Short fiction

Shopping experiment

The experimenter sits me down on a desk chair with a forced smile. It spins and creaks slightly under my weight. She begins to explain the procedure and I’m distracted by her accent, unable to place it, East European, perhaps? What I’m here for is simple enough; a consumer insight programme designed by a group of probably conglomerate-funded Masters students […]
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Whoosh

 I trace a line through the condensation on my cocktail glass, watching the droplets trickle and scurry and feeling their coolness beneath the pad of my finger. The surface of the glass squeaks slightly, satisfyingly, from the pressure of my touch. God it’s good. Lying here, no pressure, no responsibilities. Just the regular crash, swoosh, crash of the Pacific waves […]
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The County Town

I’m sat in my car, in Royal Wootton Bassett, watching people walk by – doing the people-watching thing. The town gained its Royal prefix as the notorious site of an organic ceremony; the repatriation of dead Iraq veterans on their way from Lyneham airfield. Pub owners and their patrons would gather outside to raise a pint to the hearses; bikers […]
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Perfect centre

The mother, father and two daughters moved along the pavement as corners of a perfect square. A wholly unremarkable shape, exactly as to be expected, ninety degrees wherever you looked. The father held his youngest daughter’s hand. About 9, she had the gangly look of a plant that’s too quickly bolted, now looking down uncertainly at the ground below, the […]
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There and there again

He was there again, that old man. Sat on a bench wearied and blackened by rain. He was as much a fixture as the bench itself, always present. Hands nestled atop his walking stick, bright eyes peering out from beneath his yellow bobble hat. His fingers twitched every now and then as though remembering things they used to make and […]
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2084

“Thank you for coming to speak to us today.” “Of course; we came right away, you said it was urgent.” “Quite right. I’ll get straight to it. Jemima has been coming here for close to a year now, and we have captured some very concerning data.” “What do you mean?” “Well, our AI emotion detection software has noted some serious […]
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Closed for maintenance

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Café Mushroom

They sit in the supermarket café, the old ones. In the window seat with its vista over tangled dripping trolley wire and a queue of mechanically escaping traffic. The rain does not reach the window, protected by a refuge of 70s orange brick; a dry haven. They sit in matching raincoats faded grey, each slowly consuming the now-cold budget fare, […]
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