You, Me & a Bit of We – Excerpts 25-30

Celebrate National Short Story Day on 21 December 2013!

Join us today from 3-9pm!

As the afternoon sun fades and the longest night of the year rolls in, we’ll be posting a series of excerpts from our recent short story collection, You, Me & a Bit of We. So grab a cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa, slip into your jimjams (or PJs depending on which side of the Atlantic you hail from) and get ready to hunker down and dig in to some exciting new short stories! Here’s the list of the 42 stories coming up. There will be six excerpts posted on the hour, from 3-9pm.

7pm – The Second Coming by Cath Barton / A Galilean Quartet by Abigail Wyatt / Crisis of Personality by Miki Byrne / Free to Loving Home (Donation Required) by Michelle Ann King / The Crowning by Jay R Thurston / I Have God to Thank for Everything by Barry Pomeroy


The Second Coming by Cath Barton
‘So what are you offering me?’ I said.

‘Sweets. Lovely homemade sweets,’ was the sandy-haired man’s reply.

It’s not common these days to have people knocking at your door trying to sell you things. Time was there’d be the Encyclopaedia Britannica man. Well, so people said, I never met one myself. I always thought you’d have to be pretty desperate to take a job like that. You could go for weeks without selling a single copy, so when you met that rare person who was in need of an encyclopaedia and willing to buy it from you, it must have been a cause for a celebration. Half a lager and lime and a packet of crisps down at The Cat and Dragon.

Sweets of course, even lovely homemade ones, are at the opposite extreme. Low cost, high volume, isn’t that the expression? And they did look nice, so I bought a quarter of Sandy’s peppermint creams. He had them all measured out in the smart red satchel slung over his shoulder, and he pulled out a little white paper bag and thrust it towards me, an eager smile on his thin lips…

A Galilean Quartet by Abigail Wyatt
I scarcely recall how it all came about. Perhaps it was girlish excitement. If it was my idea I have forgotten now, but I cannot believe that it was. What I do remember is the throbbing of the drums and the power of the music. It raised me up and bore me along, as weightless as a spar in a flood. I allowed it to break over me, wave after wave, and it bathed my limbs and my torso. It was as if my spirit dipped and dived in a shining, singing sea.

Afterwards, when the instruments ceased, there was a moment of pure, ringing silence. Then the applause broke over my head as though I were a rock on the shore. I felt his eyes all over me, of course, and I saw how the sweat stained his tunic. His slack mouth hung open and his tongue slavered and lolled…

Crisis of Personality by Miki Byrne
In my previous life I was a rabbit. I puzzle over how I know I was a rabbit. I suspect that when I was hit—crossing the A38 outside Kings Coughton in the Midlands—something went askew. I suspect the speed with which I catapulted from that life to this one was so great that part of the transition knocked the normal procedure out of kilter. It has left me in a very peculiar situation.

I often dream that I am a rabbit. Powerful vivid dreams in which I am small, hiding under a hedgerow, or lolloping across a meadow. I frequently feel an incredible desire to be outside; to crawl under great stands of bracken or to lie quietly beneath clumps of buttercups. I get an almost visceral kick from the smell of grass and leaves and feel the need to run when I hear a harvester growling over the fields near my home…

Free to Loving Home (Donation Required) by Michelle Ann King
‘Good morning, everyone! Welcome to the Hugh Everett Rehoming Centre. My name is Hendrik and I’ll be your facilitator today. Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for coming. I know that interdimensional travel is time-consuming, physically debilitating and, for some of you, illegal. It can also be rather disconcerting to meet your alternates, so we do have counsellors available on site for advice and support—although I am obliged to point out that attendance is at your own risk and the Centre cannot accept liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or emotional distress caused during your visit.

But that’s enough about the small print! I’m sure that when you meet Paul, you’ll agree that this superb opportunity was well worth the effort.

As advised in your initial query packs, this version of Paul is 33 years old and was rescued from a continuum in which human society was destroyed due to a viral pandemic…

The Crowning by Jay R Thurston
The mature ones stood over twice my height. Simple minds in oversized craniums. I folded my arms and waited for the crouched yellow-headed female to cease stroking my hair with her grooming implement.

‘Such a little doll, Megan. You’re gonna knock ’em dead.’ She beamed a proud smile.

Don’t tempt me, Mother.

Other shortlings and their adult caretakers scurried about, leading the taller beings here and there, pouts and tantrums abundant. Over Mother’s shoulder, the only familiar person my height read a newspaper while her matron equivalent fluffed her red locks.

‘Can I talk to Paige?’ I asked Mother.

‘How about we get you dressed first, dear? The pageant is starting soon.’

‘I want to talk to Paige!’ I demanded.

‘No need to take that tone, Megan.’

Whatever. I stomped away before she could finish, grabbed Paige’s hand, and dragged her to a side room. A row of well-lit make-up stations took up the far wall. A collection of staff tended to a brunette shortling in the corner, powdering her face, rolling her hair, sliding a cherry-coloured dress over her head. The commotion provided enough privacy.

Paige’s eyes remained on the newspaper.

‘Master Vage, this isn’t what we thought it to be,’ I said.

‘Look here,’ she spoke. ‘They found Bidifir. They call it Kepler 22b. What kind of a name is that?’

‘They have? Should we fear an attack?’

‘Hah! They can hardly see it with their technology, never mind get there, look!’ She spun the newspaper. A blue and white marble floated against a speckled black backdrop. The picture was terrible quality, but it was enough.

Our home city, Dargan, was located on the unseen side of the planet. Ah, the clean air, the cool nights, the home cooked food—I could practically taste the roasted sea turkey with winter apple glaze and side of camel turnips and tundra wheat. Every backwards planet we’ve since claimed has lacked any amenities quite like home…

I Have God to Thank for Everything by Barry Pomeroy
Praise Jesus that He has given me the strength to go on when so many others have succumbed. I do not pretend to know what His will is for me, but I willingly submit to His plan. As long as I can, I will wait for a sign from Him.

There were many, such as the machine people for instance, who rejected God in the final days of the plague. As we know from scripture, such action is more than medical error. God doles out health and sickness where He wills, and woe be unto him who questions God’s ways or rejects Him.

Luckily I was brought up to love God and to protect His word. Due to God’s forbearance I am still here, eking out an existence to His glory while so many others are gone.

The machine people were the first casualties. They gave their machine explanation to the plague God had loosed upon the world. They said an ordinary virus—since when is any representation of His will ordinary?—had mutated and become fatal.

Because of their wickedness and their rejection of God (although I too am a sinner and in no position to judge) they were the first to die. Bodies were left choking in the rivers and in almost all the public water supplies. Since one of the effects of the virus was dehydration, sufferers felt the burning of hell so they would know what they were going to encounter for eternity.

God didn’t just take the sinners, of course. He chose that moment to call home many of the righteous, my parents amongst them. Holy people who gave their lives to spreading His word, who brought their children up in the light of Jesus, instead of the pale illumination of the machine people’s electricity. There were many who questioned their decision to bring their children to the Lord. I was fourteen and a prophet of Jesus when the machine people, in their mistaken sinner way, came to take my sister and brothers away…


If you enjoyed these excerpts why not check out the paperback or Kindle edition of You, Me & a Bit of We?


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