2016AtoZChallenge

“Private, those are. Personal and private,” my master exclaimed.

“Pray, sir, what distresses you so?” I enquired.

“Papers in this cabinet are not to be disturbed, in accordance with my express wishes.”

“Precisely, sir. Papers in that cabinet have not been disturbed by me.”

Pursing his lips, but opening them slightly, he struggled to keep his voice from exploding. “Please, then, inform me of the whereabouts of my teddy bear.”

Placing my hands behind my back, I stood to attention. “Perhaps it has escaped your notice, sir, but a teddy bear is not a paper.”

“Possibly so,” said my master, still looking grim. “Perhaps, nevertheless, you could inform me of the location of my poor teddy.”

“Poor teddy,” I said, “is in the arms of my granddaughter. Possibly I could retrieve it, although a limb or two might be lacking.”

“Please bring my teddy in one piece, for otherwise I shall have to consider harsher measures.”

“Promise, do I, that your teddy bear will be returned to you in pristine condition.”

Pristine condition, I reflected, remembering the chaos rendered by the little girl, could only be achieved if I paid a sum of money for a new teddy bear. Procurement of such a sum could be achieved by channelling off a very small fraction of the treasure I discovered sewn inside the old teddy bear.
TeddyBear

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2016AtoZChallenge

“Nothing I don’t do ever goes right,” she said.

“Nothing?” he said. “Never? Negative today, aren’t we?”

“No,” she said. “Numbly truthful.”

“Noodle cooking you do well.”

“Noodle cooking – yes.”

“Number crunching.”

“Number crunching – yes.”

“Nursing.”

“Nursing – yes.”

“Novel writing.”

“Novel writing – yes.”

“Now, don’t you think you should edit your opening sentence?”

“Not at all. Nothing I don’t do ever goes right.”

“Now wait a minute…”

Novelist

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2016AtoZChallenge

Miss Carson surveyed the class as she made her entrance. Most of the kids, she was pleased to notice, were standing to attention and joining in the chorus of, “Good morning, Miss Carson.” Mandy and Martin were the only ones seated. Miss Carson’s response was followed by a scraping of chairs as the kids sat down.

“Mandy, why didn’t you stand up like everyone else?”

“My attention was diverted at that moment, Miss, so I failed to notice when you entered,” said Mandy.

“Make sure you pay attention in future, Mandy,” said Miss Carson. “Martin, why didn’t you stand up?”

Martin looked down at his desk, his lips firmly closed, his red cheeks clearly showing complicity in something or other.

“Martin, you’d better stay for a detention after school.”

Martin contemplated the unfairness of school. Miss Carson couldn’t know what happened before she came in and Martin couldn’t tell her – not in front of the whole class. Mandy, with the help of a few others, had tied Martin to his chair so that he couldn’t stand up. Mandy hadn’t stood up as she’d hurriedly untied the string after Miss Carson entered. Martin hadn’t wanted to be branded a tell-tale on top of everything else. Mandy had been counting on that.

Bindfaden 1

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2016AtoZChallenge

Love was all around the lake. Lovers’ Lake, they called it for miles around. Lazing on its banks on this warm, sunny afternoon were at least fifty couples, each oblivious to the others. Levelling their eyes, each at one person only, they revelled in this bliss, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Lots of people in the village didn’t have partners, so they stayed away from Lovers’ Lake and waited for the day they would finally find a lover and be able to visit Lovers’ Lake. Legends of its beauty fired their longing. Lucifer, however, refused to stay away. Lucifer was the village idiot.

Laughter rang out when Lucifer arrived to sit alone by the lake. “Lucifer, go home. Lover have you none. Leave us lovers alone.”

“Lucifer won’t go home,” said Lucifer. “Lucifer is in love.”

Laughter again.

“Life is what Lucifer is in love with. Life in the form of birds and trees and everything that’s alive.”

Lucifer took his place by the lake and gazed at life, his true love.

Level-headed village people stopped calling Lucifer an idiot.

Lake in Switzerland

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2016AtoZChallenge

The J Story

Jay entered the room and stopped dead. “Jerry! What do you think you’re doing?”

“Just doing my homework, Mum.”

Jay surveyed the scene, while attempting to banish thoughts of extra work from her mind. Jam neatly spread all over a jumper laid out on the bedspread. Juice in a glass jug standing on the jam at a precarious angle. Jelly wobbling on top.

Jutting out from the mess was a sheet of paper. Jay picked it up and read the typed words. “Join disparate items together to make an abstract sculpture.”

Jay turned back to the mess. “Just one thing; they’re not disparate – they all begin with J.”

Jauntily, Jerry grinned. “Just testing you.”

Jay nodded. “Just so.”

Jam

To US readers:

  • For jam, read jelly.
  • For jelly, read jello.

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2016AtoZChallenge

“Is it my job?” she asked, her voice hesitant and controlled, as if trying not to break into a whine. “Is it because of the crazy hours I have to work?”

“It isn’t that.” Isaac shook his head, wishing he could escape from this place, knowing he owed Irene this final meeting.

“Is it my untidiness? I could work on that.”

Isaac again shook his head. “It’s not that either – although untidiness is a trait that’s also not in your favour.”

“Is it the music I play? I can turn the sound down or listen on earphones.”

“It’s not the music.”

“I don’t know what else it could be. Is it not possible you could give me a hint?”

Isaac let out a painful sigh. “It’s your insistence that I begin every bloody sentence with an I. It started as a joke. It’s no longer a joke. It’s too much for me to bear. I can’t stand it any longer.” Isaac raised his voice, causing all the people in the restaurant to look in his direction. “I simply can’t stand it.” Isaac stood up.

“Isaac, I… I… I…”

Isaac turned and left the restaurant.

Inside still, and with nothing better to do, all the onlookers turned back to their companions. Interestingly, they all found themselves beginning every sentence with…

I

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2016AtoZChallenge

“Hello. How do you do?” He extended a hand towards me.

“Hello,” I said, backing away from the offending hand.

“Have no fear,” he said. “Habits, in our culture, include shaking hands when meeting.”

“Ha-ha.” However I tried not to show my nervousness just didn’t work. “How silly of me.” Having said that, I determined to show my courage. Hooking the wrist of the extended hand with both of mine, I gave a mighty shake.

“Hey, what are you doing?” He seemed surprised; I couldn’t think why. Had he not told me to shake his hand?

“Hand… shaking,” I blurted out.

He’d previously had the corners of his mouth turned upwards. Happy, I’d learnt that meant. Had he stopped being happy now? Had I made him sad?

Holding his shaken hand in the other, he said, “I’m afraid I don’t think you’ll be suitable for the position of spokesperson for the Prime Minister. Have you considered applying to be in slapstick comedy?”

Hand

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2016AtoZChallenge

“Going home now,” said Greg. “Gotta get me some shuteye.”

“Great,” said Georgina. “Go home and leave me like this, why don’t you?”

“Got some problem?”

Glowering, Georgina said, “Granted you are the world’s most single-minded person, but surely my… problem, as you say, can’t have escaped even your notice.”

Greg eyed Georgina up and down, and down and up. Gesticulating a sense of innocence, Greg repeated, “Gotta go,” turning towards the entrance.

Gasping, Georgina raised her voice. “Gregory, don’t you dare go and leave me here like this!”

“Georgina,” a hint of exasperation guested Greg’s benign being, “get to the point. Give me the reason for this outburst.”

Gall rising, Georgina explained. “Garments of several sorts decorate my body. Garters hug my legs so tightly I’ll never be able to get them off. Grasping my feet are boots several sizes too small. Gloves that make my fingers clumsy are tied so that they’re impossible to remove. Green frogs are crawling all over me.”

“Great the way your face changed colour to match the frogs.”

Giving Greg a cold stare, Georgina continued. “Grosser even than those is the fact that I’m hanging down, my legs tied to a metal bar.”

“Great photo shoot. Goodbye then.” Greg made for the door.

Georgina screamed. “Grr!”

Greg returned. “Go easy, I was only joking. Greg released Georgina from the metal bar and set her on her feet. Grappling with the knots, he untied all the garments and animals. Grinning, he eyed her all over and said, “Generally back to normal. Gotta say, you looked more special before. Gonna join me for a bite to eat?”

Georgina slapped Greg hard on the cheek. “Grossed out, I am, with your jokes. Going now. Goodbye.”

Greg stood still, eyes open wide, watching Georgina as she marched to the door. “Going? Georgina, I love you.”

GLove

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The next story – H – will appear on Sunday.

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2016AtoZChallenge

Four funky fairies flitted around the frightened foal.

From their leader, who wore above-the-knee socks with yellow, green and red horizontal stripes, came soft, delicate tones. “Fear not, Filly. Fortune will favour you and save you from the big, bad wolf. Funky fairies are here to protect you.”

Filly remained fearful. “Ferocious is the wolf, while you are airy-fairy. Fill me in on your plan to thwart the evil wolf.”

“Flouting our rules of secrecy would be unwise. For now, you need to have faith in our abilities. Failure to put your faith in us will be bad for you.”

“For sure I have no other option than to trust you.”

“Fortunately, that is a good option.”

Filly lay down and fell asleep. Forthwith, big, bad wolf appeared high on the horizon, then padded down, each step bringing him closer to the sleeping foal. Five feet from the foal, big, bad wolf stopped in his tracks. Four funky fairies, all sporting colourful, striped above-the-knee socks, flitted around him.

“For heaven’s sake, who are you?” the wolf cried.

“Four funky fairies are we,” said the lead fairy.

“Funny, I thought you were forty flipping fishes, said the wolf, letting out a deafening roar.

Fast as fury, all four fairies turned into forty large fishes, flipping and diving as if they were in water.

Falling back on the ground, the wolf watched, mesmerised by the spectacle. Fully absorbed in watching the forty flipping fishes, he didn’t even notice what was happening around him… until he did. From all sides, water surrounded him, engulfed him, and it was rising.

“Folly this is not,” the wolf spluttered, suddenly very scared. “Fishes, fairies, whatever you are, free me from this water before I drown, I beg of you.”

“For us to do that,” said the lead fish, “you must vow never to hurt Filly the foal.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I vow,” said the wolf. “Filly the foal shall remain safe from my clutches. Friends we will be.”

Falling away rapidly, the water soon vanished completely leaving no trace it had ever been there. Forty flipping fishes turned back into four funky fairies.

For the rest of his life, the wolf remained a staunch friend of the foal, who grew up into a sturdy horse, carrying the wolf on his back when the wolf was too old to move himself.

“Friendless I would have been,” said the wolf from the comfort of the horse’s back, “if I had eaten you that night.”

Fable’s moral: Friendship is better than a full stomach.

 
Canis lupus looking up (illustration)

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2016AtoZChallenge

Emperor Edward called for his tailor, who immediately stopped what he was doing and rushed to the Emperor’s throne, dropping to the floor before the great man.

“Eating again?” said Edward.

Embarrassed, the tailor wiped the crumbs from his mouth. “Excellency, I only took a quick bite in between sewing.”

“Elevate.” Emotions became uncontrollable as Edward watched the man stand up. Envy turned to rage as he realised the man’s stomach was even larger than his own. Evidently, I am paying him too much and working him too little, he thought.

“Endeavour to concentrate,” said Edward, who always began his sentences with the letter E to emphasise his importance, and expected everyone else to do the same. “Eminent nudists have invited exalted Emperor Edward to their nudist colony.”

Expecting more, the tailor bowed his head.

“Essential as it is for me to attend, I cannot possibly go without clothes on. Even though this is true, I have no wish to offend such eminent nudists. Ergo, I require clothes made of cloth that is so fine, it can only be seen by people who are clever enough to dress at all times.”

Embarrassment swelled in the poor tailor. “Excellency,” he muttered,
that is impossible.”

Enraged that this servant who had surpassed him in size was also being so disrespectful, Emperor Edward shouted, “Extermination shall be your punishment for such insubordination.”

Edward sent out couriers to find a tailor who could supply him with the garments he required. Eventually, because everyone else was too afraid to come before the mighty emperor, two small and wily tailors were brought to the great man himself. Edward liked the look of their thin frames.

“Every person who fails to adhere to my commands is exterminated,” said Edward.

“Every command from the Esteemed Emperor will be adhered to explicitly,” they replied.

“Erstwhile tailor was exterminated,” said Edward.

Each day the men assured the Emperor that they were hard at work on the clothes.

Entering into the Emperor’s presence one day, they eagerly handed the Emperor the clothes, which he examined. “Embroidery magnificent,” he said. “Examination passed with flying colours.”

Excitement showed on the tailors’ faces.

“Ensured, are you, the nudists won’t be able to see the clothes?”

“Emphatically so,” the tailors replied.

Emperor Edward paid them for their work and they left.

Every eye of the large crowd of nudists was on the Emperor as he made his entrance into their colony. Exaltation in the form of applause was loud, making the Emperor feel proud. Even so, one little boy’s voice was heard above all the others. “Emperor Edward is wearing clothes!”
Man or King on Throne with Kneeling Man (Supplicant)

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