Christmas Shopping by Luke Cremin, 6th Year...

It is dark outside when I push the trolley through the opening doors.  The place is vast and has a high ceiling, lined with an almost blinding white light that reflects off the floor. The only colours are the blue of the hanging signs and the red and green of the pathetic tinsel strewn across the endless line of shelves. I look left and see that there are only two tills in operation. A very bored looking girl sits examining her nails. Behind her is a man scribbling something. They are both wearing a blue t-shirt. Thankfully, the place seems empty. The only sign of life is Mariah Carey singing from above. If I remember correctly, the turkeys should be on a separate shelf in the meat section at the very back next to the dairy aisle.  Wasting no time, I push the rattling trolley deeper into the white maze. I pass sweets, cereals, pyramids, signs, more tinsel and I finally reach the milk aisle. They should be right here. Mariah sings louder. My heart flutters as I turn the corner. “Baby all I want for Christmas . . .” The shelf is empty. ON SALE and BEST VALUE signs point to nothing. “一IS YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU一” Her voice is shrill and it stabs my skull. I cover my ears and grimace my face. I feel an anxious pang in my stomach and my throat dries as the lights start glaring and my temple is about to burst and the room is spinning and I need to steady myself on the trolley so my quivering legs don’t collapse.  I take a deep breath and steady myself. This cannot be happening. I am still trembling and my temple is pulsating. Surely there is another one somewhere? The...

I’M LOVIN’ IT by Judah Arun Jun01

I’M LOVIN’ IT by Judah Arun...

I stared at the ‘M’ and it stared back at me. The glistening golden arches: a beacon of light amidst the darkness. A lighthouse in the fog. There was no greater blessing in life than a McDonald’s down the road. It was a reminder—a routine—that no matter how bad life got happiness was but a happy meal away. It was especially wet that miserable Monday morning. I was cold, knackered, and soaked to the skin. I was also disappointed that I still hadn’t managed to get enough diamonds despite mining all night.  Ten minutes.  I checked the timetable again just to be sure. Ten minutes until the bus arrived. I slumped onto the bench, sighed. I looked over at the McDonald’s down the street. They had posters advertising their new Caramel Cappuccino. In that moment freshly ground, roasted, steaming coffee smelled like heaven’s nectar to me and I had found myself in the McDonald’s before you could say ‘Bada da da da daaa.’ It was the same as always. The tiled floors. The rows of seats, some lofi-beats. The abstract walls, placed between dining areas. The laminated wood counter. Some ginger who looked like he had been getting high in the back alley. The store was barren, not another customer in sight – which was rare. It was always busy. I made my way up to the register. The order was simple. Americano. Been a while since I last had one (was more of a Monster Energy person). I found an empty seat, sat down and waited. A black tray had slid itself onto my table and with it my coffee plus a thin wooden popsicle and packets of milk and sugar. I looked up at the waitress. “Order number one?”  And that was...

The Unwanted: Chapter One Nov23

The Unwanted: Chapter One...

Childhood troubles  It was a cold summer’s night. The moonlight was glistening peacefully over the sea in Blackthorn City. The wind howled, knocking bins on to the streets with a thud; fallen branches blocked lanes on the road. One lane led to the now ruined Lakewood. Birds were nowhere to be seen though they were usually chirping in Blackthorn City. Naomi, a seven-year-old girl young girl was walking with her parents along the quiet road when she heard a gentle whisper in the blackened night causing her curiosity to spike for a few seconds before her father, who wore his marine army suit, called her, his voice raspy. He was a general in the army; two medals hung from his neck. He walked on the stony wet pavements with his clunky black boots. Another whisper attracted the little girl. This time she followed it. Her father and mother followed, running past the forest. Naomi’s mother was forbidden from entering. As she entered the forest the whisper sounded like her father, making her believe he was lost in the forest. Her father heard a loud cry which sounded like his daughter Naomi. When he entered,  a gloved hand which was as dark as the night sky, covered his mouth. He didn’t know until it was too late. His wife spotted her him dangling off a tree with the branch running through his head. As she let out a cry for help she felt a gloved hand cover her mouth and a moment dropped to the floor, her neck snapped. Naomi wandered through the forest, stricken with a terrific fear. A dagger slashed at her ankle. She fell to the ground and, kicking and crying, she was dragged off into the depths of the forest. The...

STRANDED (1st Year Flash Fiction Winner) by Luke Murray...

Hi, John here, and before you start asking questions, yes, I am the John that got stranded on the islands, and if you didn’t hear about it, turn on your TV! Everywhere I go it’s like, “Oh you’re the poor little boy that got stranded on that island-” No old lady I didn’t get stranded, I got ditched, by whom you ask… MY MOM, and, as you can clearly already see, my mom’s not very nice. My mom never really liked me so this was her big chance to get rid of her underachieving son all because she wanted a...

PURSUIT (1st Year Flash Fiction 2nd Place) by Alan Hodgins...

I swerved onto 56th Avenue and continued driving towards the inner city. I worked for the Boston Police Department and was heading to intercept a car that had been called in over the radio. It was five A.M., still dark. My lights cut through the inky darkness. Traffic increasing, I turned on the sirens to clear a path. There it was, speeding along the street in front of me. I was gaining quickly. Suddenly a large item came flying from the car, hitting the road. Too late to avoid it, I hit it head on. My world flipped upside...

EMILY IN TIME (1st Year Flash Fiction 3rd Place) by Daniel Roche...

My mum sent me to my room. I was furious at what she had said. I banged my bedroom door so hard the whole house shook. The weird thing was, the house didn’t stop shaking. It grew stronger and stronger until I slipped and banged my head. I woke up in a completely different room. I called for my mum but there was no answer. I slowly got up, the pain in my head increasing. I walked to the door and opened it. I looked out. Instead of my boring corridor I was on the verge of a rugged...

The Man in the Green Shell-Suit: Part One Oct27

The Man in the Green Shell-Suit: Part One...

We walked to the far end of the beach. Here, old ladies lay flat and untied their bras and big-bellied men walked about as if in search of some artefacts in the sand. Across the little bay was the forest and just below it the cemetery of dead trees standing grey and erect and silent. A dog barked nonsensical at the little waves, his mistress sitting there but allowing the din. The sand was the colour of weathered bone and some of the rocks provided a relief of beige and brown and even white but nothing else was white. Even the clouds appeared blemished by use or stained with blown dust. And there was heat-of-sun enough to allow for a momentary illusion of holiday. I felt it on my left and whenever I turned that way all I could see was its light glittering on the water and the low, stretched watercolour peninsula that appeared to bleed into the sea at points where all was monochrome. Half-way along its length, plumes of barrelly smoke rose first straight up and then to the right, becoming cloud-like and feeding a line of darkish cotton pushing it further along to the west. There were two others still visible on the strand where I sat. First, the woman lay on her back now, reading a book that hung suspended from her right hand. Though she had bony knees and slender calves her belly was swollen and could have been that of a man of her age partial to beer. It was disproportionate and dimpled over her ribs. She wore rolled-up blue jeans above the knee and a striped, multi-coloured bikini bra offensively bright and just about sufficient to house her large, flaccid breasts. Her hair, like her stomach,...

Je ne Regrette Rien by Cian Morey Oct13

Je ne Regrette Rien by Cian Morey...

It was a decidedly wet Sunday afternoon, and Alan boldly resolved to add “weather forecasts” to his extensive list of untrustworthy things, which already included such deceitful knaves as “Urban Dictionary” and “Nick Clegg”. He sat dripping on an uncomfortable park bench, watching the world go by. Confucius sat beside him, pawing at said bench despondently. The bench was painted an ugly shade of green, except for where they appeared to have run out of paint and used an uglier shade of teal instead. Confucius was not impressed. ‘Well, this is just wonderful, isn’t it?’ Alan commented. ‘Woof,’ Confucius replied. ‘I wish I had found my umbrella,’ Alan said to nobody in particular. ‘Woof,’ Confucius agreed. ‘I mean, it must be in the apartment somewhere, mustn’t it?’ Alan mused. ‘It can’t be down the back of the sofa, can it, because if it was I would have found it when I found my shoes. I don’t know why I didn’t just put it in the umbrella stand.’ ‘Woof,’ Confucius reminded him. ‘Well, yes, that’s true,’ Alan admitted. ‘In that case, I should get an umbrella stand as soon as possible.’ They fell silent once more. The rain started to lighten. ‘At last,’ Alan murmured. The rain worsened again immediately. ‘Damn,’ Alan muttered. He glanced up at the tree beneath which they sat. He wasn’t even sure if it constituted a tree. It had about five spindly branches and leaves were scarcer than penguins in the Australian Outback. Hailstones beat through it like bullets through a handkerchief. Alan sighed. Confucius sneezed. Suddenly there was an elderly man sitting there beside them. Alan blinked. In his experience, elderly men usually walked at the approximate speed of a dying slug – except when they were crossing roads,...

Flash Fiction: Who’s Benny? Aug26

Flash Fiction: Who’s Benny?...

On the inside cover near the bottom was written, “I love you Benny, always.” I bought it there and then. I think it was love poetry or maybe about herbacious plants. “Good choice,” she said smiling. I saw her Madonna-gap. “I think this might be mine.” “Who’s Benny?” I asked....

Flash Fiction: White-knuckled Aug26

Flash Fiction: White-knuckled...

Even before the end, short of having to make a full and frank admission, he was prepared to admit to what he called “the occasional flutter.” When the end did come he was, oddly enough, less forthcoming. Now in hindsight I believe he never thought I’d leave. And I did love him, for so long, so ardently. Maybe, in a way, I still do. But I’m not the person I was when we met. Leaving became a possibility and I felt liberated, rejuvenated. But I’ve left a piece of me there with him in that little studio apartment. Perhaps the amount of my soul forever his is languishing beside that bookcase I bought him for his birthday, the one beneath the window. I paid little for it and he’d loved it; yet that which cost me the most he discarded with a gesture of contempt, brushing my hair off my face with the back of his hand. He might as well have hit me square, white-knuckled, for all the good any of it did....

Flash Fiction: Back Then Jun20

Flash Fiction: Back Then...

My father worked in an ice-cream factory. That’s where he went most days. When the place closed he drank. Then he took off to London. For three years my mother made toast. She drank. My father would call at Christmas from Crouch End. When he came back he bought a Morris Minor. There weren’t guards on the road back then. He drove drunk every night. The freedom. The boys’ club dances were only for grown men. But drink wasn’t allowed in the Lilac – just priests and tea and biscuits. The cars were steamed up afterwards; reminded me of greenhouses....

Flash Fiction: When You’re Leaving Jun20

Flash Fiction: When You’re Leaving...

I saw that shape again, the one I told you about. Why was I telling you? Maybe you were interested and would have liked to hear more, but what difference does it make anyway when you’re leaving? I stood watching it for a long time. I think it’s a man taking the fish. I haven’t told my father. His fish will be his sole income soon and once the crops fail – and you know they will – the bank will come knocking. All that will be left is the fish. Have you seen him lately? He asks for you. I tell him you are busy with your wife and her illnesses, that you are committed to her. He saw you as the son he might have had. My mother nearly died the night I was born. That was it for her. No more. She looks at me too long. I know she would have preferred it had you married me. Out from under her feet. Maybe it’s for the best. I’ll go to the river tonight and I’ll seduce the poacher of my father’s fish. Maybe he will agree to provide; perhaps he’s in the market  for a wife....

AIDEN’S STORY by Caolan McNeill Mar16

AIDEN’S STORY by Caolan McNeill...

Silence. At last his world was filled with silence. He felt like breaking down. He had seen people do it before and could never understand why. He understood now. His body juddered as he realised he could no longer control his movements. He was now reduced to just endless blubbering and he found that tears and mucus seeped from his eyes and nose. That feeling of loneliness was beginning to set in. He knew it could be a matter of minutes, hours or days before anyone came back. He had never been in such a situation. All he had now were his thoughts. Everything he had done in the past few years flooded back to him and created a map to point to how he had landed himself in this place. Alone in his darkened, silent room, he began to think. It had been a bright Thursday morning when Aiden woke. Aiden hated Thursdays, except no-one ever knew why. Then again, no-one had ever really bothered to ask him why. “It’s the day before Friday,” he’d mumble as an answer. This one didn’t appear to be any different. Aiden was a man who thrived on routine. As such he had one in place: get up, get washed, have breakfast, feed the dog, watch the morning news and head off to work. That’s how he had stayed under the radar; that’s how he had stayed who he was for so long. Nobody had any clue who Aiden was, nor did they really care. That’s why Aiden was so good at what he did in his life. All the world knew was that military organisations around the globe were experiencing difficulties with their electronics. Engineers on-site weren’t able to solve the problem by themselves so the...

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Forever Autumn” by Daniel Dilworth Nov21

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Forever Autumn” by Daniel Dilworth...

Frank gazed out the window, his eyes following the black and brown leaves as they fell from the grand oak. He broke his gaze every now and again but the focus of attention always shifted back to the tree. The barking of a dog ended this for good though. Frank went to the backdoor and opened it. On the step stood the dog, his fur sullied and smelling. “Oh Molyneaux, how are we today?” he said, rubbing the dog between his ears. “Have you been sniffing out rats again?” Molyneaux cocked his head as if he understood his owner’s words. Frank smiled slightly yet unnaturally and nodded. He returned to the stove and shook the kettle. Still not boiled, so he returned to the door. Molyneaux was sitting now, tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth. Frank crouched down alongside him and rubbed the nape of his neck and brought his hand down to his withers. “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?” Molyneaux  whined with apparent satisfaction. “You want a treat? Here boy,” Frank said, producing a biscuit from his gillet pocket. He threw it to Molyneaux who grabbed it mid-air and proceeded to munch on it. The kettle whistled. Frank poured himself a cup of tea and stood against the sink to drink it. Molyneaux heard the slurping noises, came to attention and dropped what little remained of his biscuit and approached Frank, his head tilted sideways. “Not for you boy.” Molyneaux dropped and his head and whimpered. “I’m sorry boy, but it’s not something you’d enjoy.” He threw him another biscuit. As soon as he saw it fly towards him, Molyneaux forgot all about the cup of tea. Frank drained his cup and carefully placed it in the...

CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Man Pondered” by Joe Dilworth Nov21

CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Man Pondered” by Joe Dilworth...

The man pondered. On this, his fiftieth birthday, his legacy lay all around him in both the present and the absent, the talk and the drink. His life could not be called kind but nor could it be called cruel. It was mundane, almost… generic. It was not unique and yet was special. This birthday party was a mirror of his life, old, well-used mirror, mass-made, but his mirror nevertheless. Questions began to develop in the man’s mind. Why Heineken? He didn’t really like it so why was he drinking it? Was he brand loyal, after a young adulthood of the stuff? Was it because of work, seen to be the “right” kind of beer when networking? Or was he trying to please his friends, trying to hold on to the last morsel of companionship he had? Was he really that desperate for talk? He was starved for attention, and with this party he thought he would be like a junkie getting his fix. That would change soon, one way or another. Where did this party really start? Did it start with the rebellious secondary school friend at this stage barely known and yet somehow essential to the gathering, his genuine laughs meta-morphing glum politeness into some semblance of interest? The college buddies, drinking buddies, smoking buddies and doping buddies of a life past and the alimony buddies of life present? Or did it start with Sophie, the heaviest non-presence in the room? All these places where this life had started. They finished today. The rest of his life was going to be his. One way or another. So, who wasn’t here? Often that could reveal more than who was. The first were obvious: his ex; Robert; Grace. That had been nasty, especially for...

CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Ball” by Eugene O’Brien Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Ball” by Eugene O’Brien...

Wet dew on the ball; it slid into the air like a flower opening its petals in rapid speed like I’d seen on a David Attenborough nature show on a Sunday morning before mass. The ball dipped, looked beautiful, like something out of the Matrix when the main character dives out of the way from the incoming bullets. The keeper was invisible; however, that was just my bad peripheral eyesight because I forgot my contact lenses; my mom woke me up late for my game, again. As the ball edged closer to the goal I could hear the wind, coming like a subway train pulling into the station in London. Then bang! bang! swoosh. As the post rattled (bang 1) and then the loud bang from Fat Murphy’s beer belly (bang 2) and then finally the sound I had been craving, like you crave a chocolate sundae after your roast on a Sunday: the swoosh of the ball off the net. Finally, my first goal for Buffalo FC. Monday rolled around again and another dark and depressing day in the life of an eighteen-year-old, his Leaving Cert. fast approaching in one hundred and one days. But this Monday was the first since the last Monday of Fourth Year where I was looking forward to be able to boast about my ‘winning’ shot from 40 yards out. In truth it was 6 yards out. Sauntering up to my friends like I were Gaz from Jersey Shore: chest out, shoulders swaying back and forth, the big macho man. “Look who the cat dragged into school,” Tom said as all the lads laughed. “What’s got you in a mood as if you scored with a minter last night and she didn’t leave you?” Tom asked very smartly,...

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Red” by Cian Morey (Winner) Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Red” by Cian Morey (Winner)...

22nd March, 2076 – DAY 5 You never really realize how red it all is until you actually set foot on it. You know? The gravelly ground beneath your feet is red. The distant slopes and rocky hills are red. Everything is red. I used to like the color red, did you know that? I did. I did like it. It was my favorite color, in fact. I had red wallpaper in my house back home, and red sheets on my bed, and a little red lava lamp on my desk to give my clients something to focus on. Then I came here, as part of the first colonization mission to Mars. Don’t really know why I did it, I just did. Wanted to be one of the first men here, I suppose.They needed someone on the team who had good knowledge of the workings of the human mind, so they picked me, a psychiatrist. Other people had to go through interviews and tests to see if they were mentally stable. Not me. I’m a psychiatrist, after all. I test other people. Nobody tests me. So now here I am. On Mars. The first thing that struck me was how completely red it all was, did I mention that? It’s all red, all of it. There’s no water or trees or grass. No animals. No nature at all. It’s just red, and silent. Red and silent. That sort of thing starts to get to you after a while, you know? It starts to get to you. Nothing but lots of red outside the window. Lots and lots of red, as far as the eye can see.There aren’t any blinds or curtains or anything like that, so you can always see out of the window....

CSN is 50: Short Story : “Fifty” by Cormac Mee Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story : “Fifty” by Cormac Mee...

My life is ending. I’m not dying, but the sands are thinning and every day I hear the clock tick, just in the background, so quiet I can’t hear unless I shut everything else out. I was given a road map ( and I don’t know by whom) and I followed it. I’m not saying that I followed the path perfectly; sometimes I erred and sometimes I stalled but the truth is I’m making my way through life at a pace that quickens with every step. I look in the mirror and I don’t see me because I’m not a fifty-year-old man. My face isn’t lined and strained; I’m a young man, I’m a child! Why do people keep treating me like I matter? I don’t matter, my words don’t mean anything more than they did 40 years ago; they never will. I’ve stopped learning and started retaining. I’m on earth for as many years as I can last out, every year I can wrestle back from death. Whether I die today or in how ever many million tomorrows away, it’s ending. Everything I have, everything I was given, I have to lose it, I’m not the one who’s choosing to give it up. That’s the law of existence, more immutable than any other. I have a wife, and she has a husband. I think we’re close. I’ve never known any other type of love to compare with what I have now. I’m not a good man, I’m not a bad man either. I’m just a man like every other one who has ever existed. There’s nothing that separates the inside of my head with the inside of the worst or the best ever produced by mankind. I’m glad I’m alone. Sometimes you can’t...