Mermaids by Jane Flett

Jane Flett is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories. Her poetry is featured in Salt’s Best British Poetry 2012 and her fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio, awarded the SBT New Writer Award, and performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She also leads creative writing courses with The Reader.

Why Victoria Couldn’t Attend Summer 2015

I cannot be here because I am lying in the middle of a tiny road in rural France. It is dusk. My bicycle lies beside me. I’ve a broken collarbone, cracked ribs, shock, a phone that can’t tell me where I am and a fine view of the Alps as the sun sinks and the … Read more

A Form of Chinese Whispers (of Sorts) by Ambika Thompson

You tell someone something and then immediately regret it. You can’t take it back, so you try and pretend it never happened. They inevitably tell at least one other person. You don’t find this out for months until one day this other person drops it on you, and they tell you that someone else knows as well. You try and explain your way out of it, because you’re incredibly embarrassed by this whole story. It makes you feel exposed and vulnerable like you’ve been walking through a grocery store naked with multiple dildos strapped to your head.

It’s not until a couple of days later that you realize that this other person, who doesn’t know that you know that they know, has been acting really weird towards you for a certain amount of time that correlates exactly to the length of time that they’ve known the thing that they don’t know that you now know they know.

You start finding out that more and more people know from all this random information that starts coming at you from all sorts of arbitrary people. For example, like the post person who has taken to leaving your neighbours’ packages with you, even though the neighbours are at home, just so the post person can get a look at the person who said that thing even though you immediately regretted it right after you said it, and you’re only left to wonder how the hell they knew about that. Or like the bus driver who said to you, “You’re that kind of girl, eh?” Which makes you feel really creepy and weird, even more so when he follows it up with an attempt at making a sexy tongue flick. This then leaves you wondering how the bus driver knew as well, and who seriously thinks sexy tongue flicks are sexy anyways?

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From our Festival: GORGAST by Lee Holt

Lee Holt, who we had never met before, arrived promptly at Fort Gorgast on the Friday afternoon. His first words to us are The Reader’s favourites when assembled in this particular order: ‘What can I do to help?’.  Help Lee did, for which we would like to thank him. I would also like to thank … Read more

From our Festival: THERE IS NO HOPE AND THE NIGHTS ARE COLD by Marcel Krueger

The following terrifying tale is by Marcel Krueger, a good friend of The Reader Berlin. I first read THERE IS NO HOPE AND THE NIGHTS ARE COLD some time ago in one of my workshops and I thought its harrowing nature would suit our purposes well. Marcel not only joined us a mere week or so after his wedding (we hope his bride forgives us for borrowing him so soon), he also kindly contributed an introduction which gives a little background to our erstwhile weekend home.

To appreciate it fully, you may want to imagine yourself deep amongst Gorgast’s dark tunnels, at the foot of a lightless broken staircase. You turn to your left and there, in the gloom, you make out the shadowy silhouette of a figure smoking a pipe…

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From our Festival: YOUR HEART’S DESIRE by Victoria Gosling

As the founder of The Reader Berlin, it isn’t often I get to share my writing. Sometimes, I feel bad that after all the butchering I do with my editor’s pen, I don’t offer participants a chance to return the ‘favour’. So it seemed only fair that I contributed something over the course of our Fort Gorgast festival. This little piece is actually adapted from a novel I wrote that never saw the light of day and I confess it felt absolutely wonderful to let it slip out of its dark drawer and float loose amongst you.

V.G.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

Welcome to Fort Gorgast and the first of our terrifying tales. It is wonderful that you could all join us. This is the first event at which we have all got together, albeit it in a cold and shadowy tunnel, and while it might be a touch hippy-ish of me, I would like you to do something you may be familiar with from yoga class. I would like you each to set an intention, that is, to make a little wish. Eyes closed everyone. Out goes the torch…wishes done…? And we’re ready.

As one of the organisers of this weekend’s festivities, I had planned to write my own scary story but I am afraid things got a little busy, so this one is from a decaying book I found in a pile in a decrepit second hand bookshop in Berlin. You are, no doubt, familiar with the kind.

This story begins with a group of friends sitting around playing cards late into an autumn night in an ancestral home in one of the English shires, shortly before the beginning of the First World War

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Last Days – Joan Ray

When they took away Peter’s father he was raving. The end of the world was coming, it was coming soon, and we were all going to die. They knew, but they didn’t want the truth to get out. That’s why he was being silenced, and so on. In response to Mrs Hunter’s emergency call the operator had sent two burly paramedics, but they had not been enough and it had taken an additional four policemen to restrain him.

My mother delivered the news erratically, waving one arm as though she too was caught up in apocalyptic fervour. Then, on her way to the couch, she sank down to the hall rug and lay there, her face all concertinaed on one side, as though it had been the weight of Peter’s father’s revelation, and not a quart of vodka, that had been too much for her. June 23rd, she said and passed out.

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The Incident – by Kenneth Macleod

The Reader is delighted to be able to showcase this extract from Kenneth Macleod’s The Incident , which is being published by Wiedenfeld and Nicolson and will be on the shelves from April 5th 2012. Written in Berlin by one of our own, the talent is obvious; what you can’t see is the grit it … Read more

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