Jenny Jelepody

(written a couple of years ago, just a simple little thing)

Jenny Jelepody immersed herself in the gloriously hot bubble bath. Just a week ago she had met the man of her dreams. Tall, dark, handsome, and filthy rich. It had been lust at first sight. Edward Syngeon-Smyth had wined and dined her like a perfect gentleman. He was polite, courteous, well spoken, well educated, divorced and very lonely. It had been a match made in Heaven.

Jenny had played hard to get at first. She had declined his initial offers of a drink or dinner date. Even when a hundred red roses were delivered to her door she still feigned disinterest. But her eyes egged Edward on, a little glint here, a little bat of her extended eyelashes there. He was soon putty, warm, wet, gooey putty, in her hand. One small smile from Jenny sent Edward into raptures and the number of roses doubled. The offer of dinner and the very best theatre tickets were just too much for Jenny to ignore.

And so she had let Edward befriend her. They spent hours together, life stories swopped, the tragic death of Jenny’s husband gushed out over a plate of the very best oysters, the tales of Edward’s yachts and penthouses met with envious gasps. Life seemed perfect for the pair. Two lost souls miraculously thrown together by a chance meeting at a polo match.

Poor Edward was smitten. Anything that Jenny mentioned he would conjure up in a day or sooner. You’ve never owned a diamond necklace, my dear? No problem! You’ve never been to Broadway? Tomorrow, my love! You’ve never even touched a Valentino dress? A whole rack will be yours by the weekend!

Ah, Jenny laid back in the bath. The soft bubbles caressed her skin and the relaxing water massaged her beautiful body. When she met Edward earlier tonight she knew the time was right. When she led him into her new apartment (paid for by Edward, of course) he had looked so happy and so contented. When he’d laid eyes on her enormous, luxurious round bed he had nearly fainted. All his dreams were about to come true.

Jenny stroked her glistening skin with the flannel. It was bright red, and nearly matched the growing crimson of the bubbly water. Such a shame really to spoil a bath in this way, but it was the laziest and most enjoyable way to wash off the blood. Jenny laid back and sighed. No more polo, thank goodness! Once she was dry and dressed she would dispose of the many pieces of Edward now lying in her kitchen and tomorrow begin the search for another Mr Right ready for suitable fleecing and dispatch…


Holiday romance

(written recently in response to a Writers Group prompt)


Kurt shaded his eyes from the Miami sun, the noise of happy children and swishing waves washing around his ears. A teenager trudged by, feet surfing the shiny sand, ears wrapped with wires, face hypnotized by the tiny screen he clutched. A tinny voice escaped into the air. Kurt raised an eyebrow. Who was that high pitched boy called? Bieber? Yeah, Justin Bieber. Huh, not bad for an old guy.

The kid disappeared among crowds of families and youngsters. Kurt sighed. Guess he’d been no better at that age. A transistor glued to his hand, the Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’ driving his parents to distraction as they tried to watch The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Ah, Sunny Isles Beach. In a way it hadn’t changed since he came here with his ma and pa back in ’63. ‘Cept the beachside condos which had sprung up, of course. But the sand and the sea, they were same. And they brought back memories.

Memories of her.

Darlene Geller.

Kurt closed his eyes, felt the warmth of the sun, heard the swish-swash of the waves, and in his head saw long blond hair tied back in a ponytail, a skin smooth and light tanned, eyes blue and alive with life, and a giggle to churn any teenage boy’s stomach.

Darlene Geller.

He’d first seen her by the ice cream truck as he eyed up a Bomb Pop being served to the kid in front. The cherry, lime and blue raspberry had suddenly lost interest to him. Instead he’d stared, mouth open, tongue hanging, at the something actually more deserving of his worship. The girl had been playing hide and seek with her younger brother, and had stepped out from behind the truck inches from Kurt.


That’d been his opening line.


He remembered going over that word all evening as ma and pa dozed deep at the restaurant table. What a dumb ass thing to say.


And bee-stung lips opposite him had replied.

‘Hey yourself.’

What did that mean? He can remember worrying all night about it, tossing and rolling in that bone hard bed in the hotel. Did she mean ‘Go away’, or ‘Hey, let’s talk’, or what?

The man in the ice cream truck had cut in, demanded with his tired, irritable voice what Kurt wanted. By the time Kurt looked back the girl was gone. Forever?

No, he’d seen her again the next day, when he went to hire a bicycle. She was going round and round in circles on a green Schwinn American. He’d handed a dollar bill over to the hire shop assistant, his eyes fixed on the green bike, too shy to stare at the rider.

‘You wanna take a girl’s cycle, sonny?’

The lanky assistant smiled down at Kurt, a matchstick waving lazy from his lips and a knowing look in his glance.

Kurt had grabbed the first bicycle from the rack and hurtled off down the track. As he’d come to the sand he’d determined to go back and speak to the girl. But he’d jammed the brakes on too fast, spun in a sand cloud of panic and had ended up on his butt with the bike across his legs.

‘You never ridden a bicycle before?’

Kurt had looked up. That face, haloed by blond hair, had appeared to float in the blue perfect sky.

‘Heck, course, just, just practising a trick I been working on. Pretty dangerous one too.’

Kurt’s cheeks had matched the red color of his check shirt. He’d tried not to cough with the sand and dust coating his hair and neck.

The girl had adjusted her feet on the pedals.

‘Well, you gonna simply stay there on the ground or you wanna come for a ride? My mom says I can go as far as the pier.’

‘What? Yeah, hey, let me…’

But she was gone, pedalling off along the beach like a Hollywood movie star, t-shirt billowing in the breeze, hair floating like a scarf behind her. Kurt had jumped up, thrown himself onto a saddle twisted and bent and had set off on an adventure to who cared where.

And that’s how it had started.

For the next two weeks they’d done everything together: swum in the sea, buried each other’s brothers in the sand, eaten hot dogs with mustard slow dripping, listed top ten songs and singers, argued over the coolest TV shows, and smoked Luckies behind parked up ice cream trucks late into the evening.

Best of all had been the times just lying on the hot beach, side by side, being fritter fried by the sun for hours on end, talking about their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their secrets. Kurt had felt like he’d found the other half of himself.

Then, like any novel or movie, the end scene had arrived. Cases had been packed, shoes emptied of sand, souvenirs forced into groaning cars, handshakes and backslaps exchanged between grown-ups.

And Darlene had written her address on Kurt’s arm in green biro.

And he’d really meant to copy it into his diary, the little one he kept in secret with poetic scribblings and dark, depressive forebodings of a Cold War exploding hot. He really had meant to.

Kurt had slept solid all the way home to Boston, gone straight to the washroom and, well, you can guess what had happened. Shucks, he’d said to himself later in his bedroom, he thought he could remember the address, he hoped he could, at least part of it. He’d written down the words on an envelope, scribbled a note, his fingers trembling as he inked the letters of ‘Darlene’, and sent it off, promising silently to a God he didn’t believe in he’d go to church every Sunday if only the Lord would help the mailman deliver the letter safe.


Kurt stirred. It was time to wake up from his dream of decades past. His stomach rumbled hungry messages. Gee, he realized, he’d been sitting here on the beach for an hour, reliving that holiday, revisiting Darlene Geller.

A body shifted next to him.

‘Come on, Kurt, let’s get back, the grandkids are Skyping us at seven.’

‘Sure, leave the ice box to me, you take the towels, Darlene.’




I was there

(written from a prompt about being a famous person)

I was there.

I was there at Omaha as the Americans came in onto the beach so very early on that June morning. The strong winds were playing havoc with the navigating of the last couple of hundred yards and many of the guys to our left hit the sand in the wrong places. Before we floundered up to our necks through the water to get to the beach, I counted at least ten landing craft swamped by the rough seas and in others I could see the soldiers having to bail out with their helmets just to keep themselves afloat. Uncharted sandbars brought numerous LCAs to a shuddering halt, leaving the trapped men stationary targets. Everywhere I was aware of troops vomiting from seasickness as the craft bunched up and bobbed around, queuing for their appointment with the shoreline.

But still we went in regardless: me with the 29th Infantry Division, untested in battle, along with part of the US Army Rangers, and the battle-hardened 1st Infantry Division, all unflinching in the face of both nature and the enemy.

I was there at Easy Red, one of the ten codenamed destinations, stumbling forward in amongst the heavy fire from the German artillery and automatic weapons which wiped out many a line of struggling men, the gun emplacements above the beach remaining undamaged by the earlier naval and air bombardment as shells and bombs dropped too far inland. As we crashed onward with knees doubled up, hidden under the sand lay the mines, leaving us a single footstep away from oblivion, and if we were lucky enough to miss those, the wooden stakes, barbed wire and metal tripods formed a crazy obstacle wall to hold up progress, giving the snipers up on the cliffs easy shooting practice.

By the time we made it to the shingle, having crawled three hundred yards ahead of the incoming tide, I reckoned half the guys were down. There we were, safe from the small arms fire but still with shells and mortars popping all around, leaderless packs of virgin soldiers cowering together. I gazed around, watching men beat the ground with frustration as they were unable to even return fire, their weapons needing to be cleaned before they could employ them again, sea water and sand having rendered most temporarily out of use.

Looking back down the beach, I could see the lines of tanks which never made it any further than the tide line, with more floating around some ten metres offshore, like toys in a child’s bath, hopelessly drowned by misinterpreted deep water. Things became even more confused when soldiers aiming for Dog White landed on top of us, creating a bottleneck of uniformed ducks for the hunters up on the cliff tops to pick off.

I was there. John Lazarus Long. In the midst of the bullets, the shrapnel, the shells, the screaming, the obscenity-laden charges up the wet, sucking sand. I was there. I actually saw it.

Just how any of the men made it up towards those high rocks astonished me. I guess it was a choice of stay on the beach and be mown down or at least have a small chance of survival by flinging yourself on towards  those natural rock fortresses. But there they were: the butcher, the baker, the schoolteacher, the hot dog seller, the clerk, the labourer, and no doubt somewhere, the candlestick maker, all launching themselves over that killing ground in the name of liberty, or more likely, their Mom, their sweetheart, their comrade.

Two hours after we first stumbled into the water I saw the troops start the assault of the cliffs, some inspired by a crazy courage, others more likely bullied by an inspirational leader. Heck, I was standing right next to Colonel George Taylor when he barked out the immortal words “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach, the dead and those who are going to die – now let’s get the hell out of here.” Those words sent a shiver down my spine, heaven knows what they did to the soldiers.

Suffice it to say the guys eventually got the work done although it was two further days before they linked up with the British at Gold Beach. It was wonderful to see them start to inch slowly inland but by then I’d achieved my objectives. It was time for me to move on back.

And what’s my part in all this? Why am I the famous person? Well, you see, John Lazarus Long is now a very famous person indeed. But my now is 2280. And I have just become the first man to successfully use the time travelling suit which took me back to those events so long ago. As I was the one risking everything, three earlier attempts having ended in fatal failure, I got to choose the time slot to aim for. There on that beach at Omaha I saw my distant direct relative fall in a hail of machine gun fire, at last no longer just another Missing In Action. And, strangely enough, I calculated around about the very same time, somewhere back in New York, his wife was about to go into labour.

As I stripped off the suit and everyone around me cheered and began downloading the memory streams I’d collected, I tasted the salt on my lips from the tears flowing down my cheeks. And I thought of the salt John Lincoln Long had probably tasted as he collapsed into that seawater on Omaha Beach.




Me and You

(written back in December 2015, this piece started me off on exploring the use of made-up hyphenated words after using ‘tire-roared’ here, and it’s also written with a woman as the narrator)


Your words made bad sound good.

First met in a bar of best repute, my heels bringing our eyes level, you toasted my rear and dared a response. Catching my hand mid-strike, reactions belying glazed pupils, you belched apologies through teasing lips. Your grip, tightly taut, eased with fingers sliding over my rings, lowering arms and barriers in one movement.

A jousting evening, words sharp as lances, ended in more than sex, less than love, frantic fumblings turning rhythmic repetitions. Dawn you smoked, I stared; we both understood unsaid commitments. Lifestyles ricocheted, mine surfing above the board you trod beneath. But there was something about you, differently dangerous, drawing me down. We parted, no promises proffered, yet knowing our unparallel paths would collide again.

You were there, days not weeks after that meet, waiting, time counting, finger flicking, stepping in front as I exited the theatre. I smiled with excitement, trembled with fear, icy heat sliding up my arm as hands touched. You offered a meal, I offered my time; you paid with a gold card, I paid with my future. Sex followed sex, but the in-between was greater, revelations by you, risking dislike and distance, but gambling excitement and enticement.

That dawn I was hooked, undesirous to leave, to taste delights outside my history, dangers never forewarned by mothers, highs that made all previous like the lowest of lows. You talked, I swallowed, a legend painted for creation. You showed me guns, cold metal warming my skin, as erotic as any lovemaking, and never flagging. You showed me plans, explained simplicity, like the teacher leading a pupil, an innocent and unfilled vacuum. I never left your side again.

The first was dim-lit basement cavern, high rollers high-rolled, barrels at temples, courage lapping their ankles. Money bundled in bags, more than six months my earnings, crumpled papers passing their dirt deep under fingernails. We laughed and tumbled on beds, counting lost after ten thousand, knowing we’d consummated something special.

The next lifted limits, precious jewels dropping dew-like into satchels, braceleted bangles imitating celestial rainbows sliding as they slid inside pockets, watches ticking out their worth as spilt unwound into boxes. You gun-butted an assistant, just because you could, I sneered at his powerlessness and kissed your barrel. We tire-roared away, Bonnie and Clyde updated.

Bank cashiers blanched and blasphemed, audacity admired, as just two dared the biggest deposits in town. I toted a double barrel, upgraded upstart you jeered, daring a movement, desiring to trigger. Pale-faced near-retiree sweated his age, fingers dropped from position, I pulled and oblivion welcomed him. Exhilaration ensured, yelling for the next, you pulled me out, millions left blowing in the wind.

We drove, motoring one step ahead, light cases lightly traveled, motels our mansions, gas stations our resorts. Criss-crossing county lines, states becoming states of mind, stopping to shoot up with shooters, sexing the evenings like animals at rut, nothing could stop us, until we stopped ourselves.

Sitting atop grass laden cliff, sunning our guns and baking our loot, you looked, and your eyes said ‘Hey, enough.’ I laughed, joking your party piece, but tiredness in pupils sold me your truth. We fired the car, our child in tow, looked over the edge, remembered Butch and Sundance, Thelma and Louise, hovered high jinksed then jumped. Back. Back into reality, cry-laughing to the next new town.

And our next new life.




The Demon Drink

(something written based on the agenda for my Monday Writers’ Group, set in 1960 America)

The Demon Drink

Johnny pitched. The dirt-smudged ball curved out right, swung back, left Kirk Kennedy flailing at vacant air, and sought the warm comfort of the catcher’s tanned steerhide gloves.

Kirk stepped forward, half in anger to wave a threatening bat at Johnny and half in the momentum of missing his target.

‘Hell, Friedman, how’d you do that? You couldn’t underarm it straight like a girl last week!’

‘Guess I’m a fast learner.’

The batter trudged to the dugout, bat trailing a dusty furrow in the sun-baked soil of the college ballpark.
Johnny sat in his bedroom, staring out the window at the backyard his ma liked to call a garden. Behind him an array of faces smiled across the room: Pa’s posters of baseball icons Roger Maris, Dick Groat, Vern Law, Mickey Mantle. They fought for Johnny’s attention which all too often fell upon Nancy Sinatra and Natalie Wood who stared down at the bed with smiles making sliders and curveballs seem obsolete to most seventeen year olds.

Kirk had been right. Johnny couldn’t have pitched right to a Minor League rookie before it happened. Gee, he wouldn’t even have offered to pick up the ball and try. Baseball wasn’t his love, much to his pa’s disappointment. He preferred sitting in the black-lit movie theater idolising his idols and planning a career as a big buck Hollywood director.

Until Thursday last.

He’d clambered out through the washroom window at the end of the movie, The Unforgiven, his mind half split on avoiding old man Getty spotting him as a non-payer after he’d climbed in the same window earlier, and half replaying the images of Audrey Hepburn flashing across his teenage mind. Then as he landed his foot had slipped on a bottle.

Johnny had drawn back his sneaker to send the offending vessel high over the fence when a voice cracked the humid late August air.

‘Hey, cut that out. I got feelings you know. Bouncing against wood ain’t pleasant.’

Johnny had spun on one foot, lost balance, and backed against the cold brickwork of the theater.

‘What the..?’

He looked around, expecting to see Getty or his goofy assistant Larry Riggle, standing in a doorway, a half smoked Winston dangling from itchy fingers just waiting to grab his collar.

But no-one was there.

Or anywhere, as Johnny swivelled fast eyes glaring hard to accustomise themselves to the lighter darkness of the real world.

‘Come out, whoever you are.’

Johnny’s voice wavered, uncertain who or what he might be facing. A line from the movie came into his blood-pounding head.

‘Or dammit, I’ll kill you before I eat breakfast.’

‘Don’t make me laugh. It sounded cool when Cash Zachery said it, but you ain’t no Audie Murphy, Johnny Friedman.’

Johnny froze.

And not just because the voice had spoken his name.

A movement had caught his eye as ‘Audie Murphy’ was mentioned. From the bottle.

Heck, yeah, the bottle.

In the murky light coming from the washroom window he could have sworn the glass moved. Like lips parting and closing.

Gee whiz, what had been in that soda he’d drunk inside the movie theater?

‘You gonna stand there all night gawping at me? Or you taking me home?’

Johnny saw the lips moving on the bottle this time for sure.

‘A talking bottle? Someone slip LSD in my M&Ms? And why the hell would I take you home?’

‘Because, sonny, I can change your life.’
And that’s how it began. For some crazy reason Johnny picked up the bottle with its weird moving lips and scuttled off home.

Back in his room Johnny studied his find closer. It was strangely clean and unmarked considering it might have been lying in the dirt of the movie theater’s parking lot for days, even weeks. Embossed in the glass was a feint word. Johnny ran his fingers over the letters. Yeah, he murmured, it said ‘Demon’. He’d never heard of a beer named that, or seen an advert anywhere or heard his pa mention it, and his pa knew most beers in this town.

‘So, what can I do for you, Johnny Friedman? Wanna date a hot chick who’s outta of your league? Be the quarterback who throws the winning pass to win the college national fame? Name it, buster.’

Now, any sensible, sane person would have thrown the bottle away and put the whole episode down to watching too many horror movies or drinking too many root beers. But Johnny Friedman was at a low ebb. No luck with the girls, schoolwork getting beyond his understanding and a pa forever goading him over his lack of sporting success. What’d he have to lose?

‘Well gee, if I’m not tripping out on some moonshine mixed with one of them psycho-what’s-it drugs, then make me a star baseball player at my college.’

‘Seal the deal, sonny. Take a sip of me.’

Johnny noticed for the first time there was liquid sliding around inside the bottle. The top unscrewed easy. He sniffed. It smelt sweet. What harm could he come to?

The fluid slid down. As Johnny garbled away at how he wanted to be the next Whitey Ford, number one pitcher from New York last year, he could have sworn he saw more liquid in the bottle than before he swigged that mouthful. But he was away in Dreamland, making his pa’s chest burst with paternal pride.

Within the week Johnny was pitching untouchable balls to every college player after turning up unannounced at evening practice. Coaches looked on open-mouthed. Friedman had been dismissed the previous year as a no-hoper for the sports squads. Now he was rapidly promoted through the ranks to replace the golden-haired Dan Loomis whose throwing arm too often now wrapped itself around cheerleader Janice Mayfield. What Loomis didn’t realise was that one week later it would be Johnny’s hand which gripped Janice tight while still pitching unplayable knuckle curves.

Soon Johnny walked down college corridors being backslapped by every jock and nerd, and eyelash-fluttered by every girl so long as Janice wasn’t hanging off his arm. The teachers overlooked low grades, glowing in the college’s new found reputation, and predicted fame for Johnny on the baseball diamond and endorsements to rival a movie star’s.
But Johnny’s ma noticed something others missed, or were blinded to as her son was carried off shoulder-high after every victory.

‘You’re still eating proper, Johnny?’ You seem thinner.’

Johnny pushed away a half-eaten bowl of Frosty O’s.

‘Stop fussin’, Ma. I’m fine. Just all the sports I’m doing now.’

He got up from the table, tightened his belt a notch to stop his jeans slipping off his hips and slunk upstairs. He needed another sip from Demon, there was a big match that afternoon.

Johnny wiped his lips, placed the bottle on the floor and belched.

‘I been feeling kinda off today, Demon. Summat wrong with your drink?’

The lips smiled wide.

‘Nothing wrong with me, Johnny.’

‘But how come you’re nearly full. I been drinking from you for weeks now.’

‘Ah, well, you see, Johnny, I give you something, and you give me something back in return.’

‘Me? Give you what? A room to stay in, ‘stead of a trash can or being set up for young kids to take pot shots at with catapults?

‘No, you give me more, Johnny.’

‘Like what?’

‘You give me your soul.’

Johnny reached across towards the bottle but lurched to one side as his latest consummation of liquid took away more of his very self and his legs crumpled beneath him. As he hit the carpet the last thing he heard was the Demon laughing and that laugh being echoed by ten thousand thousand similar bottles across the States.

So, children everywhere, beware the demon drink…





Coming out of nowhere

(writing group prompt about families and a child ‘coming out’, light-hearted.
my setting: 1960 America)

Me? I’m in my usual place in the kitchen. Them? Yeah, they’re sitting in their usual places too. Billy’s curdling his chocolate milk with a look to kill; sixteen and something on his mind to spit out. Connie’s fingering her beehive more than her sparse buttered toast; fourteen and no idea her teachers are gonna roast her for the hair style before her cotton socked feet touch the classroom floor. Pa’s striking up a Lucky as he pours a coffee darker than the dark side of the Moon; forty and a butt shaped like his Buick car seat from too many hours hood to trunk crawling on a highway to Hades. Ma’s admiring her new acquired Betty Crocker 2-slice toaster as it singes sliced bread condemned by the counterculture but glorious gold for her; thirtysomething and the happiest housewife this side of the Appalachians.

Billy’s got an itch to scratch but he can’t get the words past his Adam’s apple. Ever since he found his eyes following the quarterback’s butt and not the spiralling football angling with perfection towards the fleet-footed Freddy Schwarzkoff. No, it had been Curt Reyna who Billy’s eyeballs had stared at. He remembered shaking his head, hands ruffling through his neat clipped Ivy League-style locks, wondering why, then being jostled as everyone leapt up to applaud and whoop as Freddy high stepped over the end zone to win the game.

Billy’s head had shook the same three days later in the changing room when Curt had stripped off his top and Billy’s sidekick couldn’t understand why his friend had lost interest in the creased torn out page which showed Jane Russell strewn on a straw bale. Curt’s eyes had met Billy’s with a fleeting flicker, a quick smile showing white gloss teeth which reflected the overhead lights. Billy had nodded quick, looked away as if dismissing these jocks as below his grade of classroom nerd. But his tummy was tingling. Holy Moses, Batman, he thought, why?

The milk’s gone, Billy knows he’s got to leave the kitchen table or say something. Connie’s nibbling her toast edge in that annoying way, avoiding the burnt pieces where Ma mis-set Betty’s hot machine. Jeez, he wanted to mess up that thing on his sister’s head. Ma was singing soft Elvis’ ‘Stuck On You’ – shucks, she shouldn’t invade teenagers’ territory, that was his song. Billy has seen Elvis on the Frank Sinatra ‘Welcome Home Elvis’ Show, dressed in a suit his Pa might wear, but swinging those hips side to side. Billy had been mesmerized.

He kicked back his stool.

‘Ma, Pa, I got something to say.’

Connie chipped away at her toast, imagining what Brenda and Peggy would say about her beehive; Pa inhaled deep, daydreaming out the kitchen window of his Indian Scout motorcycle; Ma stroked the yellow and black handle of the her gleaming chrome kettle.

‘I think I like boys. Like boys, you know, not girls.’

Connie sucked her buttered fingers.

‘That’s only ‘cos you’re so ugly no girl wants to go necking with you.’

Pa gazed, circled by smoke.

‘Least you might get to keep your bike, boy.’

Ma sighed as the Big Chill refrigerator hummed on.

‘Mommy loves you anyways, cookie cheeks. Be good at school today.’

Billy exited, silently screaming.


Me? I’m just a pastel pink Hoover Deluxe 652 vacuum cleaner standing in the corner. You can tell me by the way I walk.*


*apologies to Peter Gabriel for playing around with one of the best lyrics in popular music.


Just another Bond mission…

(written a couple of years ago, cheap and cheerful, nothing special)

“So, Mr Bond, you have 90 seconds to save yourself. It’s been nice knowing you…I think not!”

The evil Dr Feelingstrange laughed and hopped aboard the helicopter. As it rose into the air he looked down at the prostrate James Bond who lay shackled to a flagpole. Several floors below him a massive bomb ticked to itself. On top of the black cylinder stood a two minute timer with the sand dribbling a quarter of the way through already.

James twisted onto his back, reached down with his manacled hands and managed to use one thumb to press against the heel of his shiny black patent leather shoes. A flap swung open and a minute saw flicked out and began buzzing at high speed. The sparks flew as the chains were cut away. James pulled his wrists apart and stood up. Removing his shoe, he used the drill to slice through the steel loops around his ankles. Free at last he raced to the door that lead from the roof terrace to the stairs.

As James pounded down the first steps he could hear the helicopter disappearing into the distance. On the third level he found the exit door locked. James unclipped his wristwatch, pulled out the winder button, set the second hand for ‘3’, looped the watch over the door handle and retreated a few steps. The door exploded inwards and James launched himself into the smoke filled room.

Ahead were two armed guards, either suicidely inclined or just ignorant of the ticking bomb behind them. Their guns raised, James dived behind a table to his right. Bullets thudded into the metal top. James reached into his jacket inside pocket and withdrew a pen. Twisting the middle ninety degrees he pointed it over the top of the table at one of his attackers and pressed the clip. A tiny dart flew out and struck the man between his eyes. By the time he hit the floor the second guard was stumbling back as a second dart pierced his left eye.

James rushed towards the bomb. His mind had calculated that he had twenty seconds of sand left. Long enough.

Dr Feelingstrange saw the massive plume of smoke rising from the explosion.

“Shucks, that’s bad luck, Mr Bond. These cheap Chinese imported timers just can’t be relied on…”