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The Ballad of Brave Monty Mouse

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Part One: Danger

Alone at night, and on the prowl,
How they fear this wise old owl.
The mice stay quivering in the nest,
How can they feed or take a rest?

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Hocus Pocus?

A wail of utter distress reverberated relentlessly throughout his head.

“Jenna, calm down, what’s happening? ”

“It’s Sam. He’s vanished.” Her distress ratched up several notches again as she thought about what had happened.

He sent calming thoughts in her direction and then appeared by her side at the bottom of the stairs. There was no sign of the little boy she was supposed to be babysitting for the evening, but Tom could sense he was quite close.

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Jamie and the Tiger

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It was only his first term at School. Jamie was homesick and miserable at first, but he was only seven. He hated the noise and bustle, and the strangeness of it all. He missed home, his mother and his little sister; they now seemed so very far away.

“Be a brave chap,” his father had said, “it’s only two years and you can fly over and visit at Christmas and the summer holidays”

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And so we did!

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How on earth was I supposed to explain my husband’s latest plan to the children? What do you say to two small boys under five when their father had left us to live with his… I couldn’t even think of a suitable word to describe her! Well actually I could but they were hardly the sort of terms Jamie and David would understand.

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A Winter Baby

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It had been one of the hardest winters in living memory. And there was no end in sight. The grown ups told of a time when the sea did not freeze and the rivers flowed from the distant mountains. All was ice now and still the snow fell softly.

His parents talked confusingly of global warming and ice ages, but David knew better. It was all Beth’s fault. Young though she was she had enormous power. She was fascinated by the falling snow and the icicles hanging down from the gutters. David feared that spring would never arrive until Beth grew bored with the ice and snow.

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DIY Dispatch

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Turning to the two sleepy children in the back seats, Emma said calmly, but firmly.

“Now darlings, I want you to take off your seat belts, lie down on the floor, and keep your eyes firmly shut and put your hands over your ears. Can you do that for mummy?”

Lowering the window she watched the Fiesta pull in behind her, and waited in the dark  car for his approach. The dogs growled softly as he came closer, a long bladed knife catching the moonlight as he moved. He stopped about six feet from the open window of the car, switching the knife from hand to hand.

She really did not need this. She was off-duty. It had been a lovely weekend. For once the weather was perfect and the children had amused themselves for hours, splashing in the shallow bay and exploring the rock pools at low tide. Emma needed this time with the children. As a working mother, in a well-paid but stressful job, she needed to reconnect and charge her batteries.

Such a pity they had to leave and start the long drive home. Thinking ahead, and checking her watch, she pulled off the motorway and parked her four wheel drive at a convenience store. It was not the most salubrious of areas but she needed some milk, bread and eggs. The children would be hungry and tired and require feeding before bedtime.

Leaving the dogs in the back on guard, she dashed in, made her purchases and returned to her car. To her immense irritation she discovered a shabby Ford Fiesta parked behind her, completely blocking her exit.  What an idiot she thought. The parking area in front of the shop was hardly crowded, so why had he chosen to thoughtlessly abandon the rusty heap just behind her immaculate four wheel drive?

“Are we nearly there mummy?”

She turned to her daughter. “Not long now, darling.”

She slipped into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. She checked her watch and waited for the owner of the Fiesta to emerge from the shop.

Ten minutes later she was tapping her fingernails on the steering wheel and he still hadn’t appeared. Oh, well, she thought, he can’t be much longer surely? She gave a slightly impatient short blast on the horn, and then he appeared. Waving his fist in the air and swearing horribly as he approached the car. She took in the details: six foot three approximately, large pot-belly and distinctly unprepossessingly shabby and ill-kempt. Utterly convinced of the reasonableness of her case, she lowered the window a couple of inches and smiled sweetly.

“Oh, jolly good, you’re back. I’m in a hurry. Would you mind awfully if I asked you to move your car which seems to be blocking me in? I’d be frightfully grateful. Thanks so much.”

The response consisted of a string of four letter words, a raised fist interspersed with threats of violence. Not to worry then, she said calmly, it’s not a problem, I’ll just push it out of the way. Up went the window, she purposefully put the car in reverse, revved the engine and drove backwards.

He moved rather quickly for a large man and when the rear bull bars were about an inch from the Fiesta, she braked and waited for him to move the car. He did.  Smiling slightly she waved him a cheery goodbye and headed back onto the motorway.

She soon spotted the Fiesta in her mirror. Reducing speed gradually she waited for him to pass. He didn’t. Obviously wasn’t the type to give up.  Taking the next exit she headed down the slip road and stopped the car at the first lay-by.

So now Emma watched, keeping eye contact.  He looked confident and menacing as he approached her car.

“Now, I’m asking you very politely to get back in the car and stop following me. I honestly wish you would. The children are tired and I need to get back home.”

He grasped the knife in his right hand, and took a step closer. He stopped and told her exactly and graphically what he would do to her and the children.

Sighing regretfully, she raised the pistol and shot him. Twice. Not wanting to frighten the children or alarm the dogs she had fitted the silencer.

Stepping out of the car she checked the body, opened the back door of the car, cuddled the children and helped them strap themselves in again.

She made a quick phone call to the office.

“It’s Emma here sir;  a slight problem. I’m on my way in.”

Approaching Lambeth Bridge turned into the secure car park of a large building, flashed her ID and asked the guards to watch the children.

“Nearly there darlings, I just have to pop into the office, check on a few things, and then we’ll go straight home. I won’t be long.”

Thirty minutes later, confident that her disposal instructions would be followed, she pulled into her driveway. Dogs and children unloaded, she scrambled some eggs, dispatched the children to bed, cleaned the firearm and poured herself a glass of wine. Opening the door she sat out on the terrace. It was a perfect night; cooler now at last after the heat of the day. The dogs settled down beside her and she listened to the soothing notes of the Brahms playing in the background.

And the moral of this tale? Do not mess with well-spoken, polite brunettes in large cars; you never know who they work for!

This month’s short story competition

 

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The two children stood at the gate, stroking Bella, my Cockapoo. I knew the house next door had been let for the summer but this was the first time I’d met any of the family. I called to Bella and the children followed her into the kitchen. This furry bundle of joy is irresistible!

“Do your parents know you are here?” I enquired.

“Mummy’s dead, Daddy won’t get up. He thinks he killed her.”

The boy looked down at his sister, who was now kneeling on the tiled floor with her arms round Bella, and she just nodded, silent tears falling into the puppy’s soft coat.

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