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Recommended Reads

Stories and poems that have made it into our recommended reading section are handpicked by our staff. They have been identified as exceptional pieces of writing, which warrant separate recognition.

Stories that are part of a series, or novels that have made it into this outstanding series section, are nominated by our staff and awarded by a select panel. These stories have been deemed superior as complete works and have garnered special recognition.

You are almost certainly guaranteed a good read, if you've selected a story from these offerings!

7
Recommended Read

Remembrance Challenge: Remembrance

No-one noticed the lone, white-haired gentleman sitting on a nearby bench with sadness in his eyes.

Sunday morning, cold, damp and miserable. The dark rain-clouds which had, less than an hour previously, let fall a deluge of freezing rain upon the fields and hills surrounding the small Pennine village, were beginning to break. Their stark edges becoming wisps of pale grey. For the men and women who had gathered around the well-kept war memorial, the weather was a mere inconvenience....Read On

16
Recommended Read

And I Left

I couldn't bring myself to ask.

The bar was too noisy and people stood shoulder to shoulder. They were all vying for a place at the bar. Music filled the air and it mingled with the laughter and drunken ramblings of its patrons.  I first spotted him as he entered the bar. His black hair was ruffled and his shoulders were hunkered in. The collar of his shabby, oversized peacoat was pulled up so high his face was...Read On

11
Recommended Read

Definitely Not Moon Challenge - Moon's Glow

Quarter-moon, harvest moon, blood moon, lover’s moon A cow jumped over the moon, Was I once so very young And grew old so very soon?   An ebbing tide, a waning heart, the tears of hopes betrayed So far away, yet here on earth The moon is much the symbol In every skit of life that’s played.   A cardboard box, a wooden sword, a towel makes a cape A rocket ship to the moon The...Read On

11
Recommended Read

Fifty Years On

Gaze fixed on her phone, Jaz read the email again without taking in a word. She squeezed Tish’s hand, her grip tightening when raucous laughter exploded from the four men sprawled on the seats diagonally opposite. “I mean, look at ’im. Fuckin’ poof.” Tensing, Jaz looked up to see the man in the outside seat facing her, lean across the table and send a beer can clattering to the floor....Read On

13
Recommended Read

Distress Flag

May I comfort

 

11
Recommended Read

The Proof

Everyone breaks

They all lie, you see, every last one of them. Sometimes you got to change tactics, it's all psychology at first. Some you finesse, go soft and quiet and sweet. Make them feel safe. Some you close in on, really loud and hard, scream if you have to, never break eye contact. And some, well, you have to go even harder on. Grab their elbow or neck. Slap them, hit quick while that fear is fresh,...Read On

11
Recommended Read

Primeval

Relentless. The undergrowth of beginning. The endless overgrowth without a finale. Twining and vining imperceptively, Yet, interlocking in a stranglehold for life. Creating its own atmosphere in a limitless terrarium. Providing sustenance while feeding upon itself. Nature in consort with planetary purpose. Adapting to each assault. Flexing but not breaking. Surviving even...Read On

5
Recommended Read

Dear Friend...

Ben decides to follow through a seemingly spam email asking for money. Is it real?

The sun’s heat was particularly humid in the open plan office, as though the windows were large magnifying glasses, the workers under inspection, the heat rebounding from their computer monitors to bombard them as though they were in an oven. Benjamin Lowell looked up as a shadow fell over him. Trevor Ingram was standing there, holding out a bacon and egg sandwich and a Styrofoam cup of...Read On

6
Recommended Read

Kissing the Girl

A hot summer's night, an office party, and too much tequila

  Kissing the girl   Errin slipped out through one of the side doors, the hot and sticky summer air enveloped her. The heatwave has rolled over the city the past few days relentless and scorching. She needed some cool air, for more than one reason. The red wine, tequila and the usual cigarette with wine have unlocked bottled up feelings. She sighed, she had hoped that the night air...Read On

8
Recommended Read
MikeStone
online

A Walk in the Desert

What could be more banal than going for a walk?

"A Walk in the Desert" (c) Mike Stone October 8, 2014   Tuvi Ornat put the old concert ticket he'd been using as a bookmark between the two pages he had been reading and laid the dog-eared paperback gently on the table beside his chair. He stood up and stretched his arms. "I'm going for a walk," Tuvi called upstairs but there was no response. He scribbled a short note and slid a...Read On

12
Recommended Read

Challenge: Linda Ronstadt - Gypsy

This is for Bill

 

7
Recommended Read

The warrior Princess

“You don't scare us,” the first man sneered. “We are Samerron's men..."

It was cold, so cold, as the sun began to rise in the east, casting the first rays of warmth across the rolling hills. The mist was lying in the valleys and as I rode slowly along the twisting, rutted road weird shapes seemed to appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly, as the thin mist twisted the beams of light into contorted shadows. In the far distance I could see the dark green...Read On

6
Recommended Read

Flanders

We lived and died on Flanders fields.

Sun-dried mud on youthful faces. Waiting for the shrill sound of whistles. Rolling thunder, foot by foot. Sending earth tossed to heaven. Drips of crimson foam splash mates, along the trench lines. Orders barked with the shrill whistles. "Over the top boys!" Being met with rat a tat from the bloody Hun guns. O what a grand sight as the Black Watch moved. Once more the youth of...Read On

13
Recommended Read

Don't Look

His tear was red, and spattered as it landed.

Dad was at work. Mom was at the grocery store. Her sister Em was at a friend’s house. El sat on her bed, playing with her kitten, Shadow. El had a feather on a string, and tossed it out like a fishing line for Shadow to chase. Something sounded from outside the room. Shadow jumped off the bed at once, his attention no longer on the feather. He bolted out of the room and took a sharp turn...Read On

18
Recommended Read

Of a Toke and a Time

Nostalgia offers a surprise sometimes

 

18
Recommended Read

Nowhere Boulevard

The road home can break a heart.

Four twenty, Sunday afternoon Baking heat, it’s late in June Abandoned in sad clouds of dust Left by departing Greyhound bus   Besieging desolation follows me This ghost town place of memories I’d broke off young, just seventeen For things I saw in magazines   Now here I am, back on Nowhere Boulevard   In beaten boots and ragged jeans, Empty pockets and black Ramones tee A...Read On

23
Recommended Read

The Penguin says...

Live your dreams

 

20
Recommended Read

Letter to a Friend

"Nothing is, but what is not" - Shakespeare, Macbeth. "Whatever... just sayin'..." - Dirty Martini

  Dear Alan, It's been a while since I wrote to you. Did you know there's a story competition in your name? I had an idea for it, started to write something. It was clever, funny, titled Jankowski's Lost'n'Found . The story got lost, but it goes something like this: Jankowski and Al were old friends, co-owners of a cab they took turns driving. They had a flat rate, 4.20, due to the...Read On

22
Recommended Read

Interstate 420

Written while listening to Live Wire Blues Power

There is no Interstate called Four Twenty, No one can tell me how to go there, now. No entry ramps, no exits one might see, But, still, I dream I'll get there, anyhow. The neon sign still glows so bright, my friend, The penguins manning toll gates ask two bits, Then lifting up the cross bar by its end They welcome in the artists and misfits. At every mileage marker on...Read On

20
Recommended Read

Black Birds

Two long lost friends team up for an old job.

  Black Birds Cold night air pinched at the darkness. Frost painted featherlike patterns on the windscreens of the parked cars along the street. Grass huddled together beneath their icing sugar coating. A neon light at the corner of the street failed to notify anyone of the great deals Joe’s Café had to offer, the street had been plunged into darkness. The power outages were getting...Read On

28
Recommended Read

A Farewell Drink

A woman has one last drink with her friend.

The glow of the neon sign lit her face as she walked into the bar with a Gibson Les Paul guitar strapped across her back and carrying an urn in her hands. She set the urn in an empty stool and sat next to it, hanging the guitar on the back of hers. “Two dirty martinis please!” she called out. The bartender mixed the drinks and placed them both in front of her. She slid one over to the urn...Read On

26
Recommended Read

One More

One man's thoughts of a friend gone

I pulled the last olive off the swizzle stick with my teeth and ate it before finishing off my drink. Looking up at the clock it, showed 4:20. It was in the AM, not the afternoon. It had been a long day. “I couldn't even begin to count the number of people at the wake,” I thought. Flipping on the TV, I found there wasn't much at this time in the morning, just talking heads, Infomercials,...Read On

22
Recommended Read

The Four Hundred and Twentieth Warden

A vision of the future. A way to say goodbye to those lost too soon.

Dear Dad, It’s Julie. This is the letter we always used to wonder about. It took much longer than expected. My timeline runs parallel to, but thirty years ahead of yours, and I’ve grown older here than you are there.  You’re approaching the point where I lost you. A time when everything fell into chaos here. You wouldn’t recognize my world, but I’m still your little girl. I miss you...Read On

24
Recommended Read

The Last Beginning

He didn’t dance. Why was he locked in a room with a ballerina, a conductor, and a photographer?

“This is like a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode!” he observed. “Four of us locked in a room, and none of us know how we got here!” “And none of us seem that concerned about it!” the photographer noted. “Mind if I get some photos of everyone with my Exakta 66?” He stood up and started looking for the best vantage point in the room. The short, portly conductor was already pacing around,...Read On

23
Recommended Read

Last Note

My friend Alan...

“What is this place?” he thought to himself. He carried only his beloved Gibson Les Paul guitar as he kept stumbling forward. His watch read 4:20 but he didn’t know if it was A.M. or P.M. A booming voice echoed through the cavern. “Step forward boy!” A figure rose from the ground. He watched as the figure stood 10 feet tall. It was grotesque in appearance with horns of a ram and a...Read On

21
Recommended Read

Shining On

I meet up with a distant friend... Sort of.

It's unfortunate when you try something new and it all goes to pot. Big Dave is only too familiar with such misfortune, his rundown bar barely covers the rent and its faulty neon sign seems rather appropriate. Although, I kinda like the way his 'Rock Bar' trade name flickers and dies periodically, because sooner or later it always lights up and shines again. Despite its obvious...Read On

4
Recommended Read

Broken Roses

The first blow of the next war of good v evil

It had started inauspiciously, much as any other day. But that sharp, cold, Thursday morning was one that would shape history. Both political and religious history. It would be wrong to say that it 'changed' history, as history is an eternally changing story. History itself cannot be changed - only the telling of it. Not a single member of the congregation of The Church of Our Lady who...Read On

12
Recommended Read

Writer's Block

A Short Tale of Seaside Serendipity

  THE CALENDAR TAUNTED JANE, its little yellow-highlighted square outlined in a bold red stroke mocking her lack of progress. ‘You’re going to miss the deadline, you know. I’m just six weeks away now,’ it scoffed. ‘Whatever made you apply for that fellowship anyhow, and what could the panel have been thinking when they gave it to you? You’re no writer; you’ve proven that over the past...Read On

13
Recommended Read

The Little Bliss

Just remember the bliss

 

14
Recommended Read

Disconnected

Leaning as far over as she dared, she peered under the lake’s gently rippling surface. She could see all the way to the silt and rock bottom but couldn’t discern a black rectangle protruding from it. The phone was gone. “Stupid, stupid,” she muttered. “Where is it?” She risked leaning even farther, searching beneath the canoe but the old wooden vessel creaked in protest and tilted...Read On