Tower of Strength by Mark Anthony Smith

I look up to the seventeenth floor. She is small and so high up. It would be easier to see her as a dot or a full stop. But she is subjective and coughing from the smoke. She has no choice. I cannot imagine what she is feeling. Maybe she isn’t thinking at all.

Triggered by Dan Brotzel

‘How do you say your name, sir?’ asked Brian.

‘Afamu.’

‘AHH-farrrrrrHH-MOO? OK, sir, I’ll do my best with that.’

‘And what about you, my dear?’ He looked at her encouragingly.

‘Jill,’ she said.

‘Thank you, Jill!’ he said, with a satisfied smile to the rest of the group. He seemed to be saying: Why can’t everyone else have a nice straightforward name like that?

Vacation Cities by Robert Boucheron

Zingpow

Zingpow is a resort town, a seaside splash of glass towers, whitewashed villas, and thatched huts on a sparkling beach, with a harbor for yachts, an indoor shopping mall for luxury brands, and exclusive clubs in which to dine and dally. Zingpow is a playground for the elite, a getaway for the one percent. Zingpow is a jolt for the idle and a balm for the weary, a place to rev up and a place to relax. Zingpow accepts major credit cards, wire transfers, and pure gold.

The Wastelander by Martin Webb

A single teardrop draws a bright line down the old man’s dust-smeared cheek. Its slow passage further marks a face weathered by time and toil. This dystopia, this burning Earth, has claimed his kin. It seems that now, finally, it is his turn to die.

Baker coughs, his raw throat screaming for relief. He’s on his knees, this once proud man, and the tear he sheds is not born of the pain or the humiliation that he’s being subjected to. It is for his friends, the two young travellers who not so long ago accompanied him, the two who were killed instantly by the band of raiders who’d ambushed them.

Dog Days by Kate Lunn-Pigula

The first week of the summer holidays was wonderful. I finally had some much-needed alone time, time to read books that I had accumulated since September. I lay down in my sunny garden with my dog, Fred. He’s half-Westie, half-poodle. A Westie-poo, the woman at the rescue place said when we bought him. He’s a mutt, said my now ex-partner.My ex didn’t like Fred.

My ex also didn’t like that I worked in a rough school. By rough, he meant “state”. He said I didn’t have enough ambition. I had ambition, I told him, I want to be a great teacher. I’d like more money, who wouldn’t?, but I was comfortable earning what I was on now. You need to get your life together, he said towards the end. I can’t go on living like this, as if we were destitute.