Tuesday, 31 May 2011

F3 - Cycle 33 - "The Bilderberg Request"

It's been some time since I last took part in one of the F3 challenges - too often I've been out of time to get my entry in!

This week, we were asked to consider writing about conspiracies - the theories or the theorists!

I'm drawn to a notion often referred to as the 'New World Order' - whereby the clandestine meddling of a secretive cohort drawn from the worlds of commerce, finance and politics determine global policies behind closed doors, to their singular mutual benefit.

This work of fiction has been gnawing away at me demanding to be written so here's my contribution, dead on the nail at the wordcount limit of 1,000!

(.....and if things go very quiet around here after this and I don't put up any posts.....then perhaps I may have got a bit too close to the truth and touched a nerve!! :-o )


It was a plain sealed envelope. Nothing marked it out as being special save for the small watermark on the reverse: a gothic ‘B’.

“It arrived a day or so ago,” said Beardsley. “Hand delivered by persons unknown.” He sat further back into his chair and watched as I studied the fine, crisp folds of paper, turning the envelope over slowly in my hands.

The carefully written script in black ink addressed the letter simply with the words “Sir Henry Beardsley”; no address, not even a flourish underlining the name, just meticulously neat copper-plate handwriting.

“Why didn’t you open it?” I said quietly.

“I know what it contains,” he replied, curtly. “That is to say, I know the nature of its contents, though perhaps not the exact wording.”

I looked down at the letter.

“You’re sure it isn’t a hoax?” Considering our unlikely and chequered past it could well be a ruse, engineered to blow up in my face, metaphorically speaking. I wouldn’t be the first journalist to have been used and abused by the great and the good for their own devious ends.

“We wouldn’t want to end up with egg on our faces,” I continued. If it was a hoax, I wanted to make sure Beardsley understood exactly what the repercussions would be for himself. If I went down, I’d take him with me; you don’t ghost write someone’s autobiography without lifting a few stones and finding the odd unsavoury item or two buried there.

“Of course it isn’t a hoax!” steamed Beardsley, contemptuously. The irritation that clearly vexed the man was evident by the colour rising in his rather corpulent cheeks. Then again, I thought, it could just be hypertension.

Before he could give his assent I decisively turned the letter over and slipped a paperknife along the fold, cutting open the envelope. Beardsley leaned forwards in his chair, a sheen of perspiration just breaking out on his forehead, highlighted by the desk lamp that sat between us.

I carefully withdrew the single sheet of folded paper. As I held it up to the light I saw, once again, the monograph watermark replicated on the page, though larger than its counterpart on the envelope.

“Well?” asked Beardsley, his curiosity getting the better of him as he waited for my opinion.

I raised my eyes slightly from the page and gave an imperceptible nod. It was hard to determine from Beardsley’s choked response whether he was elated or terrified but I returned to the hand written script and tried to ignore the audible consternation that issued from across the desk.

The letter contained details of a specific venue and date, requesting the attendance of Sir Henry Beardsley. As letters go, I felt it left a lot to be desired; there was no description of what exactly was to take place on the date in question, nor any indication who else would be present. Indeed, on first glance it seemed a totally innocuous piece of correspondence. That is, until I read the last line. In place of a simple signature, there was just one word: Bilderberg.

I worked hard to keep the paper still, not allowing it to shake in my hand and thereby give away too much, but all the same I knew that I held what was, to writers in my preferred field of investigative journalism, the equivalent of the Holy Grail.

I passed the letter silently over to Beardsley. He grasped it hesitantly, more like a poisoned chalice than my exalted acclaim of it, then slumped back into his chair.

I could see why he seemed less than delighted. I had done some research on the Bilderberg Group in the past and the little I had managed to glean on their activities seemed to me to be in directly opposite proportion to the control which they exerted over a diverse and complex series of worldwide syndicates and conglomerations.

Their gatherings, or ‘conferences’ as they preferred to term them, were not conducted entirely clandestinely. They were announced in various forms throughout the media and attendees were selected based on their backgrounds in commerce, finance and politics but there were never any subsequent reports as to what had been discussed, nor still the extent of their influence. No resolutions were proposed, or issues voted upon. It was only retrospectively that seismic shifts in the global economy could tentatively be traced back to former attendees.

To be invited to attend was an honour but, like many closed societies, to refuse could be political and financial suicide. To accept, however, could incur an even greater cost.

I looked across at Beardsley. He was somewhat on the horns of a dilemma: whether to decline and thereby find his commercial and financial career thwarted and destroyed by the long-reaching tentacles of the ‘Group’; or accept, thereby to be forever shackled to the concerns and objectives by which Bilderberg controlled global issues, regardless of any possible personal disagreement.

It could not be proved, as yet, but dissenters were likely to be ‘removed’, permanently; I had been investigating the demise of certain former high-ranking officials from various global financial institutions who appeared to be linked and whose names had appeared on previous lists of Bilderberg delegates.

Now, as I looked across at the worried features of Sir Henry, I wondered how I could ever persuade him to accept given the ultimate price he might one day have to pay, or else ignore both me and his own conscience.

And what if, on agreeing to join such a coterie of shadowy manipulators, he turned the tables on me? Their corrupt abuse of power could easily reach out and curtail my activities. A simple ‘accident’ would not be difficult for them to arrange.

We sat in silence for some minutes, each independently reviewing our options, until Beardsley coughed the phlegm from his throat.

“I’ll do it,” he said quietly, his voice little more than a hoarse whisper, and in those three words he sealed our fate.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "Rhapsody in Red"

Back again with another little tale - this one concerns three characters, but only one speaks!

Bang on target at exactly 300 words, some of you may have come across Paul Hollis before....enjoy!


Melody and mayhem; that’s about the size of it. When I’m out on the 'day' job I have to concentrate; I’m restricted by professional formalities, codes of conduct, that sort of thing.

Here in the lab, however, I can relax a little and let my hair down, metaphorically speaking of course. The years have taken their toll on a hairline that has receded far over my head. I’m a long way from the young Paul Hollis, fresh-faced student of decay, detritus and all aspects of forensic medicine.

Anyway like I said, when I’m here alone working on 'personal' projects after-hours it’s pretty much my ball game, so – on with the music. I like the creative energy and no-one argues with my choice; it’s just me and the cadavers.

Stripping out veins is a particularly intricate job, so I like the steady rhythms to keep me on task. Especially with this particular case. There’s such a satisfaction in seeing a job through to the bitter end, don’t you agree?

Mervyn, here, for instance: start to finish it’s been three weeks, from initial consultation to administering the lethal compounds and his subsequent demise.

Of course, there was a slight delay which caused a minor complication as I found myself with divided loyalties. Felicity wasn’t at all as Mervyn had led me to believe. In fact, I found her quite.... intoxicating. Enough to change sides.

So, it’s poor Mervyn on the slab instead. I have the money he paid up front as well as the wife he planned to have despatched, together with her delightful trust fund. That’s what tipped the balance.

Meanwhile, the tempo’s rising to a crescendo of over-the-top drumbeats and sweeping arpeggios and as the table runs crimson it’s a mixture of Gershwin and gore; a rhapsody in red, not blue.

Paul Hollis has appeared before in 'ON THE JOB' and 'ALL IN THE DETAIL'

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Excuse me if I have a shameless moment of of going 'Wheeeeeeeee! but it's not every day I manage to win something (even if it's 3rd place!)

To see what I'm on about, go to Alan Davidson's blog to read my story, or visit Laurita Miller's blog Calling Shotgun to read the embarrassing accompanying interview!

Comments (assuming Blogger will be playing ball today!) are welcome at either site - or even here!

(Thankyou - moment of 'glory' abating now.....!)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Lost and Found!

Over at Alan Davidson's blog the results have been announced for the 'Lost on the Rock 2011' fiction contest.

I am, by turns, both humbled and gobsmacked to learn that my 'Lost...' entry, 'Oubliette' has been found worthy to receive 3rd prize!!

My story will be posted on Alan's blog on Wednesday, 25th May and an emarrassing interview will appear on Laurita Miller's Calling Shotgun blog the same day; the full round-up is here

I'm really looking forward to reading all the other stories - some authors' names are familiar but there are also new accquaintances to make!

So, starting tomorrow, please make your way over to these blogs and check out the writers and their work - and of course, please feel free to leave comments.

Big thanks, also, to Alan, Laurita and all those involved in promoting, organising and judging the contest. Bravo, chaps!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Thursday @ 3 - 'Fat Lady Singing'

A few days ago I woke up with the number '3' on my mind. I began noticing things to do with the same number - 3 canisters (tea, coffee, sugar); 3 things hanging on the wall (towel, teatowel and ovengloves) - even looking outside: 3 birds on the patio....and that was all before I'd got as far as putting the kettle on for the first cuppa of the day!

So, following on from David Barber's recent numerically-inspired post, I decided to set myself a challenge - every Thursday, at 3pm (UK time), I'll post something which features the number three. It could be three sentences or paragraphs; or something with a three-word title; or '3' in the title itself - who knows?

I also plan to keep it short - so there'll be a maximum word count of 300.

However, to get the ball rolling I decided the opening story of 'Thursday @ 3' should be special - so, in 333 words, here it is!


As he hit the stairs to the seventh floor Dan Hiskie leaned back against the wall letting gravity take control and slumped to his haunches. Running up the last flight had winded him yet he knew this was but a brief respite.

Peering up the stairwell, he guessed he was nearing his quarry; Maguire had a penchant for Jimmy Cagney films and this was the tallest building on the block. He should just wait and let the man have his ‘Top of the world, Ma!’ moment of misguided glory but that wasn’t the way this would play out. Maguire had to pay. Pay for shooting the pretty bank teller, leaving her with a third eye in the middle of her forehead. Pay for the school kids his getaway car mowed down with unstopping indifference. Most of all, pay for gunning down his partner, Eric Casey, in a hail of bullets when one would have got the job done.

Hiskie could hear the sirens growing closer. Too late. Too late to save Casey or the call all police officer’s wives dreaded.

He looked down at the dark vermilion smear on his jacket and red hot agony flashed through his arm again as he forced himself into a stance. It spread into his chest and he realised the bullet had cut clear through his arm and lodged in his side.

Music suddenly flooded the stairwell, accompanied by raised voices and a single gunshot. He stumbled onwards, ignoring the pain, gripping the banister until he reached the half-open door of the apartment where Maguire stood over the prone body of the elderly occupant.

Without hesitation, Hiskie raised his weapon. Too late for reasoning; too late for Mirandizing. He let off a triple staccato report and watched as Maguire swayed drunkenly before staggering to the window and pitching into his own black eternity.


No, not quite, thought Hiskie.

He fell to his knees and the sound of Maria Callas from the radio filled his dulling mind.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Been quiet here...

....but I've been mulling over a wee idea.

I have something up my sleeve - but you'll have to wait until Thursday afternoon to find out more...! ;-)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Bridport Prize 2011!

Just a few weeks left to enter the Bridport Prize short fiction and poetry competition!

It's not just about the money (but that can't be ignored!) - winning entries will be included in the annual anthology - read the success stories!

Entry fee is £5 per flash fiction, £6 per poem or £7 per story (open to international entrants - see the website for entry charges)

SHORT STORIES: 1st prize = £ 5000 (approx. 8000 US$, 5900 € )
POEMS: 1st Prize = £ 5000 (approx. 8000 US$, 5900 €)
FLASH FICTION: 1st Prize =£ 1000 (approx. 1600 US$, 1180 €)

Closing date 30th June 2011.(24.00 MIdnight GMT)

I'm up for it - are you?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Aaargh! I've been tagged!

Apparently there is an outbreak of online blog-tag - and I've just been 'got'!

The perpetrator was Jenny over at The Modest Peacock - see, this is what happens when you join a blog challenge, you rove around other blogs, get to know a few new people, see what they're up to - then, when you're not looking, they drop something like this on you!

I jest :-)

I am delighted to have been tagged, (thanks Jenny, you'll keep!!) but the questions I now have to answer were quite difficult, so here goes:

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?
My wedding – it all happened so fast, and unlike the Royal Wedding there weren’t constant replays!

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
Can I tweak this a little and take passengers back with me in time? I wish my hubby and kids could have met my mother who died when I was a teenager.

What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?
I have no idea – but someone who has to keep plates spinning, perhaps? None come to mind, presently! Ideas, anyone?

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
Hypothetically speaking, of course, probably the tax man!

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.
Starting things without being realistic about the time and effort required - and the probable outcome.

Describe yourself in one word.

Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
Good hearted! :-)

Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.

It’s an outlet and platform for writing.

So, having survived the ordeal I now have to select at least three other victims choose at least 3 people to send this meme to, and then inform them:

Rachel at Go Placidly...

Yvette at In So Many Words

and finally - (because I haven't seen him blogging for a few days and also 'payback' for me beta-reading his latest novel!)

Paul at Paul Grzegorzek's Thriller and Crime Fiction World

There - 'done-deal'! (phew, that's me off the hook! ;-p)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Belated hopping of the blogs!

.....now I've recovered from A-Z busyness I realised I didn't load the 'hop code'! (actually, I did try on Sunday but it didn't seem to want to work, and then 'normal' life has taken over so I'm just getting around to it, now!)

Anyway, my bloggy friends, I hope to get round to a few more of you now. Many thanks to all who've dropped by here already - I will get to you, I promise!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011


Well, that's the April A-Z challenge over for 2011! There's a sense of relief tinged with a bit of sadness - relief, because it's been quite a feat to think up and create something new and different for each letter (thank goodness for pre-scheduled posts!); and sadness, because the cameraderie of us 'all in this together' is at an end.

But is it?

I tried to look into at least five different blogs every day and leave comments and mostly I succeeded. Some were blogs where my interest was piqued enough to want to 'follow' - some have already become fixtures on my blogroll! So, what started as a chance to nosey through other people's blogs has grown into a desire to keep up with the musings of these hitherto unknown 'blogger-friends'. So, thankyou A-Z, for broadening my horizons and 'growing' my followers, too! (more than doubled!)

Thanks, too, for the wonderful 'surprise me' button - it was always an adventure to see where I'd land next! :-)

I'd also like to thank all who stopped by to view the eclectic posts on my blog - and for their kind (and constructive!) comments!

Congratulations to all who participated and made it through to 'Z' - I hope those who didn't succeed (for whatever reason) will be inspired to try again next year.

Most of all, thankyou to those who promoted, encouraged and facilitated the whole event and generally kept us on the right path throughout - esp. to Arlee Bird, for all your positive support!

So, the next few days are going to seem strange without the motivation of creating a new post for the challenge......but I'm sure I'll come up with something! (I guess you'll have to watch this space to find out!)