So, then - it turns out it's National Short Story Day. Today's the shortest day of the year (well, it's the day with the shortest period of sunlight. I'm pretty sure we're still managing to squeeze in the usual twenty-four hours), so you might feel like you're a little pressed for time. Ideal circumstances, in fact, for you to wolf down a bite-sized short story or two. After all, it's not like it's worth going outside in the cold and the dark.
There are many story recommendations flying about at the moment, and I'd like to add three more to the mix. One's in an anthology, and the other two can be read by following the links below.
First up is "Circadia", from Rich Hall's book, Magnificent Bastards. I finished reading this collection a few days ago and Circadia is the stand-out story, by my reckoning. It's a fantastically constructed tale in which the narrator meets a man claiming to be terminally ill and finds himself agreeing to be on call, ready to help the guy end his life when the time comes. The eerie, mountainside setting and the odd community living there perfectly complement the uneasy deal the two men strike, and the story is by turns poignant and hilarious as the narrator struggles to find a way out of his obligation.
Secondly, Meditation for the Dead by Jakob Drud. You can read this at FlashFictionOnline.com, a website that has published some great flash fiction over the years. Meditation for the Dead is a brilliant twist on the zombie genre, done in the style of one of those self-hypnosis tapes that were briefly popular back in the day. It manages to be amusing and sinister simultaneously, which is quite an achievement.
And my last selection is Spencer Holst's Brilliant Silence, which I couldn't find online in any official capacity, but did manage to track down this version, which has a handy (perhaps) Spanish translation to go with it. This one's a very short flash piece about two bears who are left to their own devices when the circus they are part of disbands after an accident. In fairness, the story is pretty slight, but the imagery is beautiful and the bears dancing at the end of the story is a mental picture that's stayed with me ever since I first read it, which must be at least three years ago now.
I hope you enjoy those. There's not a lot else for me to add, except the obligatory reminder that there is still plenty of time to enter my competition to win £50 to spend at Amazon.co.uk. Yes, I really am giving away a £50 voucher (plus a £10 runner-up voucher), it's free to enter and you don't even need to buy a copy of my book. Bargain!