Short Story Exchange: Part 4 by Tom Brown

For the full short story click “Short Story Exchange” next to “Contact” above, or under categories on the right of the page.

Straightening his back and clenching his teeth, J managed to overcome this unpleasant sensation. His arm shot out seemingly of its own accord and he grasped the door handle, almost wrenching it from its proper place as he pulled the door open and staggered outside. Someone called out from the café’s interior but not before he was stumbling away down the street.

A few moments of panic, then partial reassurance as he got his bearings. The Eastern part of the city; run down but welcoming and close to home.


J half-ran the familiar route back to fifty-seven Templar Street with its tall, narrow buildings jostling for space among the uneven pavements and trees growing from neat holes in flat concrete.

Skipping up flights of stairs like some excited child and he was once again facing his own front door, reaching for his keys and –

“Hey, how are you?” The girl’s hair was green today, an absurd mess hanging over her dark forehead.

“Oh, yes, er – ” J faltered for a moment. “Hi Hema.”

“Are you alright? You’re all pale.”

“No I’m fine. Really. I’m just in a rush, that’s all. I’m expecting a phone call.”

She looked him up and down for a second, then ran a hand through her hair. “Okay. Well I’m off to a mate’s. It’s the start of reading week so we’re going to get pissed and go to a gig. Some shit band, I dunno.”

“Great.” J mumbled something he thought sounded like an appropriate response then left her in the hallway and disappeared into his room. Silence. Three PM. The familiar arrangements of light and shadow provided some comfort even in his shaken state, but nothing could distract him from the fact that less than twenty minutes previously he had discovered some kind of flat metal object at the back of his head.

A little while later he sat at the table in what passed for a kitchen, finishing a cigarette. He flicked the last of it it out of the open window. Very slowly he raised his hand and held it behind his head.

Maybe it’ll be gone. Maybe I imagined it.

Like a specialist at a bomb, he placed the tips of two fingers on the back of his head. Prickly hair, and warm skin covering cranium. Recklessly he moved his fingers and then felt it, cold and alien in such intimate proximity to his brain. The pain followed immediately, worse this time as if someone had wired the thing to a car battery.

When the phone rang five seconds later the sound cut through him and he shrieked in a high thin voice that sounded nothing like his own.

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Short Story Exchange: Part 3 by Alan Kasim

For the full short story click “Short Story Exchange” next to “Contact” above, or under categories on the right of the page.

J clasped the door handle. As he pushed it down, a sudden pain overwhelmed his stomach. He let go of the handle and gently pressed his waist. He bent over slightly and felt a sudden pang in the back of his head.


He grabbed the back of his head, but immediately let go. Something was wrong. In the split-second that he touched his head, he didn’t feel the short prickly hair that he’s so used to, but something cold and hard. J ignored the pain in his stomach and stood up. He slowly raised his hands above his shoulders, clasped them back behind his head and felt it again. Metal. He traced his fingers across the smooth surface until his fingers dropped slightly, and he felt the familiar prickly feeling again. He looked at his reflection in the window in the door in front of him. The sun shined through the glass obscuring the image, but as he tilted his head to the left, J could easily make out the small metal plate on the back of his head. He tapped it. Then he slid his fingers to the corner and tried to pull it. The metal plate was stuck.


The pain returned to the back of J’s head. He felt the shock come from the metal plate.

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Short Story Exchange: Part 2 by Alex Brown

For the full short story click “Short Story Exchange” next to “Contact” above, or under categories on the right of the page.

He blinked. When the dancing white spots faded he looked up to examine the object. It was a wind chime; a cluster of hollow stainless steel tubes hanging on string. The kind of thing for sale in holiday town gift shops. It looked almost absurdly out of place in this cheap little no-character cafe.

Suddenly he noticed a tiny piece of paper wrapped around one of the chimes and secured with a blue elastic band. Before he knew what he was doing he had reached up and taken the piece of paper, carefully steadying the wind chime as he did so. The wind chime and the paper seemed so out of place that he couldn’t escape the feeling this was some kind of clue.

And a clue is what I need. I must be here for a reason… why can’t I remember? Perhaps this note is intended for me.

He glanced about. The customers were oblivious to him, hunched over plates of food or softly glowing mobile phone screens. The smell of grease and morning fatigue was beginning to overwhelm him, so he slipped the paper into the pocket of his jeans and headed for the door again, resolving to find somewhere peaceful and calm to read the message. The clue – if that’s what it was.

Alex Brown’s blog:

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Short Story Exchange

Short Story Exchange: No. 1 by James Allard

My latest idea is to start a short story and email it to someone else who in turn emails their edition to someone else and so on until we have a collaborative short story that could possibly be published online.

I have devised an extremely simple set of rules which are as follows:

1. Each entry must contain a minimum of 100 words and maximum of 500.

2. Each member of the collaboration is only allowed to make two entries.

The title will be decided when the exchanges are over and maybe each member can put one idea into a hat and I will pull out the answer or perhaps some sort of vote should take place.

I have just finished the introduction and here it is:

I don’t know how long I’ve been here for, ten minutes? An hour? I sense that I’ve been here before somehow but I don’t recognise anyone. It’s an everyday scene unfolding with people being served their daily grease laden full English breakfasts and tiny polystyrene cups filled with that horrid instant coffee that tastes like cats piss. Everything seems so mundane it must be real but how did I get here? Maybe I should just leave.

J stood up and headed for the door but just as he reached it the light from outside shone on something strange and metallic protruding from the ceiling and blinded him.

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Art Exchange 3: Claire to Tom

Super Mondrian World

At first I didn’t know quite what to make of Claire’s response, but once I read her accompanying text it began to make sense:

The image reproduced here by tom is similar to the imagery of the Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian who was a member of a group of painters, designers, and architects based in Leyden. They called themselves De Stijl. Many people still find it hard to take works like this seriously as paintings. Most noticeably, it has no subject matter whatsoever. It is totally abstract. Mondrian laboured for over a quarter of a century on paintings like this. Although he restricted himself to vertical and horizontal straight lines and used only the basic colours, every element had to be exactly right. Mondrian was both a purist and a perfectionist.

“Super Mondrian World” is based on the computer game “SuperMario World”. It is an attempt to introduce an element of humour into Mondrian’s geometrical style and his world of rectangular imagery. A portrait of Piet Mondrian is also inserted into the composition to give the image a sense of historicity and to make the image more surreal.

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Art Exchange 3: Tom Brown and Claire Forker

Art Exchange 2: Tom to Claire

Art Exchange 2: Tom to Claire

This is the start of a new art exchange between Claire Forker and I. My first image (above) was made with watercolours and charcoal, and I decided to keep it simple to give Claire as much freedom as possible when creating a response. Let’s see what she comes up with.


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Art Exchange: No.5 Tom Back to James

Above- Art Exchange: No.5 Tom Back to James

Stunningly melancholic and beautifully surreal, just some of the words I could use to describe the artwork above. I love the use of the text it gives an insight into what Tom could possibly be trying to achieve with this image. It seems to be set in the future in some new industrial age or perhaps these pillars signify the remnants of a land that time forgot. It reveals varied connotations and I personally feel that there is a sense of overlapping memories that are almost subconscious mixed in with some conscious experiences and feelings that Tom has had recently.
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