Thursday, 5 May 2016

Decision Time

I need your help! I am trying to select four or five of my best stories to rework and send to literary magazines to try to get published. Can you let me know what stories you think would stand the best chance of getting published. Thank you. 
Now on with today's story. 

Decision Time

For audio click here
The studio lights burned brightly. Craig searched for Mandy, his wife, in the audience, but he couldn’t pick out faces, just silhouettes. It didn’t matter, just knowing she was there, crossing her fingers and smiling at him was enough to make him feel a little calmer. He was sure he looked calm; he had one of those faces that never gave much away. But beneath his jacket, his shirt was sticking to his back, his heart beating just a little too fast. He smiled at where he thought Mandy was, and then faced the question master.
The woman from the telly smiled her smile. She was confident, composed completely in control, not a hint of sweat on her brow. She picked up the question card and turned to the camera. 
“Welcome back to One Question. The quiz show where one question can win you the jackpot. Craig Melwood from Merthyr has beaten off all the competition and is just one right answer away from the jackpot, which is currently standing at a record twelve thousand pounds.” She paused for the mandatory applause, “Craig what would you do with the money if you won it?”
“Well, my daughter, Daisy, has a peanut allergy, this money would help us to pay for a revolutionary new treatment, that could save her life.” The studio audience gasped, they were used to hearing that contestants would blow the money on holidays and shoes. Even Jenny the host was taken aback, was there a genuine tear in her eye?
“Well, let’s hope this question is lucky for you,” Jenny said. “Are you ready?”
Craig took a deep breath. “Yes.” Another forced round of applause filled the studio.
“Here’s your one question,” she paused as she had done seven hundred times before.  The silence was filled with the sound of a heartbeat; Craig knew it was too slow to be his own.
“Which twentieth century Prime Minister,” Jenny read the words with careful consideration. “often thought of as the greatest ever Prime Minister, represented the constituency of Finchley?”
The colour drained out of Craig’s face. He felt sick. All or nothing on that stupid question. He scratched his chin and then scratched his head. The thumping heart beat sound affect was getting louder and louder.
“So we’re looking for the greatest ever Prime Minister who represented Finchley.” Jenny repeated. But she could repeat it all she wanted, it wouldn’t help Craig.
He took a deep breath and searched the audience again, but still he couldn’t pick out Mandy. He looked up to the ceiling searching for his dad.
“Why?” he mouthed.
“I need to push you for the answer.” Jenny said, her voice full of sympathy. But she’d misunderstood. She thought Craig didn’t know the answer but she was wrong.  He knew the answer. Of course he knew the answer. But could he say it? He hadn’t said that bitch’s name for over thirty years, could he say it now? Greatest ever prime minister my arse, he thought to himself. She’d ruined his life, killed his father, destroyed his community. She was a thug, not a hero. She was the most divisive Prime Minister, not the best. If he uttered her name now, he’d unwittingly validating the praise. But if he didn’t, if he said Winston Churchill, or Clement Attlee, he’d hear that awful noise and lose the money. He thought of his dad, thought of his daughter. But would the money mean anything? It would always be tainted with her name. Dirty money. It was that’ bitch’s fucking fault that they needed private health care in the first place. No, couldn’t do it. He’d rather slave and save and scrimp and skimp than say that woman’s name and have that tarnished twelve grand.
“I need an answer,” Jenny said.

“Sorry,” a tear ran down Craig’s face. “Sorry Dad!” he mumbled, and then looked at Jenny. “Margaret Thatcher.”

Remember, if you live in Wales go out and use your vote wisely. 


  1. The sickness, confusion and disorientation he felt reminded me of a vertigo you feel in such situations. And then vertigo reminded me of a story with the same title, which definitely deserves being published. And vertigo sometimes causes Hiccups or Brain Freeze or wakes you p at 2.37 and makes you go out in the rain.

  2. ... or just thought that vertigo can be connected with climbing a tower so maybe "The Leaning Tower of Pisa". There are lots of good stories in the blog, quite difficult to choose

  3. True, lots of good stories.