A Sea of Troubles – by Andrew Bell

Ladies and Gentlemen, members of this awesome dissembly,

It is my privilege to shriek to you today through the medium of space, without rinsing my worms; to look back to our future; to explore how we may embrace a sea change in our shrinking, free from excessive red tape, pies in the sky or other porkies and assorted paper tigers; to discover, here and now, where we need to stand firm, but also, to find those moments when we need to move on to better timing. And above all, I urge you, with all my sinews, to hold up your palms, especially to this sea of bubbles (and its associated cant and froth), and by opposing, see it off. For, when all else fails, we need to stand above the crowd, cut through this jungle and tangle: all those lies embedded in convention, to reach an avon of peace and contention.

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child – Flash fiction by Kaye Locke

It felt incongruous sitting there on the bandstand steps in the sunny park, half a dozen of their friends messing about around them, oblivious.   Drew was holding her hand the big faux gold chain on his wrist digging into her arm, replicating the pain.  He was sucking on a roll-up and the smoke blew towards her making her cough.

‘For god’s sake Mel, stop makin’ a fuss. I ain’t gonna stop spliffin’ just fer you, so yer can give that up right now.’

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Ship by Kevin Murphy

Acrotiri, Cyprus, August 1976.

Captain Manders had tucked up five year old Janine after his wife had read her story.

Jackie now stood biting her thumb watching her husband carrying out his nightly routine of fine-tuning his tiny moustache, before leaving her for the Officers’ Mess.

He felt her presence and gave her a glance. He finished the right side with a flourish and turned to her, seemingly for approval. Continue reading

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The cruise ship Ocean Splendour had been at sea seven days and just entered port at Cadiz.
Penny Dixon-Wright and her daughter Carla Elizabeth, disembarked, to make their way into town. On their way back, Mrs Dixon- Wright suddenly grabbed Carla’s arm. “Look at that beautiful hat. It’s the most fantastic hat I have ever seen.”
The ladies entered the establishment to be met by a tall, long legged, black shiny haired, Spanish assistant. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“You certainly can my dear.” Penny pointed to the hat on the manikin, in the window. “I would like that hat, my dear.”
The assistant reached in and removed the hat. “You like it very much? Yes?”
“Yes. Very much.”
Minutes later she skipped out of the shop, box swinging from her hand, with a beaming smile across her face.
“I think you are happy mother, you look as if you’ve lost a penny, and found a thousand pounds.”
“I’ve never paid so much for a hat in all my life, but it sure was worth it.”
“It’s my cousin Jessica’s wedding soon after we get back,” said Carla, “It should be perfect,” she grinned. “There’ll be a few bursting with jealousy mum, you can bet.”
The following day, Mrs Dixon-Wright strutted up and down the numerous decks, like a peacock showing off her new headgear.
Suddenly an unexpected gust of wind whipped the hat off her head.
“Oh God! My beautiful hat!” she screamed, running across the deck, only tosee it fly off into the ocean.
Seconds later, passengers gasped as a crew member hit the water. “Man overboard” the cry went out.
It took what seemed an age, for the ship to eventually turn round and head back in the direction of the unfortunate seaman.
When they eventually rescued him, he was holding aloft the hat, with passengers cheering loudly.
As they hauled him back on board, the captain slapped him on the back. “Woodall, you should not have put your life at risk like that, especially, not for a bloody stupid hat. But after saying that; is there anything I can do for you?”
In reply, the crewman said. “Yes captain, you can tell me who on earth pushed me in!”

Closed Quarters by Angela O’Connor

Closed Quarters by Angela O’Connor

I hated this time of year, early June. Because it led to July when the painful memories were brought crashing into my father’s heart again. At least that would be some emotion I guess!

Walking across our cramped yet functional bare room, I shut the lounge windows, not even glancing at the park across the way. The chorus of birds could not camouflage the silence between us. Papa and me.

Work was his life these days. When he came home he sat on that hideous leather chair and read every single word of the newspaper. The piano he bought me was supposed to be my companion. It was more like a burden. Mama was a superb pianist. She died 12 years ago.

I am not her. Indeed, I cannot even remember her. My young heart is screaming for Papa to talk with me.

‘Lucia play me a song that your mother wrote.’

‘Of course Papa.’

I knew this pleased him but he couldn’t see the tears falling down my face. As they dropped onto my gliding fingers, my heart was breaking. With both pain and pride.

Suddenly, the windows burst open from the Chicago wind.

‘You’d better go to bed Lucia.’

‘If you wish Papa’.

Wind blowing a curtain on a window - Royalty Free Images, Photos and Stock Photography :: Inmagine:

Give us your call sign by Pete Brammer

Pete’s response to ‘Fire’ Trigger.

Give us your call sign by Pete Brammer.

The surrounding area around St Paul’s Cathedral lay in rubble and ruins, as Londoners desperately tried to get on with their miserable lives. The cathedral stood defiant in the face of Hitler’s indiscriminate night after night bombardment, as if sticking two fingers up to him. On the other hand, their leader Winston Churchill did in fact stick two fingers up. This was not only in defiance, but in the sign of victory he believed would surly come.

On the 5th January 1941 in adverse weather conditions, an Airspeed Oxford flew over the river Thames. Its pilot was ordered to give its ‘Call Sign’ and identify itself.

Several times the request was made, but unfortunately this was not forthcoming, so, the Ack Ack battery guarding the approaches to the capital received orders to ‘Fire’.

Several shells exploded in the dark sky until the plane finally took a

hit, bringing it down in the murky freezing river below.

The crew of HMS Haslemere a small, former ferry used as a barrage

balloon ship, spotted the parachute coming down, and saw its pilot

alive in the water, calling in English for help.

Lt Cdr Walter Fletcher commander of Haslemere, bravely dived in,

attempting to perform a rescue. Due to the movement of the ship in

the rough weather, her crew were unable to pull it back in time and

the stern crashed down on the unfortunate flier, who was sucked

into the blades of the propeller, and the body was never recovered.

After failing in his rescue attempt, Fletcher was in fact brought back

on board, but sadly died in hospital a few days later.

The report regarding the plane being shot down by British soldiers

was quickly suppressed, maybe for moral reasons, as the dead pilot

just happened to be the legendary Amy Johnson.

The reasons for her crash were given, that she had run out of fuel

and ditched the plane.

For nearly 60 years the Ack Ack gunner Tom Mitchell carried the truth, until in 1999 he eventually told his story. Amy had failed to give her ‘Call Sign’ and correct ‘Identification Code’. “She gave the wrong one twice.” he said. “Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read in the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened.”

A memorial service in St Martin in the Fields was held on 14th January 1941 for Amy. Walter Fletcher was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal later in May of that year.

As a member of ATA who has no known grave, she is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission under the name Amy V Johnson on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.


DEAD RINGER By David R Graham

DEAD RINGER  By David R Graham



‘Stan Whitman. I’m Jack Shackler’s agent.’

‘Bobby Holler. What do you want?’

‘You look just like Jack.’

‘I know. What do you want?’

‘How’d you like to be Jack’s stand in?’

‘Stand in?’

‘His double.’

‘Are you serious?’

‘Very. Jack’s in great demand. He can’t be everywhere at once. He needs a double.’

‘I don’t sound like Jack.’

‘No problem. It’s strictly a walk-on role.’

‘How long for?’

‘Until the pressures off.’

‘How long will that be?’

‘Difficult to say. He’s a popular guy.’

‘What exactly would I have to do?’

‘Appear where he can’t. Parties, receptions, premiers, etc. No TV, no interviews.’

‘What do I get in return?’

‘An all expenses paid lifestyle. A grand a week. Plus Jack’s identical wardrobe. To keep.’

‘…Is this legit?


‘…I’d want a contract.’

‘No contract. Strictly cash.’

‘When do I meet Jack?’

‘You don’t.’

‘…When do you need me?’

‘Saturday. An A List party in Juan les Pins.

‘Where’s that?’

‘South of France.’

‘…Ok. Strictly cash. No cash, no show.’

‘That’s the deal.’


Bobby still found it hard to believe his luck. He had been banking a thousand bucks a week for the past nine months. Now, wearing a two thousand dollar suit, he was being chauffeured to Grauman’s for the latest movie premiere in company with a well-known actress. Ok, so she was off limits. Who knew?


THE stalker wanted an audience when he took down Jack Shackler. So he chose this particular red carpet event for maximum publicity. Bobby Holler’s feet had barely touched the famous forecourt when the stalker moved in, swiftly pumped four .38’s into Bob, and turned to flee. In the ensuing confusion and panic he was cut down by a hail of .45 slugs fired by four members of Mr. Shackler’s personal bodyguard. His body was handed over to the LAPD.

Bobby Holler was rushed by private ambulance to a private hospital, where he was pronounced DOA.


 After being gunned down outside Grauman’s just eight week ago by Guy Montelle, the superstar is said to be have made a remarkable recovery.

Immediately following his attack Montelle—who had been stalking Jack and making death threats against him for the past year—was shot to death by Jack’s private bodyguards.


‘You got the creep, Stan.’

‘We got him, Jack.’

‘It worked like a charm. I can come out of hiding now.’

‘Sure can. Just play the part, until the spotlight shifts. And you’re in the clear.’

‘No comebacks, Stan. No loose ends?’

‘None whatsoever. It was a sweet operation, Jack. We’re clean.’



‘Yeah, Chief?!’

‘Missing male. Robert Anthony Holler’, the Chief said handing over a glossy colour photograph. ‘Been missing ten months.’

‘Hey, Chief!’


‘This is Jack Shackler!’


‘The superstar! Got shot outside Grauman’s! Couple a months back!’

‘No way! That’s a picture of Robert Anthony Holler! Just came through from his ol’ man in NYPD Homicide!’

‘Well, Chief. Robert Anthony Holler sure is a dead ringer for Jack Shackler.’