Steph Ellis

Steph EllisSteph is the winner of Vol 3 – 3Vol 3 – 42 and Vol 3 – 46Follow her on Twitter and on her blog. Steph says:

I live in Southampton, England with my husband Geraint and our 3 children although the older two aren’t really kids anymore and should be flying the lair soon.  I’ve always been an avid reader but came late to writing, initially penning some poems in a (humorous) protest against my work situation and shared with just a select few colleagues, now I write as a release from the stresses brought on by working with teenagers in a secondary school!  It’s amazing how therapeutic killing off people in print can be.

Since mid-2013 I’ve had a number of short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies.  2015 has been a good year, with the publication of an anthology which I co-edited, the Terror Tree Pun Book of Horror, featuring my story The Woman in Slacks; another anthology, Masks, is being launched at the British Fantasy Convention and Gothic Tales of Terror from Verto Publishing will be out at Halloween.  As well as having a few more stories due for publication, I was also invited for the first time to contribute a story to an anthology instead of having to submit in the usual way, plus I finally took the plunge and submitted my first horror novel to a publisher.  I may not get anywhere but these are my baby steps in the world of writing and every one takes me a little further forward, even when it feels like I’ve taken two steps back.

I must also add something here about Flash Fiction.  Since discovering this medium I have found myself part of a warm and supportive community.  The regularity of the contests at Flash! Friday, the Angry Hourglass, MicroBookends, Three Line Thursday and Cracked Flash Fiction has forced me to hone my skills and raise my game whilst at the same time keeping me in a routine of writing.    There are some fantastic writers on these sites and I appreciate the time that they take to read and comment and generally support me and each other.  I would also like to give a special mention to the FlashDogs, a group of writers who have produced anthologies of flash fiction with the sole aim of supporting children’s literacy.  If you want to see perfect examples of flash, in all genres, you need look no further.

***

Vol 3 – 46: The Tenth Circle (OR 01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01010100 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101000 00100000 01000011 01101001 01110010 01100011 01101100 01100101)

“You surely see the logic of your situation?” said the demon.

Jacob watched the ones and zeroes streaming endlessly across the screen. “Yeeees.”

“Well then you must know we can’t let you through this particular gate.”

“I still don’t …,” said Jacob. He looked around. This wasn’t quite what he’d expected.

“Look,” said the demon patiently. “This ticket says ‘Admit one AND guest.”

“So?”

“This is an OR gate. Your ticket allows you entry via an AND gate only.”

“Where do I find this AND gate then?” asked Jacob.

“Over there,” said the guard. “But they won’t let you through.”

“Why not?”

“No, not NOT, AND, NOT is back the other way. You need AND but there’s only one of you.”

“I couldn’t bring my plus one,” said Jacob. “I didn’t use enough poison. Doesn’t matter though, does it?”

“Of course it matters. You made a deal. You can’t be both a one AND a zero. You’ve got to be one OR the other.”

“Well I satisfy that argument,” said Jacob. “So I can go through this gate.”

“No. If you couldn’t find a plus one that means you’re a zero. So you’re not one OR the other any more.”

“So I could go through a NOT gate because I am zero AND NOT one?”

“You could but your ticket says AND,” said the demon.

“We could spend an eternity arguing about this,” said Jacob angrily.

“And that’s exactly what you’ve got,” grinned the demon. “Hell, isn’t it?”

***

Vol 3 – 42Byron’s Last Stand, by Lord Algernon Postlethwaite

Byron Grimshaw eyed the crowd
Gathered at his door
Better than at Open Mic
The chance he’d waited for

He inhaled the dusty air
Puffed out his pigeon chest
“Hark my fellow countrymen,
Beneath my bosom’s breast …”

“Lurks a Primark padded bra
And poncey pink silk vest”

Determined not to yield his spot
To hecklers, he declaimed
Words that he intended
Would endure, spreading his fame

“Down Durham’s dreadful dreary roads
Yellow monsters chewed up brick,
As the bard orated ….”

“You really are a p…”

The words were lost amid a stir
As the foreman pushed towards him
Bulldozed his way up to the front
Clear threat behind his warning

“I’ve tickets for the match tonight
Son, you’re a right disgrace
If you don’t come out here pretty quick
I’ll haiku on your face”

Byron swallowed, sensed the threat
From this man of beef
Meekly slunk out of the house
And ran off down the street.

***

Vol 3 – 3: Holiday Deals

“Open wide.”

Obediently Jimmy’s mouth became a cave, a deep dark chasm for the probe to explore. He kept his eyes fixed on Mr Wilson as the man lowered his masked face towards him, bringing his fish eyes, dead eyes ever closer; a tie, garish purple, hideous orange.

“Present from the wife,” said Mr Wilson, responding to his look.

She must really hate him to give him that, thought Jimmy. And he must really love her to wear it.

“No,” said Jimmy as a needle was produced.

“It’ll stop it hurting.”

“No.”

Mr Wilson paused, disconcerted. “Do you want your mother in here with you?”

“No,” said Jimmy. “I came on my own.”

He opened his mouth wider still. New Year was his favourite time, when the best deals were always made.

Wider. And Mr Wilson fell into the void his wife had begged for, and Jimmy fed on the pain that only flesh and blood could give.

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