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We'll start with my first, as it's as good a place as any. All The King's Shillings appeared at the 2011 Marple Festival. The brief was to write a crime story of no more than 600 words. The first paragraph was supplied so I took a bit of a liberty and excluded those words from the count. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

All The King’s Shillings
It was an unnerving sound, especially to be echoing across Marple so early on a Sunday morning.  Sam Evans cautiously rounded the corner of Market Street and came to a sudden halt.

People spilled off the pavement and were milling around in the road, unsure what to do except snatch nervous glances towards the fire station by Memorial Park and its ominously wailing air-raid siren.

Sam clambered from his much too big butcher’s delivery bicycle. He’d arrived in Marple as an evacuee six months ago and knew more about air raids than most there.  He watched as several bleary-eyed workmen stumbled from the Pineapple, blinking in the bright morning sunlight and mingling incongruously with worshippers from the Trinity Methodist Temple who watched with displeasure.

The siren moaned again.  Some of the older people recalled the explosion that had devastated James Lee’s ironmongers store many years before.  If a small amount of gunpowder could do so much damage they didn’t want to think about what the Luftwaffe might manage.  Manchester had been blitzed on Thursday night and Marple was rife with rumours about the nearby Lancaster bomber factory at Woodford being next on Goering’s list.

More people emerged from the cottages opposite Hollins Mill and crossed the road to join the crowd.  Looking around Sam saw the Methodist minister, landlords from the Pineapple and Bulls Head and the Hollins Mill watchman.  From the corner of his eye he vaguely recognised a lone figure stalking up Stockport Road, seemingly towards the fire station, but quickly forgot and returned to the main attraction.

Leaning nonchalantly against the Co-op window Sam saw the giant figure of Sergeant Collier pedalling furiously uphill from the constabulary house at Bowden Lane.  Behind him two younger constables struggled to keep up, severely regretting their Saturday night in the Bowling Green.
Suddenly several things happened all at once.  Sergeant Collier arrived and bellowed at the rabble to head down towards Dan Bank where there were Anderson shelters.  Some volunteer firemen came forward and were duly dispatched to the station to silence the alarm and prepare for the worst.  The constables breathlessly dismounted and started to marshal the stragglers. 
And Sam realised why there wasn’t going to be an air raid at all.

Hesitantly he approached the policeman who turned and pointed down the hill admonishing, although not unkindly, “You should be down there lad, get on your way.”
“There won’t be a raid Sergeant.” Sergeant Collier looked at Sam curiously and told him to go on.  Sam felt himself flush but continued,“They wouldn’t attack on a day like this, there’s a clear sky for miles around and bombers wouldn’t stand a chance.  My dad’s in the RAF, I know about planes.  I did see Charlie Worth heading in the opposite direction though.”

Collier thought fast and saw it too.  The Manchester bombing had delayed the bank’s cash vans.  There had been a special Saturday delivery and wages would be distributed first thing tomorrow morning.  Right now the town’s factories were full of money.  Someone had set up a diversion.
“Right then, Constables Dale and Ridge, back of Hollins Mill now lads. We’ve got a robbery to attend to."

Sam raced after the bobbies catching up just in time to see the sergeant rounding the corner and literally bumping into his man, sending him sprawling. 
Thankfully the war ended before Sam was old enough to follow his dream of flying Spitfires into battle, but he never forgot Sergeant Collier’s words as he reached into the robber’s bag and discovered the haul.  It was Worth’s second job, he’d cleaned out the Goyt Mill’s safe only minutes earlier. 

“Good grief Charles, I’ve ‘eard of taking the King’s Shilling but it looks like you’ve ‘ad all ‘is pounds and pence away too. You’re nicked.”




The next one is Night Fishing. I wrote this in forty minutes one morning a couple of years ago- it popped into my head as I woke up. There seems to be a fifty/fifty split between those who 'get' it straight away and those who don't. Underneath there's a link to an animated interpretation of the story. It was created by Frances Humphries, a second year student at the University of Central Lancashire. I think she did a pretty good job.

Night Fishing


“How long have we been here?”

“Aw come on; you asked me that five minutes ago. You’re really not enjoying this at all, are you?”

“I don’t know. It’s just that – well, no. Not really. I just don’t see the point.”

“The point?”

“Yeah, the point. We’ve been out here for hours –”

“An hour.”

“Well okay; it feels like hours though, and nothing’s happened.”

“But that is the point. We’re out here, alone with our thoughts, miles from anywhere. Don’t you think it’s a good thing to escape for a while – get away from the hassles of life, just - I don’t know - be at one with nature?”

“I can’t see anything.”

“What do you mean, you can’t see anything? It’s a beautiful night, look at the moon on the treetops. Can’t you see it shimmering on the lake over there? It’s beautiful.”

“It’s creepy.”

“Oh for God’s sake; what do you want us to do – make a racket and scare them away?”

“Well they aren’t exactly here in numbers, are they? By the way, why don’t you bring home what you catch?”

“You ever tasted one?”

“Yeah, ‘course I have.”

“Fresh?”

“I’ve had them in pies.”

“Not the same. They’re horrible, bony things and – this is just between you and me – I don’t like looking at their eyes. They’re cold and dead but – well I just don’t like them.”

“So what do you do?”

“Weigh them and put them back.”

“What; just chuck them back?”

“Well you have to do it gently – don’t want to do them any harm. Put them back safely and give someone else a chance.”

“Why?”

“Because we have competitions - they’re called matches - to see who can catch the biggest. Of course, there’s a fair bit of exaggeration goes on. You have to take pictures and the like.”

“I just don’t get it. Not my idea of fun at all.”

“Okay; I tried. Stick the lights on; we’ll pack up and go home.”

“Sorry, it’s just not for me.”

“No problem. Come on, let’s get packed up.”

“What do you think happens to them when you put them back?”

“They disappear pretty sharpish.”

“I don’t mean that, I mean when they get back.”

“Back?”

“Yeah, back to all the other humans.”

“Oh right. Ha! Can you imagine the conversation, ‘Guys, guess what? I got picked up by a beam of brilliant light and some sort of creature started prodding and poking me all over. Then it just put me right back down and went away.’ They probably think he’s crazy. I’ve never really thought about it too much before. Never mind; come on, put the lights on. Let’s go home.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJLpEoAh_4A&feature=share&app=desktop