Short Story Competition Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Library’s Short Story competition. Congratulations to all winners and everyone that took part. We had so many high quality and imaginative entries!

Please click on the names below for the full stories!

Strange Day by Richard Cotton

You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday. Yes, it was that strange day when everything seemed to happen at once, or even it did happen at once and my view of what happened seemed to last all day. A fierce sullen wind gusted around the houses whistling like that sound when you’re on top of a mountain. I stood in the front room contemplating if I should venture out into that world were a yeti might jump out at me, or I could get stuck in a snow storm and starve to death. All this was just in my imagination but things like this played out all the time. It was a sensation that wasn’t new. I made sure my clothes were clean and tidy before venturing out of the fancy, ornate front door.
The first thing that happened was that wild growl of wind grabbed at my hat trying to grab at it with unseen icy cold fingers. I placed my right hand firmly onto my woolly hat making sure that beast didn’t take it, kick it around the street whilst I was meant to chase it like a schoolchild after a kite in the sky. “Hello, Mister Green.” I looked to the person shouting my name, it was my elderly neighbour stood in her garden like it was the middle of summer, she was tidying weeds from the path’s edge “Hello, Mable. Got to rush, I have to be at a meeting in roughly two hours. “Sure, don’t forget that you’re invited to my birthday this weekend.” she bent to cut the prickly top off another thistle like it was waiting to have its head chopped off. “I’ll be there. Thanks for inviting me.” how could I forget that she had been telling me for the past eleven days of this birthday party. I quickly walked down the avenue, trees clawing at me with the sharp twigs like talons of a bird of prey. I managed to dodge them with my impenetrable shield of thought. A large scary tabby brown cat meowed at me as it clung to the fencepost looking for its owner. The cat wouldn’t really hurt me but to me, all this was a movie and things like this crossed my mind as I made things up if only to keep me from going mad when at work. A wild bulldog yapped as I went past the gates that were trying to force itself open with the gusty grabbing breeze.
I saw the chariot awaiting at the stop red paint flaking rust showing yet it still rolled along the tarmac surface like a tramp steamer at sea. I gathered pace to make sure I reached the vehicle before it roared away like an angry dragon puffing out harsh acrid clouds of gas into the air. I was in mid-flight when, crash, bang, wallop; I was on the floor tangled with a young lady her golden brown hair all of a mess now but once was tied in a bun. Her face shone like that of an angel, yet she looked plain too. It was like she radiated an aura of gods but remained normal. Her pleasantly shaped body now lay at right angles to mine; her fierce dark brown eyes glared at me as though she was about to throw daggers into my body from the centre of her iris. Ow, you imbecile, incredible dunce.” her voice sung to my heart plucking at the strings tugging hard saying ‘love me’ Sorry. I didn’t see you.” I brushed at her jogging suit to get some of the loose dust off “Get off, I’ll do that. I don’t want you to touch me.” She snarled like a wild bull ready to charge met Juliet where are you.’ sprung to it from the depths of hell. I had been trying to pass my G.S.C.E’s for the past four years when I first had an event like this. Yes; she was in two class below mine yet I hadn’t even placed her and if I wasn’t wrong it was the same girl now. She pulled away jogging off towards her destiny leaving me flummoxed and in need of the next bus. Rain was falling onto my messed up hair after all the effort to keep my short brown hair tidy. The next bus did look a bit better than the one I meant to catch yet it still felt like you were at
sweetly to her mum with every hit of into work; blast I was going to be ten minutes late now. I hope my boss would understand. No my hat was gone too and now gone.
sea on a roller coaster of a tub that jarred your spine every time the wheels hit a pothole
The wheels on the bus go bang, bang, bang,” a young girl sang the lump in the road.
I smiled as I walked past and the youngster buried her head into her mum’s ample chest. She gave me a look that would have melted steel instantly if there were any around. I went upstairs leaving them to their journey. I sat only to find that my trousers were wet on the bottom; now my underwear was wet too. Not something you want when going to work on a bus. My head ached now feeling heavy leaden full of rocks moving across the forehead.

Looking out of the steamed up window I swear on my late grannies grave that I could see that same young lady; somehow, she was running along with the bus. It wasn’t a marathon that day I was sure yet there she was. My heart took a beat to the rhythm of the tune that I could hear coming from the mobile phone headset that a middle-aged man listened to. ‘Love, love, love.’ I shook my head. This couldn’t be happening, yes I was looking for someone to love, to be with and maybe even marry if they wanted that but not in this horrible horrifying weather that showed its hand by blowing through it cheeks and wobbled the bus slightly. Then I looked again, she was gone. The bus now deep into the city heading for the trading centre that I needed to reach for work. How would my boss be a terrible bear growling orders at me, or angry tiger hunting me in the hope of a hearty meal. She would be there her bright red hair brushed smartly dressed,
that rich sent of a posh perfume that some would give their right arm to buy. Then today came to mind it was Valentine’s Day; I just saw a billboard plastered to within an inch of its life with adverts for cards that you might send to ones loved one. I walked down the stairs bumping into that same lady who gave me a fierce look; the low growl gave me a tingle deep inside; run fool, run. The little girl that held her hand tightly kicked my shin, smiling sweetly as she did so, tongue sticking out slightly poking fun at what she had done. Rubbing my sore spot, I hobbled up the short flight of concrete stairs into the lobby of the firm I worked for. The security guard looked at me with his bright blue eyes; his smart uniform ironed freshly that day, clean-shaven and peaked hat. The look was one of ‘what an Earth are you doing in this lobby. He knew me I thought but maybe the tumble had dirtied my clothes to a point that he might think I was a tramp. “Good morning, Brian. I see you’re late yet again.” his guttural voice resonated in my chest. It’s blowing up a wild whirlwind of a day out there.” I meekly replied. “Yes. I see,” he spoke flatly. I don’t know why I felt meek around him, but maybe that stature he took as he stood at the doorway like a military guard awaiting orders to march around the parade grounds. His father had been in the army but now lay in bed withering away from a problem that no one knew of. He quickly shook his head so that he didn’t dwell on his father; deep down he knew there wasn’t much more fight left in him, not since his wife had gone the year before. I stepped into the lift, which whisked me up into space at speeds that felt comfortable. The top of this was an alien outpost where my boss sat in her horseshoe-shaped office brooding on the days files that she would have in front of her. They weren’t really in space, no, I made that up just to keep the dullness at bay. Stepping out into the gilded corridor, each of the ornate doors proclaimed who sat within. Posh rooms for those that owned, used or even worked there. His boss owned part of what went on. He had not met the co-owner yet. Stepping through the door it struck him hard. There she was again not in her jogging clothes but an angelic dress with a top to match. Her face beamed making the room shine whilst his
boss’s face made it dull and dark. I dropped to the chair in shock. “Hello.” her voice plucked at my heart. A valentine’s card was in the air floating before my eyes.

Daydreamer by Tricia Bonifacio
Let me tell you what exactly happened…”
It’s that time of the year again. Where the leaves of different kind of trees transition into gorgeous warm colours. They turn into honey, berry or tawny-like hues and slowly but gently falls down like little raindrops. It is truly a sight to behold but this year, dark opaque fog seems to envelope the surroundings- hiding the mystical view; barely seeing the complementary colours of autumn and the feather-like fall of the leaves. The weather is always gloomy, notably affecting the aura of the residents. There is an old saying that dense murky fog during this season is a sign of an upcoming rigorous winter. Though, no one ever really talked about it.
As I walk leisurely down the park’s familiar paved path, the soft crunch of withered leaves beneath my leathered boots, delightfully filling up the quietness of the park. Although the sound keeps me company, it also sends shivers down my spine. I tighten the knot of my newly bought trench coat and cross my arms; hoping to add some warmth to my body. All the while reassuring myself that nothing is wrong here and I’m just being paranoid but there’s a nagging thought in the back of my mind that tells me otherwise.
The embarrassing ringtone of my phone wakes me up from my trance. I frantically searched the pockets of my coat, desperately wanting to stop the annoying noise. “I really need to change my ringtone’, I quietly murmur to myself. The high-pitched voice of my sister greets me as I answered the call. She asks me where I am as the pub is going to open in a few minutes.
Stopping beside the old gigantic oak tree; the last ancient standing oak tree in the town where this particular spot gives me a wider and clearer view of the pub. It always seems so haunting on the outside every time I look at it. I keep telling my sister to get it refurnished, but she says having it like that gives a little touch of uniqueness to it. ‘More like a touch of horror’, l sniggered. It is a small wooden cottage with an attic. She bought it on a very cheap price, and it makes me question if there is a hidden catch. I don’t know if it’s only me that feels a sense of eeriness coming from the pub
especially that attic. With one round black tinted window. Hiding dark secrets. I keep staring at it like something is beckoning me towards it. I shake out my thoughts and walked quickly to the entrance.
The heavy wooden door creaked as I pushed it open. While taking off my coat, I called out my sister’s name, but no one answered. The pub is unusually quiet today. No matter day or night, its always lively here.
Strange. Very strange, indeed. ‘Where is everyone?” I thought loudly. I look around the pub, appreciating the yellow dimming light of the candles as it gives a homey glow to the pub. It also seems as though the lights are theming with the season. I see some new added picture frames to the wall. ‘My mother must have bought these’, I remarked. My mother has always loved hand painted pictures. She quoted that it gives an elegant and classy vibe. I let my hand glide along the smooth wooden counter as I turned the corner. My nostrils getting filled by the aroma of the fresh picked
flowers and the cinnamon scented candles, effectively calming down my senses.
The inside of the pub completely contrasts to the outside exterior of it. I took a seat at a rounded table and looked out the curtain-panelled window with my icy hands under my chin. Moments later,
got shocked by someone putting their hands on both of my shoulders. I looked up and saw my sister. I immediately stood up and hugged her tightly.
Inhaling the familiar scent, I asked her as to where did everyone go, and she looked at me weirdly. I kept calling your name, you daydreamer’, my sister replied.
I looked around and my surroundings changed within a blink of an eye. People laughing and talking; bartenders shaking the drinks; slow jazz music playing in the background and my family right there, all seating on a long table, waving and smiling at me with twinkle in their eyes.
‘What just happened’, I thought to myself.
Karen by Julie O'Beirne
You will never guess what happened to me yesterday” she breathed the words into my ear like a line from a cheap novel. Turning in my chair, I stamped a smile on my face and raise my eyebrows inquiringly. Good God she was so close I nearly jumped! Chestnut hair, huge eyes, she looked like a human version of Bambi. I have no idea why Karen thought her soap opera life was of interest to anyone. I suppose it’s like that at work, people thrown together and forced to get along. I know it wasn’t just me she annoyed with her endless gossip and habit of invading your personal space but it was me she sat next to so I suppose I bore the brunt of it. As it happened this suited me. I could keep an eye on the duplicitous bitch “Daniel proposed?” I suggested meanly. I knew he was married. Karen had confessed at the office Christmas party after throwing up in the ladies. Christ that was a memory to blot out! The smell of vomit and cheap scent as she wept on my shoulder. Her lipstick had smudged making it look as if someone had punched her. I suppose to be fair someone had. Emotionally I mean, not physically. It must feel like that when ones lover confesses he’s married.
Do I sound like a right cow? I imagined that she must have ended it. Done the right thing and walked away the moment he’d told her. Christ, I even felt a pang of sympathy. It was only after the holidays, when she swanned into the office wearing a new gold necklace like the marriage wreaker in that Christmas film, that I realised I had misjudged her moral compass. And that left me with somewhat of a dilemma. I had been prepared to be reasonable. Forgive and forget and all that. “Sorry, bad joke” I tried to look contrite “Drinks after work?” She nodded, brightening and flash enormity of her news. Oh Jesus what if she was pregnant? “You’ll be so surprised” she murmured and nodded to indicate the drinks invitation was just a ruse of course. An awful thought had crept into my mind when I realised she was still seeing him and having laid its seed it wouldn’t go away. The trouble was, I couldn’t stop it growing. It dug in and its tendrils tightened their terrible grip more and more each day. I could physically feel it twisting around in my head. Do you ever get scared by your own thoughts? They say we all have a dark side, a part of ourselves that dances around the edges of our psyche laying thought traps to ensnare. Did I tell you she was beautiful?

The wine bar was busy as I knew it would be on a Friday night. “Pinot ok?” I shouted over the chattering and laughing. The place was buzzing despite the décor which was stuck in the 70s all dark brooding wood and low lighting. I negotiated my way through the crowd breathing in alcohol fumes and humanity, glasses aloft for safety. She had managed to find a small table the corner crammed inside the bay window. It boasted a solitary spluttering candle like something out of Dickens. It was already dark outside and the street lights threw a ghastly hue over the rain soaked pavements. God, this was awful. I took a large gulp of wine and looked up to see her staring intently at me. For one dreadful, heart stopping moment, thought she knew. “Well?” I leaned forward feigning interest and excitement. “He’s leaving her!” Karen aimed triumphantly. “Wow, that’s great!” a wave of nausea swept over me and the room tilted. I took another large swallow of the pinot and met her gaze, forcing a grin. The light from the candle reflected the light in her cinnamon eyes. She glowed like a 1940s film star. I wondered what would happen if I threw up over the table. I stifled an insane urge to laugh… I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop. Careful now I cautioned myself. “I always knew he truly loved you” I murmured and placing my hand over hers gave it a tiny squeeze. Jesus! If she doesn’t trust me now she never will! As it happens. She did. It was easy to suggest going back to my flat where ample amounts of alcohol left over from the festivities were chilling in my fridge. We chatted all the way home like schoolgirls. It was imperative that she didn’t suspect anything. I hadn’t planned that it would be tonight but I had made the decision weeks ago so I was prepared, I was a soldier. I smiled at the thought. Like the philistine she was Karen loved white wine (as opposed to red, my favourite) so it seemed fitting that I killed her by smashing a large bottle of Savion Blanc over her head. I did it from behind of course, swinging the bottle up for greater impact. Maybe it made a sound? A slight swoosh? Anyhow she half turned at the last minute and took the full force across the left side of her head. There was a terrible cracking sound which, it transpires, was her head not the bottle. Her eyes filled with astonishment and she swayed before crashing to the floor like a felled tree. I wanted to shout “Timber!” but resisted. Christ! Shakespeare was right about the amount of blood in a person. The carpet would never be the same again. I gave her another whack as she lay on the floor just to be on the safe side and set about cleaning up. Tomorrow I would ring Georgina and tell her that I was sure her and Daniel would work things out. I would tell her how much 1 loved her and how sister should always stick together and look out for one another. I do hope it was her Daniel that was messing about and that I haven’t gone to all this trouble for nothing.
I think it might be morning. I seem to have blacked out for a while and I still can’t get all the blood off of me. I was shrieking over the sink like a demented Lady Macbeth when the police broke down the door. Apparently a neighbour called them, bloody cheek. I couldn’t help laughing when I saw their faces. To be fair Karen was still lying congealed and cold in the middle of the carpet so I can understand why they looked so shocked. I decided immediately that it was better to tell the truth and shame the Devil “You will not believe what happened to me yesterday” I exclaimed.
The Mystery of Borough Hill Island And The Tragic Polar Vortex That Hit Daventry by Rosie Deacon

‘You will never guess what happened to me yesterday…

I was living in my one bedroom bungalow on the Southbrook in Daventry. I was watching the local news, when it all the sudden came to my attention, that an emergency news flash came across the telly stating that a polar vortex was hitting all areas of the UK and to make a run for higher ground as heat rises and may be the only place to survive. I started to hurry and pack my travel suitcase with essentials like 2 sets of clothes, hat, scarf gloves, good boots, scissors, knife, tin opener tin food, bottled water. Then I had to put my pet cat Glow into a bag and pack everything on to my walking trolley. I took my trolley and started to walk up Borough Hill.

I started to see with great dismay people below also trying to get up the hill turning into ice statues. I started to go faster up the hill and luckily the cat and I made it to the top and were safe as the top of borough hill was the only warm place left in all of England. The ground did start to shake a bit and as I looked down borough hill was separating from the rest of Southbrook. Borough hill was now an island of its own.

Now my cat and I are all alone on borough hill. I look around and there are magnificent trees, raspberry bushes. Foxes, horse’s cows. Birds. I realize that I am glad I didn’t forget my fire lighters as well. I manage to make a decent wooden shelter out of many tree branches. I knew I could not kill animals to survive so I decided my cat and I would live amongst the animals together, I would gather maple syrup from maple trees after I made my clay bowls from the soil in the ground and also gather raspberries and tree bark and grass for roughage and milk from the cows.

We lived like this for two years, then one day the whole earth warmed up so I built a clay canoe and ores and put my cat my belongings in the boat and canoed back to the Southbrook, To my amazement everything was unfroze. Everyone surviving and I was back in my bungalow thinking wow what an outrageous dream.

 

March 29, 2019