I haven’t posted much actual new creative writing on here for a couple of weeks or so, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been going on in the background. Honest. Although at times I feel my writing experience from the outside must look like the reverse of the old swan analogy; I look dementedly busy but there’s stuff all actually happening underneath.

However I thought I’d show some working as my maths teacher said I should and so over the next few days I’ll be posting a new short story, ‘Set The Word on Fire ‘in serial form.

Unlike ‘Pendragon’ when I was trying to write it episode by episode as I posted, this is to all intents and purposes already written – with possibly a few tweaks along the way, but there is a beginning middle and an end down in electrons.

So here we are with Part 1:


Part 1

‘Morning love. I brought you a drink.’

The covers erupted and the tousled hair emerged from the snowy drifts of duvet.

‘Mmm. Thanks. God! What time is it?’

‘It’s okay you aren’t going in today remember? Holiday? ’

The look of mild panic disappeared, replaced by a smile.

‘Oh yeah. I forgot.’ she looked at the clock. ‘You should have woken me earlier.’

I put the tea on the bedside table and sat on the bed next to her.

‘I thought you deserved the lie in. You needed it after that case.’

Her eyes clouded for a second at the thought of the Minassian case, over three years in the investigation, preparation and trial.

‘Hey, you won remember?’ I leaned over and kissed her forehead where the worry lines had started to form. They disappeared and light flickered back in her eyes.

‘Oh yes. Hooray for me.’

‘I thought you’d have taken a bit of leave right after the decision.’

‘Few things to tidy up.’ She said sipping tea.

‘So, the day to ourselves.’ I let my hand slide over the curve of her hip beneath the covers. ‘Whatever will we do all day?’

‘Gardening?  Have a think where we are going to put the stuff when we get it out of store?’ She took another sip of tea. ‘Not what you’re thinking anyway.’

I pouted.

She put the tea down and let her hand rest high up on my thigh. ‘Not until I’ve had a shower and breakfast anyway.’


Breakfast was a longer affair than I would have wished it to be and the post which arrived during the meal rather put the lid on my lascivious plans for the day. The post had started arriving earlier again since a reorganisation of the delivery routes. We had been on the end of one of their rural circuits and mail arrived in the early afternoon when we had bought the place. It wasn’t really a problem as the days of needing urgent responses to business post has largely disappeared with digital communications. Someone had shaken things up at Royal Mail however and we were now getting mid morning deliveries.

On the bright side, our schedule got cleared really quickly. The down side was somewhere in Manchester a huge warehouse full of storage units had gone up in flames and removed the need to think about where to put our belongings in the new house.

One of Charlie’s hands held the letter and the other was clamped over her mouth which had opened wide in shock. I came round the table, held her by the shoulders and kissed her head. We read the letter from the storage company.

The bad news was the place was wrecked. What had survived the flames had been ruined by the smoke and then drenched beyond recovery by the fire brigade stopping the fire spreading to neighbouring industrial units.

The company was pleased however to inform us that our insurance was valid and that an assessor had made a valuation based upon our estimate of the listed goods. The company was pleased to pay a claim amounting to the estimate in full. If we were happy to accept this we could sign the enclosed form, and payment would be made within fourteen days.

That seemed suspiciously easy to me. I was used to insurance companies arguing, challenging, dragging their feet and paying up, if ever, years down the track. I said as much to Charlie.

She didn’t reply. I could understand her shock but the hand clasped over her mouth seemed unusually dramatic for her. She was in control of her life and her emotions and when surprises did occur, she took them in her stride. Take the Minassian case. A simple charge of exporting ancient artworks without the correct licence had spiralled in a matter of days to cross Europe trafficking, then illegal importing to Europe, looting of protected sites in the Middle East and Caucasus region and possible war crimes. Each escalation had elicited a sigh and fresh paperwork. Even the pictures and testimony of murder, rape and slaughter from warzones to the back streets of Italy hadn’t caused any display of emotion as overt as the one I saw now.

The things in store were not the most important things in our lives. That’s why they had been in store. Sure both of us had things in there from our childhoods, but they weren’t, or so I had imagined, things whose loss would be world shattering. Maybe I was wrong.

‘Never mind sweetheart, we’ll get what we need with the insurance. And now we don’t have to try and fit my parents’ hideous sideboard in somewhere.’ I said trying to make light of it. I tried giving her a reassuring hug, but her shoulders were rigid and it was like squeezing a clothes horse.

She touched my hand. ‘How long will it take us to get to Manchester?’


Photo credit: <a href=”″>Pedro Moura Pinheiro</a> on <a href=””>Visual hunt</a> / <a href=””&gt; CC BY-NC-SA</a>

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