The Only Game in Town


Photo © Al Forbes 2015

“Hello. You must be Dr Martin Smith, I’m Professor Phoenix. I always enjoy giving visitors the tour of my long-stay psychiatric facility. Its state-of-the-art facilities, progressive methods and outstanding success stories are gaining us international recognition. We use our own funding, and I encourage my staff to use the most progressive methods. No-one is beyond hope.”

A man playing solitaire acknowledges us as we pass. “Six months ago, that gentleman was unable to communicate with anyone. Now he runs a self-help anxiety support group. We focus on Positive Psychology, as a means of complementing, not replacing conventional psychology. The results speak for themselves.”

Soon, the tour is over. Martin stops taking notes on his clipboard and shakes my hand. He seems impressed. I return to my table with some of the other patients.

I know that Dr Smith isn’t just another visitor – he’s assessing me for potential discharge. I’m happy to appear delusional – if I appear too ‘normal’, they might release me. I’ve still got work to do here.

My unofficial therapies seem to work much better here than the prescribed ones. But they’re unlikely to be adopted into the mainstream, any time soon. Until then, I’ll stay here and let them take the credit for my results.

I walk over to a quiet corner where a man sits alone, staring at the wall. I sit down next to him, take out a solitaire game from my pocket, and start to explain how it’s played.

The story was inspired by the photo, provided for Sunday Photo Fiction June 7th 2015, by Al Forbes. Please click the logo for more details.


 To view other entries click the link here.

Alf, a Male


SeafrontPhoto © Al Forbes 2015


Seven o’clock on a Sunday morning – Mablethorpe seafront was almost deserted. I felt guilty and a bit shabby. Me, Alf Wilkins, retired greengrocer, slipping out from our guest house bedroom, leaving my wife Maisie still asleep. All to contact a stranger on the beach. But as he had paid for my weekend here, I felt I ought to go and meet with him. And this cloak and dagger stuff made me feel a bit like James Bond!

I guess this is him now, running quickly towards me. He’s stocky, sweating and out of breath. It’s hardly From Here to Eternity! I try to stifle a laugh. The guy slows to a walk. He pushes a small brown envelope into my hand, catches my eye, but says nothing. Then breaks into a run again.

I slowly head back to the seafront. Grabbing a cuppa from Babs’ Burger Bar, and sit on a nearby bench.

The envelope contains a cheap mobile phone wrapped in a £5 note. I read the text message, ‘Resign by next week and there’s another fiver in it for you. Reply ASAP. You can keep the phone by the way, there’s three pounds credit still on it!’

I think back through my years as Treasurer of Forest Worth Crown Green Bowling League. It was fun in the early days, but not any more. They all take it way too seriously now. It used to be a job for life, but I guess now it’s a young man’s game.

I used to be Alf Wilkins, Greengrocer, and Bowls League Treasurer. A somebody. But who am I now?

I think of my letter of resignation that I wrote last year but didn’t have the heart to post. I just wanted a bit longer in the job. It gave me a bit of prestige in the village, I’m sure. And now they’re paying me to get out. I guess it’s time to go…

I text back, ‘ I Quit. Regards, Alf’ and slip the phone into my pocket. I spend the fiver on a bacon roll and another cuppa, and walk slowly along the deserted seafront.

Maisie is dressed when I return and waiting to go down for breakfast. She’s wearing casuals, and a broad smile. Suddenly, the penny drops. She’s set the whole thing up! The League could easily have voted me off, but she figured it was better for me to go out in style.

Maisie’s telling me she’s picked out a Murder Mystery night for us.

I am somebody after all. Alf Wilkins, husband.


The story was inspired by the photo, provided for Sunday Photo Fiction May 31st 2015, by Al Forbes. Please click the logo for more details.


 To view other entries click the link here.



Photo © Al Forbes 2015

Finally, the truth can be revealed, straight from the horses mouth.

You’ll be familiar with the official version of the ‘George and the Dragon’ story. Now I’m going to put things right.

My name is Prosecco, although my friends call me Pretty. I was Prince George’s Pony and private confidante for many years. I’ve got nothing against him personally, in fact I’ve spent much of my life supporting him. But I think he’s been badly advised not to go public with this.

You see, George should have been the patsy. He was told to saddle his pony, Pretty, and kill a dragon that was holding Princess Posy in a poor province. But Posy’s wicked stepmother Pansy had turned Posy into a dragon. The plan was, George, the patsy, would kill the dragon, who in death, would turn back to Posy, leaving George to take the blame. Pansy would be then free to rule the Kingdom, and poor George would be left in the slammer. Quite the perfect plan? Possibly.

But Pretty prevented Pansy’s slippery scheme!

When we first caught sight of it, the dragon looked a little too feminine, wearing a designer outfit and tiara. I whispered my suspicions to George and he did the rest. George shouted Posy’s name in her presence, and the spell was broken. And that’s Pretty much all she wrote.

But the Palace spin doctors didn’t want any whiff of a scandal. So, officially, ‘George killed the Dragon’, and Pansy is apparently on an extended world tour, out of the spotlight. In fact, Pansy is having a ‘permanent staycation’, and she’ll be cleaning the Dungeon floors with a toothbrush for many a long year.

Me, I was pensioned off with a pleasant young groom, and a nice stable environment to live out my days. But I just wanted to set the record straight in a dignified manner (and maybe get a book/movie deal) before I get too old.

Not too much to ask is it?

The story was inspired by the photo, provided for Sunday Photo Fiction April 26th 2015, by Al Forbes. Please click the logo for more details.


 To view other entries click the link here.

How Could I have Mystic?


Photo © Al Forbes 2015

Our toils and troubles started when I bought my daughter Connie a Witch outfit for Halloween.

I thought getting the gift set would keep her amused for a spell, but to my amazement, it only confirmed that she had already been given the gift. Charming! I noticed next door’s black cat was getting very familiar with Connie, but didn’t give it a second thought. Then the fun and games started.

Magical creatures started disappearing from around the neighbourhood. ‘Have you seen my Unicorn?’ posters became a common sight. There was even an Elf-line set up to investigate the myriad of mystical mysteries.

I finally realised something out of the ordinary was happening, when I saw Connie having regular parcels collected from our house. Turns out she was using an alchemy type spell to turn these poor magical creatures into a pewter-like substance. Then selling them on her own ‘Con Pewter’ website! It was almost too much to believe.

I was furious of course – we’re not covered for any of this on our home insurance!

Then we had a delegation from M.U.C.K. (Magical Union of Creatures and Kings) saying that if we didn’t stop abusing dragons and suchlike, they would really turn up the heat on us. The last thing we needed was M.U.C.K. raking over the hot coals.

There was even talk of a magical creatures setting up a picket line at the end of our drive. What would the neighbours say? They were already complaining about a large pumpkin parked on the pavement.

I found these Magical types were very rude – King Arthur refused to get around the table, and Snow White fell asleep during discussions. On the plus side, Connie did get some interesting autographs (currently for sale on her website) and a nice pair of red shoes, which are currently appearing in a production at a West End theatre.

With the help of an Elf blacksmith, we managed to hammer out a compromise deal:

Connie’s spells to last for 99 years only – a short time for magical creatures – then they’ll return to their normal form.

Charmed Creatures to receive commission, invested directly in Rumplestiltskin’s Gold Bank – “A Fair Deal for a Price”.


If you’d like to purchase a genuine pewter creature, please hurry to for all your magical ornamental needs.


The story was inspired by Sunday Photo Fiction, April 19th 2015, hosted by Al Forbes. Click the logo for more details.


 To view other entries click the link here.

Turning Tides

WavesPhoto © Al Forbes 2015

It was a perfect storm, and there was to be no escape for anyone on the South West coast of Britain. The Atlantic Ocean, guided by Poseidon’s vengeful hand, swelled into a devastating, killing tidal wave.

Twenty four hours of driving rain had created floods that washed away bridges and railway tracks. Every major road was gridlocked by the sheer weight of traffic. Official appeals for calm went unheard, as damaged electricity lines blacked out the regional power grid.

There was no way of running, and nowhere to run to, so people took whatever shelter they could.

The sea level fell dramatically, a huge wave ready to strike. Only a miracle could stop a tragedy unfolding.

Zeus didn’t believe in miracles. What he believed in was not letting his subordinates make unauthorised decisions. He took immediate action. First, the rain stopped, and the clouds blew away. Then the sun made a reluctant, embarrassed appearance. The tide sulkily returned to its normal level.

Shortly afterwards, a nervous Poseidon was summoned to Zeus’ small tent on Mount Olympus, Greece.

“I’ve told you Poseidon, we don’t settle disputes like this any more! I know we’re all in reduced circumstances, but we can’t blame the UK for our austerity, they aren’t even in the Euro. This is your last warning. Any more stunts like this, and I’m replacing you with that Italian guy, Neptune.”

The story was inspired by Sunday Photo Fiction, January 18th 2015, hosted by Al Forbes. After 100 weeks, Al is moving to new pastures after this week’s challenge. Thanks for your hard work and support Al, and every success in the future! 🙂

Click the logo for more details of the challenge.


 To view other entries click the link here.

This post is also entered in the Word Snap Weekly challenge,  hosted by Amanda Lakey at UniqueArt Click the logo for more details, and to read the other entries.

Word Snap Weekly