Tic tacs and goblins


I’ve been travelling a lot recently. 122 journeys in the last ten days. And I don’t mean down to the local shops – I’ve been to Cyprus, Kenya, Poland, the USA, India, Greece… Outer space as well. And my travelling companions have been just as varied: witches, magicians, cows, junkies, convicts, bridesmaids, boxers… All in all, there hasn’t been a single dull moment.

Those are the trips I’ve taken with the 121 entries into this year’s Book A Break short story competition. The prompt (which didn’t have to appear verbatim) was ‘They had a long journey ahead of them’, better than last year’s prompt, which invited tales about fathers being nasty to cats. Rather restrictive, that. Just as I’d hoped, this one opened up the universe. Journeys through life, science fiction (though no time travel, rather to my surprise – must be a little passé), treks through the desert, up mountains, into caves, and every mode of transport you can imagine.

Ingrid’s reading them now, and we won’t correspond till her decision. I’m lucky in that I don’t have to choose a winner – I’m reading them more with an eye to the anthology. And I’m already excited – plenty of good material there.

But you’ve spotted the discrepancy – 121 entries and 122 journeys. Well, the last one was for real – we’re 1000 miles down the road in Cadiz. An uneventful journey unless you count the tic tac tiff. We’d barely gone 200 yards when Mrs. B. said, ‘Where are they?’ ‘Where are what?’ ‘My tic tacs. I left them by the dashboard.’ ‘They’re in the door space.’ ‘No, they’re not.’ ‘Well, that’s where I put them.’ ‘Well, they’re not there now. Why didn’t you leave them by the dashboard?’ ‘They get in the way. The door’s better.’ ‘So why aren’t they there? Where are they?’ ‘I don’t know. You must have moved them.’ ‘No, I didn’t.’ And so on. Deary me, I thought. We have a long journey ahead of us...

Otherwise, all went fine. I don’t count getting lost when we got off the motorway. We don’t have a sat nav because there isn’t any fun if you don’t get lost. So just before Tarragona, looking for the village of Albinyana, we spent a pleasant half hour looping among innumerable bypasses, slip roads, dual carriageways and roundabouts, several of which began to look familiar after a while. We finally made it to the village, where we stayed in a charming little hotel full of hobgoblins and trolls. ‘We wanted something different,’ said Lydia, the young woman who runs it with her husband. ‘And I must admit, I have a thing about goblins.’

‘Lovely,’ I said. ‘I’ve been on all sorts of journeys lately, but none so far with a goblin.’

The next morning, as we set out for Almeria, I noticed Mrs. B. was happily sucking a tic tac. ‘They turned up, then,’ I said. ‘Where were they?’

‘In my computer bag. I don’t remember putting them there.’

‘Ah. Must have been a goblin,’ I said.



Posted in reading, Short story competition, travel and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. I started this post with my eyebrows raised in surprise and anticipation! 122 journeys in ten days!? How could this be so?! Your journey sounds like it went well, despite the wandering tic tacs! 🙂

  2. That’s an impressive number of submissions, Curtis. I don’t envy Ingrid’s task in choosing among them. I did get going on a good opening graf (or maybe three), but that, I think, was the night I had my accident and that kind of derailed some cars into different places. Ah well, I’ll probably pursue it; in the meantime, I can’t wait to see what happens with the anthology. Pleasant journies to you and Mrs. B, too! (It’s funny what we married couples can, ahem, argue about sometimes.)

    • Thanks, Leigh. I don’t envy Ingrid either, especially as I’ve read at least half a dozen worthy contenders. At that point it’s almost the luck of the draw, with personal subjectivity bound to play a part. Get well and writing soon!

      • Thank you, Curtis. I’m doing quite a bit of writing . . . copywriting. Not so exciting writing about household goods as opposed to aliens, rogue viruses, and shapeshifters. Have fun traveling; stay safe.

        • Many of our household goods fall prey to rogue viruses, but maybe that’s not what you’re supposed to be highlighting. Hoping you get back to more fun stuff soon.

  3. Lovely trip!!!!! and in just ten days journey!!!!..jajaja I’ve been in some of those countries but…thy took me some years.
    Well… reading is as well a way of travelling. In some books I’ve read were them som good that I thought I was really travelling!
    By the way… next week I’m going to Sudafrica.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading the Journey anthology, and I’ll be watching for next year’s prompt. Barring abduction by aliens and organza flames, I even hope to participate again. Now I’m embarking on a journey through all the reading I’ve bypassed over the past few months, scheduled to arrive at the present, caught up and refreshed.

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