ON National Flash-Fiction Day, May 16, we published the winners of a competition New Writing North ran with The Journal.
The call was for bite-sized chunks of fiction and the response proved there is a lot of creative talent in the North East.
Today you can read the winning entries and the two runner-up entries below.
Winner and runner-up in the 18s and over category were, respectively, Kay Wilson for The Chocolatier and Cassandra Parkin for Doorstep.
Winner and runner-up in the under 18s category were, respectively, Laurie Atkinson for Bang! and Callum Gilroy for The Silver Seagull.
The judge was Newcastle writer Angela Readman, winner of a national flash fiction competition.
Congratulations to all. And if mini-fiction is your thing, scrutinise the Culture pages next week for details of a unique Twitter novel-writing experiment.
The Chocolatier - By Kay Wilson
His sweat smelt of cat p*** and his feet of mouldy bacon. The flat was not much better with the sour aroma exploding out of the door when opened. But his hands, ah, his hands, they were soft and delicious. They were fragrant with scents of vanilla, cocoa from foreign lands and fresh creamy fudge from the years of chocolate making. People wanted to kiss those beautiful fingers all the time, tempted to gobble them up and sell their soul to this mysterious devil on the 13th floor.
Beautiful girls with swishy perfumed hair swept past Mrs Reubens' apartment drawn by the sweet allure of the 13th floor. Sometimes she thought she could see their scent, like ephemeral bridesmaids gliding through the stained corridors.
If she sat quietly she could make out their timid knocking. It was always two, three beats before his heavy key turned and hinges grated loudly. A nervous laugh, then another.
They never came down. Those delicate sweet-toothed maidens opened the dark door to their inner-most souls and found their rounded bellies splitting with ganache, pralines and kirsch-filled truffles. Those exquisite chocolates just dissolved on their tongues. One second of rapture, eyes closed, breathing still to savour every last thing and then they were gone.
Their expensive perfumes became fainter, falling onto the corridor's linoleum, trampled by battered leather brogues, tiny stilettos and worn nylon slippers.
A scratchy recording of Glen Miller's In the Mood began. Mrs Reubens sensed him swaying, dancing, alone again.
Doorstep - By Cassandra Parkin
When I stand on my doorstep smoking my six o'clock cigarette, I pretend I'm other people. Who I choose depends on how I'm feeling. Sometimes I'm a famous scientist studying lions. I'm outside my tent in Africa at sunset. The lions lie down near me and purr. I could stroke them if I wanted, but I never do.
If I've had a bad day I pretend I'm Samantha from school. She smoked from when we were twelve. She'd see me watching and smirk. Then I'd go away and wish I was cool like her.
Sometimes I'm starring in a very important film that will probably win an Oscar. My co-star is desperately in love with me. He says he'll leave his wife, but I tell him it's wrong to break up a family. Sometimes I pretend I live in Paris. Just that - me, smoking my cigarette, but in Paris. Maybe that one needs some work.
Yesterday I thought of a new one. I thought I might be a madwoman. She'd have wild hair and a secretive mutter, and she wouldn't care about anything. She'd look at this boring house we can't afford with its stupid grass-square garden, and she'd laugh. Then she'd take Steve's emergency jerry-can and set fire to my living-room curtains. She'd stand on the doorstep smoking her cigarette while the house turned orange and yellow, and she'd have a little smile on her face.
She frightens me, actually. I don't know where she came from.
Page 2 - BANG! by Laurie Atkinson >>
BANG! - By Laurie Atkinson
The sprint is always too short. BANG! And you're off, leaving the earth behind you, a pack of white shirts and blue shorts thundering down the lanes. You know straight away who’s won. It's as if they started ahead, and you notice their special shoes as they tear away - those ones with spikes on the end that they put on beforehand when everyone was looking. Sometimes though, it's you that darts out in front. You can't believe it, you wonder if the race has really started, but you daren't look around, you just try and run a little faster. You know your legs are flailing and they'll laugh at you after, but it doesn't matter, not just then.
But it's always too short, that fleeting burst of “yes, I'm winning, you won't catch me, not even the ground can”. You cross the line and it's gone. Having won is nothing like winning.
It's not like that in the long distance. My friend told me, he does the fifteen-hundred. You set off and you've got all the time in the world. Sometimes you don't know who's won until the last lap, and if it's you there's four-hundred blissful metres, just to savour the moment, you can even look round if you want. You can really get into the long distance. It's not for me though. I like the sprint.
The Sliver Seagull - By Callum Gilroy
One day Sam went to the beach. He spent the whole day there. Sam was playing in the dunes, when he looked up and in the distance he saw a silver seagull. His eyes were a reddy blue, his feet were brown. He opened his wings. They were huge in fact as big as an eagle’s. Sam was astonished. He ran down the rocky steps to the sandy beach.
There were suddenly loads of seagulls all silver. Sam was very wary, this croaky voice said stop! who are you? Sam froze to the spot. All the birds were looking at him like he was their prey. They all stood still and swooped hats out of the bags they carried on their backs then marched towards Sam.
They squawked at Sam, opened their wings and flew over his head. Sam shouted “what are you all doing?” Sam fell onto the sand he was so afraid.
There was an almighty honky sound. Sam glanced up for a second and there was this ship at the shore. The birds
were all curled up, so was Sam, then suddenly Sam felt something heavy on his back. He looked up, they were all in a net getting lifted onto the ship.
All the birds started pecking at the net. They were all free. The seagulls flew out of the net, Sam was next to them in the sky!
I was flying just like a silver seagull. It was amazing, in fact Sam was a silver seagull. There were breathtaking views and a rush of wind in Sam’s face. His heart was beating so fast, he could not believe what had happened.
Suddenly Sam fell to ground and bumped his head. He woke up a while later and he was back on the beach and he was a little boy again. Sam blinked and looked round.
All the silver seagulls and ship had gone! Wow! said Sam.