Welcome to the one hundred and fortieth in this daily series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was to write a story with a mixed bag: bakery, MP, diary, shop, key, hot – so here is my 378-worder.
It’s ’ot in ’ere
The latch clicked on the shop door. Thomas Farrinor put the key in his pocket, patted it and headed home. Though this Sunday had not been a day of rest for Thomas, it had been successful, and he was now just looking forward to peeking at his sleeping children before he and Annie went to bed.
As he walked home, the shop’s next door neighbours started to feel a little uncomfortable.
“Bleedin’ ’ell, it’s ’ot in ’ere! Fanny, open the window!”
“Can’t, Joseph, it’s stuck.”
“You stupid wench, let me ’ave a go. Oh my God!”
“There’s a bleedin’ fire outside!”
“Every bloody where!”
At a comfortable home near Westminster, Fire Chief Charles Lombard was hammering on the Lord Mayor’s front door. A sleepy man in an expensive-looking dressing gown appeared at the threshold.
“Sir Thomas, have you heard?” he said frantically.
“Yes, Charles,” he yawned. “A travesty.”
“Sir Thomas, we need action!”
“Er, yes, right. What needs doing Lombard?”
“Everything, Sir. It’s going to take the whole city unless we do something.”
“Er…” He paused, rubbing his chin.
“Sir!” Lombard continued, his voice increasing in urgency, “we need to create firebreaks. Demolish the houses, sir.”
“Isn’t that a bit drastic?”
“We have no choice, sir. People are dying!”
“Oh, yes, well…”
“The Duke of York has offered the Royal Life Guards.”
“Tell him we are grateful, but no.”
“You have men, do you not?”
“Well, yes sir, but…”
“Then that’s the end of the matter. Your men will contain it and you shall be praised for their actions.”
“Good night Lombard.”
Four days, 13,500 houses, 87 parish churches, 44 Company Halls, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Bridewell Palace, the General Letter Office and three western city gates later, English naval administrator and MP Samuel Pepys was at his desk in Axe Yard, the area later known as Downing Street, scribbling away in his diary.
Meanwhile over in EC3, Thomas and Annie Farrinor, accompanied by their three boys, shuffled through the cinders of the King’s Bakery, Pudding Lane. Thomas hugged his family close to him and wondered, once his bakery was rebuilt, what he’d need to do to get King Charles II’s endorsement again.
Photography courtesy of morguefile.com. You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.