The Saturday Shed: A Stitch in Time

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Tales from the Saturday Shed: The prompt this week is SWATCH.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!

I was four when my mother first took me to the Time Shop. She needed an extra thirty minutes that day.

“Soft or hard?” asked the woman behind the counter.

“Better make it hard,” said my mother. “My in-laws are coming for tea, and I promised to make them scones.”

The woman smiled and produced a bolt of fabric. It sparkled and shimmered.

“No, darling.” Mother gently took my outstretched hand. “You mustn’t touch.”

“Let her play with the remnants. They won’t do her any harm.” The woman pointed to a metal basket. Inside, I found scraps of light, silks that really flowed like water and a strip of braid that twisted around on itself. When we left, the serving lady gave me a swatch of golden linen and told me to use it wisely. I didn’t understand, but I took it home and hung it in my bedroom window. My room glowed with every shade of yellow, even on the darkest of days.

My mother would only go to that shop once or twice a year. “No need to waste time,” she would say, “we only buy what we need.” And she always gave back her unused minutes.

It was thanks to her we never had to ration our time. There was little free time, but we were never out of time.

When I was twelve, I used my tiny scrap of material as my mother lay dying in her hospital bed. For the first and the last time, I told her how much I loved her.

The Saturday Shed: The Life Guard

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Tales from the Saturday Shed: The prompt this week is DARK.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!

You can always spot them. They stand in the shadows, whether on the bridge or at the end of the platform. Leave them long enough and, nine times out of ten, they change their minds and go home. It’s the people that shuffle forward you need to watch out for. They’re the ones who make a mess of the station and screw up the schedules. Not to mention the trauma to the drivers and cleaning staff. So, this is my job, stop the jumpers.

I started with empathy and an open but non-judgemental listening ear. But after ten years of using the recommended approach, I’ve developed a radical method of saving lives. I sidle up and whisper three words in their ear: Go on, jump.

That stops them. They look around in shock, and then you have them because once they make eye contact, they’re yours. That’s when you put your training into action, talk them down, give them a cup of tea and wait for the station counsellor to arrive.

But the last one gave me a few problems. She was standing at the edge, obviously waiting for the through express. I manoeuvred into position, making sure she could see me. I was six feet away when she looked up.

“What are you waiting for?” I said. “Jump, bitch, jump!”

She smiled, and the train thundered past. I shrugged and wiped the blood from my face. You can’t win them all.


The Saturday Shed: Kindred Spirits

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Tales from the Saturday Shed: The prompt this week is CACOPHONY.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!

“Mammalian fusion is no longer a dream!” Professor Bogle beamed at me as I walked into his office. “Soon dinosaurs will roam the earth.” He winked at his joke. I smiled and resisted the urge to tell him Jurassic Park is only a movie and cod science won’t reanimate the dead. He’s mad as a barrel of fish, but finishing my doctorate means being nice and not voicing dissenting opinions.

“What was the surrogate?” I asked, out of genuine interest. Gaining permission for legitimate research is hard enough, let alone Batty Bogle’s under-the-radar experiments.

“I’ll show you.” He opened his desk and took out a key labelled hall closet. “Don’t be fooled; this is the one we want.” He giggled. “It opens my safe, where I keep the passcard.” He flashed me a what-do-you-think-about-that look.

I stifled a yawn and watched Bogle swipe the card along a vent which slid aside to reveal a keypad. He tapped in a four-digit number, and a gap appeared in what should have been a solid wall. He beckoned me forward, and I followed him down a narrow corridor to a metal security gate. God knows how he got his equipment and test subjects down here.

“Didn’t go for the elephant option then,” I huffed as we squeezed sideways into a dimly lit room.

“Bigger is better, but it’s so difficult getting the species to gel. The host retains some memory, and the implant must fight for supremacy. Lost a few that way,” he sighed. “But this time, I transferred the animus of a dolphin, and the results are very promising. Are you ready?”

I nodded, and he drew back a canvas draped over a floatation tank and raised the lid. The noise was horrendous, with bloodcurdling shrieks and eerie howls. “Behold the birth of soul grafting,” he shouted above the cacophony.

I screamed as I stared into the contorted face of my mother.

The Saturday Shed: Scouting for Boys

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Tales from the Saturday Shed: The prompt this week is ENGAGED.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!

Meathead Mike used to be a big selfish twat of a man. The worst housemate on the planet. He never took his turn cooking or doing the dishes and left the bath with more rings around it than Saturn. And there was his tendency to hog the toilet for hours and never flush. His turds were the size of Exocet missiles and just as dangerous.

We were lucky he spent most of his time in the gym, where he trained and worked. But on his days off, the washing machine would be full of sweaty lycra and the non-recycling bin full of empty protein bottles. In his favour, he paid his share of the bills and was never late with the rent.

Not much of a testimonial. And it was during the run-up to Christmas when I snapped. Mike was away on a training course, and as usual, he’d left his crap spread all over the communal areas of the house. I collected up his detritus, meaning to dump it on his bed.

His room was surprisingly tidy, and his book collection a revelation. Poetry, Joyce, Proust and not one of these tomes had the look of being there for show. His music collection had the usual rock suspects. Along with opera. Not just CDs of famous arias, but the whole kit and caboodle. Considering this, I put what I could away and piled the rest of his gear in an armchair in the bay window.

Where I found Mike’s diary stuffed under a cushion. I flipped it open and had a good nose. Not much to see, just a new year resolution: fall in love, written in block capitals. Underneath was a list of attributes he desired. No mention of beauty: he wanted a soul mate, someone to laugh with, to go to concerts with and raise a family with.

That made me see him in a new light. Who knew there was such a grounded and romantic heart lurking behind those perfect pecs? I revamped my wardrobe, had my hair done, and took an interest in him. I soon discovered his generous spirit and sense of humour. In the New Year, we became friends, and his boorish ways disappeared. I was ready to make a move when my brother came for a visit.

They celebrate their engagement tonight.

The Saturday Shed: Future Tense

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Tales from the Saturday Shed: The prompt this week is PROPHECY.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!

Sorry, mum, running late, be there soon, xxx.

Barb stared at the text: Her son was sitting next to her.

“No phones at the table, Mother!” Jimmy winked. “How many times did she say that when I was growing up, Dad?”

“Too many, you’d never listen. Come on, Barb, I know it’s your birthday, but you made the rules.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled, and shoved her mobile into her pocket. She didn’t ask about the odd message.

During the meal, her phone vibrated twice, but she ignored it until they’d eaten. She stepped outside and lit up a cigarette.

On my way! Just picking up dad’s whiskey!

Barb frowned: Her son had arrived on time with a bottle of sparkling wine. And now he was standing in her kitchen, doing the dishes with his father. Was this an elaborate joke?

She opened the third message: it was a video clip.

“Something not right here, mum,” Jimmy’s voice whispered. “Look.”

The screen blurred before focusing on a shop doorway. Barb saw a fuzzy blob split in two. The smaller one fell to the ground, and then the screaming started.

“Bloody hell!” The picture began shaking as if someone were running. “Oy, you, drop that knife!”

She heard more screaming and shouting, a shocked grunt, and a heavy thud, followed by ragged breathing.

“Gotta go now. Love you, Mummy. Hug dad for me.”

Then nothing but a dreadful silence.


Barb shrieked and dropped her phone.

“Didn’t mean to startle you.” Jimmy stood in front of her, a bemused look on his face. “Becky’s rung on the landline; she couldn’t get through on your mobile.” He stooped to pick it up. “Doesn’t appear to be damaged.”

“Good.” She gave him a strained smile and hurried indoors to talk with her daughter. Barb didn’t mention the disturbing messages because they had disappeared. She wondered if she was going mad, but didn’t have time to dwell on it. She had a week to prepare for her husband’s birthday.

At six o’clock that evening, she received a text:

Sorry, mum, running late, be there soon, xxx.