Saturday, June 27, 2015

Prompt no. 5!

Write a story of up to 150 words beginning: "If only I could remember..." 

Post it in as a comment below!

Prompt no. 4!

An alien descends to earth and captures a film star to study for research into our species. Who and why? Tell the story in under 150 words.

Post it in as a comment below!

Prompt no. 3!

The Accident. Write an accidental story, or a story of an accident, in under 150 words. 

Post it in as a comment below!

Prompt no. 2!

"John would never have imagined that so many marbles could fit into a coffin." Write a story in under 150 words starting with this line (the word count doesn't include it).

Post it in as a comment below!

NFFD Cafe Aphra Challenge.... Prompt no. 1!

Found. Write a story of under 150 words in which something is found.

Post it in as a comment below!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Plan B

It was uncanny. All the hard skin he peeled off his feet came off in the shape of Cyprus. He had six examples to show Dave. Helena had been grossed out when he raised the matter with her because as ever, she had rather missed the point. Didn't she think it was synchronicity that his skin came off in this shape while she was a Cypriot? Seriously, what were the odds? 

She'd gone out for the night and he stared at his dead skin. Perhaps it was a stupid idea. A sudden wave of embarrassed revulsion engulfed him and he swept the skin up and flushed it down the loo. Whatever was he thinking? He'd have to go with plan B, the asparagus, and the time his wee had smelled like he'd been eating asparagus when he hadn't touched the stuff, only to be served it later that evening at a friend's house. It was as if his body knew, had made a future prediction. 
Trouble was it was all anecdotal. Sceptics always threw the 'where's your evidence' accusation at such things. Well perhaps he could do the phone call thing - thinking of his mum just a few seconds before she phoned him that time. Hmm, everyone does that one though, don’t they. No, it'd have to be the asparagus. 
Was it all trivial and silly, like Helena said? These synchronicities never seemed to carry any real substance or actually mean anything. It was a stupid waste of time and associating with Dave and indulging his paranormal obsessions was frankly idiotic. That's why she'd gone out for the night.
He'd lost track of the time but supposed Dave would be here any second. The doorbell rang. He flicked on the videocom and could see Dave standing there, carrying a bag. Was that another synchronicity, that he'd thought of Dave prior to him ringing the bell? He glanced at the clock. It was seven o'clock - the time they'd agreed. Not a good enough example. The sceptics wouldn’t have it. 
He opened the door.
“Did you know that if you ask people to think of a number between one and one hundred most people say a number with a seven in it?” 
“Hi Dave, come in.”
“I brought a bottle of vino and a board game. I thought we could sip the plonk while we talked then we could have a game of Trivial Pursuit. You’ve played it before haven’t you?”

by Derek Dohren

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

National Flash Fiction Day Challenge!

Greetings fellow Aphra-ites!

National Flash Fiction Day UK is almost up on us... the date has been set this year as this Saturday, 27th June.

You can check out the NFFD website here

As we have done in the past, at Café Aphra is running its NFFD challenge on the 27th and will be publishing writing prompts at regular intervals throughout the day for you to write up to 150 words on and post up as a comment.

We had some really lovely responses last year and people really enjoyed the immediacy and interactive nature of the day.

We will be posting writing prompts up at the following times (GMT) on the website:


You can do it from anywhere and you don't have to post your piece up at any particular time of day - if you want to post up a response to the 9am prompt at 3pm, that's fine!

We look forward to reading everyone's responses on Saturday - here's to a flash flood of sudden fiction! We hope you have fun with it.

Happy writing,

Café Aphra

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Bog

Peat glistened darkly between tufts of grass tainted sepia by the bog. Steve ducked under the yellow tape into the look he was dreading.

“You're late,” his boss said, skewering him over her half-moon glasses. Maggie was ankle-deep in the mire, a brown smear on her forehead. He didn't dare smile.

“Sorry.” He scrambled down into the shallow trench. “Got lost.”

It smelt of rot, earthy and damp. The body was naked, face down, its long hair caked in mud. The skin shone greasily, stained a deep unnatural mahogany. Maggie crouched beside it, gesturing for Steve to join her.

“How long ago?” asked a gravelly voice from above them.

Maggie glanced up at Detective Shaw, who was chain-smoking as usual. “Don't bother the university. She's modern, despite the garotte.”

With a blue gloved finger, she lifted a mangled cord from underneath the matted hair. Ignoring Shaw she explained to Steve, in her teaching voice. “See the skin? The tannins and acids work fast there. Softening the bones, leaching out the calcium, that takes time. Older bodies appear crushed, flattened by the weight of the peat.”

Snapping his gloves on, Steve risked a question. “How quickly does it accumulate?”

“Half a millimetre or so a year.”

He looked at the clean, straight-cut trench wall. “Forty years?”

“Sixty at most.” To the waiting men she called, “Let's get her up, lads.”

Steve stood back, out of the way. The bog released its cold embrace with a wet sucking sound. Before water oozed back into the hole, something glinted in the sun. He tilted his head, frowning at the object as the photographer clicked away.

Maggie saw it too, eased a spade under it and lifted. Brackish water slid off the round-bellied shape. Cut glass, yellow-green clouding to white. Muck clung in the design, darkened the cracks radiating from the rim.

Yes. Steve was sure.

“Pyrex?” Maggie suggested.

“No, I think…” He patted his pockets, sweating inside his gloves. Awkwardly, he fished out his blacklight.

“There won't be any fingerprints, lad,” she warned.

“Not fingerprints,” he said, his heart leaping. He hunched over the spade, shading it from the sun with his coat before he flicked on the torch.

The milk jug glowed a faint, vivid green.

“What the devil is it?” Maggie said.

“Vaseline glass. It fluoresces because of the uranium content. Pearline, I think. Made over in Gateshead, in the 1890s unless –” Seeing her expression, he stopped and rubbed the back of his neck, adding sheepishly, “My auntie collects it.”

She nodded, once. High praise. “Let's bag and tag it as a potential murder weapon.”

Later, in her office, Maggie remarked, “Either that tea tastes like ditch water or something's bothering you. Spit it out, lad.”

“If our murderer went to the trouble of hauling the body up to

the bog, faking that garrotte … Why bury the jug under her?”

“Why indeed.” She waited.

“A red herring?” Steve suggested. “Or a calling card?”

Maggie smiled. “Now you're getting somewhere.”

by J Drew

Monday, June 1, 2015

When I Was Young

When I was young, I saw him in a field
pressing his temples
like the pain was too intense
to speak
Every word he said was a wheeze
His sternum was astray
blood leaking into an empty cavern
His own stinging void, his own perdition
Pieces of masking tape
were stuck haphazardly to his breast
from where he tried
to pull his center into focus
A poppy, red and angry, reminded him of his lost friend
the missing heart
He nestled the flower
in his lapel
A wayward date to a town hall dance
A perfect pair they were: fragile and sanguine.

by Rachel Kane