Escape Magazine - January 2022 | Issue 1

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ISSUE 01 - JANUARY 2022

Escape “Let a good story set you free.”

By Perry Simpson Escape

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12 Short Stories for you Writers Labs & Behind the scenes

January 2021 / Issue 01


Escape “Let a good story set you free…”

By Perry Simpson

Support your local artists in Ireland Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Copyright Notice © Perry A. Simpson 2022 Published by The Lemon Zest Project All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced, adapted, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. The rights of Perry A. Simpson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Perry A. Simpson Knockmonlea, Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland author@simpsonperry.com www.simpsonperry.com

Disclaimer The stories in this publication are the original unpublished manuscripts. The final edits have not been completed. This means that some additional corrections maybe required. Sorry if any this spoils your enjoyment of the story in any way. Thank you!

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This Month’s Contents Editorial

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Coffee O’Clock

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Featured Story: #10 Blueberry Muffins (From book 1: Lemon Zest) The Reading Room

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#130 ECHO - a story from the 365 in 2021 challenge

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#134 - Elevator (DCI Chance Series - Part 1)

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#118 Revenge - from the Yorkie Storyline

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#97 Enough - from the Comical Diary of Emily Rae

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#119 Private - from the Frank and Mildred storyline

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#376 The Room from the new Cavendish and Wilcox series

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#110 Mimic from the Dave Stokes & Maggie Fuller Storyline

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#114 Abducted - a story from the 365 in 2021 challenge

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#109 X-Ray - from the Stranded in Town Series

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#96 Unimaginable - a story from the 365 in 2021 challenge

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Special: 12-Part Detective Series

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Kaleidoscope: Game On - Chapter 1 - Tittynope About the Author Writers Labs - People, Places and Problems Quick look behind the scenes

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Editorial Welcome to project Lemon Zest. My name is Perry Simpson, author. My passion is writing short stories. Project Lemon Zest is short story book project. My aim is to encourage people to read more by providing a library filled short stories that offer people a five minute escape from busy lifestyles. Each short story has been written to give you a five-minute read while enjoying your coffee, tea, last minute bedtime read or kill the boredom while waiting for flight, train, bus. Today, our time had become the most precious commodity on the planet. Although many of use might not realise it, everyone wants a piece of our precious time. There are few opportunities to escape. My goal is simple one. Get people to escape for a quick read. Those that think they have a story to tell, then encourage them to write it. With this monthly publication I hope to Inspire people around the world to escape from reality and become immersed in a good story. Thank you

Perry Simpson, Editor.

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Coffee O’Clock Coffee O’Clock is a featured story for this month’s issue of Escape. This month’s story takes me back to my days living and working in France. The story about Blueberry Muffins, shares one of aspects of living in rural France. Many Brits flocked to France to escape the city in search of a better quality of life. “Fiction allows me to explore the world from different in someone else’s eyes.

This story captures the mood of Jackie as she immerses herself into the French way of life. She is brought back to reality and reminded how things work in rural France in an unusual fashion.

-Perry Simpson

Photo by Perry Simpson

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Blueberry Muffins by Perry Simpson (Lemon Zest - Book 1)

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#10 BLUEBERRY MUFFINS by Perry Simpson (Lemon Zest - Book 1)

“Food has an uncontrollable lure.” - Unknown

H

idden away in the darkness of the cupboard, Jackie could hear the footsteps ge9er louder on the terraco9a-tiled floor. Heading directly towards me, she gasped, pressing her hands to her mouth. The dark silhoue9e cast an eerie shadow over the door. There was a pause. Her heart thumped out an erratic overture. The stony silence was broken briefly by the warning shrill of a frantic blackbird. The kitchen window is open, she thought. Hope was all she had le@ now. The handle of the door began to turn slowly. She counted, one; two; three. Then, she forced the door open with all the strength she could muster. G Jackie breathed a sigh of relief as she lay in the bath. It had just been a dream, she thought. She was enjoying a warm soak in the bath Escape

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and must have dri@ed off. Jackie thought about how much more she was enjoying life since they had moved to France. George had reluctantly accepted an early retirement package from Lloyds. They decided to sell up in the UK and buy an old farmhouse in France. The children had fled the nest and set up home with their own families now. Quite by chance, they came across a charming old farmhouse situated in the very unspoiled Dordogne region. This stunning stone-built house was seductively hidden away in a rural se9ing amid lush green countryside, winding lanes and sleepy villages. Jackie slid beneath the bubbles and closed her eyes, very content with their new idyllic life. They had escaped the rat race that overwhelmed so many homeowners in the UK.

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This is no longer just a dream, she thought. Outside, the sun had risen high, spreading its warm glow across the rows of smiling sunflowers, standing proud around the boundary of the farm. The crickets sang harmoniously and high in the sky, two buzzards were gliding effortlessly. A slight breeze tickled the net curtains in the tiny window. Peace, tranquillity and freedom – très agréable, she sighed. Jackie could understand why so many Brits had been lured to the area with its many charms, surprises and hidden treasures. George had also adapted well to the change of pace, she thought. George had said the fishing here is very good. They had already eaten fresh sh on several occasions – the rewards of the patient fisherman. George also found the weather very agreeable, which in general, was be9er than in the UK. Being that much further South seem to make a difference, even in the cold winter months, she thought. Yes, it certainly Escape

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seems to be the idyllic lifestyle we had yearned for, she concluded with a relaxing sigh. The water was beginning to feel cold by now. Jackie li@ed her prunelike hands out of the water but resisted the urge to climb from the bathtub. Just five more precious minutes, she sighed. A familiar smell greeted her nose – the smell of freshly baked ... ‘The blueberry muffins!’ she shouted. The relaxing, uninhibited bath came to an abrupt end as she rose sharply from the ornate bath, situated in the centre of the room. She quickly grabbed a white towel from the rail, but it was barely enough to cover the prominent features of her body. More concerned about the muffins, than her appearance, Jackie headed down the creaky wooden stairs and into the kitchen below.

January 2021 / Issue 01


The air was filled with the aroma of freshly baked blueberry muffins. Her face was met with a hot blast of air as she opened the oven door. ‘Good, they’re not burnt,’ she u9ered. Taking a tea towel from the table, she wrapped it around her hand, removed the tray of unspoiled cuisine from the rack and placed it carefully on the side to cool. A car came sweeping into the gravel drive, spraying small stones as a li9le blue Renault van swung round to park, facing the exit. The driver gave a small toot of the car horn. Pierre, the baker’s son, she thought. In a panic, she ran towards the cupboard. It was closer than the stairs. I can hide in here until he has gone. Jackie knew that Pierre would let himself in, place the fresh Bague9e on the table and leave. It would only be a couple of minutes at most. She listened intently as the footsteps on the gravel grew louder. There was a gentle tap on the door. The door is open, she thought. It is a nice day. The footsteps drew closer. Escape

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She waited for the sound of the bread being placed on the table and the footsteps returning to the door. He’s heading directly towards me, she gasped, pressing her hands to her mouth. It was now that she realised that in her panic to flee to the cupboard, the towel had fallen and she was completely naked. His dark silhoue9e cast an eerie shadow over the door. There was a pause. Her heart thumped faster. The handle of the door began to turn slowly and the door opened with a ghostly squeak. ‘Bonjour Madame, EDF.’ In the opening of the door stood a li9le man dressed in blue overalls. He had a clipboard and a small torch. Blushing, she replied, ‘Bonjour monsieur.’

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‘Le mètre électrique, Madame?’ She pointed to the meter above her head. The li9le Frenchman took out his glasses from the top pocket of his overalls, carefully placing them over his nose. He fiddled with the torch until a flicker of light shone from the end. He pointed at the dials on the large black meter, progressively writing down the readings, while pointing the torch at the meter. ‘J’ai pensé que vous étiez le Boulanger,’ she said shakily. ‘Merci Madame,’ he said, with a blank expression. He politely raised his li9le cap with the tips of his fingers, ‘Au revoir, Madame.’ He closed the cupboard door and walked slowly from the house and onto the gravel driveway. ‘Bonjour monsieur,’ George said as he climbed from his car. The li9le Frenchman just greeted George with a cheeky smile, paused to raise his cap and then got into the li9le blue EDF van. Realising the coast was clear; Jackie slowly crept out from the Escape

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safety of the cupboard, just as George entered through the back door. George said nothing, just tried to smile through the confused expression on his face. ‘Blueberry Muffin, George?’ • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The WeeKend Away Albert Smithers Philosophy of Life Laa Laa and Tinky Winky’ The Envelope The Water Leak The Road Traffic Accident The Day that Jack met Harry The Practical Joker Blueberry Muffins Popcorn The Fog The Lady on the Bridge The Menai Strait Cojones de Toro Lady in the Road Emily Rae The Receptionist Prickly Affair Chance The Perfect Egg The Wall The Bonfire The Secret Recipe Silver Fox Aqua Massage Black Widow The Level Crossing Fire Saucy Jack

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Photo by Emre Can Acer from Pexels

The Reading Room Welcome to this month’s selection from unpublished short stories the Reading Room.

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ECHO

by Perry Simpson

Original unpublished manuscript

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#130 ECHO by Perry Simpson (365in2021 Challenge )

“We are never lost, only found” - Unknown

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stirred from felt like a fall of some kind. I wasn't sure what had happened. There was semi-dry blood on the side of my head. The pain was bearable but made his eyes water. I was in complete darkness. There was no visible light in any direction. All I could hear was an occasional echo sound coming from somewhere in the darkness. I had no idea where I was. What scared me more was that I had no idea who I was either. To top all this, I had no idea where I was or how I got here. All I could surmise was that I was down a dark hole somewhere. The only clue that I to go on was this occasional echo. If I could work out what it is, it might trigger something in my memory.

had anything broken. As I sat there gathering myself, I looked around in the darkness. I tried to recollect something. Anything that would provide me with a clue about where I was. Nothing. My mind was a complete blank. I had to assume that I was suffering from temporary loss of memory. Most likely from the fall. The surface beneath me was gri9y. I reach out with my hands to touch it. The ground felt loose, gri9y and damp. the air had an earthy aroma. So, it suggested that I was underground, in a hole or a cave.

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It felt as though I was in a vast space. If there was a ceiling of which, it was a long way up. My clothes were damp and musty. I could taste the gri9iness in the air. There was like a dense and foul vapour surrounding me.

up in volume with each pause of my breath. There it was again. It was a short double pulsating sound. Two short high pitched bursts. It echoed around the space. It was fainter by the time it reached me. I had a be9er fix on it now and I was ready for the G next one. I wanted to take a few steps, but It was freaking me out that I could how could I be sure that I was going not hear any other sounds. If I was in the right direction? Then, I underground I would have expected remembered the echoing sound in to hear water. the distance. Faint memories of a similar I sat back down to focus and situation surfaced. My mind played listen. It was deathly silent. I could with the thought of being in a cave only hear my breath. It was steady at that could fill up with water. I had first, but the more I thought about been in this situation before. My the sound, it increased. My pulse mind started to play with this appeared to rock my body as I sat though. Harnessed it. Made seem there waiting in complete silence. more plausible. There it was again. I shi@ed I slammed my fist on the ground myself to look in the general to kill my thoughts. It hurt. Another direction of the sound. It was faint. I bruise to add to the list. sat and listened again. Each time I I closed my eyes to focus again. As paused my breath, an oppressive I did so, I sat crossed legged as feeling of being in a huge, open though I was meditating. This felt space took hold. There was a loud very familiar too. This was buzzing in my head. This also went something I did. I was sure of it. Escape

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G

I let the calmness take control of my body and mind. It was a familiar feeling of control. I allowed my focus to explore my mind. I searched for something, anything, that would tell who the hell I was. What was I doing to end up in this oppressive place? My heart rate slowed along with my pulse. My breath shorted. I was back in control of my thoughts. This felt like a part of me. I used to practise meditation on the regular basis. I was now sure about that. I could see myself si9ing in a spacious apartment overlooking a vast city. It was night time and I was admiring the oasis of light that glowed in the distance. In my mind, I looked around the apartment searching for clues. A pair of ta9y trainers seemed familiar. They were mine. I was wearing them now. There was a pair of blue Levi jeans placed over an armchair. The TV remote rested on the arm of the chair. Next to it was a Escape

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blue collarless shirt. I was ge9ing ready to go out. I continued to watch myself ge9ing dressed. There was a glass of whisky on the smoked glass coffee table. Half empty or half full? Did it ma9er? It did. The bo9le beside it was empty. My movement was unsteady and slurred. I was drunk. Dead drunk. This was a memory lapse from excessive alcohol drinking. Sharna had broken up with me the week before. I was about to go out on the town. I hadn't taken rejection well. Alcohol was helping me manage the situation or so I had thought. Music was blaring around the apartment. I was feeling very sorry for myself. It had been all my fault. I had been a fool.

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I felt the ring in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing. I had those very ta9y trainers on my aching feet. The blood-stained shirt was on my back. Sharna had broken up with me the week before. I was about to go out on the town. I hadn't taken rejection well. Alcohol was helping me manage the situation or so I had thought. Music was blaring around the apartment. I was feeling very sorry for myself. It had been all my fault. I had been a fool. Sharna was everything I had hoped for in a woman. One act of stupidity and weakness had destroyed everything. The memories of the wonderful times together were only that now, memories. She was gone. I was alone wallowing in my sorrows. On the coffee table next to the half full, half empty glass was a silver ring. It was over. I felt the ring in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing. I had those very ta9y trainers on my aching feet. The blood-stained shirt was on my back.

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I had le@ the apartment and planned to do something terrible. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. The only thing to do. To end it all. There was a bridge not far from the apartment. A tall, strong old Iron bridge that spanned the river. No one survives from a fall from that bridge. I wanted to hit back at her. I wanted revenge. I was in a rage. My name is Kenneth Pascal and I was on my way to that bridge when everything went dark. G

I opened my eyes. It was all coming back to me now. The headache was due to excessive alcohol abuse. As was the temporary memory loss. I walked towards the bridge I had felt the ground wobble beneath my feet. I thought nothing of it. Then the ground in front of me opened and swallowed me.

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I could hear the double vibration

so many. I felt foolish and ashamed.

echoing along the passageway in front

The cuts and bruises would remind me

of me. I dragged myself to my feet and

for days to come. But most of all,

hobbled toward the sound. This time

Sharna and I would be back together

vibrations repeated. The sound

again.

became louder as ventured deeper into

Who Am I (Series)

the darkness. I could see it was a mobile phone a few metres from where I had landed. It was my phone.

Library Reference: #130 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 9/2/2021 Title: Echo

I dropped to my knees to retrieve it.

Status: Original Manuscript.

Sharna had called dozens of times. There was also a stream of messages of

Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

love, affection and apologies. The rain descended down on me from above. As I looked up I could see stars. At least that's what I thought they were. Then, I realised they were torchlights searching in the darkness. 'There's someone down there, an excited voice shouted. At that moment I felt like the luckiest man on earth. The sudden appearance of this sinkhole had saved my life.

Writing as therapy

What I planned to do would have hurt

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Limoncello

Book 2

A book of 30 short Novelettes … a ‘quick’ retreat with your cup of coffee , tea or that last minute bedtime read …

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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The Dinner African Grey Lost Property The Letter Mixed Spirits Killing Reality Sportsman’s Double Swedish Surprise Desperate Switching Places Aunt Marge Flowers Movie Night Sexual exhaustion Forties Night Spirit of Christmas The Nun Black Pepper Drunk Hair Raising Nine Lives Stomach Pains The Hot Tub Blood Night Shredded Sisters Meals on Wheels Bricklayer Squash The Coin Trick

African Grey Football mad Dave loves to talk and didn’t think life could any worse after he accidentally burned down the warehouse where he worked, but … Blood Night Emily Rae continues to really enjoy life after the death of her husband, Trouble is, she always manages to find herself in the most bizarre situations. The Dinner With the water leak saga well and truly behind them, Mildred and Frank Becker hoped to secure Frank’s promotion over dinner with his boss and his wife. Mildred had pulled out all the stops. What could possibly go wrong? Sportsman’s Double Some men can only dream about experiencing a sportsman’s double. Others are lucky enough (or not) to put a line through it their wish list. The Hot Tub We often hear stories of house sitting that go bad. As Katie hugged her mother and told that everything will be fine, little did she know what was going to happen in the next 24 hours. Swedish Surprise David Ives enjoyed dragging his colleague, Andrew Pen, around Europe to explore the many cultural delights on offer. Nothing had prepared him for this little Swedish treat.

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Original unpublished manuscript

Elevator DCI Chance

Murder - Mystery - Suspense Escape

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#134 ELEVATOR by Perry Simpson (DCI Chance Series)

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. - Charles Darwin

D

CI Chance surveyed the scene. The young constable had made the right as far as Chance was concerned. There was no doubt in his mind that this was anything but foul play. The body that lay at the foot of the elevator sha@ had been no accident. It had been there for some time, but there wasn't enough to convince the Chief Superintendent that this was murder. The body was that of a young woman. He guessed in her early twenties. The autopsy would confirm that. He was sure that this was not where her death occurred. DCI Chance had a reputation for thinking the unthinkable. He also knew that the body that laid to rest in this grim place would still have someone waiting to hear news of them. Bad news in this case. Closure would follow. Chance took out a pen and poked around in the rumble

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next to the decayed body. It was a gi@, a clue and a good start.

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Sergeant Ward joined DCI Chance for the autopsy of the woman found in the bo9om of the li@ sha@. It was as Chance had expected. Now he needed to establish an accurate timeline. He was also hoping that Ward had an ID for the murdered woman that lay before him on the table. 'So, what have you got for me?' Chance showed no emotion. He never did. 'So I have a possible ID for our victim, Miss Ava Todd, reported missing six months ago.' 'Good, can you organise DNA confirmation? Then, you'll need to contact the next of kin for formal identification. Anything else?’

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Ward finished making notes in his li9le black notebook. 'Yes, this is only conjectured at this point. According to the planning, the records show that the engineers…' 'They decommissioned the elevator around the same time as miss Ava Todd?' Chance interrupted. 'Yes.' Ward closed his notebook. 'What's on your mind, sir?' Ward was a good detective. He had learned much from Chance. Many thought of him as being cold, hard and uncaring, but Ward knew different. He knew that Chance was quite brilliant in his own right. To see things the way he did helped him limit his emotional a9achment in a case. 'Convenience, Ward. That's what it is screaming at me here. The autopsy doesn't help us, but I know her death was convenient for someone.' 'So, you still think it's murder then, sir?' 'Yes. Trouble is McBride will be happy to go with this autopsy and close the case.' 'If it was suicide, then there would a note?' 'You would expect so, but it's never that clear cut.' Escape

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'Why are you so convinced, sir?' 'First, what would she be doing in a disused building. Second, look at what she was wearing. Third, no shoes.' 'Yes, where are her shoes? I knew there was something. I couldn't sleep last night. Yes, of course, the shoes.' Ward had an expression of relief on his face. 'So, how do we play this with McBride?' 'Well, my guess is we have about twenty-four hours to crack this one. Up for it?' 'Of course, sir. Someone murdered that young woman over there and it's our sworn duty to bring her killer to justice.' Ward was stern and determined with his response. 'Good, let's call it a day. The clock doesn't start till tomorrow. So, go home and get some rest. Tomorrow will be a long day. Make sure your fed and fit.' Chance smiled. 'Sir.’ This was a rare occurrence. Early shout and smile out of DCI Chance. Was he so@ening in his old age? he asked himself.

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The weather outside matched Chance's mood. It had returned from meeting with the McBride. He wasn't buying Chance's murder theory. He wanted to close the case off as suicide. 'Didn't go well, then?' Ward asked Chance. 'The man has a point, Ward. So, we need to come up with something quick to change his mind.' Ward handed Chance a steaming mug of coffee. 'You’re gonna need this, then, sir.' 'This case reminded me of something. It was previous murder. I’d stake my career on it. Do you have the crime scene photos?' 'Yes, I set us up in incident room nine.' 'Good, time to disappear.' They walked side by side to incident room nine. Once inside, Chance dropped the blinds. 'So, walk me through this, could you please?' Ward put his mug down on the table and walked over to three separate display boards. 'So, on this display, we have the crime scene photos. Over here is the victimology data and here is the

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timeline. Oh, and over there the evidence collected at the scene.' All the boards, except the scene photo display, looked a li9le sparse. Chance stepped closer to the crime scene photos. The familiarity of this case was still nagging at him. He scanned each photo searching for a memory jogger. It was then that he remembered the tiny item he found on the floor next to the body. He walked over to the evidence boxes and rummaged through them. He stopped. He hadn’t found what he had been looking for. 'Sir, what is it?' 'There was a small crystal with a carving on it. I found it next to the body. It doesn't seem to be here. It was gemstone with a symbol on it.' Chance looked at the corpse. 'Look at the position of the hands.' A cold thought took a hold of Chance. 'I am sure there was another case like this one. Not identical, but there was something about a gemstone that caught my a9ention at the time. It was never explained.'

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Ward took all the items out of the

Someone has lifted the most crucial

evidence boxes, one at a time, and

piece of evidence. Then, pull that file

spread across the table.

from Manchester, will you?' Chance had that look in his eye. Frustration.

Chance paced up and down. He was trying to remember the case details. His pace quickened as he wrestled with his memory. It wasn’t a case that he had

'Sir.' 'Meet here in two hours.' With that Chance stomped out of the room.

handled. Chance stopped to think. He rubbed the short stiff hairs on his chin.

Two hours later...

Ward started to familiarise himself with each item on the table. He didn't

Ward greeted Chance with a smile as he

want to interfere with Chance's thought

entered the room. 'Got it.'

process. He had that eager look in his

'The stone or the case file?'

eye. Meaningful, purposeful and a determination written all over his face. 'Manchester,' Chance announced. 'I read about it. There was a crime scene photo. That's the connection. Beside the body, for all to see was a gemstone. I don't

'Both, sir.' 'Good. Let's take a look.' Chance opened the case file and flicked through the crime scene photos. He stopped. He had found what he was looking for. 'There,

know why, but the stone always

Ward. Look, see?' He placed the photo

bothered me.'

next to the latest crime scene photo.

'Sorry, sir, no gemstone here.'

'What do you think of think to that?'

'What?' Chance ran through the items

'Crikey, sir. I see it now. Unbelievable.

himself. 'Has to be here, Ward. I bagged it myself.' He took a closer look at each

What's the significance of the stone?' Ward produced the missing stone.

item. 'Right, find out gathered this lot.

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Chance took it from his hand. Held up to the light and rotated. It was a pale orange gemstone with the carving of a sun in a triangle inside the circular ball of flame. 'It's all about chakra my dear Ward.' 'Chakra, sir.' 'Yes, that.' Chance pointed at the photo from the Manchester crime scene. 'That is also a Chakra stone. A red coral. These are Chakra symbols or signs. Not sure what the correct description is, but this is a link between the two cases. Both found on or near the body.' 'It's a li9le thin though for McBride, sir.' 'True, but look at the hands.’ Ward took a few moments to observe and compare the two crime scene photos. 'Ah, I see.' 'Too many coincidences. You know me and my coincidences, Ward. You know what we have here don't you?' 'Two crimes with the same MO, sir.'

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'Yes, a very unusual killer. Until today, he has commi9ed two perfect crimes.' To be continued… DCI Chance Detective Series Library Reference: #134 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 13/2/2021 Title: Elevator Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

Don’t Miss 5-minute Wednesday

Coffee o’clock Tuesday January 2021 / Issue 01


Do you have a story to tell?

Escape

Why not join Writers Labs? 28

January 2021 / Issue 01


From the comical series..

Yorkie

Original unpublished manuscript

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#118 REVENGE by Perry Simpson (Yorkie Storyline)

“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.” - Francis Bacon

T

his new job had given Ian York the best escape from his li9le Nymphomaniac girlfriend, Olga. Her father didn’t approve of their relationship. This only made things worse, especially a@er the incident in the pub. As a service engineer, he needs to travel from time to time and a night off of sex with Olga. It had been a particularly long day, early start, three hundred mile drive and a boring four-hour meeting. Ian wanted to call it a day. He folded back the white sheet and slid himself under the covers of the large double bed. His alarm was set and he was going to celebrate his one night of freedom with a good night’s sleep. L

on. I must have gone out like a light, he thought. The door to the room next to him slammed, followed by raised voices. ‘Great.’ He stared around the modest size formula room. The layout was typical. One large space filled with a large double bed and a wardrobe. Next to the door, a worktop bridged the gap. There was a choice of a plastic desk chair and a comfy armchair. A small glass table with a selection of magazines filled in the space in the centre. The door slammed again. Ian smiled, turned off the bedside light and wrapped himself in the nice fresh smelling white duvet. I still have four hours of sleep. He closed his eyes happy with that thought.

Ian was rudely awoken by his neighbours arriving a@er the evening out. The desk lamp was still

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The door to the next opened and slammed shut again, followed by more crashing noises and giggling. ‘Great.’ Yorkie lay there in silence, in the hope, that he would fall asleep. That only amplified the noises from next door. I could hear more giggling. It was the sloppy wet kissing that tipped Yorkie over the edge. It sounded like someone sucking on a large peach. ‘That’s all I need.’ He was wide awake now. The kissing went on, only pausing while the couple gasped for air. ‘This night is turning into a nightmare.’ Yorkie looked at the bright blue numerals of the digital clock. ‘Two bloody thirty in the morning,’ he sighed. The kissing continued. Ian threw himself out of the bed and started pacing up and down. ‘Should I go and knock on their door? Of course, I can’t. Idiot.’ He stomped into the bathroom. The fan started. He leant on the sink staring

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into the mirror. ‘What a bloody disaster.’ He turned the tap on and splashed some water on his face. ‘It’s not that bad. What would you be doing right now if you were at home?’ ‘Same as those two next door.’ He threw the white towel into a large oval basin and went back into the bedroom. Yorkie arranged all his so@ white pillows in a sort of U-shape to try and muffle the noises from nextdoor. He lay there quite still in an a9empt to relax and grab whatever sleep he could. He remained motionless to see if he could hear anything. Nothing. He started to dri@ off again. A series of groans brought him back. He listened as they intensified, growing faster and shorter. The room filled with a loud squeal, followed by some gasps and mumblings.

January 2021 / Issue 01


‘Bloody hell. I may as well be at home in bed with Olga. That’s it!’ Yorkie leapt from the bed, grabbed his denim jeans and stomped towards the door. He went out and headed toward the door of the neighbouring room. He paused in front of the door, with his clenched fist raised, poised, ready thumb on the door. He turned and paced up and down the corridor, mumbling to himself. He returned to the door. ‘I’ll get you back, you see if I don’t.’ He had come up with an idea for sweet revenge. He made a one-digit gesture to his closed neighbour’s door before he re-entered his room. L

‘Hello, my darling.’ Olga threw her arms around Ian’s neck, leaping up to grip him around the waist with her legs. ‘Did you miss me?’ Her long blonde hair tickled his nose. Her bright tortoise-shell eyes teased his. Her smile spanned across her delicate toned face. ‘Of course, my li9le Poppet,’ He lied.

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She kissed him with great passion, smudging her fuchsia-coloured lipstick. 'So, how was your trip Good?’ ‘It was very tiring.’ ‘But, you stayed in the beautiful hotel in that big bed all alone without me. I bet you missed me. I bet he missed me, my darling.’ She grabbed him between his thighs. ‘No, he was busy,’ Yorkie sighed Olga jumped down and glared at him. ‘What do you mean he was busy? You had someone else in your bed?’ ‘No!’ he cringed. ‘I thought you were talking about the guy in the room next door to mine at the hotel. Sorry.’ ‘He was in your bed? Ian!’ ‘No, he was in his own bed in the room next door. he had a woman and they were at it most of the night.’

January 2021 / Issue 01


‘At it?’ ‘Yes, they were shagging all night and I didn’t get a wink of sleep.’ ‘How old was he?’ ‘I don’t know. Does it ma9er?’ Yorkie wanted to end the conversation. ‘Don’t get angry with me.’ ‘He sounded quite old and she sounded a lot younger. She could have been a prostitute. Look, I don't know. They kept me awake all night.’ ‘Why do you think she was a woman of the night?’ ‘She le@ shortly a@er. You know?’ He was feeling a bit uncomfortable with her continued questioning. ‘Ah, now I see. You were jealous and you wished I was there with you. You always sleep when Olga finishes.’ Olga reached between his thighs again. ‘I should come with you on your next trip? No?’ ‘Not sure that would be a good idea.’ ‘What do you mean? You go to work, I sleep. When you come back to the hotel, we fuck, then you would sleep.’ Escape

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‘It’s a business trip and I am supposed to be working.' The thought of Olga waiting to pounce on him in the hotel bedroom terrified him. ‘Then, it would be business sex. You know, room service?’ Olga winked at him and then started to rub between his groin. ‘Then, they could hear Olga scream when she…’ ‘Yes, I get the picture.’ Yorkie's imagination filled in the gaps. ‘We would keep the entire floor awake.’ ‘What are you saying? Do you prefer to be alone? You do not want Olga in your bed?’ she teased. ‘Of course not silly. It's…’ He paused. ‘I wouldn’t be able to concentrate at work because I would be thinking you all the time.’ ‘What, you don’t normally?’ ‘Not in the same way - You know?” ‘There, is that be9er?’ She continued to rub between his groins. ‘See he missed me.’ Yorkie conceded. L

January 2021 / Issue 01


'Hello papa.’ Olga threw her arm around her father. Ian nodded in acknowledgment. Doug returned the compliment but with even less enthusiasm. ‘Hello darling, how was your trip.’ Olga’s mother, Elena, hugged her husband and kissed him on the cheek. She was an older carbon copy of her daughter in almost every detail. ‘Good.’ ‘How was your hotel?’ ‘Don’t ask?’ ‘What happened papa? ‘Didn’t get a wink of sleep at all.’ ‘Why was that my precious?’ Elena asked. ‘The prat in the room next door paced up and down talking to himself. Then he would go into the bathroom run the tap. He evenpaced up and down the corridor. To cap it all, when he had finally stopped, some idiot kept calling me and pretending to be Chinese every 30 minutes!’ ‘Oh, darling how terrible for you.’

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‘Yorkie, how was your trip?’ Doug then glanced down at the hotel invoice on the kitchen table, then back at Yorkie. His menacing brown eyes cut through him like a sharp knife. ‘Enjoy your one night of freedom?’ Olga looked at her father, then shi@ed her gaze towards Yorkie. Ian looked down at the hotel bill laying in front of them on the kitchen table. It was his. He felt a strange feeling come over him. The room number was on it. Yorkie and Olga (Storyline) Library Reference: #118 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 28/1/2021 Title: Revenge Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

January 2021 / Issue 01


From the comical diary of

Emily Rae

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Emily Rae

Enough

Original unpublished manuscript

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January 2021 / Issue 01


#97 ENOUGH by Perry Simpson (Comical Diary of Emily Rae)

“Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support them after.” - William Shakespeare

I

t was Saturday morning. Farmer’s market day and Ethel and Janet sat at their regular table close to the window. Cobbler's Tea room was busy. The audience for the reading of the latest antics of Emily Rae had grown somewhat. Emily Rae had a flair for adventure since her husband had passed away. He le@ her a pre9y penny or two and she pursued her version of the bucket list. The latest was a tour of Europe on a red Vespa. Her escapades had become legendary in Cobbler's Tea room. Having caused chaos in the tour de France, she then got mixed up in a feud between two brothers over a parakeet. Beryl had received another le9er from Emily. She was late, which was unusual for her. The door opened and all eyes gazed at Beryl as she crossed the threshold into the warm.

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'It's a bit nippy out there, I tell you.' Beryl removed her olive green coat, black scarf and woolly hat. L

'Now ladies I have received another le9er from Emily.' Her eyes rolled upwards into her eyelids. 'Wait till you hear this.' She shook her head. 'Well, go on then. Don't keep us in suspense as in one of those game shows,' Ethel sighed. 'Yeah, the bit where they are about to announce the winner and everyone is then paused,' Janet added. 'Look, do you want to hear this or not?' Beryl huffed. The room fell silent. The audience was ready. Beryl unleashed the tale:

January 2021 / Issue 01


Dear all, Costa Bravo was fab. The food and wine were OK. Stayed a little longer than expected. Met a very nice young man who showed me his tan and his rare collection of tattoos. Beryl paused, looking over her glasses. The faces were a mixture of smiles and horror. My journey took me back from Portugal and into Spain. My ass cheeks are still painful. Had to have another injection to ease the swelling. So, took the quacks advice and stopped over in Spain for a couple of days. The food was unusual for my taste buds, but you know me, have to try everything. Seafood is popular as you would expect. Met up with a nice couple, Tania and David, from the UK who retired here ten years ago. so, they showed me the ropes. One night, we went to a gorgeous little place on the

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seafront. Sitting and eating when David plunged headfirst into his dinner. Everyone thought he had a heart attack. People were buzzing around. The place was in complete chaos. The restaurant owner was so worried that it was the food. So, we ate for free. Result. According to his wife, this is a normal occurrence. He is not supposed to drink alcohol with his medication. The following night same again. I couldn't handle this so I made my excuses the following night. That night I dined in a nice little place El Tapas U. Well, they say curiosity killed the cat. I couldn't resist trying the squid. Beryl paused for a sip of her tea. Janet and Ethel threw anxious looks. 'Where was I? 'I could resist the squid,' Janet answered. 'Ah, yes.’

January 2021 / Issue 01


It came in a bowl of this black stuff. It looked like black ink or dirty engine oil. It went everywhere. I got all over my clothes, the table cloth, the floor. To cap it all, the waiter slipped in his arse in it and broke his arm. I'll think I stick to the steak tartare with chips. 'Why is it wherever she goes there is chaos?' Janet laughed. 'She's like a magnet that a9racts trouble.' 'Can I carry on? there's a lot more.' They all took a large gulp of tea and topped the cups up from their individual stainless teapots. I had had enough of Spain and its cuisines by now. Time to move on. So, went across back into France. The plan was to head for Switzerland for a bit of yodelling. Got lost several times and bought a GPS thingy. It was a great little gadget. You'll love it, Ethel. Handsfree with a headset that fitted to the inside of my helmet. No more maps!

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It talks to you all the time. Some dolly bird with a Liverpudlian accent. Karen her name was. Gives you directions as you go. It was great, well at first. Then it started to get lost when I entered Switzerland. I asked it for directions to a place called Bergün. All seemed fine at first. I knew the place was close to some mountains and thought it a great idea to have a few days off to do some hiking. Give my arse time to recover. I could get some fresh down my lungs and let my hair down. Well, I don't know what went wrong. I followed the directions that Karen gave me, but I don’t think she’d ever been to Switzerland. The roads were lovely to start with, but as soon as I got out into the country, they got worse. Karen just kept saying your destination is ahead. She was like a sticking record. I kept following her advice along this winding dirt trail.

January 2021 / Issue 01


I kept telling myself this can't be right. The track took higher and higher up this mountain until the inevitable happened. I ran out of fuel. I had no idea where I was. I couldn't believe they would have built a hotel up this high. There I was met by a valley full of goats. Didn't know what to do. There was no way I could push the bike back down the bumpy trail. Then, I remembered that this GPS thingy had a panic alarm feature. One press and it would send my location and an SOS alert to emergency services. I pressed. Nothing. No bleep. No acknowledgement. Nothing at all. My GPS unit was out of juice. Flat battery to you ladies. Not sure what to do, I made a small shelter to protect myself from the wind. Girl guides camp training came in handy here. All I could do was wrap myself in clothing, keep warm and get some sleep. What else could I do?

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'Well,' Ethel laughed. 'She's more gall than I have. Sleeping alone on a mountain like that.' 'What was she thinking?' Janet asked. 'You know what she's like with anything technical.' 'Could be the GPS was not compatible with Swiss roads.' Ethel looked at Beryl. 'There is more to come, ladies, but let's get a top-up.’ L

Everyone made themselves comfortable for the conclusion. Beryl shuffled turned the page. I soon drifted off to sleep, but not for long. I could see several eyes moving in the distance. They were getting closer. It was one of those moments that I wished I had my gun. 'She's got a gun?' Ethel interrupted. 'Shush,' Janet snapped. 'Yes, but that's another story.' Beryl continued.

January 2021 / Issue 01


I stayed still. Doing my best to hide from the advancing eyes. Then, from out of nowhere a huge bright light appeared scanning the ground around me. It was so bright. I thought the aliens had invaded earth. I buried myself under my clothes and hoped they wouldn't find me. I didn't fancy a ride in a spaceship. Not after the day, I'd had. They approached from all directions. I could hear dogs barking in the distance. I could hear voices but couldn't make out what they were saying. It was some strange sort of language. I had my mace spray at the ready. It all went quiet. All I could only hear was a dog sniffing at my ankles. I could feel their presence. I threw up the blanket and sprayed the lot of them. Well, to cut a long story short. They weren't aliens at all. It was a Swiss mountain rescue team. My bleeper on the GPS had worked, even with a flat battery. I was fine. Some of them had to go to the

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hospital to have their eyes washed. They seemed to find my story amusing. That's it for now. Resting up in the alps for a few days.'

Emily. Ethel and Janet looked at Beryl. She was trying not to raise a smile. The whole cafe burst out into laughter. 'I tell you I have had enough of this. They'll lock her up one day, that they will,' Beryl smirked.

Comical Diary of Emily Rae Library Reference: #97 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 7/1/2021 Title: Enough Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

January 2021 / Issue 01


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January 2021 / Issue 01


Private

Original unpublished manuscript

A Frank and Mildred’s Story. Their marriage was pushed to brink by the neighbour’s tiny kitten. Now that Mildred has a cat, Frank is always on his guard. It’s become a paranoia. 43 Escape January 2021 / Issue 01


#119 PRIVATE by Perry Simpson (Frank and Mildred storyline)

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.” - Groucho Marx

I

t appeared that no one had suffered a@er the dinner saga. They still had no idea who had eaten from which bag of meat, but one was definitely not chicken. All the past troubles seem to be behind them. Frank and Mildred Becker were now enjoying all the spoils of Frank’s recent promotion. He sat at his desk with a coffee and a ginger nut biscuit. His new office was now his second home. He sat in thought. It dawn on him that this promotion now meant he worked harder and longer hours than before. Granted, he thought. My hours are flexible and I am almost my own boss, but I am always so tired in the evenings. The phone rang. He sighed as he pick up the receiver, ‘Frank Becker.’ He listened to the person on the other end of the line.

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‘Oh, it’s you, Mildred.’ He jumped to his feet. ‘No, I’ll meet you there.’ He wrestled himself into his jacket while still listening. ‘About twenty minutes.’ Mildred hung up. Frank threw the receiver down and dashed out of the door. L

Frank arrived later than he expected and saw no sign of Mildred outside or in the foyer. He assumed that she must have already gone up to the ward. Her sister was struck down by a car on the zebra crossing and was in a very bad way. He had no idea which ward she would be on. There was a huge queue at the counter. Frank decided to try the Stella Ward. That was where he went when he had fallen off of his bike a year or so back.

January 2021 / Issue 01


Frank glanced around. Confused. The hospital was undergoing some major restoration works. The corridors soon filled with patients, hospital staff and hairy arsed workmen. As he recalled, Mildred had said that she was in a private room. That didn’t help him much in this chaos. He thought the easiest thing to do would be to ask one of the workmen. He walked over to an elderly chap wearing a high visibility vest. Frank assumed him to be in a supervisory capacity. He was holding a clipboard. He thought he must be important. ‘Excuse me, can you direct me to Stella Ward?’ ‘Whereabouts in Stella Ward?’ he replied in a low so@ voice. Frank paused. The man’s reply took him by surprise. ‘Well, all I know is that she is in a private room.’ ‘Ah, then you need to continue down this corridor all the way to the end. Then take a le@, followed by another le@. The ward is open, but the signage is not finished. You’ll have to ask at the reception desk.’ Frank thanked him and continued down the corridor, as instructed. At the end he took a le@, passing a row Escape

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of painters adding the finishing touches to the top and bo9om of the walls. He followed the wall until the next le@ turn. It was less chaotic. The new decor had a warmer, cosier effect. Frank liked the so@ lilac walls with several hand-painted murals of the open countryside. ‘The man wasn’t kidding, there is no signage,’ he sighed. Frank continued towards the desk, but there didn’t appear to be any staff around. Everything was new and very high-tech. ‘Can’t hang around here all day.’ Frank decided to try and locate Mildred’s sister by himself. He opened each door. Most of the rooms were empty. Frank was beginning to think he must be in the wrong place. Then, he caught a glimpse of something familiar through a closing door. He knocked on the door and went in. L

January 2021 / Issue 01


On the bed was a woman with a head wrapped in a heavy layering of bandages. ‘Oh my god, whatever happened to you?’ No answer. ‘There’s no sign of Mildred then?’ She didn’t respond. ‘Mildred must have got lost in all that chaos out there. I am sure she’ll be along soon.’ Frank didn’t even want to think about the extent of her injuries. He grabbed a chair and sat down next to her. ‘I guess you won’t be needing these,’ he said, placing a bag of grapes on the bedside unit. Frank was starting to feel uncomfortable. He didn’t know Mildred’s sister all that well. When they had met in the past, the exchanges were frosty at best. They also only ever seem to meet at Christmas time. ‘I can’t think what has happened Mildred,' he said looking at his watch again. ‘She should have been here now,’ he sighed. ‘I suspect she’ll

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be here any minute.’ He had said that several times now. He helped himself to a couple of grapes. ‘Did Mildred tell you about my new job? Yes, I finally got that promotion. It only took Charles fi@een years to recognise my contribution to the company.’ Her head moved a li9le. She seemed restless. He took another handful of grapes and sat back down in the chair. ‘As for that wife of his, Harriet. Well, I don’t know who the hell she thinks she is with all her airs and graces. She struts everywhere like she owns the place. Mind you, she keeps Charles in his place, I can tell you.’ She began to fidget. Frank gorged on the grapes. ‘Look, I don’t think you should be trying to talk in your condition.’ She tried to move. Tired of si9ing, Frank stood up and started to pace around the room. ‘Oh, Did Mildred tell you the story about the dinner and the two bags of chicken?’

January 2021 / Issue 01


She sighed. He started to chuckle as he took another handful of grapes. He started to chuckle again. ‘To this day, we still do not know who ended up with a bag with the cat meat in it.' She appeared to try to say something. ‘Oh, I seem to have eaten all your grapes.’ He scrunched the paper back up and dropped it into the bin. ‘Look, you stay there and I should go and see if I can find Mildred. This is not like her at all.’ Frank le@ the room and stood a while outside to get his bearings. L ‘Frank.’ He turned to find Charles Baldwin, his boss, heading towards him. ‘Fancy seeing you here, sir.’ ‘Ah,’ He seemed uncomfortable with Frank’s presence. ‘My wife is here for corrective surgery. Well, she’s not comfortable with the term faceli@, you know?’ He said

explained. ‘Can we keep this between ourselves, Frank?’ Frank nodded. 'sure. Of course, Charles. Mums the word.' He was still in a state of shock. He watched as Charles entered the private room. The very same room he had sat in for the past hour. ‘Where the hell have you been, Frank?’ Frank turned to find Mildred pushing an elderly lady in a hospital wheelchair. Mildred’s sister sat in a wheelchair, both her legs and one arm were in plaster. ‘I thought?’ he paused looking back at the door to the private room. 'Mrs Baldwin,' he whispered under his breath. He closed his eyes at the thought. ‘I thought you said your Mavis was in a Private Ward.’ ‘No, I said she is in the new Privet ward.’ ‘Ah, yes, I remember now.’ Frank came over all pale. Frank and Mildred (Storyline) Library Reference: #119 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 29/1/2021 Title: Private Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

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January 2021 / Issue 01


The Room Cavendish and Wilcox Detective Series

Original unpublished manuscript

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January 2021 / Issue 01


#376 THE ROOM by Perry Simpson (Cavendish and Wilcox)

“Who knows what may lay behind this door?’ - Perry Simpson

M

aria wasn’t sure what she thought at first. It was not what you would expect to find in an elderly gentleman's house. When she had entered her nose detected an odour that was familiar with an elderly man living alone. The house looked normal. A step back in time. Someone's life is captured in memorabilia. A personal legacy of one's life. Mr Jenkins was no different. The contents of his house were as she expected. Photographs to remind him of the good times loved ones and memorable places. All normal, except for one room. It was a small square room. The red-painted walls were overpowering. A single piece of furniture. A chair in the centre, and four eyebolts in the concrete floor one on each corner of the chair.

WPC Wilcox looked around the room. It was like stepping back in time. She too had a look of horror on her face when she looked into the red room. Her immediate thoughts were that it was some sort of interrogation room. Regardless, she classed it as suspicious and called for a forensics team. She didn't know what they would find in that room, but it was no longer her concern. The detective in charge will have the pleasure of unravelling the mystery. Wilcox glanced around the room where they had found Mr Jenkins. He had been dead for some time. The smell was still bad but the windows had to remain closed until forensics had been and done their stuff.

L

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Face covered, Wilcox explored the living room. She was curious. The red room played on her mind as it had Maria when she opened the door. Maria was Mr Jenkin's nextdoor neighbour. She didn't know Mr Jenkins that well. She said that he was a very private man. Liked to read books. L

Wilcox could see by his extensive book collection that Mr Jenkins had his own library. The content covered a large range of topics including torture and interrogation techniques. Of particular interest was the book that was still face down next to where they had found Mr Jenkins. The title was 'Modern Interrogation Techniques'. Wilcox didn't touch the book. She knew that she might be standing in the middle of a crime scene. The cause of his death wasn't clear. An autopsy would clarify this later today.

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She looked at the various photos do9ed around the lounge. They appeared to span from when he was a li9le boy. There were photos of Mr Jenkins in uniform. Not any ordinary uniform. It looked as though he had been part of an elite force. The Special Air Services. The name didn't best describe the men that were in this elite force. Nor, did it even hint at what these people did or were capable of. Mr Jenkins was no ordinary civilian. Like others like him, Wilcox imagined that he would suffer from the nightmares of his past. The purpose of the red room seemed an obvious extension of his military training. Many le@ the force to take up protection or high-level security posts. Others became guns for hire. Wilcox wondered what road had Mr Jenkins had taken when he le@ the service. She even thought about how he le@. Was he decommissioned or was it a dishonourable discharge?

January 2021 / Issue 01


Again, it wasn't her problem now. A cute-looking detective stepped through the door. He held his jacket lapel across his mouth and nose. There was a look of disgust on his face and anger in his eyes. This he directed at Wilcox. She showed him the red room. His expression changed. He too was not sure what he had inherited.

photographs. Then, onto the books of Mr Jenkin’s personal library. 'The sniffer dogs have arrived, sir' Wilcox announced. 'Good. Thank you.' Eager to please their masters. Two beautiful liver and copper springer spaniels swaggered around. Their tails never stopped wagging as they sniffed out every corner of the house. Their excitement suggested that they L had found something. They had. The forensics team had given the Cavendish looked disappointed. all-clear. Detective Cavendish asked Wilcox had guessed he would find Wilcox to stay and help coordinate bodies buried under the floorboards. the removal of the body. She watched as Cavendish held up Cavendish watched as forensics the small packet of pills. combed the red room for clues. He 'Ecstasy,' he shouted over at was deep in thought. He too yielded Wilcox. thoughts that something much more Wilcox walked over to Cavendish. sinister events had occurred here. 'Drugs at his age?' Wilcox watched Cavendish as he lit 'I doubt they were for him,' He up his fake cigare9e. He's very smiled back at Wilcox. He took out young, she thought. She noticed how his mobile and blasted away at the uncomfortable he looked. He had keys. The 'message sent' sound had said that this was his first case since started another line of enquiry. 'We'll moving up from Reading. see if he was using.' The rumours floated around the station as he was a high flyer. Quite brilliant by all accounts. Wilcox watched as Cavendish worked his way through the

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Wilcox smiled. 'So, what do you think, sir?' 'I don't...' 'Wilcox. Sorry, WPC Wilcox, sir.' 'Wilcox, I never think. It's an unwanted and unnecessary distraction. Look at what we have here. Don't presume or assume anything.’ Wilcox nodded. 'What do we have here, Wilcox? It's not what it seems that you can be sure of.' Two days later... 'Ah, Wilcox. Coffee?' Wilcox looked surprised to see the dapping young detective Cavendish. 'Sure, thank you.' The machine sounded like it was grinding the coffee from fresh beans. It wasn't that type of machine. 'Number twelve, please sir.' 'You can tell much about a person from what coffee they drink, how they take it and who with. Black, no sugar.' 'What's that say about me?' Wilcox asked. 'You don't like sugar,' he laughed. 'Take our Mr Jenkins. What were your immediate thoughts when you saw the red room?' Escape

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Wilcox felt as though she was being tested. She hesitated. 'Come on it's a simple enough question. What did your eyes see and your brain conclude?' 'To be exact my first thought was what the fuck?' Wilcox replied. 'Yes, then what did you think?' 'Well, that it looked like some sort of torture or interrogation room. You know the single chair in the room, the chains and padlocks.' 'See, that's what you thought. I did too at first. When you look at the photos and books you got led by your thoughts. Then, add the forensics who found blood, hair and tissue samples. They found what we hoped they would find. Evidence to support the thoughts we harboured about Mr Jenkins.' 'So, who was Mr Jenkins?' 'A retired SAS who liked reading a lot of books. It was ecstasy but it wasn't his. No traces were found in his system. He didn't even drink.’

January 2021 / Issue 01


Our Mr Jenkins died of natural causes.

L Wilcox sat down at the table. Cavendish sat down opposite. 'You called as you saw it, Wilcox. Nothing wrong with that but it was not what we all thought at first.' Wilcox was dying to know. 'So, what was the purpose of the red room, sir?' 'It was nothing more than a photo set.' Cavendish turned his mobile around. People paid him to take photographs chained in his red room. It was very lucrative. He had a very healthy bank account.

Cavendish and Wilcox Series Library Reference: #376 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 13/10/2021 Title: The Room Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

Don’t Miss 5-minute Wednesday

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Find inspiration Writer’s Therapy Retreats in the magical wilderness of Ireland…

There is something truly magical about mountains.

admin@simpsonperry.com Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


#110 MIMIC by Perry Simpson Dave Stokes & Maggie Fuller Storyline

Teach a parrot the terms 'supply and demand' and you've got an economist. - Thomas Carlyle

M

aggie was still concerned about Dave's job interview today. It wasn't about whether he got the job. It was more the fact that it might involve food. Dave's brief culinary adventure was over a@er his alcoholinfused dishes resulted in the death of another chef. She needed him to get a job. He and his parrot were driving her up the wall. Dave had been out of work again since the incident with the Police about some material they found on his PC. It was not Dave's fault and she felt responsible for his current condition. Escape

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Maggie Fuller's relationship with Dave had always been turbulent. There was no shortage of surprises. The last thing she needed right now was her weekly invasion by the ladies. The dilemma was whether to cover the bird's cage and put it out in the kitchen? L

The familiar sound of the doorbell ringing brought Maggie back to the present. She made her way to the door. It was Brenda standing on the other side.

January 2021 / Issue 01


'Sorry to keep you waiting Brenda, come in.' Brenda gave Maggie her usual hug and followed her through to the lounge. Maggie had no sooner sat down with Brenda than the doorbell rang again. Brenda jumped up and went to answer the door. It was Doreen who had started a new trend of being on time. 'Am I late?' 'No, you’re good.' Maggie smiled. Tea was ready and it was Doreen who took the lead, pouring out the tea. The three ladies sat in silence for a moment, each unwinding from their troubles. None more so than Maggie. She was about to break the silence when the doorbell rang again. 'That'll be Sheila. She said she would be a li9le late today.' They all laughed. Doreen was the one who was usually late. Being on time was a rare occurrence. 'Morning, ladies.' She huffed and puffed. 'Had to pop into the

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laundre9e to drop off some bits that won't fit in my machine.' The ladies sat and enjoyed a quiet moment with a cup of tea and a brownie. 'So, how's your Dave, Maggie?' 'Don't ask?' Maggie didn't want to spoil the moment. 'Dave's out,' the parrot said from under the cover. Maggie closed her eyes and sighed. She wished she had shut him in the kitchen. 'He's gone for a job interview today, thank god.' 'That's good. What sort of job?' Sheila asked. Maggie paused before she answered. Brenda leapt up, 'Same again ladies?' She could see that Maggie was uncomfortable. She topped everyone's cups with steam hot tea and offered everyone another brownie. 'It's a sales job actually,' Maggie replied. 'Can he do sales then, Maggie? Sheila blew across the top of her cup before taking a tiny sip. January 2021 / Issue 01


Maggie laughed. 'Dave selling. I have no idea. It's a job,' She grimaced. 'Dave and that bloody bird are driving me made. It's living in a house with doctor bloody Doli9le. Maggie's moment of calm had erupted. 'Why, whatever's wrong Maggie? I thought you liked the bird.' 'It's like having two of them in the house morning, noon and night. It's like Dave has cloned himself.' 'Off the grass,' The bird shouted. The postman hopped back onto the path and pushed the le9ers through the le9erbox. 'You've got mail,' The parrot squawked. 'That's what I mean. Dave, to pass the time, has been teaching the bird how to talk. It's like an echo box. Dave would say something several times. At first, the bird didn't respond, but Dave kept going. On and on and on. Then, one day the bird ra9led out all the words.' The ladies smiled. 'Kept him out of mischief though Maggie,' Doreen replied. Doreen was always defending Dave since his culinary exploits.

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'Now, the bird makes more sense than Dave. It comes up with some blinding combinations. I would watch what you say, ladies. It might be be9er to put him out in the kitchen.' 'No, don't do that Maggie. He's no bother.' Sheila insisted. Maggie knew that she might live to regret this. The parrot whistled. It was no ordinary whistle. It was dog calling kind of whistle. 'I say that's clever.' 'Oh, yes. Poor Mr Beecham's Labrador got hit by a car the other day. It got confused. Mistook the whistles.' Doreen started to chuckle. 'What else does it do?' 'Don't ask. It copies all sorts of things. Food mixers, telephone ringing. I cannot have it in here when the television is on.' 'It's pissing down with rain again.' The parrot said. The ladies began to giggle.

January 2021 / Issue 01


'Wow, that's a great impression,' Brenda smiled. 'Almost lifelike.' Sensing that he had an audience, the bird began to make an impression of the cement mixer. 'Come on, hurry with that.' 'Oh, yes Dave had great fun with the builders next door. Caused a fight.' Maggie shook her head. 'They walked off the job in the end. They had to get another crew to finish the work. 'You're kidding?' Sheila laughed. 'Oh yes, not only has Dave taught the bird how to say certain phrases. The parrot now teaches himself. He’s is terrorising the neighbourhood. 'More tea ladies?' 'No, I'm fine Brenda. Thank you.' 'It wasn't me,' Brenda laughed. 'See what I mean,' Maggie smirked. 'No milk today please,' the bird shouted. Maggie leapt up and dashed to the door. The ladies chuckled. They were finding it hilarious. Maggie returned with her usual two pints of milk. ‘Damn bird,’ Maggie huffed.

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'You still have a milkman and he delivers milk?' Doreen looked flabbergasted. 'Local farmer. Delivers vegetables as well. Very handy.' The sound of a mobile phone rang out several times. Maggie watched as all three took out their mobile phones. Maggie wasn't going to fall for that one again. 'Maggie it's your phone.' Brenda pointed at the flashing phone on the table. Maggie picked it up. It was Dave. She pressed and put back down again. 'It's pissing down out there,' the parrot announced. They all started to laugh again. The rain had started pouring down outside. Slow at first. Soon it was washing down the window and dancing on the pavement. L

The front door opened and a drowned rat in the form of Dave stepped and closed the door. He was soaking wet. He stripped off to his underpants in the hallway. This was the moment Maggie had been dreading.

January 2021 / Issue 01


'What's for dinner? Not corn beef again?' Maggie didn't answer the bird. 'Is there any beer in the fridge?' Maggie looked at the expression on the faces of the ladies as the bird went through the Dave's I am back ritual. 'What's on the box tonight Luv?' Unaware that Maggie had guests Dave waltzed into the lounge. He was wearing only his underpants. ‘Hey, Mags, I got that job.' The ladies stood and gawked. Do you fancy a bit…? Oops! Sorry, ladies didn’t see you there.’ Dave laughed.

The bird mimicked Dave’s laugh to perfection. 'Christ, that’s all I need. Two hyena’s laughing.’ Maggie sighed. The ladies decided that it was time they le@ Maggie to her double act. David Stokes & Maggie Fuller (Storyline) Library Reference: #110 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 20/1/2021 Title: Mimic Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

Life Style Thursday

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Doing nothing is hard… Abducted

Original unpublished manuscript Escape

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Borisz and ModeshJanuary Photo by2021 Edina /Lebhardt Issue 01


#114 ABDUCTED by Perry Simpson

“One missing child is one too many.” - John Walsh

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i9le Jack bent down and rescued the ball from the shallow rock pool on the Welsh coast. He liked to explore the rock pools to see what he could find a@er a storm. Most of the time it was only dri@ wood that he would find, but today was different. He had found a green leather ball with the word 'Ireland' across the middle. It also had white shamrocks on the other panels. The saltwater dripped from it we9ing his trousers. Li9le Jack wasn't sure whether he should put it back where he had found it. This is what his father had told him to do in the past. Li9le Jack had always wanted a proper leather football, but he got a plastic one for his birthday. Li9le Jack pondered in thought. He didn't think this belonged to another li9le boy. The temptation was too great. He put it under his arm and headed off for home.

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L

Li9le Jack showed the ball to his father. He gave a disapproving look. 'What have I told you, Jack? Jack said nothing. His head bowed downward. He knew to bring it home was wrong. 'See look there's a name on it.' It wasn't a name. It was the word, 'Help' wri9en in shaky handwriting. 'Vera, what do’ ya make of this?' Gavin gave handed it to his wife. Vera looked at it. For some strange reason, it seemed familiar. Then, her face froze as a terrible thought crossed her mind. 'Could this be the li9le girls?' ‘What li9le girl?' Gavin had no idea who she was talking about.

January 2021 / Issue 01


‘You know the one that cousin Long was talking about. The li9le girl, Mary something or other, that has gone missing in Ireland.' Vera handed the ball back to Gavin and ran to the phone. Gavin looked at the ball and the scruffy handwri9en thought. It was every parent’s nightmare. The thought of Jack going missing sent a cold spasm down his spine.

stopped searching. Everyone willed it to be her ball and a clue, even the tiniest clue would point them in the right direction. They knew that somewhere along the coast near Waterford she might still be alive. That hope grew from the li9le community to the whole nation as the news broke about the finding of her ball. It was something that every Irish parent dreaded. The Gardaí thought it unlikely that they would L find her alive. They weren't going to raise anyone's hopes. The twentyThe police had arrived and took four-hour critical window had long the ball away for examination by the passed. The local community and forensics team. They hoped that to people of Ireland held their breath. find something, anything that would Others prayed for a miracle. tell them where the ball went in along the Irish Coast. The Irish L Gardaí confirmed that the li9le girl, Mary, had a ball exactly like the one Back in Wales, Li9le Jack and his found off the Welsh coast. parents waited. It was like this li9le Mary O'Donnell had gone missing girl was part of their family. Vera five days ago. Everyone had had called her cousin in Waterford assumed that she had got swept several times to see if there was any away in the storm. Now, renewed news. Nothing. hope li@ed the local community where she lived. They hadn't

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January 2021 / Issue 01


The break came on Saturday morning. The forensics team had indeed found something. It connected the ball to a particular stretch of coastline north of Waterford. Embedded between the joints of the leather panels was a type of plant, traces of soil and pollen. The Gardaí sent out a unit two hundred strong to search that stretch coastline. Every officer knew what was at stake. It was like an invasion had landed along the coastline. Vans, dogs and lots of men in boots. An army of local volunteers swarmed from the local villages headed for the beech. But, not to defend the state from invaders. This had become a huge community effort to find a li9le Mary O'Donnell. The line of bodies spanned across the rugged terrain. They collected and collated debris as they went. There was a sudden wave of excitement as a volunteer came across a li9le girls shoe. Not only a clue but a glimmer of hope. Escape

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The press had got wind of the developments and filmed the scene from the top of the hill. The windswept in from the sea and ripped across the rocky outcrops. The weather was about to turn and with it any chance of finding Li9le Mary. Time was running out for the anxious army of volunteers. Hardly a word could be heard as the sea of bodies advanced towards the advancing tidal water. An officer drew a9ention to a find in one of the rock outcrops. It was a ba9ered body of a man, face down. This was a man known to the Gardaí. He was on an offenders register and a watch list since he was released from care. There would be an inquiry when this missing person case concludes. A moment of confusion halted the advancing army as news of the grim finding swept along the chain of windswept bodies.

January 2021 / Issue 01


The light was fading and with it the window of hope. Everyone wished for the same thing. The rain came as promised, but this didn't deter anyone. The army continued to ripple down the rough terrain, like a wave of determination. They continued to search. A dog barked in the distance. A lively liver and white Springer Spaniel paced round and round in circles, tail wagging. The scent from the shoe had led him to something. The other shoe. Not only the other shoe but also the scent of li9le Mary. The handler released the dog. Not usual, but time was against them. The spaniel bolted off at speed, nose glued to the ground, pausing, twisting, turning. He made his way up the hill towards civilisation. The Gardaí had an idea where the dog was heading and several officers mobilised themselves. The search had turned a corner. The spaniel had reached a small stone co9age, hidden away from the world. He was close now, the excited dog slowed, his nose snorted along Escape

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the ground. Officers scrambled through the marshland and sirens approached from the narrow lane opposite. The trail led the enthusiastic Spaniel to a barn. He paced up and down searching for a way in. He barked at the advancing officers. The Spaniel found a way in. The officers broke the door open. The Spaniel was sat next to an old wooden chicken pen, tongue hanging out as he panted. He had found Mary. She was still alive, but very weak. The handler hugged his dog with tears in his eyes. The army of volunteers paused to watch as the coastguard helicopter approached. News soon spread down the chain of soaking wet bodies. Young couples hugged and kissed. Others embraced one another, tears of joy washed away by the persistent rain. L

January 2021 / Issue 01


Li9le Jack stood with his father looking in the general direction of Ireland. Gavin wondered what if Li9le Jack hadn't brought the ball home that day. He also knew that Li9le Jack will not realise the importance of the decision he had made until he was older. He had disobeyed him by bringing the ball home, but in doing so, he had saved a li9le girls life. Gavin placed his hand on the back of Li9le Jack's back. 'Come on, let's have a game,' he smiled.

Jack was holding an identical ball to the one he found, with one subtle difference. It was a gi@ from a li9le girl, autographed with thank you and a kiss.

Miscellaneous Story Library Reference: #114 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 24/1/2021 Title: Abducted Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

Writers Friday

Getting your story right Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Stranded in Town Series This series follows the misfortunes of Patrick Power who often finds himself stranded in the city on a Friday night. In each story, Paddy spends is taxi fare home on his last orders. Now, he has to find creative ways to get himself home.

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Photo byJanuary Ron Lach from/ Pexels 2021 Issue 01


#109 X-RAY by Perry Simpson (Stranded in Town Series)

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley

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t was very late and Patrick Power could not get back to his home in the village. The city was heaving with celebrators and the police had sealed off the streets with stop and search in place. He only had a few coins, no form of identification. The bank had blocked his credit card for nonpayment. Paddy looked at his lifeless mobile phone and he had forgo9en to bring a charger. The temperature outside had plummeted and the pavements were like glass. Paddy was hiding in the local park si9ing on a park bench. He had no jacket and he could feel the hyperthermia is starting to get a grip. Paddy didn't fancy a night in a cell full of rowdy youngsters, drunk and high on drugs. Although it would be warm, he would not get a wink of sleep at all.

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L

Paddy stood, shivering. His fingers and toes were numb. It was then that a crazy thought came to him. Not that bad. It could work, he thought. He thought, that though it was a simple enough idea, it would be a mighty solution to his problem. He planned to get himself admi9ed into A&E. The idea was to approach the police, disorientated and confused. It would be a breeze. He was an active member of an amateur drama group and this was a role he had played before. So, rehearsal was not necessary. He hopped over the black iron railing that surrounded the perimeter of the park. The ice had spread across the pavement now.

January 2021 / Issue 01


It glistened under the street lamps. It was hard to walk in shiny leathersoled shoes. In front of him was a huge crowd waiting to pass through a stop and search. 'Feck,' He said under his breath. As he got closer Paddy threw his hands on his head and stumbled about, screaming. 'What the feck? me, head, the pain, shyte.' He knelt down and placed his forehead on the cold icy tarmac. People in the crowd started to turn and look at him. One young girl broke from the crowd, 'Are ya OK, like?' She was short, with her frizzy red hair bursting out of a black woolly hat. Seeing that he had a9racted an audience, Paddy rolled onto his side. He clutched at his stomach and screamed. It was a role he knew how to play well. 'Hiya.' The girl waived at the closest Gardaí officer. 'This fella needs an ambulance.' She looked back at Paddy. 'What's ya name?' She tried to comfort him. Escape

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Paddy did an encore. Two others broke from the crowd to assist. One, a young boy with a shaved head, offered his jacket. The other a middle-aged brune9e crouched down beside him, 'I'm a nurse. Where does it hurt?' The result, Paddy thought. He huffed and puffed, coiled up in a ball. The officer joined the gathering. 'What's the story err, miss?' 'Officer, this man needs an ambulance, now.' ‘Are you a nurse, mam?’ ‘I don’t need to be. Look at him, like.’ What she said still hadn't quite registered with the officer. 'Officer, do’ ya want this man to die here in the street?' she shouted. It did the trick. He radioed in with the appropriate codes. 'Go on wid ye, give ye fella some air.' He insisted on the onlookers to move on.

January 2021 / Issue 01


It took a li9le over ten minutes for the distant blue flashing lights to arrive. The Gardaí cleared the crowd to allow the ambulance through. The paramedics wasted no time loading Paddy into the back of the ambulance. His elaborate idea had worked. He was in a warm cosy ambulance in the fast lane to a warm and cosy bed for the night. The paramedic sedated him. His senses of perceptions faded. L

Paddy was in a weird dream. He appeared to be in some sort of race on the porter's trolley. It was like being in that Norman Wisdom scene of a stitch in time. He was flat on his back and watched the different arrays of lights whizz past above. The porter had no face and laughed non-stop. He drove like a man possessed, round and round and round. The spinning got faster and faster. When he stopped, the faceless porter had gone.

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He laid there starring at the white ceiling. Faces appeared and then disappeared. The many faces of the medical staff at the hospital. Doctors, nurses, admin, porters, and other patients. Some were smiling, while others had much more serious expressions. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again the walls were wobbling like jelly. The colours changed or merged. Paddy had no idea what the paramedic had given him in the ambulance, but it was nothing like the stuff on the streets. This stuff was way be9er. Everything stopped. The lights went out and he was in complete darkness. There was a strange smell in the room. It was a sweet surgical smell. He could feel a pair of hands touching his body, but he could see no one. There was a burning sensation in the middle of his body. The pain grew more intense. 'Hey, guys I need more of the good stuff.' January 2021 / Issue 01


No one was listening to him. He felt a sudden burning sensation. A pair of hands was rummaging around in his abdomen. Now he was looking down at himself laid on an operating table. One doctor pumped his chest, another held a pair of paddles in his hands. The doctor stepped back and the other doctor placed the paddles on his chest. Paddy's body almost leapt off the table and all the lights came back on. Everyone had disappeared. Paddy was alone in a white room. He couldn't see any doors or windows. His body felt strange. Numb. Almost lifeless. The magic stuff had worn off and he felt withdrawn. His throat was dry. All Paddy wanted was a good night’s sleep in a warm bed. He felt exhausted and faded into a deep sleep. L

Paddy woke up to the warm smile of a nurse. Paddy was thinking about having a nice cup of tea, a bit

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of breakfast, making a full recovery. Then, discharging himself. It was when he went to turn that he felt some discomfort in his lower abdomen. He li@ed the covers. There was a dressing around his waist. Reality began to take hold. 'Ya a very lucky fella. It was touch and go, like. But, ya made of mighty stuff.' The nurse fussed over the covers. 'Now, lay back and get some rest. You'll be here for a day or so.' 'But?' Paddy looked confused. 'OK so, lay back. Ya need to recover from the surgery, like. You've had ye appendix removed.' There was a look of horror wri9en across Paddy's face. He only wanted a warm bed for the night. Miscellaneous Story Library Reference: #109 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 19/1/2021 Title: X-Ray Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

January 2021 / Issue 01


India’s lockdown a human tragedy

Unimaginable Original unpublished manuscript Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


#96 UNIMAGINABLE by Perry Simpson

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” - Confucius

A

mit Kumar squa9ed on the floor with two others. Their dreams of li@ing themselves and their families out of poverty back home in Bihar had died. The Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, had placed the country into lockdown. This le@ millions of workers in the informal economy stranded and jobless. For the twenty-three-year-old Amit, it was more than the measly four to five dollars a day. It was money to pay off his debts and buy seeds. A lifeline. Now, he and his two work colleagues felt they had no choice but to stay with no job and the risk of running out of food. The alternative was to leave and go home by whatever means possible. This option also ran the risk of running out of food, the searing heat and trying to avoid the police checkpoints.

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The stayed. L

March had been a hard month for Amit. Food and water were fast becoming scarce. The announcement of an extension to the lockdown in India and the closing of the borders was not good news. Amit was one of an estimated one hundred and thirty-nine million migrants who had le@ homes to seek work in India's cities. He was a straightforward, hardworking young man from a good old traditional farming family. Most had stayed for the lockdown. No one expected the extension to the travel restrictions. Amit watched as many who worked on the same building site fled to go back to their homes in the villages.

January 2021 / Issue 01


Some had bikes and cycled. Others hitched rides and balanced atop the trucks in return for a couple of days of their salaries. The rest, men women and children, went on foot. The distances varied between three and six hundred miles. For Amit, it was six hundred miles to his family home in Bihar. The three argued. The other two wanted to go, but Amit thought it best to stay. The thought of being arrested by Police troubled him. He still hoped that this was temporary and the crisis would pass. Then, they would all get back to work and he could continue to send the money home. His family faced mounting debts and the threat of eviction. They had to work for their families he had said to the other two. They had shelter from the sun. Food and water were still available at a price. It made no sense to leave with the masses, he had argued. Amit's logic had been very convincing. So, they agreed that they should stay together and assess the situation at the end of the week. Escape

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Two weeks later... Food and water in the city were ge9ing scarce and the prices for what was available had gone up. The hostility toward them by the city folk resulted in the occasional fight. Amit felt like one of the many stray dogs that roamed around the streets scavenging for scraps to survive. It was no longer safe to stay. Common sense urged him to go home. It was time to go back to their families. They were like brothers and made a plan. They each brought dried snacks and cucumber for their epic journey home. They planned to take the easiest route back and would hitch a ride atop the next truck going their way. Amit had estimated the trip would take fi@een days by truck. It was four days before a suitable truck arrived that was heading to Patna, Bihar.

January 2021 / Issue 01


There were more migrants than places atop the small lorry. The lorry driver had turned businessman and demanded twenty dollars each. This filter out many. It was steep for Amit and his companions, but they had the money. They paid and climbed on top. It was a precious ride, balanced on top of the dirty truck. The midday sun scorched their backs. Their wrists bled from the ropes they used to secure themselves to the roof of the lorry. The one bonus from the lockdown was that pollution levels were much lower. There was no longer that permanent yellow fog over the city. The mandatory face masks soon became dirty from the dust on the roads.

Days later... The lorry came to a stop. They were close to Lucknow. Amit could hear shouting and screaming on the

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road ahead. They all stood up to look. Amit wished he hadn't. Two trucks carrying migrants had collided. Head on. There were dead bodies pebble-dashed across the road on both sides of the carriageway. Drivers argued. Many watched in horror. A few got out of their cars to help the few survivors. Amit ran to the rear of the truck to vomit. The driver told them all to hide when the police arrived. No one moved. They all thought it was a trick. Amit included, but he knew that the driver was right. So, they lay flat on top of the lorry. Some slept, while others talked. The Police came. The ambulances took the dead and the injured away. Twenty-nine migrants had died that day. India, like many other countries, would add these to the COVID19 death toll. Amit and the others on their lorry should have listened to their driver.

January 2021 / Issue 01


The Police moved in and rounded up all the migrants and took them to an isolation centre. They joined hundreds of others in the strict Government quarantine. Social distancing was impossible. Amit was still a long way from home and was now missing his family. He was feeling very anxious. It had been the right decision to leave, but now he could see no end to this. At least here, they did have food and water. It was also safer here than on the road. Two weeks later... Boredom soon set in. There was nothing to do all day except sleep. The searing sun was too much. Spots in the shade were like gold dust. So, once you had yours, you did vacate it without good reason. Amit and the two others worked a rotation to keep their spot outside. Each day blended into the previous. No one in. No one out. Despite the frustration of the

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situation, there was unity. Everyone had surrendered. Hope came in the form of the Government agreeing to allow migrants to travel home. Special trains would be made available, but there was a catch. The fare was twelve dollars each. Many didn't have the money. What li9le they had, the truck drivers took. Chaos took hold as those who didn't have money protested. They stormed around the camp chanting and shouting abuse at the police. This escalated when the Police retaliated. They charged into the crowds in an a9empt to break up the demonstration. They were outnumbered. They retreated and regrouped, but the crowd surged towards the perimeter fence. A short section broke and the surging crowd burst through the gap to freedom. They dispersed in all directions and disappeared. Amit and his companions saw their opportunity and slipped past the police. Once out they fled into the adjacent field. January 2021 / Issue 01


He was now faced with a further three hundred mile hike with no food or water. L Amit staggered into the village. His legs were weak and scarred. The need to see his wife and daughter again had motivated him to keep going. It had been a horrendous journey. The last mile had been the worst. People stopped and watched as he inched forward towards his home. His wife didn't recognise him at first. She ran, screaming into the street and into his arms. Amit could barely stand.

The rest of the family swarmed out shouting. His mother smiled kissed him on the forehead and handed him a surprise, 'Meet your new baby boy.' Amit took his new born son in his arms. 'My son, by your shear will you can achieve the unimaginable' Auntie Kumar smiled. Miscellaneous Story Library Reference: #96 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 6/1/2021 Title: Unimaginable Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

Saturday Behind the Scenes

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Kaleidoscope

GAME ON CHAPTER ONE

BY PERRY SIMPSON Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


#99 TITTYNOPE (CHAPTER I) by Perry Simpson

Play the game for more than you can afford to lose... only then will you learn the game. — Winston Churchill

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etective Foley looked at the remains of the corpse. It was an unusual modus operandi. She walked around the body studying every li9le detail. 'What do ya think Rookie?' 'Feels like the start of something.' She continued to examine the layout, position and surrounding environment. 'Talks to you doesn't it?' 'This one's real artist, like. A sick feck, but an artistic one so.' Agent Johnson laughed. He removed his sunglasses to take a closer look. 'Looks kind of personal don't ya think?' 'Meaning?' 'The iconographic pose for women in art, Pudica, meaning modest.' Force stood back. The corpse had been careful presented, naked. The right hand had been placed to cover her right breast. The le@ hand clutched onto her hair and used it to cover her vagina. 'Got ourselves a serial killer gal. Welcome to the FBI, Detective Foley,' Escape

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Johnson laughed and threw his fist in the air. The glow from a cigare9e lit up the silhoue9e of a man in the shadows of a window in the building opposite. L

Detective Foley, now agent Foley, was assigned to an FBI project called Kaleidoscope. It was what she needed a@er the death of her brother. She placed the palm of her right hand on the glass panel. The system acknowledged her request and the door lock was released. The room opened out into what looked like entering a Sci-Fi se9ing. A spacious open-plan office. Everything was bright white plastic and curved glass. The strip lighting provided a very high level of indirect light.

January 2021 / Issue 01


All the doorways were lit with faint fluorescent green light. All desks had blue underside lighting. Agent Johnson was waiting for her. 'Welcome to our world, agent Foley,' he smiled. 'Meet Measha, our techie. She'll set you up with access to Kaleidoscope.' He led them both to an open area. They stood in front of a huge plasma wall. On the centre screen, a small kaleidoscope logo image appeared. It grew in size, spiralling outwards to fill all the screens along the wall. Finally, the word 'Kaleidoscope' appeared. 'Welcome to Kaleidoscope.' A series of icons started to load. A menu pop-up marker appeared on the right-hand side. Measha selected an icon on her tablet device. A timeline appeared. Case data started to emerge as it organises the events in chronological order. Another plasma screen loaded the face of the victim and then scanned CCTV at high speed. 'We have the most advanced facial recognition so@ware available anywhere in the world,' Measha announced. 'It will find any footage Escape

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from any CCTV camera and load it to the timeline.' Foley nodded. Another screen flickered and started to rebuild the crime scene. 'This screen is building a digital simulation of the crime scene based on the photographs taken. Forensics will update this when they complete the digital optical scan or D.O.S.' 'Impressive huh?' 'Very,’ Foley replied. ‘What about Victimology?' 'Coming up on screen #4.' Measha swiped several times. Screen #4 loaded up more data from the crime scene photos. This included a detailed analysis of the victim's body. A table appeared containing an extensive biography of the victim, infilling known data. ‘The background shaded in green is for known data and in red for that missing,’ Measha explained. 'Here we go.' Agent Johnson clenched his fist.

January 2021 / Issue 01


'Wendy Malcolm, Sales Assistant at Monroe’s Furnishing, aged thirtyfive, single.' Measha continued to swipe her fingers across the face of her tablet. Another screen filled up with transaction data; credit card, bank account data, utility bills, mobile phone. 'This was cross-references to populate all known movements on the timeline. This then crossreferenced the known location and scans from any available CCTV footage.' Measha danced around. 'This is fecking incredible, like.' Foley could see the awesome power of Kaleidoscope. 'Is this even legal like?' 'Agent Foley, this is the FBI,' Johnson laughed. Kaleidoscope had built an incomplete timeline. The gaps in the timeline were shown with flashing red bars. Foley stepped closer to observe, 'So we now have a timeline of her movements before her death? 'Yes, but that's not all. We go deeper to find regular pa9erns.' 'And highlight any irregular pa9erns, like?' Foley asked.

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'You got it,' Johnson laughed. 'Catching on quick, kiddo.' 'See, look. These yellow highlights are anomalies in her routines. Only a couple, so nothing that helps us at this stage.' 'Agent Johnson, what about this theory of yours, like. Ye know the artistic posing of the body?' 'Ah, yes indeed, sorry forgot to tell you Measha, Keyword Pudica.' Another screen loaded. It split in two. On the le@, an image of the painting by Sandro Bo9icelli, the right, the image of the victim. The so@ware scanned both images and compared various plot points. 'Gee didn't expect that,' Johnson said. 'Any ideas agent Foley?' Kaleidoscope zoomed in on an image of her standing next to her brother. 'What the feck?' Foley had an uncomfortable feeling. It started at the back of her and slid down her spine. 'Must be some sort of so@ware glitch?' 'No, agent Johnson. There must be a connection,' Measha insisted.

January 2021 / Issue 01


Images of several newspaper articles appeared. The one that caught Foley's eye was; 'One killed and three injured in a police raid.' 'A relation?' Johnson asked. 'My brother.' Foley sighed. 'He got himself caught up in a case I was working on, like.’ She explained. ‘Why? There can't be any connection, like?' Foley was not happy about this at all. 'It complicates things a lot.' Johnson grimaced. 'How so, like?' Foley looked confused. 'We already know who this killer is.' Johnson looked at Foley and then at Measha, who was bobbing about on her chair. 'Are you fecking with me?' 'Zeus is top of the FBI's mostwanted list. We've been hunting this guy for years. Every time we get close, he vanishes. We have an entire library on this son-of-a-bitch. Believe me.' 'How do ye know it's him?'

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Johnson pointed to another plasma screen. On it was footage of Foley and Johnson at the scene of the crime. 'He always sends us video footage of us working the crime scene. Part of the sick fucks MO.' 'He's back?' Measha could hardly contain her excitement. 'Sorry, but I have dreamt about this day coming. This time we have Kaleidoscope on our side.' Measha traced the source of the video stream to a CCTV system in the building opposite. Number plate recognition so@ware scanned all cars that were in or close to the crime scene. 'The brass upstairs is not going to be happy having you on this case. They’re kind of sensitive about this guy. We lost three good agents trying to catch this son-of-a-bitch. Sort of got personal.' Johnson smiled. His teeth were whiter than ever. 'I'll be working the case with you, like?'

January 2021 / Issue 01


Images of several newspaper articles appeared. 'You have no choice. It's you he has chosen for his next li9le game.' Foley looked confused. 'How d’ye mean, like?' 'It's game for two; you and our man Zeus. He'll contact you soon to give you the first clue.'

A second message arrived. It was also from Zeus: 'Your turn! To be continued…

L

Foley woke where she had fallen onto the bed. She was still roughing it in a motel. She hadn't had time to find an apartment. There was a message on her mobile. The sender's name was Zeus.

Escape

The a9ached image appeared to be the first move in a chess game. the message read: You are invited to play chess with Zeus. There was a link to a website.

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Read chapter 2 in the next issue of Escape… Kaleidoscope Library Reference: #99 Written: Perry Simpson Date: 9/1/2021 Title: Tittynope Status: Original Manuscript. Source: 365 short stories in 2021 Challenge

January 2021 / Issue 01


ABOUT THE AUTHOR “Inspiration is like a heartbeat, you have to feed it to keep it going” - Perry Simpson

M

y writing career evolved through many different sets of circumstances. As a boy I struggled with my reading and writing. At the time, I was football fanatic and always dreamt of playing for England. I loved all sports and it was hard to watch my friends outside doing their physical education while I sat with a teacher reading pirate stories. I wouldn’t say that this inspired me to write, not straight away. What did, was my old English teacher, who saw something in me when it came to creating a story. Even, though my grammar and comprehension was appalling, I was never short of ideas for stories. It was seeing s ghostly figure in the mist while out walking that triggered my urge to write a novel. A novel that I never did finish. My next call to action came a@er reading a book about using short story writing to master writing a novel. I found a short story was always within my grasp. So, I wrote short stories for fun and because I could. What I discovered was that I could not proof-read my own work. I found out, much later, that I was dyslexic. I was not reading what was on the page. I missed out chunks of text or words. My other problem, that still plaque’s me even today, is missing out words as I type. To become writer, like any other hobby, takes time and dedication. Through my Escape publication, I hope to inspire more people to write their story.

Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


WRITERS LABS Photo by Edina Lebhardt

Be inspired…

Over the years, I have developed my own approach for creating a short story from a

I am not a best selling author nor do I have

mere thought, idea, news headline or even

a huge following, but in 2021 I wrote 365

a single word.

short stories to prove that my writing system works. Each story was based on a

Writers labs offer a tailored training and

single word.

mentoring program to help any writer take an idea and create a truly great and

Now, I cannot promise to turn your book

memorable story.

into the next best seller, but I can show how to tell your story.

Writers Labs is where you get to write your story. I believe everyone has a story to tell

I am doing this for the money. I have a job

and it should be told. What I cannot

for that. I genuinely want people to take a

promise is to improve your writing skills.

break from their busy lifestyles and enjoy a

That, only you can do with plenty of

good story. So why not let me show you

practice. Writers labs will help you take

how to write yours?

your good story idea and create a truly great story. Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


PEOPLE, PLACES AND PROBLEMS People

Story Problems

Places

Every story has three basic components that are the very foundation of the plot. People: Your characters. Places: Where your story takes place. Problems: The challenges they face. Your story must have all three. Without any one of these, then you simply don’t have a plot. I believe that 80% of any success is in the time spent on planning. I have lived by this throughout my working career as an engineer and this has served me well. Do you have a story to tell? Why not join one of my writing challenges? Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Find inspiration There is something truly magical about mountains.

We have so still much we can learn from nature…

Writer’s Therapy Retreats in the Pyrenees

admin@simpsonperry.com Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01


“Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like your are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”

-B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga With Edina The word ‘yoga’ was first mentioned in the sacred text, Rig Veda. The roots of yoga has been traced to northern India over 5000 years ago. The benefits are well publicised and science today is still trying prove why? Edina is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and offers a rich balance approach to sharing her knowledge and experience with her students. The Iyengar yoga style makes yoga accessible to anyone regardless of who you are or your limitations.

Yoga Retreats in the Pyrenees Escape

In-person and online classes available - Write to yogawithedina@gmail.com Photo by Perry Simpson

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January 2021 / Issue 01


Escape “Let a good story set you free…”

Photo by Edina Lebhardt

By Perry Simpson Contact Information: Therapy Retreats: admin@simpsonperry.com Writers Labs: author@simpsonperry.com Web Site: www.simpsonperry.com Reading Room: https://www.facebook.com/projectlemonzest Books: Amazon eBook - Lemon Zest (Book 1): https://amzn.to/3277XIY Amazon ebook - Limoncello (Book 2): https://amzn.to/2xwgJlW You can order the following signed paperback copies direct from the author at www.simpsonperry.com • Lemon Zest (Book 1) • Limoncello (Book 2) • Lemondemic (Book 3) Escape

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January 2021 / Issue 01