Tag Archives: Short story

They Called It Mametz

STo my loyal fans,

It has been a while. I must apologise for my silence; with my time divided between work and work, there is currently no time for play.

I imagine your fingers are trembling as you read this post. Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to inform you that I will not be announcing my return at this juncture. I am writing to you today to alert you to the fact that one of my short stories ‘They Called It Mametz’ has been published and is available for your enjoyment on Amazon. Who knows, some of you might want to see what all the fuss is about.

The story follows a group of soldiers from the 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, as they prepare for the Battle of the Somme. If you do give it a read, please let me know how you get on.

Whilst I am on wordpress, I should inform you that I have decided to hang up my typing gloves for now. If you wish to stay in touch, please do follow my exploits via my podcast, www.thethirstpodcast.com.

I hope you are all well.

Love, Ed

‘They Called It Mametz’ at Amazon.co.uk

‘They Called It Mametz’ at Amazon.com

4 Comments

Filed under Rants, Raves & Reviews, Raves

A Dab Hand At

The sky was black when first he came to me. A carrier in the night; the last survivor from a long forgotten era. An orphan of chance.

I was standing by the window – cloak misting around my shoulders – gazing out upon the deep when a man’s face loomed out of the fallow fields in front of me and pressed itself against the glass. The birds outside had long since taken up their grisly chorus – far fouler creatures than they would now be stirring, and so I rushed to admit the man into the safety of my abode.

What madness might have driven him to venture out at night? thought I as I strode to unlock the chain. What ill thoughts have led him to my door?

The stranger wasted no time, but burst past the threshold and into the light. From his build he must have been a man from the North; tall and broad as the mighty oak. His face was shaped like a King of Old, with a firm brow and keen eyes that shone in the dark. His nose was bent in ways that whispered ‘magic’ and there was a wiry growth of hair atop his lip. He seemed confused and would not look at me at first. Now here, now there, he roved about the room, in the very depths of some demented nightmare, muttering of secret desecrations, of restless motives and of the fall of man.

Suddenly, as if at last aware of his surroundings, he stopped his pacing. Then he turned to me and at once threw himself upon my mercy. He began to beseech me, first in the tongue of his mother, then in the tongue of mine, that I might be persuaded to aid him in his quest. White-knuckled, he grasped at the foot of my robes. I recognised nothing about his features, but I could not shake the thought that we had met before; that somehow he and I were brothers. I agreed to help him if I could.

Words failing him, the stricken man pressed a dirtied roll of parchment into my hands. Deed done, he sank back onto the floor. With trembling fingers I opened the parchment. It read as follows: Knowest thou the origin of the phrase – ‘a dab hand at…?’

Surprised, I turned to the man for elucidation, but I found a corpse where life had been. In a twisted act of kindness, death had chalked a smile upon his face. He had faded from this life trusting that I, the foremost scholar of the age, would be able to penetrate the mystery and return peace to the Kingdom of Man. It was clear to me what was at stake. I knew I could not fail.

Yet fail I did. I could find nothing of the phrase in the scrolls, save a tenuous mention regarding a link between ‘dab’ and ‘dapper’, scarcely enough to risk a mention. At the fundamental moment my mind had failed me. There seemed nothing I could do.

The sun did not rise that morning, nor has it risen since. Tonight I am to lead the men of Skia, the last great protectors of the Truth, against the forces of Despair. It is likely I shall fail. I give this account that any reading it might know the quest that claimed the life of my brother, and of so many after him, still burns brightly within my breast. I will conquer the Truth, in this life or the next. And then, when all is done, I will at last be able to answer that smile, which has haunted me to the ending of my days.

This fable is based on true events. My friend Tom, whose wonderful poetry can be found here, text me asking if I could shed any light on the phrase ‘a dab hand at’. As you can see, I couldn’t. I hope you can forgive me, and that this ridiculous excuse for a story has sufficed in place of information.

12 Comments

Filed under Idioms & Their Origins

Sometimes It Pays To Take A Closer Look

It’s frustrating for us writers when a literary agency doesn’t bother to get back to us. Having guarded our work so jealously for so long, at last we send it out and wait with bated breath, only for it to be passed around a room and laughed at by a bunch of jokers, before being unceremoniously consigned to the dustbin of history. At least this is what happens as far as we know – because nobody bothers to tell us otherwise. If my work is not good enough, then it’s not good enough. I do not think I deserve to be published end of. But I do need to know if I am below standard, in order to improve. Telling me nothing is not helpful. Below you will find a short story  (500 words) that I wrote on this subject. It was written for a competition a few months ago… which I haven’t heard back from, of course. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Sometimes It Pays To Take A Closer Look

You should have taken that chance, shouldn’t you? Maybe then you wouldn’t be standing on the Strand outside McDonalds – nose pressed, breath misting against the glass, windowed away by poverty from the golden nuggets within.

“Carry on please sir.” An anxious employee, absurdly dressed in a khaki uniform, ushers you away. You continue to traipse along your lonely path. At least he was polite – plenty of them aren’t.

It hasn’t always been like this. Six months ago you were a top dog; a fat cat, to mix the metaphors. Even working for the most powerful literary agency in the country seemed beneath your talent. But a man’s got to earn a living, and the tips weren’t bad.

It was a Friday night; you remember it because it was somebody’s birthday. A girl’s – you didn’t know her name but you knew by the way she’d pressed her breasts together when giving you the invitation that it would be worth your while. You reached for the last file in your tray, humming Loick Essien’s ‘That’s just how we roll’, (although in your mind you’d replaced the first person plural with the singular).

The file was unusually thin; it was if the author expected his work to stand by its own merits. Laughable. The synopsis wasn’t awful, so you turned to the first chapter. That wasn’t bad either. Just as you were beginning to get really involved, Doug stuck his head into your office.

“It’s five mate, you coming?”

You looked up. “Yeah I’ll be there in a bit.”

Doug nodded to the file in your hand. “Onto something?”

“I don’t know. Probably not.”

“Who’s it by?”

You searched the covering letter for the name. You didn’t recognise it. “Never heard of him,” you said.

Doug grinned. “Then bin it. Lets go!”

“Just give us a sec. I’ll meet you there.”

Doug tapped his hands on the door, one after the other in quick succession. “In a bit then,” he said.

“In a bit.”

He left and you turned again to the file. But you couldn’t concentrate anymore. Doug was right – you should bin it.You’d never heard the name before; likelihood was you’d never hear it again. Besides by then it was ten past five. You got your coat and hastened to join the celebrations.

You should have taken that chance. Next month a new book topped the charts. It was written, they said, by a nobody. Your boss soon found out that you’d been the one to let it slip through your hands. It all turned sour from there.

That’s why when I pass you now, on the way to the signing of my second book, you’re ferreting around in the mud for scraps. Seeing you, I stop, and with a generosity you would never have shown me, I take a note from out of my bulging wallet and press it into your grubby, snatching hands. “Here you are sir,” I say, “go buy yourself a meal.”

11 Comments

Filed under Rants, Rants, Raves & Reviews