Text Box: Third Quarter 2014 — Second Place


Tie Die by Steve Startup































The threadbare, pink whorls on the faded counterpane press into his cheek. To relieve the pressure he turns to face the window. Wan sunlight is breaking through the flowery curtains. It softens the stark fluorescence of the naked bulb, which has glared all night.

He is struck by the incongruous domesticity. A gilt framed photo on the bedside table. A nearly handsome man in his demob suit, smiling benignly. Beside it a pearl handled brush and comb set, some wispy, grey-blond hairs clinging to the bristles. There is the vague scent of lavender coming from a small blue and white posy, embroidered with the word “Mum” in childish stitches.      

Someone in one of the flats is listening to the test-match on the radio. He doesn’t bother to shout, he wouldn’t be heard. A dark patch, cold against his face, gradually spreads towards the edge of the bed, as he drools around his golf-ball gag. He whimpers piteously in his frustration, straining at his bonds. He knows that the aching pain in his arms will force him to turn again soon. He is tied face down and can only move his head form side to side. When he can no longer stand it, he turns away from the window and faces into the room.

Next to the bed is an array of multi-coloured dildos, ridiculous in their regimental rows, like soulful sentinels. His underpants lay where he had stamped them off. He experiences a slight twang of shame as he notices the small, brown track on the gusset. Alongside them a discarded leather balaclava grins at him in zippered mockery.

He can smell the salty leather of the whip protruding from under the pillow. On a fussy little dressing table he sees a pile of crisp twenty-pound notes; fresh from the cash-point. Last night he had thrust them into the eager hands of the middle-aged dominatrix. She lies alongside him now.

He has watched her staring eyes transform during the night. From a startled green to a dull khaki; the whites now gob grey. Her leather corset, so vibrantly red hours before, is rendered brown by the thin afternoon light. Her podgy arms are pale and marbled. He notices flashes of grey beneath her chestnut wig.

In her cold hands she still clutches the small bottle of Glyceryl-trinitrate pills that, in her panic, she had been unable to open last night.

First Place: Bit by Bit

Third Place: Nothing to Do But His Laces