This month’s exercise at the Telegraph Short Story Club is a 26-sentence story in alphabetical (or reverse) order. These were my first 2 slightly tongue in cheek attempts:
As if by magic the shopkeeper appeared. Ben jumped, dropping the packet of Smarties he’d been about to slip in his blazer pocket.
“Caught you,” the man sneered. “Damned kids, thinking they can get one over on me. Every year it’s the same, I’d flog the bloody lot of you.”
“F-f-flog?” stammered Ben, who was shocked but not as frightened as his occasional speech impediment made him seem.
“Go on, hop it before I ring your headmaster.”
Hurrying out of the corner shop before the old man could change his mind, Ben collided with someone hurrying the other way. If there was one person Ben should never have run into, it was Jack Grosvenor. Jack was feared and loathed in equal measure, an arrogant, swaggering bully from the fifth form, manipulative and sly.
“Knightley, what the hell do you think you’re playing at?” he barked. “Let’s see. Maybe you could make it up to me.”
Nearby was an independent record shop that was slowly going out of business. Our Price records had opened up a few streets away and all the schoolboys took their pocket money there these days.
“Perhaps you could liberate a cassette or two for my listening pleasure,” suggested Jack. “Quickly, I didn’t mean next week.”
Running along the street away from Jack, Ben’s stomach was doing somersaults and he felt like keeping going. Sprinting into the sunset, as it were. Tomorrow he’d have to go to school though, and Jack would find him and make him pay. Under the watchful eye of the record shop owner, Ben sidled down an aisle, watching the watcher rather than looking where he was going. Vinyl cascaded across the floor and Ben legged it, grabbing the nearest tape box while the shopkeeper’s attention was elsewhere.
“What have you done to my LPs, you little hooligan?” he bellowed.
X-Ray Spex were belting out Germ Free Adolescence from a builder’s radio as Jack kicked his heels in the street.
“Yes!” he shouted, punching the air when he saw Ben running towards him with a cassette box, but then he saw what it was. “ZZ Top, bloody hell.”
And going the other way…
Zaphod Beeblebrox was Alan’s role model. You would have thought he’d have picked someone better, or at least more achievable. Xena, Warrior Princess, had in fact been his first goal, but it had been doomed to failure. When his wife found the costume at the back of the wardrobe she assumed it was for her, and flounced off to Birmingham for sisterly solidarity and a good moan. Vadim next door had been most understanding, helping Alan come to terms with his new life. Until then, Alan had wondered if he might be suppressing his feminine side, hence the aspirational Xena (thus avoiding anything too pink and girly), but the way he took to baking his own pies in his wife’s abandoned pinny he thought that couldn’t possibly be it. That was why he’d gone for a real man’s… alien, on his next attempt.
Smooth-talking, super-confident Zaphod had been the stand-out character for Alan, when he’d read the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all those years ago. Regrettably, he was more of an Arthur Dent by nature, and the change in approach wasn’t easy. Quite how all those slick suits at the posh bar next to the station managed it, he wasn’t sure. Pheremones, maybe. Or the size of their wallets. No matter how hard Alan tried to throw himself into being cool or wild he couldn’t bring himself to do it. May I buy you a drink, he’d say. Like Zaphod would bother asking! Killer chat-up lines just weren’t compatible with the thickness of glasses Alan needed to wear, and it was about time he faced it.
Jenny had been watching the man with the bottle-bottom specs all evening. Intrigued by the loud suit and cocktails which didn’t seem to go with the rest of him, she decided to go over and liven up her night.
“Have we met before?” she asked, leaning against the bar next to him.
“Gosh, I don’t think so,” he said.
“Funny, I could have sworn you looked familiar. Excuse my mistake.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said.
“Can I join you anyway?” asked Jenny. “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Alan,” said Alan, wishing it was something cooler and wondering what Zaphod would do next.
If you feel inspired (and really, how could you not) do come and join us.