Silk

Today’s Contest Fiction taster is Silk from Wilson Engel, a writer from the USA.

Mulberry Forest Aleph has a stable population regardless of the number of new residents, and it offers an almost unbelievable financial deal. Retirees Jake and Edith Hallmark have signed on, and they meet Clive Homestead—his real name, no kidding!—for the introductory tour.

At their cottage, Clive says, “For centuries the Chinese perfected and protected the process of silk production until the Polo family arrived. Here at Mulberry, we strive to improve on the thousand-year Chinese tradition for retirement planning.”

Jake, a former engineer, enquires, “How can your population remain constant when you advertise such a large number of annual additions?”

“That’s the Aleph part. As an engineer you understand transfinite numbers. You have to be here for a little while to understand how they work here. Simply put, we keep folks moving right along, and they stay young, well, forever!”

To read the rest of this story click here.

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Alma

Today’s taste of Contest Fiction is Alma from Canadian writer Louise Lemiuex.

I couldn’t believe it was Alma on that ledge, her bare toes curling against the stone. A heart as big as the building, she looked like a tiny sweet girl. She helped, she gave, and she always knew what to do or say to charm people into loving her. After so many deaths in her own life… her mother’s suicide the first… perhaps I should believe.

The wild look in Alma’s eyes when they found her mother, the sleeping pill bottle frozen in her fingers. The police had wondered at the time, suicide? Murder? But Alma didn’t mind the night in jail and the interrogation as long as the truth came out. No one could believe anything bad of such a sweet girl.

Alma looked scared up there on the ledge, up so high. The policeman yelled through a megaphone.

That old woman Alma had helped after that: her neighbour. “She’s like a new mother to me,” Alma had said. When the doctors wouldn’t give her morphine for the pain because diabetics couldn’t handle the drug, Alma got her some, paid for it with her own money, that’s the kind of woman she was. And when the old lady fell down those stairs, everyone said, “how sad,” and “how lucky, Alma.” A question mark followed me round and round, only because of my dog, when we were young, what she’d done to my dog. Alma had cried and said she was sorry. I forgave her.

To read the rest of this story click here
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Brothers

Today’s taste of Contest Fiction is Brothers from Irish writer Toirdealbhach Ó Lionáird otherwise known as Tea and a Peach.

I was going to ask if the new hospital was far but held back. It would annoy him. He didn’t need the hassle, not today. I glanced across at him as he steered west and noticed the streaky grey tufts sprouting under his chin. He’d aged. A lot. Once, we’d laugh and tease at our mutual physical deficiencies, his lack of fluffy stubble to cover cheeks which blushed at the slightest glance or my stubby legs so short that I’d need a ladder for a taller girl.

I wanted to smoke and patted my breast pocket just to check my fags hadn’t slipped out unnoticed but in their place I felt the rippled ridges of a pack of gum.

‘You can smoke if you want,’ he said.

I sucked in a breath.The day was drawing in and with the unruly battalion of clouds on a march towards us, I was tempted to predict when the sky would burst.
‘Nah, you’re alright. I’ve taken to the gum. Bit by bit. Diaidh ar ndiaidh.’

From time to time, I threw in a bout of Irish out of an old habit but tonight it seemed to fit. I was home again, a prodigal returned. We were making our way to our father’s bedside for probably the last time.

For the rest of this story click here.

Friday Jumpers

Today’s slice of Contest Fiction is Friday Jumpers from Debb Bouch a writer from Reading, England.

Nobody ever knew what went through their minds in their last moments. The rushing commuters just knew the trains were late again. Always on a Friday. Some poor sod had jumped off a bridge further down the line simply because they couldn’t face another lonely weekend.

The drivers always received counselling after such events, but that could only go so far. Giles woke screaming as the blood splattered over the window of his cab again and again. Trudy was getting fed up.

“I can’t do this any more,” he said to his boss, Peter. “Can’t you move me onto another run? That’s the third one in two months. Why do they always pick me?”

To read the rest of this story click here.

John the Pharmacist

Today’s taster of a story published on Contest Fiction is John the Pharmacist by writer Alayna Cole from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

 
Brad caught John leaving the supermarket. ‘Don’t tell me you…’
John hid his biro-stained fingers behind his back. ‘I didn’t put another notice on the noticeboard,’ he said.
‘I’m not an idiot, John.’
‘Fine, I put another notice on the noticeboard,’ John said. ‘But what’s wrong with that?’
‘I’ve explained what’s wrong with…’ Brad shook his head and decided to try a different approach. ‘John, give us your wallet for a sec.’
John’s eyes widened as though Brad had just asked him to give up a kidney.
‘I’m not going to take anything. Just… trust me, okay?’ Brad said, rolling his eyes at his best friend’s paranoia.
With shaking fingers, John passed Brad the folds of leather. It was difficult to tell if his digits were shivering because of the cold, the anxiety or something else entirely. Brad tried not to think too hard about the third option.
He rummaged through John’s wallet, eventually finding what he was looking for.

To read the rest of this story click here.

The Three

The next story from Contest Fiction I share a taster of with you is The Three from Sci Fi writer Jess Gaskell from Cambridgeshire, England.

 
The Third let out a sad sigh as she stared down at the project, her ethereal figure slouched in a manner unfitting for such an elegant being. It had hurt every time she had watched an aeon of evolution destroyed, but this was by far her favourite aeon.

The humans were fascinating, the intelligence they showed even in the Neanderthal era was intriguing. They had an uncanny ability to adapt to their ever changing harsh surroundings which she accounted to their fierce survival instinct; even to a superior being such as herself, it was inspiring.

This made knowing the human’s end was almost upon them, all the harder to swallow.

To read the whole tale click here.