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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!

10
Recommended Read

Dolls In The Dark

‘The dolls!’ was Emma’s first conscious thought.

‘The dolls!’ was Emma’s first conscious thought. She was sure she heard the delicate sounds of pitter-patter across her hardwood floors.  With a shaking hand, she grabbed her phone and prayed to God that nothing had touched her. Emma’s fingers slid silently along the now lit screen and unlocked it. Every movement was stiff and deliberate. Fear and panic had seized her muscles.  She pressed...Read On

10
Recommended Read

Water's Rising

The power company needed the dam. At least that was what the newspapers had reported. The town was soon abandoned, cemeteries relocated, schools and churches gutted, stores emptied.  It would take almost three weeks to fully submerge. She woke slowly. Her head was pounding and cloudy. She fought through the haze to connect one thought with another. None of them added up to make sense of...Read On

20
Recommended Read

Funhouse

God, she was beautiful.

Screams erupted from every ride in the carnival, even the not-particularly-scary ones like the Ferris Wheel and the Turtle Train, as Conor walked the midway. The smell of funnel cakes and corn dogs and cotton candy washed over him. Discarded hamburgers and crushed lemons from discarded cups of lemonade littered the ground. He looked in the hall of Funhouse mirrors and saw the most...Read On

7
Recommended Read

Chew (part 2)

Series: Chew

Spend more. Want more. Need more. Own more.

The man on the phone told him the latest girl was twenty-one, but Mr. Hargrove thought she looked more like a teenager. It didn’t matter anymore, of course. All that mattered now was getting rid of her body. Jeeves wasn’t around to help this time. The phone call--no name, just a number--took place every few weeks. Mr. Hargrove would order an ounce of good weed, several bottles of...Read On

9
Recommended Read

Chew (part 1)

Series: Chew

Spend more. Want more. Need more. Own more.

Baby was hungry again. Sara set down the baby bottle, opened the cabinet and counted the cans. Seventeen. Mostly refried beans, one of the few staples left after the supermarket got looted. Two cans of Beefaroni. Five cans of soup. Green beans. Corn. Peas. One lonely can of cranberry sauce, leftover from some pre-infection Thanksgiving and likely to be the last of the cans opened. A low...Read On

6
Recommended Read

Recycled

I have been here before Many times more A different face In a different place.   As each vessel dies Amidst loved one’s cries The spirit rises I return in guises.   Plato, Nero, Rembrandt and Bach Each return gives new paths to walk Embodied within A new life and new skin.   Creating a future from the past Lessons learned from knowledge amassed Life begets life endlessly driven...Read On

14
Recommended Read

Into the Night

The final refuge.

Telephone poles whipped past her, each separate in her headlights but blurred and indistinct. The girl was traveling north. She drove the speed limit along the two-lane federal highway. Into the night she drove once more. Alone, heading towards the big city. The highway stretched out ahead and ghostly phantoms of imaginary treelines wavered in her peripheral vision alongside her...Read On

20
Recommended Read

Inoke's Dance

The ice tinkled against the glass as I raised it to my lips, enjoying the warmth of the late evening sun on my face. The view from the hotel veranda was sublime, out across the Pacific vastness to meet the vivid blue sky at the horizon. It was plain to see why many considered these islands a paradise, and why they were such a popular destination among holidaymakers.  There was a secluded...Read On

22
Recommended Read

The Case No One Wanted

Ten years on the force and this was the case no one ever wants to get. I stared at her photo and imagined the life she must have lived. So young and beautiful. Now lost as I stepped around the stream of blood flowing as slow as a turtle into a red pool beneath her wrist. I wondered at the fathers and brothers and husbands and boyfriends who once loved her but now hated her for what she did....Read On

24
Recommended Read

The Sweetest Destination

They were supposed to go on an adventure of a lifetime...

As they sat watching the sun dipping into the blue-green water of the gulf, they sighed. It wasn’t the vacation they had planned, that was for sure. They’d spent the past two years planning an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa. Their chosen destination was Kenya, where they would have spent eight days on a safari, two nights at the Giraffe Manor, and one final night at a luxury hotel...Read On

20
Recommended Read

My Puddle Duck

When life gives you puddles, sometimes you just need to play in them.

Some say only ducks truly enjoy the rain. They obviously have not met Kerstin.  “You’re stark-raving mad, you know that?” I call out to her from the bungalow’s front porch.  “We haven’t seen the sun for three days. These puddles may very well be my only chance at a pool.” She jumps, splashing both feet like a rebellious child with a rose-colored pout. “At least we’ll save on sunscreen!” ...Read On

20
Recommended Read

The Berry Girl

The mysterious girl knew where to find the best raspberries

Butterflies and bees danced under the summer sun as Gail walked to the raspberry patch. The heat was increasing as the day wore on but was still bearable. With the lake as her pool, the heat did not really matter to Gail. She would re-apply sunscreen and go for a dip later. Finding a bush with plenty of ripe, red berries, Gail started picking. Her husband Michael was grilling a trout he...Read On

23
Recommended Read

Coral is a colour of love

As autumn leaves fell, our lives’ hue darkened. Covid-19 grounded Sarah’s corporate-lawyer lifestyle. We fretted; could infection accompany me home from the hospital? Challenging times, despite dad’s toilet paper stockpile. It pays not to giggle when your girlfriend repeatedly tries to shoo our cat away from her Zoom meeting. “Annie, stop it!” Sarah’s tone was so testy. Scooping up the...Read On

16
Recommended Read

Felix's New View

Felix overcomes his fear of heights, and apparently everything else, at the carnival

‘What a view.’ Felix never imagined that thought would ever cross his mind while looking down from a Ferris Wheel, probably because he had always kept his eyes shut. Earlier, the yin and yang of excitement and trepidation had pulled at him when he and his dad arrived at the summer carnival. Like any boy, he loved the atmosphere, essentially a kid’s version of Nirvana: the lights, the...Read On

6
Recommended Read

Crazy Cat People

It has been another long and miserable day ferrying scrap metal and hazardous materials across the state and I am tired. I don't complain much, as it still it beats driving over the road because I am home every night. I activate the remote for the garage and slow the Harley down so I don't have to come to a dead stop to wait for the door to open. The absence of my wife's car reminds me that...Read On

12
Recommended Read

The Decision

 

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

18
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

12
Recommended Read

Distress Flag

May I comfort

 

10
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

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

11
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

12
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