Continue The Story Competition


Win signed copies of all these books from publisher Paperbooks who have generously donated them as a prize for our competition.

Entry is FREE and the competition will close at the end of September.

So what do you have to do?

Well we're going to produce a short story with different contributions from you lot. The story will appear in the printed version of the magazine with a list of all those who have contributed.

The best contribution will win the books. To enter read the start of the story below and then read the comments (unless you are first in!) Then continue on the story from the last comment.

Simple as that. Word limit in your comment is 250 words. Leave a way for us to contact you or find your blog/website so we can get hold of you if you win.

Good luck, let's make it good and see what we end up with!

I look out of the plane’s window and watch the fields become one. A wash of green painted with broad strokes. Seen from this height they appear childish, splashed against a soil canvas as if painted in joy. The urban sprawl to the East seems complicated, fussy, overdone.

I look around the cabin. People unclick their seatbelts. How does my perspective inform me? Am I immersed in a micro-culture within metal, or am I surrounded by the sky?

I look outside as the clouds rub out the view. What do we look like to those on the land? A fuel hungry People Carrier or a beast of metal?

The toilet engaged light illuminates. A baby cries and settles as it finds a nipple. A man coughs and smiles as the stewardess walks past. Papers rustle and headphones are pulled from plastic wraps.

I open my book and think of her. It’s been six months. How can she be sure? She says he has my eyes. The sky sings around me and calls me back to stay. Perhaps I will, perhaps I should commit, settle down.



I like the way this reads but am wondering just who this is, what he/she is about, when it is happening, and why it matters. The airplane description is compelling but I wish I knew what it fits into.

Lisa H.

Mike French said...

That's up to you and others Lisa .... who's going to pick it up and be first then? As Lisa talks about, it's all up for grabs as to story, who it is, where it goes ....

Jane Turley said...

But I can’t. Not yet. Maybe never. I’m too afraid. To love someone again, to let them hold my heart and toss it casually away like decaying debris cannot be allowed.

I gave my love freely, with abandonment. I cherished every softly spoken word, the curves of her breast, the silkiness of her thighs, her charcoal pupils that drew me into her depths.

Maybe the plane will crash. Maybe I will fall through the air, fly through space and time, chasing my dreams, spinning through a vortex of broken memories and whispered words. Perhaps I will land in one of those green fields, stripped bare by force, an unknown body in an unmarked grave.

I focus on the seat in front as we descend. My hands sweat, clasped tightly together. The blood rushes through my veins as my life flashes in snapshots before me. Maybe it will all end now.

I’m travelling the world, living one day, one hour at a time. Playing the markets, negotiating, pursuing profit. She left me for money and now I have money too. More money than she could ever imagine. Now I’m a big shot executive and I don’t have to take any crap, from anyone.

I pack my case religiously, every item checked and positioned correctly, even my toenail clippers. My tan coloured suitcase is stylishly expensive and embossed with my initials.

But my shirts are laundered in hotels, I eat in restaurants and I sleep alone.

Except the once.

Anonymous said...

I let out a sigh as I let my head find the scrap of cloth anchored with a thousand hooks. I find myself beginning to float away, but she pulls me back – holds me back. Is she my anchor? If she is then I’ve stalled, thousands of miles above the rocks and earth – the only way is down.

I turn the pages, but I am barely able to recall a word. She said he has my eyes, I don’t remember hers. I think they were blue… or grey. They may have been large, staring and captivating or small and glassy like a baby doll. Laughter rises up from the front of the plane and punctures my thoughts. It’s quickly extinguished - by a parents well practiced glare – I imagine. I remember her laughter, riotous, ridiculous – absent in the end.

Should I be thinking about him? Should I wonder what his laughter would sound like? I don’t of course. Blood and bone, that’s my contribution, His laughter will be of her making, not mine.

The clouds separate briefly to form cotton-framed windows, puddles of black tar threaded with floating tails of lace.
Too much time and oceans of resentment have passed between us now.

Anonymous said...

...oops! I think I clashed with someone.


J.G. said...

I consider my options; why should I have to be a part of its life? I did not ask for it; I do not know it, I do not love it, and I do not love her. What do I owe this thing, this creature that I’ve never met? What do I owe her, except money, maybe, so that she can raise it properly. She has money, but still, it is my obligation.
I close my eyes and listen to the other passengers, shifting around in their seats and making idle conversation with one another. I try to put my situation out of mind, but my thoughts drift back to her, to this new responsibility which has emerged. A fresh image starts to form in my mind - his face, his smile, his fat little hand. Without wanting to, I imagine my child. For a moment, I let myself ponder what it might be like to have something so meaningful in my life. Then, I quickly shut out the thought. I don’t want to become attached to someone I don't even know. I open my eyes and fix them on the seat in front of me.
I will speak with her, make the appropriate financial arrangements, and go back to my life.
But when did running away become my way of life?

Mike French said...

Stina: Don't worry I will edit it a bit when we're finished to smooth out any bumps like order.

Brilliant so far - keep them coming and keep the story moving forward from the last comment.

Unknown said...

Turbulence, diesel fuel, minimal oxygen, the economy class mogul who has finally bragged himself into a stupor so that his fat head leans on my shoulder, the lights flickering…No wonder my mind, robbed of anything steady has whirled into a morass of eternals: Life, death, birth, final destinations. Please, God, I need a drink.

Of course, the flight attendants won't come: they're strapped in their seats in the back: pilots’ orders. Every five minutes the captain’s warning us: don’t get up; the lavatories are off limits.

If the baby is mine—guess we’re in for DNA tests; that “my eyes” line is nostalgia—what choice will I have? Pay time. Lifetime paytime. I’m not heartless and she knows it.

I'm forty-years-old and resigned to short-lived romances. Nothing longer than six months has worked since I was in my twenties. So if the baby’s mine, he might be the only child I'll ever have. The only child who, for better or worse (ha! listen to how that bit of nostalgia pops up), will call me Daddy. With any luck, he’ll love me. Sons always love their fathers, for a while. At least, I loved my Dad when I was little, before I learned how much he was lacking. And I wasn’t, at least not then.

Mike, I couldn't resist; if I've crossed the line, just delete it.

Mike French said...

Don't be daft Kathleen - great stuff. Who's next to follow on from where Kathleen left it?

Anonymous said...

(is this thing on?)

A loud thump and bright light. For a moment I think this is the end, but no, I must have fallen asleep. We've landed.

Through my bleary window, in the grey murk of dawn, I can see the city's skyline beyond the airport, like the ragged spine of a monstrous reptile. The bitch-mother of civilization. The bac of my neck tingles and I realize I'm ready to submit to her mad, sprawling, beautiful ugliness. To start over again. To lose what I've become. And perhaps, to find her.

We ease into the terminal gate without incident. The passengers are quiet, subdued by grogginess. But when the flight attendants open the door, there is a commotion upfront: Police, a team of them, efficient and stern, are pushing their way through the aisle, pushing their way toward me. But that's impossible. They couldn't possibly know.


"Sir, come with us," an officer said.

"Where?" I asked, startled, rattling my seatbelt to get it unclasped. "What's the problem? Why?"

The gripping in my chest matched the grip of my fingers on the armrest. My voice had sounded so high pitched, out of touch. I allowed my shoulders to drop, my breath to even out.

"It's important, sir," the officer said, as he stooped to keep from hitting his head and knocked the old lady's pocketbook to the floor.

I retrieved it quickly, handed it to her across the aisle. Her nod and yellow-toothed smile told the tale of a lifetime of cigarettes. Everyone was standing up now, groping for bags, clattering in the overhead bins, pushing against the officer as he grasped my shoulder, and lifted me from the seat.
What an immense power over life is the power of possessing a distinct aim.

"Okay. Okay. Give it a minute. I'll come with you."

Then I knew. I knew where they were taking me. I knew what had happened. It was all for the best. What had I expected? Really, she'd been quite brilliant. Now what would I do? My heart broke.
Her voice, her look, her dress, the very motion of her body had defined and would now alter when I was to live for a reason again.

Anonymous said...

There was something strange almost surreal in the very movement of those around me. That strange sensation of half awake sleepiness which takes one by surprise after being woken with a shock.
My head still hadn't fully comprehended what was happening but given those few seconds, it was the gravity I understood if not the situation.
Under the guiding, if not imposing and forcefull, hand of the officer I stood and proceeded out of the plane, amist the staring glances of the other passenger. Their whispers reaching my ears,'is he a terrorist?', 'what has he done?', 'he looks so normal!'. Huh normal if they only new, the life I lead internal is so vastly different from that I show the world, the real me hmm the monster I have hidden all these years. Could it be they have found me, or perhaps worse perhaps someone overheard my ramblings as I slept, Oh God I hope I didnt give it away, Did I? Well never mind I will know soon enough.
Ah the doorway, we are leaving the plane, the stares will soon diminish beneath the glaring lights of the officers red and blue flashes...
As I and my escott elight the plane I look up, "whats this my God It cant be! No No not you!" I scream, I feel myself fall to ground, am I dead? Oh please let it be so!

Lynda Meyers said...

A strange sort of relief comes with being found out. Things you thought were so important suddenly fade into the mist. Nothing matters but this place; this moment.

It happened that way the night we met. She looked into my eyes and knew things about me she shouldn’t have known. From almost the first moment I wasn’t able to be anything but me. It was terrifying and wonderful all at once. In the end I just couldn’t take it. She was…clairvoyant…or something - always calling me out on my innermost thoughts and desires. It’s freaky, living with someone like that. I mean, how could she have known those things? It wasn’t like I poured out my heart to her – or to anyone, for that matter.

It’s dark in here. Wherever ‘here’ is. Nothing makes sense. Did I hit my head? Why can’t I move my hands? The events of the day slowly take shape in my mind. Oh God. Is this a padded cell? I grope about in the cool darkness and feel for the walls. My hands meet thick foam covered in cheap vinyl, confirming my fears.

Don’t I get a phone call? Who am I kidding – there’s no one left to call. Pleading insanity will make it easier on the lawyers, and it’s not so far off the mark. I hear footsteps approaching and a key turns in the lock on my door.