Category Archives: Flash fiction

Reading comprehension for “Diamonds as big as…’

1. Look again at the flash fiction story titled: ‘Diamonds as big as…’ and decide if the following statements are true or false

a. Yarlson works for BASSEY

b. Yarlson is a commando

c. Yarlson lost an eye when someone shot him

d. BASSEY’s headquarters are on Mars

e. BASSEY is a mining company

f. Yarlson’s ship is carrying cargo that Sarah Bligh wants

g. Sarah Bligh’s ship is at the link module

h. Sarah Bligh is going to steal Yarlson’s ship

i. Sarah Bligh is going to give Yarlson her ship



Vocabulary task – matching

Match the words and phrases from the flash fiction story ‘Diamonds as big as…’ with the correct definitions

a. assured

b. ‘steady as a rock’

c. to glance

d. ‘gung-ho’

e. ‘playing dumb’

f. to traverse

g. a coup


i. to go from one side of something to the other

ii. to look at quickly

iii. pretending not to be smart

iv. aggressive and glory-seeking

v. without movement

vi. a revolt against the government

vii. calm and confident

Tagged ,

Picture activity for ‘Diamonds as big as…’

Look again at the flash fiction story ‘Diamonds as big as…’ and see if you can find the words to match these pictures

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 8.26.02 PM

Tagged ,

Flash fiction – Diamonds as big as…

Diamonds as big as…

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 9.31.13 AMWhen she said the words, they took him by surprise: ‘Put your hands up – slowly.’

Her voice was quiet but authoritative. Although he had only known of her existence for less than twenty minutes, he already liked what he saw. She was direct, competent, assured.

Just like a good captain ought to be.

Her words had arrived from over his left shoulder. Why had he not heard her approach? He turned his head slightly and looked her in the eye. His heart began beating a little faster, but not from fear. He knew that was unprofessional – dangerous even – but he couldn’t help it. He glanced at her hand. Steady as a rock, which he expected. And she was holding the perfect weapon for the job too – nothing that would cause damage to the hull. If she did fire, the SR projectile would knock him off his feet. A headshot might even kill him, or take out the one good eye that still remained after the drill bit accident on the surface of ’55 Cancri e’. He could always pay for new ones  – if he made it back to Earth; but for now, the best option was to go with the flow. And anyway, he was a mining engineer, not some off-world, space-colonizing, gung-ho commando.

‘Take it easy: BASSEY don’t pay me well enough to take an SR round,’ he said. He brought his hands away from the telecom switch, the link between the mining ship and BASSEY’s distant headquarters on Earth.

‘Now face me. And keep your hands up,’ she responded.

He turned, opening his palms towards her.

‘Good,’ she said, ‘that’s very good.’

He could smell her – a faint, sweet smell that reminded him of…

‘Wipe that grin off your face.’

He tried. ‘What’s all this about?’ he asked.

‘Don’t!’ she said simply.

He nodded. No use playing dumb: that was an insult to her intelligence. And there was no doubt that she was smart: she and her crew had taken his ship with no lost of life – yet. He took a deep breath. ‘So. Now what?’

With a toss of her long red hair, she answered: ‘We are going to take a little walk.’

‘Airlock?’ he wondered. That was more than a little depressing. ‘Ship’s quarantine ward?’ That was slightly more cheering. ‘Short or long plank?’ he finally asked.

‘Very funny,’ she replied, and with a twitch of the SRB, indicated that he was to walk in front of her.

As they left the forward control chamber, two members of her crew came towards them. One, a tall man with legs like stilts and a jutting chin, spoke: ‘The rest are there already, Captain.’

He glimpsed her nod curtly – and then he felt the dangerous end of the SRB lodge itself in his back. He accepted the invitation to walk a little faster.

Before long, they had passed through the crews’ quarters, the main gym, and the outer edges of cargo bay 2. It seemed they were heading in the general direction of the link module; and he was beginning to think that his initial guess – that they would demand access to the main storage areas, take their share of the planet’s riches and then depart – was looking unlikely.

‘Aren’t you going to ask me for the access codes?’ If they wanted to get into the storage tanks – he reasoned – they’d need those…unless they had heavy cutting gear.

No answer.

He took a quick look behind.

‘Don’t do that again,’ she said calmly, ‘or I’ll have to waste an SR on you.’

He kept my eyes front after that.

Through one airlock and quarantine bay after another they went, traversing the ship from its control module to its crews’ quarters to its storage tanks.

The link module was the only place of importance they hadn’t yet visited. If the ship had a backdoor, the link module would have been it. It was also where the other ship had docked, and it was from there that they had launched their successful coup. At least, he assumed it was successful.

At the final airlock before the link, she stepped through with him. As the blast doors closed and the air voided, she turned and spoke – and again he marveled at eyes the colour of jade.

‘Are you familiar with Earth’s history, Mr…’

‘Yarlson. Somewhat,’ he replied.

She nodded.

‘And your name is…?’ he asked.

The air rushed in again; and they stepped out the containment area as the two members of her crew step into the air lock behind them. ‘There is a grave in south London,’ she continued with the SRB pointed at his chest, ‘of a man who died over 400 years ago. He was cast adrift in the ocean in a tiny boat; but because of his navigational skills, he saved himself and his crew.’

He didn’t like where this conversation was going. The smile on his face had rapidly begun to disappear. They were joined by three more of her crew and together the seven of them entered the link module’s docking bay.

‘Well, Mr. Yarlson,’ she said as the docking bay alarms began to flash, ‘I’m afraid it is time to say goodbye. You’ll find the rest of your crew on our vessel.’

He gave her a puzzled look.

She shrugged. ‘It’s an old ship – the navigational equipment is poor and this one is much faster. Also, there’s no point in transferring the diamonds when we can simply steal the ship.’

He couldn’t argue with her logic. But he was feeling anxious – and the reference to a historical figure had puzzled him.

‘You didn’t tell me your name,’ he said, stepping into the final airlock between the mining vessel and the other ship. He faced her as its door began to slide downwards.

‘Sarah,’ she called as she disappeared from sight, ‘Sarah Bligh.’

© ©

Tagged , ,

Picture activity for ‘A Dangerous Habit’

Match these pictures with the correct words from ‘A Dangerous Habit’

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 8.32.53 PM

Tagged ,

Reading comprehension for ‘A Dangerous Habit’

1. Look again at the flash fiction story ‘A Dangerous Habit’ and decide if the following statements are true or false

a. The story takes place in a basement

b. The old woman is tied to a chair

c. The old woman smokes the cigarette that she has brought

d. The old man’s name is Dr Barns

e. The old man was the doctor who treated the old woman’s husband

f. The old woman’s husband is still alive

g. The old woman’s husband was called Allen

h. The old woman has sold her house

i. The old woman’s husband was a smoker

j. The old woman doesn’t expect to see the old man again

Tagged ,

A dangerous habit – Flash fiction

A dangerous habit

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 9.53.20 PM‘You really want it, don’t you?’ she said, stroking the stubble on the old man’s chin. ‘Hmmm?’

The old man’s lips reached out, trying to attach themselves to it, but she kept the cigarette just out of reach. If his hands had not been handcuffed to the metal frame of the basement’s boiler, she was sure that he would have taken it from her.

She looked into his eyes. They looked back at her pleadingly. `My goodness, you really do want it badly,’ she said. She straightened and placed the cigarette on an old table. It rolled off and fell to the stone floor.

Both of them watched its red tip burn there.

She sniffed. Without the thick cigarette smoke that normally filled the little room, his smell was even stronger. It had been seven months since she had captured him. After only three, he had become an addict. Pathetic really. She sniffed again. She regularly released one of his hands and gave him water to wash himself with, but it didn’t seem to do much good.

Filthy man.

She looked at her watch: time for his food. She reopened the meat paste she had brought yesterday and spooned it out the jar.

The old man’s tongue wormed out of his mouth and licked the pink paste.

While he ate, she thought again about the first time she had met him. How long had it been? Twelve months ago? A year since her Albert shook hands with him. Albert had been so looking forward to meeting the great Dr Barns. And the promises he made Albert that day! Albert was never brave, but the poor man even looked forward to the transplant…

Getting Dr Barns to visit her house after Albert’s murder – not death, murder – hadn’t been that difficult. She watched the great doctor walk up the street towards her Victorian detached villa as though he ruled the world. She let him in, put the required drug in his tea and dragged him down here. That had been the hardest part. Fortunately, he was rather a slight man.

Dr Barns licked at his dry, cracked lips.

She held up the spoon. `More?’ she asked. He shook his head and coughed. It sounded deep – as though it had come from the furthest part of his lungs. In fact, the cough sounded the exact same as the one dear Albert had…and the one she now had too. A couple of months ago, she had coughed up blood and had quickly seen a real doctor who had told her the news that she was expecting.

It was all arranged; had been for the past week.

‘No transplants this time, Dr Barns,’ she said, dropping the spoon onto the old table beside them. ‘I’ve sold this place, you know. In three months, the new owners will move in. I’m off to Belhaven care home in Benchley. Do you know it? Looks a lovely place. Not cheap, I can assure you.’

She bent down and checked the handcuffs around his feet and wrists.

The old man glanced at the key that she now held in her hands. A look of fear passed over his face.

All those years putting up with Albert’s cigarettes and never once had she worried about passive smoking.

‘Well, goodbye, Dr Barns,’ she said, replacing the scarf that she used to cover his mouth. ‘I don’t expect I’ll be seeing you again.’

As she climbed the stairs out of the basement, his muted screams – and then his retching coughs – followed her to the landing.

The old oak door that she closed and locked behind her snuffed them out.

© ©

Tagged , ,

Grammar for The Piper

Look at our new very short story called The Piper in the section called ‘FLASH FICTION’.

Think‘, ‘know‘, ‘feel‘, ‘wish‘, ‘see‘ and ‘guess‘ are common verbs in English. Often the verbs follow this pattern: SUBJECT +VERB + THAT + NOUN CLAUSE. For example, ‘The piper thought that the man was about fifty years old‘. In this example, the SUBJECT = ‘The piper‘, the MAIN VERB = ‘thought‘, and the NOUN CLAUSE = ‘the man was about fifty years old‘. The subject of the noun clause = the man, and the verb in the noun clause = was.

A. Put these sentences into the correct order.

1. | wished | that he |speak | languages| a hundred | The piper | could

2. | that | The piper | the man | Scottish | guessed | was

3. | felt | a happy | cheer | The piper | that | tune | would | him up

4. | he had | at least | The piper | that | knew | to get |every day | ten pounds

5. | the woman | The piper | gave | saw | him a pound |that

B. Complete these sentences

1. The piper thought that the man was about fifty because…

2. The piper saw that he could stop playing soon because…

3. The piper wished that everyone would give him ten pounds because….

4. The piper wished that he could tell people to run away because….


Tagged ,