Short Stories by Alistair Potter

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As part of the process of learning about writing I have written short stories. Some of these have been written with a market in mind, aimed at magazines or for radio. These very short stories came from stimulus sessions at writing groups I attended. I have collected some of the longer stories in a compilation Beach Life 2, which is available in the Kindle E-book format.


Royal Society Christmas Lecture 1926


Mr Goofy


The Obstruction




Another Day in Metropolis


Basket Cases




The Last Supper (Caution, contains swearing and adult themes.)


Three Minute Monologue (Caution, contains swearing. For best effect, read with a Belfast accent.)


The Tower


Three Minute Monologue (Belfast accent)


So I'm here, waitin' fer the lift, an' this kid comes in pullin' this big horse. So the kid stands right there beside me, an' the horse starts restin' its nose on mah shoulder.

Ah turns an' looks at the boy.

He looks back at me an' says, "Somethin' wrong, mister?"

 Ah just looks back at him, says nothin'.

Like, see that film, what was it? Aye, 'Out of The West', that one with they two boys an' that big white racehorse. Well ever since that film it's bin a fuckin' status symbol, horses in high-rises. Christ, ah want to know who cleans up the fuckin' mess in the lift? Roses! Roses did I hear you say! Good for the roses. Where the fuck are you goin' to find roses round here. Yer lucky if you can find a blade of grass - the fuckin' horses have ete the lot.

Aye… Belfast… changed times, you say. Tell me this? What sort of job is yer man lookin' for, now he's no shootin' kneecaps? Aye! Think about it. Can yeh just see him down the Unemployment!

"Former occupation please, sir?"

"Ah… well… ah wasn't workin' that regular, nights mostly."

"Have you got a P45?"

"Nah, it's a Kalashnikov, mister."

I mean… whit's yer man good for? Tell you! He'd be as well handin' hiself over before they declare their amnesty. Look what he'd get; place to sleep, three meals a day, trainin', education if he's wantin' it. Safer than being on the fuckin' dole.

Five years time an' yer man's a celebrity, out doin' chat shows an' lectures, sellin' his story to Hollywood an' makin' films.

Or maybe he's off like those Russian and American soldiers you were always hearin' about… military advisors. But yer man now, he's a para-military advisor.

And what about yer man that was dealin' drugs to pay for the war. Yer tellin' me he's no worked out a new career plan.

Aye… peace an' prosperity, cultural regeneration. The open hand of friendship stretched across the communities, over barbed wire fences an' barricades.

Sure an' yeh don' cut yersel' now. An' would you let yer daughter marry one of them? Well? Would yehs?

Aye… so I hear we're all set for this here "tourist boom'. Next we'll be havin' guided tours of all the famous spots.

"On yer right, Shankhill. Falls Road at yer left there… an' yer treat fer today, tour of the Royal."

Ah can just see one of them open top busses. Rollin' along the street, painted up fine in camouflage green, wire mesh on all the windows. Just for a bit of authenticity like.

Aye… so I'm here… me an' this kid… an' the fuckin' horse… still waitin' for the lift.

The kid turns to me an' he says, "It's no comin', mister. Can ah gee yeh a ride?"

"Aye," I says, "fifth floor."

"Climb on then," he says.

Maybe keepin' a horse in a fuckin' high-rise aint so daft after all.





The Tower


The Tower has always been. There is no history without The Tower. It sits amidst a sea of sand, its slender form stretching into the clouds. There is no end to it for even on cloudless days, if you will take the risk of looking, it seems to rise forever.

It was written, by some of the very few who approached its base and lived, that The Tower is made from stone blocks ten times the height of a man and twice that in width. The stone is dark and pockmarked with the scars of our weapons. Only once was it seen this close. Long ago they built a tunnel to the base of The Tower. The scouts took ten hours to travel around The Tower. They found one immense door made from a single sheet of burnished metal. But no sight was made of the enemy. In truth no one has ever seen the enemy. Even as the patrol's findings were arriving back at the tunnel mouth, having been passed from runner to runner for a full day, a great rush of burning chemicals filled the tunnel and all within perished. The campaign finished early that year.

Last years campaign went well and losses were fewer than 300,000. We tried erecting a giant earthwork, which we built steadily towards The Tower. But as fast as the earth could be brought up The Tower flung it back at us, bombarding us with immensely powerful artillery. The soil turned red, mixed with the blood of thousands.

This year we bring a new weapon, The Great Cannon. It is primed awaiting my signal. I raise my arm and row upon row of troops cheer. The sound pulses and surges across the plain behind The Embankment; a circle of earthworks that protects our horizon. I drop my arm and the ground heaves and shudders as The Great Cannon bellows.

I can only imagine the fountain of sand that will erupt at the base of The Tower as our shell strikes at it. Then I hear the first screams as the observers are picked off one by one. Yes, it's going to be a glorious campaign this year.




All content © Alistair Potter.



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