The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2019
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Runner-up of the Flash Fiction Competition 2019

Jim Goodman

2nd Prize

Jim Goodman

Jim Goodman is from London but has recently moved to the Herefordshire countryside. Although he has been a horticulturist for his whole professional career, he has rekindled his passion for writing, enrolling on the Writer Bureau 'Short Story and Novel Writing Course' in 2019 and hopes to pursue a career in fiction. 'Family Meal' is the first piece he has submitted to a competition and is currently working on a novel.


Family Meal

Home cooked and still steaming, the food on the plate wafted delicious aromas up to his nostrils. With a deep breath he savoured them, a light smile touching the corners of his lips as his eyes closed, head raising slightly to the ceiling. The food was simple, sausages and mash with onion gravy, yet it spoke of love and home.

Picking up the knife and fork with a delicate touch, he cut into one of the plump sausages, lifting it to his mouth with a scoop of potato. The smell of latex contaminated the scent as his gloved hand moved under his nose, but he had learned to ignore it - it was a small price to pay. A shiver of pleasure ran down his spine as the food touched his tongue, the first bite made slowly so as to relish the flavour. It was washed down with a sip of cheap red wine, its acid bite and unbalanced flavour would cause him to grimace on any other occasion, here though, he found it endearing, a perfect pairing.

From his companions around the table there was little noise, what there was was intermittent and low. It did not distract him, however, and he refrained from interacting with them, they would receive his full attention in due course.

Slowly, taking his time, he finished the meal; cleaning the plate with a chunk of bread, careful not to touch his gloved fingers to his lips, not wanting to contaminate them with saliva. Fighting off the feeling of rising anticipation, he lifted the bottle to pour a second glass of red but stopped himself with a sigh. No, he needed a clear head, wanted a clear head.

Instead, he removed a ziplock bag and small plastic bottle from a jacket pocket, the pungent smell of bleach, unpleasant but necessary, flared his nostrils as he poured it onto the napkin by his plate. With deliberate precision he wiped the rim of the glass, lifting it to the light to check for any remaining residue, satisfied, he moved onto the plate.

Once the ritual of cleaning was complete, the soiled napkin folded and added to the bag along with the knife and fork, both bag and bottle disappeared back into his jacket. He took a moment, gripping the edge of the table, so hard that his knuckles turned white through the gloves. Eyes closed, rocking gently back and forth, he took a deep breath before he let it out, slowly, with a shudder.

The whimpers were getting louder now; muffled. Sounds of shifting, constricted movement growing with his companions fear and agitation. The anticipation that had been building within him rising to a crescendo. He took the family in, drinking in the terror radiating from their wide eyes. They pleaded around the gags as they struggled against their bonds, the meals in front of them almost cold.

He smiled. He was ready to address them now.



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