Now then. What a charming first line that is, don’t you think? As lots of you knew, it’s of course the first line of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. But knowing you lot as we do, we were sure we could count on you to create all kinds of less homely moles – shout out to the last robot vacuum at the end of the world – and you did not disappoint. Another vintage crop of funny, silly, terrifying and beautiful flash fiction: well done, team.
Here are this week’s winners:
RUNNER-UP: Paul Jenkins
Put on chemical suit. Drag body down cellar steps. Remove clothes from body. Place clothes in washing machine. Set to 40C. Remove any items from pockets and take upstairs to Sports Holdall A. Return to cellar. Place body on pre-arranged mats. Put mask on. Take axe to neck. Remove head. Place in black bag A. Remove individual limbs. Place in black bags B-E. If need to vomit, use bucket positioned under stairwell.
Put tail in black bag F. Take all black bags upstairs and place in Sports Holdalls B and C.
Return downstairs. Remove bucket if used and rinse. Remove mats to kitchen and same. Bleach cellar floor, walls and stairs. Leave floor to dry. Check again in 1 hour. Remove any remaining stains, sweep again, open cellar window to ventilate and close door.
Shower. Scrub thoroughly. Clean shower, check plughole. When dressed, take chemical suit downstairs and place in Sports Holdall C.
Revise notes for whereabouts last 24 hours. Test yourself. Check yesterday’s TV listings.
Take clothes from machine to tumble dryer. When dried, fold and pack into Sports Holdall A.
Take Rodentine and pipette from kitchen. Place in Sports Holdall A. Clean table, rinse sink.
Ring R., leave message, asking how he is. Sound calm, measured. Re-record until satisfied.
Walk to jetty, place all three sports holdalls beneath tarpaulin in stern.
Make tea, smoke cigarette. Check pockets for wallet, passport, keys. Put the cologne on, the one Badger loves. Wait by window for him.
Destroy this note. Now.
WINNER: Carolyn O’Brien
Still kneeling, Celia sits back on her ankles to survey Mole’s work whilst he leans against the wardrobe, a tiny brush wedged in his paw. Bending forward again, face-furrowed, Celia centres the clock on the living-room mantelpiece. Finally satisfied, she sweeps Mole up in the air and jostles him into the kitchen.
‘Time for a cup of tea?’ Mum says brightly.
Celia frowns. She’s trying to stand Mole in the middle of the room, but his plastic feet aren’t quite even and she can never manage it. She settles on propping him against the wooden dresser.
‘Is he having a break now? Maybe he wants some tea?’
But Celia gently closes the right panel of the house. The tidied rooms darken. And now she closes the left panel, so that Mole, his nose sniffing the air above his blind eyes, is only just visible through the lattice-window.
‘Bye-bye Mr Mole.’ says Mum.
Meanwhile Celia has tottered into the kitchen and positioned her step-ladder immediately under the sink. She climbs up, stretches over, teetering on one leg, to reach the tap.
‘Darling, you’re not dirty.’
She pumps the antibacterial soap onto her hands and rubs, swirling them over and over in the rush of water.
‘What shall we do now?’
Celia snaps off a piece of kitchen-roll and dries herself carefully. Throwing away the paper, she walks past her mother, returns to the doll’s house and opens the doors. She picks up Mole.
Her mother sighs and wrings her hands.
Congratulations, Paul and Carolyn! And thanks to everyone, as always. You fill us with a Spring-like joy.
See you next week!