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20 August 2012

'Contract to Retire' finds success in the finals

The Middle of June was an exciting time for me. I'd entered the Worcester Literary Festival's Flash Fiction Competition with my short story entitled 'Contract to Retire'. With over a hundred entries I knew the competition was going to be tough and I was unsure as to whether I should actually enter at all. But, after much debate, I finally emailed my 280-word-piece... and waited.

On the 15th June 2012 I received an email notification with some great news - I'd been selected as one of the ten finalists in the competition. Wow! I couldn't believe it - what a great success this was for me and my story. But this now mean't that my story, along with the other 9 finalists, would have to be read out at the official Flash Fiction Competition's Finalists Event. Unfortunately, I was, as usual, working - performing magic at a children's party - and I knew I wouldn't be able to read the story in person. Lisa Ventura, one of the Worcester Literary Festivals chef organisers, kindly offered to read my piece - and big thanks go to Lisa doing what I know was a splendid job.

On the evening of the event, all ten stories were read out by their authors and then the judges, Callum Kerr and Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, announced the top three - sadly my little tale of a 'Hit-man with Alzheimers' didn't make it into any of those prestigious spots, but I was, and still am, thrilled and delighted to have made the finals - top 10 out of 100 is good going in anyone's book. And, I can tell you that after reading all the top ten stories the standard was tremendously high, and big congratulations go to the eventual winner Amy Rainbow  - what a great name that is for an author.

worcestershire literary festival logo
Even though I missed the readings and results I did manage to get there for the final 40 minutes and received a nice welcome when I arrived. Judge, Callum Kerr, was just finishing off reading some of his flash fiction and this was followed by the winner who read her excellent piece. I wasn't expecting to get a chance to read my story, and it was a nice surprise when Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn asked me if I would like to. I, of course, did.

The morale of the story (sorry about the pun) is that you'll never know how good you can do in anything unless you have a go. I'm really glad that in the end I did enter. My story along with all the other ten finalists will be available as part of an e-anthology in the near future - I'll let you know when as soon as I know. Below is my entry, I hope you enjoy it.

Contract to Retire by Andy Kirk

I may have been to this place before, I'm not sure. I couldn't tell you the name of the hotel I'm staying in or the room number—at least, not without looking at the note pad I now rely upon so heavily. I do, however, remember why I’m here and the job I'm supposed to be doing, but it seems that Alzheimer’s is intent on causing me problems.

Before it came along, I used to be a very organised person and, believe me, in my line of work, you need to be: nothing can be left to chance; everything has to be planned meticulously, and the slightest mistake can endanger your life. So you can imagine how this affliction is affecting what I do.

I genuinely love my work; who wouldn't love a job that allows you to travel the world, pays incredibly well, and provides such a great adrenaline rush? I've been at the top my game for over thirty years, I've got a 100% record—and I'd like it to stay that way. I suppose I'm a pretty tough sort of guy; I've never let anything beat me before—but Alzheimer’s is a battle I know I can't win. So, as much it pains me, in my heart I realise that it'll be safest all-round if I retire.

And I will retire as soon as I know that this job is complete.

But that's where the problem lies…

As I sit here on this bed, in this unfamiliar room, looking at the high-powered rifle leaning against the wardrobe and the photograph of a man I've never met, I can't help but wonder...

Have I killed him yet?

I hope you enjoyed the story, let me know your thoughts via the comments box.

And if your interested, next years Worcester Literary Festival is already in the planning stages - 14th - 23rd June 2013, and there are lots of fund-raising events that you can join in with. To find out more information follow this link - WLF.

Some other blog posts in my be interested in.

Generosity: The Poem what I wrote
Andy's Magic - Celebrating Twenty Years
Andy's Magic - Celebrating Twenty Years: Conjurer Andy is a Smash Hit

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