Friday Fictioneers – Preserved

Copyright - Sean Fallon

If you’d like to submit your own 100 word FF story or look at the others, click here to go to the blog of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Credit for the photo goes to Sean Fallon.

They stashed the mannequin in my bed, leaving its shiny brow protruding from underneath the covers. They thought it would frighten me, but that night I laid in a comfortable silence whilst feeling the weight on the other side of the mattress. If you were like the mannequin, you’d be here right now.  Wouldn’t things be better if you stayed where you were put? If you didn’t occasionally say such troubling things to me?

I checked the freezer the next morning, just to make sure. Your face is so cold and perfect. The neighbourhood rumours are wrong. I saved you.


The Killer Question – Part Five

See the first letter here.

Dear Mr Empwood,

I gained both my degree and my master’s in Psychology at the University of Exeter, under the tutelage of the very skilled and able professors who work there.  My interest in Psychology, especially surrounding violent crime, developed during my teenage years. Unless I am mistaken, you met my father while he was incarcerated. It was after his death that my desire to understand the motives behind his crimes began.

You may already know that the Stanford Prison experiment was the very study which highlighted the need for certain ethical guidelines to be compulsory, and its aftermath produced the foundation for the rules we follow today. Let me reiterate, you may withdraw from the study at any time you wish. You do not need to give a reason and your decision will not affect your treatment. Your concerns are taken seriously.

I cannot say I have a “favourite” victim of yours. However, your behaviour after murdering Hayleigh Jones was unusual and inconsistent with your other crimes. Your other victims were simply left in their beds. After strangling Hayleigh, you dressed her in her wedding gown and left her outside the church she was due to be married in three days later.

Was this simply to gain attention? If so, you certainly succeeded. It was the murder which sparked the media frenzy which did not end until well after your capture and imprisonment.

Yours sincerely,

Emma Atkinson

P.S. I’ve always preferred moths to butterflies. They’re much less ostentatious.

The Killer Question – Part Three

Read the previous letter here.

Dear Mr Empwood,

Let me assure you that nobody intends to treat you as anything less than human. We have strict, ethical codes and practices which we must adhere to at all times. I am not seeking some kind of power trip and I am not trying to judge you as a person, Mr Empwood. I am trying to understand you, human being to human being.

If your aim is to give the public your side of the story, there are journalists lining up to hear your views. I’m a psychologist, and the wrong person to share your story with the world. If, on the other hand, you are interested in being part of a project that will shape future policy with regards to criminal rehabilitation, your participation will help us immensely.

I’m not going to play games with you and I’m not sure what you want me to tell you.

Would you like to know more about myself and my qualifications?

Yours sincerely,

Emma Atkinson

The Killer Question – Part One

It’s finally September, which means I’ll be back at university in a few weeks time. I’m actually (as sad as it sounds,) really excited about going back. I think it’s going to be a good year. I do have time for one more project before I get busy with coursework and lectures and revision. I’m doing a collaboration with Inkwell Knight, which will consist of a series of letters between a psychologist and a man convicted of several violent murders.

We should be posting every five days, but we’re keeping everything quite flexible as we’re both quite busy.

We both hope you enjoy the project.

Dear Mr Empwood,

I am currently a post-graduate student at the University of Exeter, and undertaking a research project on the topic of criminal rehabilitation, specifically on how perpetrators of violent crime recall their actions. I have discussed this project with my supervisors, your prison supervisors, and with the UK’s board of ethics, who have agreed this project can be pursued with your consent.

You were chosen for this study based on your crimes and your admission of guilt in court not because of anything that occurred after you were imprisoned. The project will involve me asking you for written accounts of the crimes you committed, and also asking you to fill out various surveys both before and after writing these accounts. It will also involve me asking questions related to your treatment and activities within HM Prison Wakefield. This will be supervised by prison employees.

You are not in any way obliged to take part in this study, and your decision will not affect your treatment at HM Prison Wakefield. You may discontinue your participation in the study at any time. All of this information, along with my contact details, is listed on the consent form, which is attached.

Your participation would really help me, not that I expect you’re capable of much empathy after what you did, but then

I think you owe it to society

What was it about me that made you do what you did?

Yours sincerely,

Emma Atkinson.

The Library Book Project – 18 June 2010

To read more about the library book project, click here.

I take the brown bottle out of the paper bag and place it on the kitchen counter. I stare at the label. The paper bag crackles as I scrunch it into a ball, and the noise seems to be obscenely loud. I throw it in the bin, almost angry with the bag for making such a racket. My mouth is dry as I walk back to the counter, where the bottle sits. My expectations aren’t heavy but my desperation is. The brown glass shows my face, contorted like my emotions. I’m not even strong enough to summon self-hatred, just more self-pity that rains down from the clouds of my consciousness, free flowing and plentiful.

I struggle to even open the bottle. After a couple of attempts I laugh at myself. I sound hysterical and wounded. The noise is so pathetic it spurs me on, and eventually the cap gives way and I’m looking at the little white pills. These are not my saviours, I know. But they might help. And at this point I’ll try anything, anything at all. The doctor thought they might work. But they might not. And I wonder if I can wait long enough to find out.

Because I can’t do this. It is now 5 o clock. He will come home in an hour and I will make dinner and then I’ll clean up and then we will watch TV and then we will lay in bed together without touching. I will lay there and think. And think. I will try not to shake as I cry. If I wake him, he’ll be annoyed. Silly woman. Yes, yes, I am a silly woman. Nothing more. The thought makes me want to consume every last tablet in this bottle, so I can escape.

I can’t escape.

I’m trapped behind this face. This face is not depressed. This face calls the children and chirps cheerfully down the phone at them. This face goes to work and natters with the office staff. This face is a regular at the local library.

This face swallows a pill.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – What Goes Up, Must Come Down


Copyright – Alastair Forbes

Looking forward to reading this week’s entries. I apologize in advance for the mood of this post. I was actually feeling pretty cheerful until I wrote it. I took advantage of the slightly longer word limit. This photo prompt comes from Alastair’s Photo Fiction Blog.

What goes up, must come down.

I could go hours, dancing and laughing. My smile would be wide but effortless. Everything was not only possible, but easy. I could run for miles, clean the house or rearrange the furniture. I could do some baking and then some more baking, because everyone loves my baking. My thoughts were disjointed, but that’s because each one was so unique, an epiphany in its own right.

And then I could go for weeks where everything hurt. I’ll sit in the shower, because standing is too painful. Stay there for as long as I can, try and let the water wash away the blackness of my mind. Somehow I’ll end up back on the bed, my wet hair soaking the covers, but the decision to leave the bathroom eludes my memory. I’ll lay naked, staring inwards for hours and trying to find what’s broken, so I can maybe fix it.

What goes up, must come down. Not just Physics, but Biology too.

We Can Do It!

So. Camp NaNoWriMo begins.

Just a quick post here on my plan to write 50,000 words in 30 days, without going insane:

1. Keep desk/room tidy. I’m not off to the best start here, I have to admit. But I’m working on it.

2. Get up at at least 8 every morning. This is horrifically early for me, but it means that I shouldn’t have to spend all of my afternoon writing.

3. Lots of natural light. Having the curtains open also encourages me to keep my room tidy as it’s on the ground floor.

4. Go outside at least once a day. Even if it’s just to Tesco and back. Preferably longer walks if I have the time.

5. Eat properly. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, at a reasonable hour. This also means I’ll snack less.

6. Motivational videos. I think this sort of counts:


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

There’s nothing wrong.

You’re not trapped here, you can go outside, she thought. In fact, that’s a great idea. Let’s go to Tesco and get some lemonade.

The air outside seemed just as cloying and stale as the air in the house. She pushed her thumb through her keyring and twisted the keys round and round as she walked on the damp pavement. Dirt seemed the surround her. Abandoned plastic sacks of rubbish were strewn around like urban boulders. The grey sky hung above her, a great, unwashed bed sheet.

Despite the filth, she wanted to keep walking. She wanted to go past the shop and keep going, until she felt better. But she knew that she couldn’t walk forever.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy had taught her to treat her mind like a machine. Find the faulty thoughts and replace them, like they’re a worn out part. She searched and she searched and she could find the problem. It was between her breasts, a tight sensation that reached her throat and made her feel like she was choking.

She didn’t know what was causing that.

Sometimes there is no ‘why.’


Blood often comes easier than tears. Ugly scars lay testament to the payments I made for a release of tension. My body was full, and there had to be somewhere for the emotion to settle.

 “Attention seeker.”



If I’m such a deficient human being, why does it matter if a little more damage is done?

Scars will heal with time.

I learned the hard way that words don’t heal with scars.