Crying in the chapel

This is a submission for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers,, prompted by the photo below, which was kindly provided by Ioniangaphics.

Please click on the link to see other people’s stories and add your own:

Crying in the chapel

The chapel

Father of the bride:  “I’ll kill the sonofabitch.  Nobody leaves my girl standing at the altar.  And where’s that no-good father of his?”

The mortuary

Sheriff: “Neither of these two’s your boy, then?  Strange, ‘cos his clothes was in the car when we found it. Sons, huh?  He’ll be nursing a hangover somewhere.”

The forest

The bridegroom was too weak now to shout for Zack and Danny. It was hours since they’d driven off.    What kind of best man cuffs you to a tree and leaves you out in the  cold while he goes to buy more booze?

100 words

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Thank you for showing interest in Pretty Little Thing

I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who downloaded a copy of Pretty Little Thing over the weekend.

If you go on to read the book I’ll be even more grateful.  Perhaps I should have mentioned that the dialogue contains some strong language, which I believe was essential in this particular crime story.  If profanities in print make you feel uncomfortable, please don’t read the book.

I’m not schmoozing for reviews, good or bad, but if you have any comments that you think would help me to improve this book or to produce better work in future, please let me know.  I’m happy for comments to be made here, but if you’d prefer to make them off-blog, my email is .   I have thick skin, so please don’t pull your punches.

Once again, thank you for your interest.

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Nature or nurture?

This week, What Pegman Saw takes us to Cirque de Navacelles, suggested by yours truly. Thank you to K Rawson for posting Pegman each week and for accepting my suggestion.

I’ve opted for a picture of this chap in a natty jumper, giving the Google Maps driver a taste of his/her own medicine.  It hasn’t directly influenced the story though.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, please click the link:                                        


Nature or nurture?

Never again, Jim thought.  OK, it was him who’d suggested taking their son and his family on holiday.  Still, they could have made more of an effort.

Ruth had supported the idea but, instead of joining them today, she’d gone shopping with Marie.   “You can bond with Jamie”, she’d said.

The precarious drive into Navacelles hadn’t been helped by Jamie’s frequent gasps or the worried looks he kept throwing at his children.

In the village Jamie had said, “Remind me why we’re here, Dad.”

“You loved it when you were little.  Remember?  We didn’t see any people, just tiny dogs.  I said the villagers turned into animals when strangers came.  You thought it was magical!”

“It’s full of tourists.  The kids would rather go swimming.”

Jim grunted and started the nerve-jangling drive back out of the crater.

Moments later, a small voice piped up, “Grandad, stop.  I saw a unicorn.”

150 words


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Who is the Fairest?


This submission was prompted by the photo below  at this week’s Friday Fictioneers, .  Many thanks to Rochelle for facilitating the site and providing the photo.

Please click on the link to view other people’s stories and add your own.

Who is the Fairest?

Bill paced the pavement while Babs used the rear-view mirror to perfect her look.

He rapped on the window, “Come on, we’re late.”

“Don’t you want me to look good for your friends?” she asked, still looking into the mirror.

“Let’s go.  Use the mirror in your bag.”

“I left it.  You rushed me.”

“Take this then.” Bill bellowed.

He tugged at the door mirror, tearing it loose but unable to pull it free.  In frustration he kicked the wing.  Someone tapped on his shoulder and he turned.

“Look, I’m in a hurry.” Bill said.

“I’m not.” the policeman answered.

100 words

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Free to a good home – Pretty Little Thing

In 2015 I put out a novel, Pretty Little Thing, on Amazon, with the ASIN B0143LMDF6.  It will be available free this weekend, from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May.

Adios with new lettering, title lifted copy

People have bought the book (REALLY!), but so far only one of them has posted a review.   She* gave it 4 stars and said very positive things, which I admit gave me a warm glow for a day or two.

Unfortunately I have no idea whether anyone else has actually read the book in whole or in part, or what they thought of it if they have.  If you have a gap to fill on your e-reader and the inclination to try a piece of crime fiction by an unknown writer, please take advantage of this one-time-only** offer.

If you download the book and read even part of it, I’d love to know what you think.  You can be as brutal as you like!

Yes, I’m needy.  More importantly, though, I’m trying to decide whether to leave the book on Amazon as it is, to give it a radical rewrite, or to kill it off in the way that someone did with the character in the title.

The book that I finished and published is very different from the one I’d written in my head.  If you’ve come here by way of a flash fiction blog or similar, you won’t need me to explain that phenomenon.  Plus you’ll probably understand why I’d benefit from some help in deciding whether I should give Pretty Little Thing some TLC or just let her go.

Thank you for looking.

JS Brand



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This is a submission for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers,, prompted by the photo below, which was kindly provided by Yarnspinner.

Please click on the link to see other people’s stories and add your own:


Soon darkness would fall and their lights would appear.

The signal was just how they’d described it – furniture aligned with precision, a pristine square of green, plants like soldiers on parade.

Everything would have been ready months ago if the neighbour hadn’t kept holding parties in the garden.  She couldn’t alert him, so every night she sneaked out and rearranged everything.

Afterwards, she’d reassure them that she really wanted to come, but someone was getting in the way.  The advice was always the same – “keep trying, Alice, your diligence shows us we were right to select you.”

Last night she couldn’t hold back tears of frustration, even though they might have rejected her as weak.

“Don’t worry,” the voices answered, “this shows us you’re strong.  You know what to do.”

She knew.  It was easier than expected; who would be wary of that silly woman next door?  She’d arranged his body with perfect symmetry.  They were pleased.

Soon they would be here to take her away…

167 words

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My life is in that phone!

This story is a submission for Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes.  It was prompted by his photo below.

Click the link to see other people’s stories and add your own:


My life is in that phone!

An alien spaceship, close to Earth

“So, neutralising these communication devices is the key to conquering Earth?”

“Communication is a minor function, Commander.  Earthlings use them to send messages, but it’s mostly babble.  Millions amuse themselves by watching movies of cats.”


“Highly intelligent creatures, without opposable thumbs, but seemingly capable of influencing Earthlings through telepathy.”

“What else do Earthlings do with these devices?”

“They use them as memory aids, recording names, appointments and so on.  Some photograph themselves constantly, to remember what they’ve done.”

“They must have terrible memories.”

“The devices’ main function is to act as power packs.  Earthlings use them to recharge themselves.”

“I thought they ate food to provide calories.”

“They do, but we’ve observed Earthlings in eating places and food is a minor element.  They stare into their devices, ignoring each other, except to send texts across the table.”

“Do all Earthlings use them?”

“Most do, the ‘phonies’.  A few ‘primitives’ still talk face-to-face, even making conversation with family members while eating together.”

“We could overcome the phonies easily, then.  And the primitives?”

“Mostly older and frail. Easily bribed with cake.  Do we attack, Commander?”

“No, Kark.  I don’t like the sound of those cats.”


200 words

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Oppy Wood

This is a revamped submission prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Sandra Crook, for this week’s Friday Fictioneers, . Many thanks to Rochelle for facilitating the site.

I apologise, especially to Rochelle, if I’ve broken a Flash Fiction rule by obliterating my initial effort and substituting a new one.  My excuse is that I felt unhappy with the fact that the first story contained absolutely no fiction.  I’m a little happier with this version.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, click this link:


Oppy Wood

British trenches, Oppy Wood, 3 May 1917

3.30 am

Jack: “Chin up, Corporal.  This’ll soon be over.”

Walter:  “What’ll you do when the whole lot’s over, sir?”

“Back to Hull FC, probably.  You?”

“Lookin’ for work, sir.  With another bairn on the way, like.  Not watching FC, mind.”

“East Hull boy?  Both on the same side today though.”


3.45 am

British troops advanced.  Illuminated by a setting moon they were sitting ducks.  Walter fell quickly.  With most of his men dead, Jack single-handedly attacked a German machine gun position.  He was cut down.

Neither of their bodies was found.

100 words


Before he volunteered for military service, 2nd Lt John “Jack” Harrison was a professional rugby league player with Hull FC, with an enviable record and a promising future.  He left behind a widow and an infant son.  He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Oppy Wood.

Sadly there’s less background information about Lance-Corporal Walter Busby.  However, he was survived by his wife (who was pregnant with their fourth child) and three young children.

Walter’s brother John was also involved in the assault at Oppy Wood on 3 May.  He survived that day, but died in the same location a few weeks later.  John left a widow and three children.

If you’re interested in learning more about this event, please see this link:

As a side issue, if anyone is wondering why the East Hull reference is mentioned, Hull has two excellent rugby league clubs, Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers.   They are based on opposite sides of the River Hull, which cuts through the city from north to south, and tend to attract their support from the relevant side.  For more than a century there has been strong rivalry between the two clubs (mostly friendly).  I have no idea whether Walter was a fan of FC or KR and I’m sorry if I’ve guessed wrongly.


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If You Go Down To The Woods Today …

This story was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: and was inspired by the photo prompt below, which was kindly provided by Loretta Notto.

I hope the story falls below an R rating.

To see other people’s stories and add your own, click this link:


If You Go Down To The Woods Today

This wasn’t what Bill had expected to happen when he’d told Babs how they could put the spark back in their relationship. She’d reacted surprisingly well and promised to make it happen.

Bill had been full of hope when she’d driven them out to the woods, wearing the outfits she’d chosen. He was dressed as a lumberjack and, better still, Babs was a dead ringer for Daisy Duke.

So why were they here, an hour later, with no one else for company, having done nothing but cut up dozens of tree trunks?  This wasn’t Bill’s idea of getting physical.

“Babs, darlin’,” Bill whined. “What’s happenin’ here?  Where’s the others?”

“Others?  We don’t need anybody else,” Babs answered.

“Course we do,” said Bill, “but why have you dragged me out here to chop wood?”

“It’s what you asked for,” Babs came back.


“Right after you said our relationship was doomed.  I said we needed to communicate better and you said we should go logging.”

“I said we should go DOGGING.”

170 words

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I’m Mandy Fly, Me

This story is a submission for Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes.  It was prompted by the photo below.  Thank you Al.

Click here to read other people’s stories and add your own: 

198 04 April 30th 2017

 I’m Mandy Fly, Me

Two flies chew the fat at their second favourite watering-hole, the Nag’s Head.

“Let’s buzz off down the other end Sam.”

“You said it stinks so bad there, it makes you retch.”

“Yeah, I love it.”

“It’s quieter for chatting here, Eric.”

“Spill the beans.  Then gobble ‘em back up and tell me all about it.”

“It’s Mandy.  I asked her round.  Did a lovely spread, rotten pork, over-ripe bananas…“

“Chili peppers?”

“She hates hot food.”

“No, did you get the music right?  Doesn’t she like the Chili Peppers?”

“She fancies the bass player.  I put romantic music on.”


“Gnat King Cole.”

“Sorry, I was back on the food.  They say dead mouse is an aphrodisiac.”

“We ate.  I put on the music, snuggled up and suggested it was time for us to raise larvae in some damp manure.”

“That’s romantic.”

“Exactly.  But Mandy said she’s not ready, told me to stay away or she’d report me for harassment.”

“You ain’t scared of the cops!”

“Her dad’s a bluebottle … with contacts in SWAT.”

“So where’s Mandy now?”

“Hanging around a bar.”

“A pickup joint?”

“No, that bar at the bottom of a laptop.”


“Says she needs space.”

 200 words


Now the story’s out of the way, I apologise to anyone who might have read it all the way through.  In my defence I constructed it in a hurry, after a weekend of back-breaking DIY.  As I’d be hopeless at producing purple prose, I aimed at a genre that I think might properly be called puerile prose.

If you’re wondering why the comma in the title has been wrongly placed, it’s deliberate.  Some time ago I started trying to write stories inspired by song titles.  I’ve tweaked this 10cc number so that I could add one more story to the list.

Finally, I know flies couldn’t literally chew fat, as they don’t have teeth.  It’s just an expression, and the truth about how they eat is disgusting,

Posted in Flash Fiction | 6 Comments