All stories


by Jenny

Everything was ready to go. Sam had run through it with us in half whispers the night before. Those hours of meticulous planning were finally going to pay off.

“I’ve thought it all through, covered every possible weak spot and I’m certain we have a shot at getting out,” Sam told us. We nodded solemnly. I hoped it would work. It had to work.

Before I get started, you must understand that none of us was guilty. We didn't belong here, not like some of the others. Them? They were lunatics, but we were just three normal guys. We had to get out. It wasn't going to be pleasant, but we had to try.

It was Sam the Brain (named for his extraordinary cognitive abilities) and Killer Mike (named for - well I never knew and I didn’t like to ask) and me. Sam had come up with The Plan and Mike actually had the balls to make us believe we could pull it off.

“It’s simple, lads,” said Sam. “Wait till they take their eyes off us. When they gather for their fag we go for it, while theyre distracted. Head for the kitchens.”

We knew this part. Sam had made us repeat it back to him twice last night.

He had drawn a plan of the place, marking every available exit point. We’d dismissed them all at first, because they were all no-gos for one reason or another - walls, fences, CCTV - but Sam pointed out a place we would have missed. Behind the kitchens a waste disposal chute that dropped its contents right out into the street below. If we could get ourselves in the kitchens undetected we were laughing.

Palms sweating, we filed out with the others into the yard. Right on cue, just as Sam said, they huddled in their circle, fishing for lighters, exchanging cynical laughs.

We made a break for the kitchens, soundlessly scurrying, pressed into the shadows, praying that Sam was right and at this time of day the kitchen staff would all have left.

The creak of the doors, the padding of rubber soled shoes on the linoleum floor, the crash of the door behind us. We had to run now. The chute! I made a dash for it.

Mike went first, shoulders almost too big to fit, then Sam, skinny, slithering, slippery as an eel. Then me. The stench was awful - rotting meat and the melee of cafeteria lunch leftovers, but I was crawling along it now, heading towards the promise of daylight at the other end.

I crashed straight into Sam who stood stock still, staring ahead in wordless horror.

“Sam? What is it - we need to run, Sam - “

And then a voice that made my bollocks shoot back up inside my body, the sound of a thousand nails scraping down a school blackboard.

“And Mr Jenkins as well. Are there any more of you on your way? No? Well you boys have just added an extra week to your detentions and I don’t think litter picking duty is going to cut it this time. No, I think from now on you boys will be scrubbing out the boys toilets without gloves.

The Dogs

by Russ

‘We need to break up.’

I said it instead of ‘hello’ to maximise the shock. I needn’t have bothered, he reacted as if I’d just informed him the soup of the day was chicken, the same response he gave to everything. He still hadn’t spoken by the time I sat down.

‘Why do you think I want to break up with you?’

He gave a soundless shrug.

‘How do you feel about it?’ I pushed.

‘I feel sad,’ he didn’t sound it.

‘Have you considered telling your face?’

‘I don’t underst…’

‘It’s like going out with a mannequin, Michael!’ I was losing it. ‘That’s why I need to break up with you. You don’t feel anything, you don’t show anything!’

‘I do feel,’ there was nothing in his voice except words.

‘And how am I supposed to fucking know that?!’ I looked down to discover I’d stood up. ‘How am I supposed to know if you don’t show it?’

‘I’m sorry.’

They were words of confusion rather than apology, at least I thought so. I lowered myself sheepishly back into the seat.

‘Do you know why they called you Killer Mike at school?’

He shrugged again. ‘It sounded cool?’

‘No,’ I reached my hands across the table and rested them on his, I don’t know why. ‘It was because you creeped everyone out. You know the thing they say when murderers are caught. How neighbours always say “He was so quiet, kept himself to himself”. That’s you. If we were American they’d have voted you ‘most likely to become a serial killer’ for the yearbook. When you keep everything inside, it’s… it’s just weird.

A flash of hurt appeared in his eyes and I felt a surge of victory in my chest, quickly flushed away by guilt.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, looking down at the pile of our hands. ‘Mike, how do you feel about me?’

‘I love you,’ he said without hesitation or intonation.

My heart paused. He hadn’t said it before.

‘Why have you never told me?’ I looked back into the blankness of his eyes.

‘I thought you knew.’

‘How would I know?’

‘We’ve been together two years.’

‘So I’m just supposed to assume?’

He seemed like he was going to shrug again and I didn’t think I could handle it so I looked away.

‘What were you thinking about?’ I tried. ‘Before I got here.’

He pointed across to another table in the cafe. A couple were sat either side and had leant in to kiss. Two dogs mirrored their actions beneath the table.

‘I was thinking about how adorable that was,’ he said. ‘The dogs.’

‘Would you have mentioned it?’ I looked back to him.


‘Well, first, because obviously, I want to see that. It’s fucking cute,’ I couldn’t lie. ‘But also to show me there’s something actually going in inside you. To show it on the outside. You could even fucking smile if you wanted to!’

He blinked at me before forcing the most uncomfortable half-smile I’d ever seen.

‘Do you know what you want to eat?’ he said ‘I’ll go order.’

I pointed at something on the menu and let him go.

Looking at the dogs, I tried to decide if I’d still be there when he got back.