The Nature of Government


As the trees shed their leaves, the bankrupt government passed a bill demanding they pick them all up again.

With only the law of gravity as their defense, the trees lost their case and were all cut down to make way for a giant lorry park.

The government celebrated. You can tax motorists, not trees.


The Prodigal Story: The above was a 55-worder I submitted to a competition site earlier this year. It got a few nice comments but was in danger of getting lost in the ether. So, while there were still a few leaves left on the trees, I thought I’d bring it back home again.

If you need to laugh rather than cry, here’s another short (100 words)
published at the wonderful Café Lit. – Having A Rubbish Time

Caught up in the mellow drama

The other night I was watching a TV programme about murder in fiction; it was good except for one annoying aspect. The presenter talked about melodrama but insisted on pronouncing it “mellow drama”. As if the sinister was fine. Like: “Hey man, let’s do a murder.”

“Mellow drama”

It spoiled the effect really.

“Mellow drama” – stop saying it like that! The Victorian crime scene depicted on-screen suddenly lost all of its haunting black&white magic of bare brick streets bathed in expressionistic shadows – the swirling London smog more likely to be just a marijuana haze. In the dark back street, two costumed innocents stumbled across a body.

‘Dude, someone’s dead.’

‘They are? Far out.’

Who did the police suspect? Everyone. No, I’m not being paranoid. Crackers. I’ve just eaten a whole tub of humous. I need more. What were we talking about? Oh look, ants.

“Mellow drama,” Oh, man! This is crazy Victorian shit cut with a sixties vibe.

Who could have committed such a despicable crime? The police were in two minds which was a massive clue. They arrested Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-the-drugs. Except he got off on a technicality as his defence successfully argued he was suffering from a spliff personality. Jekyll, or Hyde, whoever, should been hanged but instead they got stoned.

I rest my case. It’s tired.

So am I.

That’s definitely enough mellow drama for one day.


If this post messed with your mind in a way you liked, you’ll enjoy Mind Clearance

Having A Wild Time.

wild timeHere is a piece I entered for the
Writers Talkback Forum
‘One Word Challenge’:
a 200 word story inspired
by a one word prompt.

The word? Wild.

The result? I was judged to have won.

Talk about having your cake…


Having A Wild Time.

If there was ever a place not to lose it, it was here. The Savoy. Afternoon tea. Jane’s parents. First encounter.

Civilised conversation in faux tropical surroundings complete with aquarium; I wasn’t used to such finery, my upbringing primitive by comparison. I had to change my behaviour, above all remember not to swear.

“…apparently we taste like pork!” said her father.

“Shi…” I stuffed a whole crustless triangular sandwich in my mouth to prevent the final ‘t’ escaping, only to realise it was ham; I’d been vegetarian for years. My girlfriend’s expression said ‘don’t spit it out’, so I chewed. After a glistening top lip, sweat broke out on my forehead. My eyes widened. I snorted, stamped my feet. I banged the table.

“Ni! Ni! Ni!”

I leaped up, knocking a waiter over, sending a shower of tea and snowstorm of doilies across the room. A woman screamed. I couldn’t stop.

“Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!!”

I bounded across tables, trampling sponge cake, wrestling potted palms until I reached the fish tank and plunged my head in, mouth gaping – giant carp cowered under rocks.

Relieved, I dragged my sopping head out.

Everyone stared.

“F**k, that mustard goes right up your nose.”


Ever have a mustard moment?Better cover

This story appears in Better, a collection of 19 absurd & funny short stories.

If laughter is the best medicine: you should get Better.

Web-based Artist (another Drabble)

deck upI was getting fed up of working at my desk and looking out the window to see the dump of a garden we inherited with this house. So, I took some time off, got lucky with the weather, and took up the decking that covered almost the entire garden. Disappointingly I found only concrete and spiders underneath – no treasure, but at least no bodies either.

I’ve since recycled the deck boards, cutting them and making planters, a new deck and pergola.

I dodged one shower and one massive spider which inspired me to write a 100 word story. It has been published on the CaféLit site, here.

I must get rid of the shed.

the cube


The Joke That Bombed

1945 punchline

Oh, I forgot to mention, at the start of this month I won two minor writing competitions with my short fiction. Both with a limit of 200 words, one story was based on the prompt: “a piano lesson” – I took inspiration from the Laurel & Hardy short where as removal men they deliver a piano. The second comp. story was prompted by the word “laughter”, I came up with this:

The Joke That Bombed

Moonlight cast a blue glow over the desolate quarry. The chain-link fence had been cut, dusty footprints formed a path leading into the disused mine, now a forgotten storage facility.

‘There it is!’ Jed and Sam’s phone lights rested on the unexploded bomb rumoured to be stored here.

Sam’s beam picked out the stencil writing on its side: “1945 Punchline.”

‘Punchline,’ said Jed, ‘also known as the “Joke Bomb”, developed by the Peaceniks to end WW2 in a nonviolent manner; through laughter. Made of rubber, the bomb was designed to burst on impact releasing a failsafe joke targeting both sides equally. Boom, war over: no one can fight when laughing that hard. And the clever bit is the addition of a memory-suppressant causing everyone to forget a Joke Bomb had even been dropped.’

‘Did it work?’

‘They never tried it… (??) What are you doing?’

Sam pushed the bomb over the edge of the mineshaft. After several seconds silence there came a distant fart noise.

Both boys sniggered. Then jumped as a whoosh of blue air erupted from the deep hole.

Sam guffawed, struggling to say: ‘What just happened?’

Jed rolled on the ground weeping with laughter, ‘Dunno, I can’t remember.’


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Zest For Life

A beautiful family walk serenely towards a perfect horizon where a wonderful new day dawns. A soft disembodied voice fills the sky:

“Zest, everything you’ve ever wanted. Zest for life.”

A crumpled beer can hit the television screen.
‘Life’s not like that!’ said Davey opening another beer.
‘You mean our life’s not like that.’ Rosie hoovered noisily, nudging the spent tin under the worn sofa where it clanked, joining the others. ‘But if we got us some Zest…’
‘Ah, Zest Schmest!!’

We interrupt this story – “Zest for ever. Zest for life.” The calm voice says.

A bed-ridden elderly couple bathed in flickering blue TV light. Commercials washing over them. Their glassy eyes fixed.
‘Zest is supposed to give you another ten years,’ said Frank.
‘Of what?’ Doris asked.

Zest board room:
‘Projected profits are looking astronomically good,’ announced the suit in charge of the figures. ‘They’ve made a giant leap.’
Applause filled the room.
‘Research has proven Zest to be the best thing ever for mankind.’

MetroLab Research:
Professor Walters flicked through the analysis report.
‘Zest contains no special ingredient to enhance anything.’
‘It’s a placebo effect?’ whispered his assistant.
Walters nodded and dropped the hefty document in the shredder. It was wise to not bite the hand that feeds. Walters didn’t want to end up dead. Zest paid for the report. Zest owned MetroLab. Zest was all.

“Zest for life,” says the calm voice.

Davey dialled the order line, ‘I guess there’s no harm in trying some. Rosie, I’m going to gets us some Zest.’

This story was brought to you by Zest. Zest for happiness. Zest for life.

If you liked this story and want to read more I have another short one published in Issue 3 of StrippedLit500

A Diluted Idea

bathroom scales dial

It couldn’t get any better, or worse: maverick scientist, Ron Archimedes, had won the World Esoteric Science Fair’s Innovation Award, the Indie equivalent to a Nobel Prize, except without the cash. He therefore couldn’t afford to fly halfway round the world to accept the honour. Unless, he found an alternative to regular travel. Think! Concentrate! Eureka! Yes, that was it: concentrate. Fruit juices were commercially viable exports only if the water was extracted first and shipped as concentrate to be rehydrated at the sales destination. Smart. He’d also read somewhere the human body was 90% water… Exactly. It might just work.

With the appliance of science and reference to Yogic texts, Ron followed a programme of meditation, urination, sweat and tears, safely eliminating water, and mass, from his body. When his dried raison-like form dipped below the affordable 10kg freight tariff, Ron Archimedes packaged himself on his doorstep and called the couriers. However, the box marked ‘Just Add Water’ was never sent. The van was delayed by a sudden torrential downpour, only a cardboard mush found at the pick-up point.

Ron successfully rehydrated but never acknowledged his award. There’s no money in esoteric science, but weight-loss… that’s a different story.


I wrote this for a monthly competition: write 200 words on a single word prompt. The word was ‘Water’.

Spotlight on Mr McGovern

spotlight on mr mcgovernWorse than the cane, out came the dreaded phrase: “Illuminate me, please do,” along with the trademark condescending smile; Mr McGovern towered over the twelve-year-old me. Caught in the shadow of this self-proclaimed genius, I’d drawn attention to myself. I should’ve kept quiet like everyone else, not expressed my ‘radical’ political theories in class. The teacher known as ‘The Master’ liked nothing more than to crush young ideals. It worked. I crumbled. I withdrew. I am an idiot.

But I don’t forget.

Years later the Civil War began. Physical conflict favours the young. Out with the old.

The elderly McGovern awoke in darkness. Cold. Cheek pressed against glass. Gagged and unable to move, his limbs were bound, not together but spaced apart like a starfish. And he was face down.

In the night sky enemy aircraft rumbled. I switched the giant searchlight on.

Upon impending death we are told to look into the light. McGovern had no option; brilliant white, his sight lasted barely a second. Skin crisping and crackling. Acrid fumes billowed in the beam. He vaporised, no trace of genius, merely a burnt shadow.

As bombs dropped, I snickered, ‘ “Illuminate me”, who was the stupid one now?’


This piece won a competition to write a 200 word story prompted by one. That word was Illumination. For such a bright word my story is a tad dark.

I wrote several other different stories first but these attempts weren’t really happening. I was off-course, fumbling about in the dark. Eventually I had a lightbulb moment. Now I realise why the idea had taken so long to mature: it was an energy-efficient bulb and therefore took longer to achieve full brightness.