to check up on you." She pauses and inhales. "What I want you to know is... those boys?.... they won't be bothering you no more."

    "Blasted! Those pesky little brats! Well I've gone and done it now."

    "Er.. You've gone and done what?" says Ellie.

    "I've drafted the Bill," says Lord Medley. "Those pesky brats won't lay a finger on me ever again."

    "You've gone and done it?" says Ellie. Oh God.

    "Yes.. and if everything goes to plan it should be passed with the Queen's approval tomorrow."

    "What! When?" Ellie asks. "I mean when will he be President?" She hears papers rustle in the background.

    "Well.. I should imagine.. sometime within the next two seasons. Er... he'll stand as Presidential Candidate, of course. Then.. well it's only a matter of time after.. he wins on the basis of a popular vote. He has fans, you know.." Lord Medley notices things are rather distant on the other end. He swaps the phone onto his other hand.

    "Er.. Ellie, are you there?" But Ellie's already passed out and lays sprawled across the floor. The phone a few inches away from her fingers.

    "Er.. Ellie.. Hello... Ellie?... Are you there? ... Ellie? Are you there?.. Ellie..."
     
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    Honest intent (2939)

    People say that Guy Fawkes was the last person to enter the Houses of Parliament with honorable intentions. They could be right. No one could call our job tonight honest it's a sight more straight forward than the grunting mass of greedy porkers who usually feed at the public trough in the building above us. Six hundred and fifty mouths gorging themselves on an ugly swill of falsified expenses, inflated pay packets, and brazen backhanders.

    The sewer we're sloshing down is pretty rank but wading through their fetid arse gravy smells no worse to me than the shite that spews from their mouths on a daily basis. These are the bastards who sent us to war with rifles that never jam unless you try to fire them and body armor that wasn't proof against frag let alone bullets. “It's the best the country can afford” they said while voting themselves an 11% pay rise. Every greasy twenty they jammed in their fat wallets was stained with the blood of my friends. Tonight it's pay back time.

    There's three of us down here. In front of me, feeling his way through the river of political turd is Danny 'Boomer' McKenzie, also known for obvious reasons as “McBoom”. We go all the way back to basic training and there's no one I'd rather have with me on a job like this.

    The same can't be said for the man behind me. Billy “the Wedge” O'Connell. Word is he gave himself the nickname because he's always flash with the cash around 'the ladies'. Personally I reckon it's because as soon as you see his face you want to shove it into a door.

    The thing about nicknames if they are given by your friends then they're either a recognition of your abilities, like McBoom's spent a lifetime blowing shit up, or they are a backhanded mark of respect.

    They hung the tag “Dusty” in the army , its pretty de rigeur for blokes called Miller, it could have been worse at least they didn't call me windy. These days my friends call me 'Duster' . More knuckle than feather I tell anyone who asks , but it comes from what I do. If you upset one of the big boys enough that they want to pay my fee , then I'll come and 'dust' you. Nothing personal, strictly business.

    On the other hand if you name yourself , its just a bit tragic, like saying you don't have the friends or their respect. Like a little kid who wants to play with the big boys without understanding the rules of the game.

    So what are two pros like me and McBoom doing in this slime dripping shit tube with an amateur like 'the Wedge' then ? Well the answer to that's pretty simple , Billy may be a complete cockwomble but his father and brothers are a different nest of vipers. The O'Connell family pretty much run crime south of the river. Whores, loan sharking, bank jobs, protection, they've got their fingers in a lot of nasty pies. The old man Donal O'Connell, don't laugh he doesn't find his name amusing, can definitely afford my fee. “Make sure it goes right Duster

    Ahead of me McBoom pauses “ fuck me” he says “ look at the size of the beast” the flickering beam of his head torch lighting up an enormous rat gazing balefully back at us.

    “You sure its not Nigel Farage ?” I joke as the creature decides we aren't dangerous and goes back to washing its whiskers

    “Hey” Billy hisses from behind me “Don't say shit like that , Nigel's the man”

    McBoom and I exchange glances as we start moving again , this is the other thing about Billy, he's probably thinks Hitler was a great leader but a tad soft on minorities.

    “I thought you were more of a Paul Golding kind of guy” I shoot back.

    Billy looks daggers at me “you can laugh Duster” he says “but you'll see, the day will come...”

    I tune him out as he goes off on one about immigrants, and muslims, and homosexuals , and taking our country back , and doubtless rivers of blood in the streets blah blah blah

    “Hey” McBoom calls back “ If the bastard child of Enoch Powell and Oswald Moseley has quite finished , I think this is it”

    He runs his gloved palm over the rough stonework then curses , flicking rancid slime from his fingers “yep , there's definitely something here”

    I pull a maglight out of my vest and join him, playing the more powerful beam over the wall “yeah you're right, bro” I say looking at the uneven masonry blocking a side tunnel or entrance “for once the int was good”

    “You want me to thermite it ?” McBoom asks

    I can't stop myself cringing at the thought. Combining iron oxide and either magnesium or aluminium powder, ignited by a small white phosphorous charge, a thermite grenade will burn everything in a five to ten metre radius. Basically its like a giant sparkler but a tad more dangerous. What McBoom is suggesting is sticking one to the wall and sparking it off so that the heat cracks the mortar and makes the masonry crumble. It might well work, but..

    “Nah I don't think so Bro” I say “ there's no guarantee it would do it, plus with all this shit down here there could be methane and the last thing we need is a flash over”

    “Yeah you're right” he agrees “ I'll low ex it instead”. McBoom pulls a block of what looks like marzipan but hopefully isn't from his dems bag and starts rolling it between his hands as I nudge Billy into retreating a few meters back up the tunnel.

    Ten minutes later a grinning McBoom joins us, holding a small wireless trigger in his hand. He's slapped sausages of C2, composition low explosive, around the entrance way and wired it up to blow simultaneously on one button press.

    “You wanna do the honours ? “ he asks but I shake my head.

    “Nah you the boom man , let her rip”

    “Three , two , one … fire in the hole” he says pressing the tit as Billy and I jam our fingers in our ears.

    The entrance blows in with a dull rumble and a cloud of dust rolls back up the tunnel briefly taking us in its gritty embrace.

    You'd think that setting off explosives under the Houses of Parliament would bring the security forces running and on any other night of the year you'd probably be right, but tonight is November the fifth. Over our heads thousands of people are oohing and ahhing at a huge fireworks display along the Thames embankment. What's one more low thud amongst all that lot ?.

    As the dust clears McBoom and I slide up to the hole we've just blown and peer through, as Billy hangs back happy to let us take the risks. You can't blame the cowardly little shit weasel, after all that's what we're paid for.

    I pull my silenced pistol from my vest and step into the void, smelling the sharp tang of burnt masonry still drifting in the air.

    ***

    We're in the deepest part of the Parliament basement here , and it seems pretty deserted which is good with me, I'd rather not have to shoot some poor fuck security guard who's just trying to make a living.

    That's the problem with the Guy Fawkes solution. Although I'd love to introduce the fat cats to some high explosive reality, you'd also take out a bunch of security men , porters, waitresses and so on. Collateral damage, those posh wankers call it, which is a lot easier to say when you don't have to get blood on your clothes. So tempting though it is to ask McBoom to blow down their ivory tower, we'll have to pass.

    We move up some decrepit brick steps and through an old oak door, the cobbles under our feet giving way to smooth concrete as we move into the modern part of the basement complex.

    I feel my alertness tick up a notch, as I scan for alarms, sensors etc but still find nothing. I guess all the Gucci kit is facing outwards on the upper levels, so its not needed down here.

    “Hey” says McBoom , indicating a stack of stained oak barrels “anyone fancy some wine ?”

    “I'd like to piss in it” I reply grinning “hmm I do say this vintage has a very sharp nose, what”

    Past the wine barrels we come to a corridor with a staircase to the right and straight ahead a set of steel double doors with safety glass portals. This is what we are here for. Britain's best kept secret. The parliament vault room.

    I don't know how the O'Connells found out about it, probably some chinless wonder blabbed to a call girl, or rent boy , but this is tonight's score. Six hundred and fifty safety deposit boxes .Bungs for the stashing of. Or for that matter any other nasty little secret that our lords and masters want kept out of the public eye.

    McBoom runs his hands over the door then squints through the glass checking for wire or sensors then shrugs “clean”

    He tries the handle and then shakes it fruitlessly “locked”

    “Shit” I say turning to make round eyes at Billy as he lurks behind me “Jobs off, they've locked us out”

    “Funny fucker aren't you Duster ?” he replies “just blow it or pick it.”

    Well yeah, duh . Some people have no sense of humor. McBoom winks at me as he kneels and goes to work with his lock picks, a few moment later there's a well oiled click and the door swings open.

    “Box three two three we want” says Billy needlessly from behind us “then we might as well open some of these others too.”

    Greedy bastard, the plan was one box, smash and grab in and out. I start the timer on my watch as McBoom pulls a 24v cordless drill out of his bag “ five minutes” I say then we're out of here.”

    The diamond bit lances into the lock on box 323, like a hot poker up an informants arse.

    A minute later the box is open and McBoom hands me the sheaf of paper in it without even looking as he jams his finger back on the drill's trigger and starts on another box

    I flick through the pile dropping discarded pages on the floor , my hands sweaty inside my leather gloves. Letter from a girlfriend , nother letter, and again. Bank book for an offshore account. Passport in a false name. Ah ha got you “Score” I say holding up a bunch of crinkly parchment pages “bearer bonds , just over a million quid , jus' like Donal said”.

    I pull a zip lock bag out of my vest and shove the bonds into it to stop them getting wet in the sewers, then stuff the whole wad inside my vest and zip it up. A quick glance at my watch as Billy rummages through the second box and McBoom goes to work on a third. “Three minutes” I say “ c'mon we've got what we came for.”

    “ Fuck me” say's McBoom “big stash of kiddie porn”.

    “MP found to be dirty noncing bastard, hold the front page.” I reply “Leave it for the others to see, but we need to go, now”.

    Billy shoves a tube into his jacket pocket and straightens “Krugerrands” he says smiling “nice little bonus”.

    “yeah” I say dryly “good luck selling those without attracting attention”.

    ***

    We duck out of the vault room , take a quick glance up the stairs to check the coast is clear then walk briskly through the wine cellar, back down the steps and out to the sewer. The rule for this sort of thing is you don't run if you can avoid it as running greatly increases the chance of falling or hurting yourself.

    Fifteen minutes of wading through shit brings us back to the foot of the manhole where we came in. I'm a little uneasy about this as in general I'd prefer not to go back the way I came, but sometimes you have no choice.

    Clambering up on the concrete platform we holster our weapons, collect our boots and swiftly change binning our waders in to the stinking current below

    I mount the slimy iron ladder, feeling the pitting of the corroded rungs even through my gloves. I really hope this thing doesn't come detached from the wall.

    Reaching the top, I cling on with one hand as my other opens the cover and slides it to one side. I pop my head out and scan around hating my vulnerability.

    I clamber out and then lean down to give first McBoom then reluctantly Billy a hand and then the three of us are off down the riverside path away from the fireworks , hoping we don't meet anyone who might remember three ugly buggers spattered with shit.

    Billy pauses under the first bridge we come to, grinning a bulky man step out of the shadows to greet him, levelling a large revolver at me and McBoom. “Well guys” Billy says “ this is where I say good bye”

    Fuck, a double cross. My first thought is that its the O'Connell's but that makes no sense. Then as I make out crew cut, leathers, tattoos of swastikas and eagles and all becomes clear.

    McBoom makes a grab for his pistol but his gloves foul his jacket and he fumbles , a flash and a flat crack split the night air and he stumbles back against the bridge abutment. A second shot and he goes down hard , his gun skittering away into the dark.

    The gunman pivots to cover me and I let my gun settle back into its holster, holding my hands clear of my body I say “easy, easy now.”
    Billy sneers “Easy ? , yeah it was easier than I thought it would be.”

    “Yeah well, you're ripping off your dad ” I say “it won't be fucking easy when he finds out.”

    His sneer widens into a grin “ ah but he won't, once you and 'Mcbum' here go for your last swim I'll tell Pa that you ran with the bonds”

    As we're talking I slowly lower my hands my right sliding towards my pistol, but unfortunately tattoo boy isn't as stupid as he looks
    “Don't” he says , pistol aimed straight at my heart “take your gun out slowly, with your thumb and forefinger only and toss it. I see more than two fingers on the grip and I'll ventilate your chest”

    I do as he says, tossing the pistol so it lands on the concrete between us , but he isn't falling for that one either, and instead of picking it up he takes one step forward and kicks it into the river.

    As he does so , in my peripheral vision I see McBoom open his eyes, and his hands begin to move.

    To keep their attention on me I force a grin and quip “ Hey Billy ,you haven't introduced your boyfriend”

    The tattooed geezer grimaces at the gibe. “We're section eighteen” he snarls “and you know why we're called that”

    “Cos you weren't hard enough for the first seventeen sections you tried to join ?” I ask keeping the grin going and taking a step sideways

    “Funny” he says “we'll see how fucking funny you are when you're begging on your knees”

    “Yeah I figured you like boys like that” I say taking another step , my heel now right at the edge of the bank

    “Enough” he says “and don't move another inch. Now this can go easy, or it can go hard. Give me the bonds you get a bullet in the head , make me come and get them and I'll put one in each knee first”

    I flash a glance around like a panic move, feigning desperation, but actually noting that McBoom's hand is now inside his dems bag. My eyes come to rest on Billy “You know” I say in a defeated tone “ I didn't think you had it in you”

    He grins nastily “ yeah well you know what the card players say , Duster ? If you look around the table and can't spot the dummy, then the dummy is you”

    “Fair enough” I say reaching as if to open my vest as behind them McBoom withdraws a dull silver cylinder from the bag, and brings it up to his teeth “but you're forgetting one thing , it's Guy Fawkes night”

    As their faces crease in confusion I hurl myself backwards into the river, kicking hard into the refuge of the dark oily waters as a bright white thermite flash tears the night apart.

    I surface several meters down stream and grin savagely at the screams echoing from under the bridge as I tread water letting the current pull me downstream to safety. “Its Guy Fawkes” I repeat to myself “tonight the dummies burn”
     
  6. Alphonse Capone

    Alphonse Capone Member

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    President Kayne 4 Life (1,200 words)

    It had happened, Kanye West was the 46th President of the United States of America, from gangster rapper to Commander in Chief. Simon replayed the conversation with his best friend Colin the day before the election.

    "Can you believe how close the polls are?"

    "I know, I was sure it'd have been all but done by now," said Colin, scrolling through his phone.

    "Same, I mean who votes for a moron like that?"

    "Exactly, she doesn't even update her twitter every day."

    Simon nodded his head for a moment before shooting him a look. "Wait, what?"

    "Sandra McCarthy, she updates her twitter like every two or three days. Kanye updates his several times per day," said Colin, without looking up from his phone.

    "What the hell does that matter?"

    "Plenty. The younger generation pay attention to social media. And it tells you plenty about their character, not the bullshit you hear in those old fashioned debates they used to have."

    "You can't be serious, you'd make your mind up based on a 140 character musing rather than policy debates?"

    Colin looked up from his phone for the first time since the conversation started and smiled at Simon. "You actually sound like my grandfather sometimes, with your policy this and policy that. The fact is, Kanye West posts some of the best memes on the twittersphere."

    Simon stared back at his best friend, shaking his head, mouth gaping. How could it be possible to mention both the words meme and twittersphere in a debate on the most powerful position in the world?

    Colin flashed his phone in Simon's face. "Look at this, it's a cat on skis, who thinks of that?" Simon raised his eyebrows, his mouth twitched, ready to say the words; a moron, but he decided against it. Politics was divisive enough without falling out with a friend over it.

    The bang of a firework going off, lighting up the sky in an array of purple, blue and red, snapped Simon back to the present moment. He grinned, contemplating how much had changed in the year since that conversation with Colin but looking down at his, "Kanye West, President 4 life" t-shirt, a feeling of sadness descended upon him. He had not seen or heard from Colin for over three months now, the last time was in his room when Colin was ranting about the KanyeStapo looking for him. He sounded almost deranged that day.

    "They are after me Si, I swear it."

    "Who?"

    "The KanyeStapo, that's we call them."

    "What the hell is the KanyeStapo?"

    "It's just a name for a collective group of people online who troll others and close down any criticisms of Kanye. Seems harmless enough at first but they have a militant wing now who operate in the real world. There have been stories of people who criticised Kanye online just disappearing."

    Simon fought back a grin, realising Colin's worry was genuine. They had known each other since nursery and although Simon knew Colin had a propensity to believe the ridiculous, he had never seen him scared.

    "Even if there was such a thing, you love Kanye."

    "I did. I still do I guess but I tweeted last week about how he's made Twitter all serious with these chats about foreign policy and having people either re-tweet or favourite depending on their view, I hate it. Ever since, there have been people following me around, mulling close by, staring at me. Another guy I know, Kevin, he re-tweeted my tweet and now he hasn't been seen since," said Colin, twitching at Simon's blinds.

    "I think using twitter is a good thing to be honest. You said it yourself, the younger generations live in social media now. I thought he'd be a failure but he's really got people engaged in politics, and twitter gives real time opinions. You'll always get your overzealous types, they existed before."

    Colin shook his head. "You said politics should be serious, above social media."

    "I've changed my mind. Plus, Cabinet Factor was amazing. Making people who wanted to serve go on TV and compete against each other, then letting us vote online for the best person, that's true democracy," said Simon, watching Colin pace up and down the room, "c'mon Colin, no one is after you, relax."

    Those were the last words Simon ever uttered to Colin. He disappeared the next day, whether it was the KanyeStapo or whether he went on the run, Simon regretted not being more empathetic towards his best friend.

    Another firework lit up the sky. Large crowds streamed towards the official bonfire site in anticipation. Simon dodged through as many people as possible to get to the front, delighted he was one of the lucky few drawn online to get a ticket.

    Reaching the front, he gawked at the size of the bonfire, the height of a three storey building with a Guy Fawkes effigy at the top. It was a strange choice for the United States of America but then it was all just fun, a celebration of a year of President Kanye's reign.

    "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the "Kanye West President 4 life" bonfire celebration. You are the privileged few and what a show we have for you," said a voice bellowing out from a tannoy system, "you'll see at the top of the bonfire we have the legendary Guy Fawkes, burned every year in the United Kingdom to celebrate the failure of a plot to bring down the King. How symbolic that this year, we burn the same effigy to celebrate the failure of those who tried to bring down President West."

    The crowds cheered, many waving the US flag with Kanye's face replacing the stars at the top left corner. Several figures wearing dark robes walked towards the front of the bonfire carrying burning torches. The crowd reached fever pitch as they threw the torches onto the bonfire. The flames of freedom lit up the surrounding area like morning sun shining through a window. Simon found himself cheering along with the crowd, caught up in the moment, but then he spotted something that stopped him dead. He stared harder, sure he was mistaken but it became apparent he was not, the foot of the effigy kicked out again.

    Simon looked around at the people surrounding him to see if anyone else noticed it. But if so, they did not appear to care. Most of the crowd were videoing on their phones, still cheering, delirious almost. Looking back at effigy, the heat from the flames started to melt the Guy Fawkes mask.

    "Kanye, Kanye, Kanye...," the crowd cried out.

    The mask was now gone, the flames continuing to rise. Simon tried to fight back the tears as he watched Colin trying to scream out but his mouth was sealed shut. The fire continued to engulf Colin until all that was left was his charred body. Fireworks and cheers muffled out the sound of Simon sniffling, trying to remain inconspicuous.

    The videos of the bonfire were all over the internet within minutes. Simon did the only thing he really could, he re-tweeted one so the KanyeStapo did not come for him next.
     
  7. Sal Boxford

    Sal Boxford Contributing Member

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    Toasting Brown Bread [1,963]

    Lemuel ‘Brown Bread’ Brown stands by a stack of pallets in the Goods Out yard, supervising the lighting of the company bonfire. A great blob of a man, Lem is wearing battered jeans and a dark grey sweatshirt that is somehow still too interesting of a look for him to carry off.

    I can’t think of anyone less suited to organising a works party, but he does look to have done a good job. There’s the bonfire, obviously, a load of light up crap for people who are bringing their kids, cinder toffee, a candy floss machine, baked potatoes, and what at first glance I took for a barbecue but turned out to be a whole pig on a spit. And there’s an almost-free bar: beer and wine only, first two drinks on the firm. He might be the most boring bastard you’ve ever met but he’s really pulled something together here.

    ‘Fucking brioche,’ says Deakin, dribbling pork fat. ‘I want to say it’s wrong, but… fuck me.’

    The fresh barbecued pork rolls do look good.

    ‘Denbigh, mate, you’d better get one before it goes,’ says Holt.

    ‘Well, there is an entire pig,’ I say.

    Holt shrugs.

    ‘And there’s an entire Holt,’ says Deakin.

    Holt looks a little hurt. He pulls at his too-tight jacket. He’s a big lad and Deakin should know better than to tease him about it. From a pocket, Holt draws a packet of M&Ms.

    Prentiss nudges me, spilling a little of my beer. He nods towards Lem, ‘You know Brown Bread just got out of the hospital, don’t you?’

    ‘Eh?’ Lem has been in all week so far as I know.

    Deakin and Holt laugh.

    ‘What happened?’ I ask.

    ‘Oh, well nothing,’ says Prentiss. ‘He was booked in for an operation but they had to send him home.’

    All three grin like schoolboys and I look at them sceptically.

    ‘Yeah. They couldn’t put him under because every anaesthetist they sent fell asleep before they could even get the needle in him.’

    ‘Yeah, yeah,’ I say.

    Deakin tries his hand: ‘Ey, did you see the posters outside Trawley Arena? “Tonight: drying paint, live in concert. Support act: Lem Brown.”’

    I shake my head. How many ‘Lem Brown is so boring…’ jokes have I had to listen to while I’ve been at Seagrave Shipping?

    ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ asks Holt, more smirk than man. I don’t hold much hope for his punch line. ‘Because Lem said he wanted a chat and it preferred its chances under the lorry.’

    ‘Nice effort, Holty.’ Prentiss gives the kid a friendly punch to the shoulder. ‘How did Captain Charisma get this gig, though?’

    ‘It was just his turn. He’s done pretty good,’ I say. ‘There’s going to be fireworks later.’

    ‘Do you think Brown Bread’s even seen a firework?’ says Deakin. ‘I’ll bet he doesn’t know what one is.’

    ‘Yeah, yeah. It’ll be him standing in the middle of the Goods Out yard, holding a single match.’ Prentiss mimes Lem standing straight and proper holding an invisible something at arm’s length.

    ‘And we’ll have to wear safety visors and stand behind a big wall of like bullet proof glass or something,’ says Deakin, ‘while averting our eyes and reciting the Health and Safety: What You Need to Know poster.’

    ‘Yeah, yeah,’ says Holt excitedly, ‘and Lem’ll be stood there with a fire extinguisher pointed right at the match in case things get out of hand.’

    ‘He’s holding the match,’ says Prentiss. ‘How can he be pointing the fire extinguisher at it too?’

    ‘Alright, maybe you’re holding the match and he’s pointing his fire extinguisher at you.’

    ‘Not letting fucking Lem point his fire extinguisher at me.

    Holt chokes on a mouthful of beer.

    ‘Nah, there’ll be fireworks,’ I say, ‘they’ll just all be in Seagrave Green.’

    ‘What’s Seagrave Green?’ asks Holt.

    ‘It’s our corporate colours, you berk,’ says Prentiss. ‘And it’s the colour Brown Bread had his Ford Focus painted. Yeah, we’ll have spectacular dark green fireworks forming the Seagrave Shipping logo against the dark night sky. The kiddies will love it.’

    ‘You decided not to bring yours?’ I ask.

    ‘Hell no. It’s a free bar or kids – you cannot do both. I begged drinks vouchers from Eileen and Kate and a couple of other girls in the office. It’s been a long fucking month and Daddy’s getting shit faced on the firm.’

    Deakin nods, ‘Yes, indeed.’ He makes an attempt to down what’s left of his beer but quickly thinks better of it.

    ‘Jen said she might come by later,’ Holt says coyly.

    ‘Oh, we might get to meet this mythical “Jennifer”, then?’ asks Prentiss.

    Holt just smiles by way of reply, and shifts his weight from foot to foot.

    ‘Aw, you’ve embarrassed him,’ says Deakin. ‘You blushing, Holty? You blushing? Are you blushing?’

    ‘As if you could see in this bloody light,’ I say.

    ‘Course I can see. His face is glowing brighter than the fucking fire.’

    I make another attempt at moving their attention from the kid. ‘No, he’s done alright though, hasn’t he, Brown Bread? I mean: bloody hog roast. I reckoned it be a “bring your own” effort.’

    ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ says Prentiss, ‘sure.’ He reaches over his shoulder to the candyfloss stand and grabs a ready-made bag.

    ‘But he hasn’t done everything himself,’ says Deakin. He nods at Prentiss who is shoving the final quarter of a pork roll into his mouth.

    ‘You helped?’ I asked. ‘What did you do?’

    ‘Vug eye.’

    ‘Huh?’

    Prentiss chews determinedly, swallows enough of the churned up meat and bread to showcase the rest of it and through it utter a more audible, ‘The guy.’

    ‘Nice,’ I nod.

    ‘Oh, hell,’ says Deakin.

    I’m about to ask when I spot Brown Bread heading our way.

    ‘Jesus is coming: look busy,’ says Holt.

    Grey-shirted Lem lumbers over, accompanied by a shorter man with curly hair, beer in hand. I open not-quite-enough space in the circle so Brown Bread can’t get too comfy and start telling us some boring shit about who invented fireworks or whatever he’s read up on for tonight.

    ‘Hi,’ Lem offers a tight-lipped smile, politely returned by the four of us. ‘Everyone having a nice time? Yeah? Food good?’

    ‘Fucking brioche,’ says Deakin, pointing at the hog roast. ‘Fucking brioche. I saw it said “brioche” and I thought, “No,” but… whoa.’

    Lem nods. ‘Mm-hmm. And there’ll be fireworks on in a bit. I told them to start at 7.15. I thought maybe, y’know, 7.00 is a bit early but then a lot of the little ‘uns will be going home probably by 7.30, so it seemed like something more in between was probably better.’ We all nod. ‘So that’s a 7.15 that is. But we’ll have the fire going soon. It’s all hardwood pallets – I had the lads pick them out – ‘cause you can get a lot of moisture in soft wood and that can give you sparks.’

    ‘No, well you wouldn’t want sparks on Bonfire Night, would you?’ says Prentiss.

    ‘They’re glad they didn’t have them in sixteen-oh-five. That would be a very different celebration we’d be having now. “Remember, remember…” They still teach you about that in school?’

    This last part is addressed to Holt. He turned 20 last month but next to the rest of us he might as well be ten. Holt humours Brown Bread’s fatherly concern and nods to reassure him they do still teach the Gunpowder Plot in school.

    ‘Good. They should too,’ says Lem. ‘I don’t think any of you have met, Craig,’ he points a thumb at the curly-haired man, who lifts his plastic pint glass in greeting. Lem goes round the circle: ‘Denbigh, Deakin, Holt and Prentiss.’

    ‘Twenty-two years!’ shouts Prentiss, which is how he always introduces himself to new members of staff.

    Craig looks puzzled.

    ‘He’s been with the company twenty-two years,’ I explain.

    ‘Yeah, this is your future! Get out while you can,’ Prentiss bellows, pointing to his own gurning face.

    Craig looks even more confused.

    Lem looks at Prentiss incredulously. ‘This is Craig.

    ‘Craig is Lem’s partner,’ I explain to Prentiss.

    ‘Oh, right.’ Prentiss looks a little panicked. ‘Oh, right. Oh, well, very nice to meet you.’

    ‘Yeah. Good to meet all of you too,’ says Craig.

    ‘Right. Bonfire toffee,’ Lem announces. ‘I read something very interesting about bonfire toffee the other day…’ I’m entertained by the look of pain that briefly crosses Craig’s face as the pair of them turn to go. ‘Lads, I’ll see you later.’

    The two of them amble off, with Brown Bread in full flow.

    ‘Oh, hell,’ says Prentiss.

    ‘Smooth,’ Deakin tells him.

    ‘No, no, no. Oh no.’

    ‘It wasn’t that bad,’ I say. ‘You did go a tiny bit pale though. That was good.’

    ‘Oh, shit, no.’

    ‘It’s fine.’

    ‘It’s not that. It’s not that. Oh, Christ.’

    Deakin, Holt and I watch in bafflement as Prentiss has a small breakdown, staring wide-eyed at the tarmac of the Goods Out yard. ‘It’s the fucking guy, isn’t it?’ he says.

    ‘What about it?’

    ‘I’ve done him as a librarian. It’s Lem’s face on it and I’ve put it in one of them librarian skirts and a big frilly blouse and his hair in a bun and a pair of pound shop glasses. Oh, shit.’

    Prentiss leans with his hands on his knees, breathing like a woman in labour. ‘Oh, shit.’

    ‘Ah, mate, he’ll think it’s funny,’ I say. ‘We’re always ribbing him about his bloody spreadsheets and Gantt charts and what have you, and how fucking precious he is about driving the fork lifts “only along pre-marked lines”, and all the labels on the job board being right.’

    ‘Oh, shit.’

    ‘Prentiss, it’s fine.’

    ‘Oh, hell.’ Prentiss straightens up. He eyes Holt. ‘Give me your jacket.’

    ‘Fuck off.’

    ‘No, I’m not joking now, I need it.’

    ‘If you’re that worried just take his damn face off it,’ Holt suggests.

    ‘I can’t,’ screams Prentiss. ‘I told him I was doing him. I said, “I’m going to do the guy and it’s going to be you.”’

    ‘Well, you’re not having my coat,’ says Holt. ‘You can use your own.’

    ‘It won’t fit. I’ve made the guy round, like Lem. How would anybody know it’s him if it isn’t a big fat thing?’

    The fight goes out of Holt a little.

    ‘Just leave it,’ I say. ‘Honest. It’ll be fine. No one’s going to see it like that.’

    ‘No, it won’t. It won’t be fine. What the fuck is it going to look like?’

    ‘Well, then just take the bun and the skirt off or something if you think it’s that bad.’

    Prentiss isn’t listening. He’s still staring at Holt’s XXXL suede jacket like a starving wolf at a plump little lamb. ‘Give me your coat.’

    ‘No, mate.’

    Prentiss darts forward and Holt legs it. The two of them disappear into the unlit reaches of the yard.

    ‘Fucking brilliant,’ says Deakin and finishes the last of his beer.


    + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +


    I stand chewing on a magnificent roast pork butty, admiring the guy on the bonfire. Next to me is a sulking Holt in a muddy suede jacket. Holt looks sadly at the stains down the left side of his coat then stares resentfully at Prentiss, who is also sulking.

    ‘Why am I bald?’ laughs Lem.

    ‘And naked?’ asks Craig.

    Prentiss returns Holt’s glare. ‘Ah, well that’s just my sense of humour,’ he says.

    ‘It’s hilarious, mate,’ says Deakin. ‘I bloody love it.’

    A flurry of fireworks shoot up from the car park at the other side of the building. Whistles and bangs and swirling, scattering lights of every colour fill the night air.

    ‘Hey, Lem,’ Deakin shouts over the noise, ‘nice job.’

    ‘Yeah,’ I say, raising my glass. ‘Good work, Brown Bread.'
     
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