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Allen's Sensory Overload Writing Challenge

Quick links on this page:

rules & how to submit - about the sensory challenge - read sensorially overloaded stories

Allen Ashley and Chris Fielden

Allen Ashley & Chris Fielden, imprisoned in some sort of twin-bodied Photoshop nightmare

This photo has not been altered in any way, especially by Chris, who isn't very good at using Photoshop

Welcome to Allen's Sensory Overload Challenge. Like Allen, it's simple (sorry, couldn't resist...). Like Chris, it's beautiful (and again...). Anyone can submit. All entries are published. Discover how delightful writing purple prose overloaded with sensory description can be.

Rules & How To Submit

The rules feel, look, smell, sound and taste simple:

  • 175 words max
  • please include a title for your story (not included in word count)
  • use as much sensory description as you can
  • entry is everyone's favourite price - FREE
  • anyone can submit
  • 1 entry per person
  • no profanity please - all the writing challenges are shared with children
  • your sensorially saturated stories will be published on this page
  • every time we receive 100 stories, we'll publish all of them in a book
  • any money made through anthology sales will be donated to charity
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • when anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story by filling in the comments form below

Allen and Chris respectfully suggest: No more stories about eructation, breaking wind, being caught smoking or waking up in a coffin. These have now been adequately covered. Thanks.

So far, we've received 126 stories. We need 74 more to publish the anthology.

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About the Sensory Writing Challenge

We want stories of up to 175 words, packed full of sensory impressions and descriptions. Specifically: we want to drown in your senses. You may choose to overload on one branch of sensations, but ideally we would expect your flash fiction to include reference to all 5 of the commonly accepted senses:

Sight/Seeing, Sound/Hearing, Touch/Feeling, Smell and Taste.

Or at least have had a go! Assail us with your aromatic, smooth, salty, bell-ringing purple prose. You know you can and you know you want to.

Many 'How To' books will tell you to be precise and careful when using sensory words. We want you to be profuse and bountiful. The more the merrier. Chuck us into the setting and the situation. Overload us with sensory input and information. And tell a bit of a story as well. It's not too much to ask, is it?

Allen and I would like to thank everyone who submits their stories for their support – it's much appreciated :-)

During the course of running the sensory challenge, Allen and I got into a discussion with author Steven Hardy (author of story 051) regarding apostrophe placement in the word 'people's'. Due to our diligence, Steven very kindly made us a certificate for being top editors and word geeks:

Word Geek Certificate

Allen and Chris's Top Editor & Word Geek Award Certificate

We're sharing this here in the hope that it inspires more authors to award us with stuff.

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About the Charity the Sensory Writing Challenge Supports

Proceeds from sales of the sensory writing challenge anthologies will be donated to the National Literacy Trust.

National Literacy Trust

This charity is committed to helping raise literacy levels in the UK. The writing challenges run on this website do the same thing, in a roundabout kind of way, so this seemed like an appropriate charity for us to support.

How The Sensory Writing Challenge Came To Exist

Having seen the photo at the top of the page, this will be immensely hard to believe... Allen and I have not yet shared photographic space together. I know, I know... please try and contain your shock.

We did meet, at a Bristol Festival of Literature event last year, but I forgot to get photographic proof because we were too busy chatting about writing, comparing notes on running short story competitions (Allen judges the British Fantasy Society competition and I run To Hull & Back) and stuff like that.

While we were chatting, we decided that running a writing challenge together seemed like a good idea.

Allen has been a great supporter of the writing challenges run on this site. Not only has he submitted his own stories, he's shared the challenges with the various writing groups he runs/belongs to and has generated lots of submissions from many authors. So, it's great to be able to work with him on this challenge.

Each time a story is received it'll be published below. When 100 stories have been received, they will be published as a collection. The book will be made available in print, Kindle eBook and PDF formats.

Proceeds from sales will go to the National Literacy Trust.

If we don't receive 100 submissions, it's a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know the National Literacy Trust exists and that they do fabulous work.

As with all the writing challenges on this site, it's impossible to lose. Everyone wins.

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Sensory Stories

Below are all the sensorially saturated stories that have been submitted to date, drenched in purple prose. See the words. Hear the joy. Taste the magic. Smell the stories. Touch your toes.

The stories are published in the order they were received.

Sensorially Challenged Volume 1

We received the 100th sensory story on 10th August 2017. The first 100 stories were removed from the website on 1st October 2017. Sensorially Challenged Volume 1 was released on 2nd December 2017.

You can learn how to buy the book and support charity here.

Sensorially Challenged Volume 1

The book contains flash fiction stories written by 100 authors.

Profits from sales will be donated to the National Literacy Trust. You can see how much money has been raised for charity by all the challenges run on this website on the main Writing Challenges page.

We are currently accepting stories for Volume 2.

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Sensorially Challenged Volume 2

You can read the submissions received for Sensorially Challenged Volume 2 below.

Story 101

The Tide Was High

by Allen Ashley

No sandy path visible; instead we are wading out over stones whose sharpness we still feel through the soles of our swimming shoes. The sea is a brown broth of wave-churned coarse grains and frothy edges like boiled milk. Only children paint it blue and think that's veracity.

It's deep enough to duck our shoulders and lift our feet, accomplish a few, smooth, round breaststrokes, before Sarah says, "Watch out, there's a breaker coming." I ride the first swell, the second swell... then the third fills my mouth with the metallic taste of brine. The North Sea has saved her weapons for our attempted entrance. At one stage, I'm lifted like a cork by her riotous wave, deposited in the shallows like Gulliver.

Later, in the warm breeze of the cliff top car park, Sarah pulls seaweed from beneath her shoulder strap. It's red and feathery. I watch the succession of breaking waves, like liquid frown lines on the sea's brow.

"Well, that was... exhilarating."

"Yep. Same time tomorrow."

Story 102

A Senseless Itch

by Christopher Fielden

Midges, millions of them, swarming silently beneath the trees. Even from the safety of the car, with closed doors and windows, the sight of them makes my skin tingle.

Reflexively, I scratch my ear. It falls into my lap.

Frowning, I pick my ear up to inspect it more closely. Looking down, my eyes pop out and land in my palm, next to my ear. I see my own shocked face, with two vacant eye sockets, staring blindly. My free hand moves upward, covering my mouth in shock. It catches my nose, which tumbles down towards my eyes.

"This–"

Before 'can't be happening' can complete the sentence, the 'th' fires my tongue from my mouth. It slides down my chin, landing on my ear.

The weight of my senses is too much for my hand. It disconnects from my wrist and falls into the footwell.

Devoid of all sense, I see my body reach out with my remaining hand, open the door and climb from the car.

Tonight, the midges will feast.

Story 103

Flagrant Flatulence

by Lesley Truchet

Iris pulled up a chair for her father. "I can't wait to speak to my Bert."

"She's a fake. Rubbish." Harry sat down, leaning heavily on his cane.

"Shh, Dad."

The medium entered the room, wearing hippy clothes and oversized spectacles, a faint scent of lavender accompanying her.  She took a seat, explained what everyone had to do and raised her arms.

"Stop it," muttered Iris, in response to her father's urgent prodding.

"But I need..."

"Shht," hissed Iris from the side of her mouth.

Harry scowled and eased one half of his buttocks off the chair. "This quack is a charlatan," he muttered.

"Bert, are you there?" The spiritualist struck a dramatic pose, waiting for a response. 

A long loud rumble resonated and a terrible odour permeated the room, smelling of something that should have received a decent burial a week previously.

"That's my Bertie." Iris grinned with delight and leaned forward, eager for the contact with her late husband.

Codswallop, thought Harry, as he lowered his backside onto the chair.

Story 104

Headspin

by Len Saculla

Janie and I love the children's playground. The castle turret smells of varnish and makes my head spin. The wooden slats of the roundabout are hard and smooth and when Janie pushes me my head spins.

"Come on, David," she calls, her voice squeaky. "I betcha I can go higher on the swings."

"No chance."

I run as fast as my legs can carry me so as to get a head start.

Legs back, then toes forward and whoosh through the air, wind rushing past my cheeks. Janie bumps into my swing: now we're both spinning.

Next we head for the slide. I tap the metal chute with my knuckles and enjoy the clang. I like climbing up–

Suddenly Parky spots us.

"Oi, you two," he bellows. "Gerrof the equipment. I've told you before, it's only for children under ten."

Janie laughs. I wave my pension book. Post Office next.

Story 105

Crocodile

by Kim Montgomery

Crocodile first acquired the taste for man flesh when he ate the small boy who had wandered away from his family's picnic. Such sweet, young meat, but not so the old hobo he tried next. One upper thigh was as much as he could stomach. Crocodile quickly learnt that bigger is not necessarily better.

So he stuck with the children, discovering that little girls were even sweeter than little boys. He managed to consume seven before they caught up with him. He didn't feel threatened by the man with the big stick, not even when he pointed it at him. Suddenly there was searing pain, and his child eating days were over.

Crocodile is now several pairs of shoes. So things could have been worse. At least he's still in close contact with his beloved human flesh.

Story 106

Winter Escape

by Sheila Rosart

The cessation of the roaring engines coincides with the slamming of the plane to Earth, as we taxi towards our gate. Each crisp click of the overhead luggage rack echoes the anticipation we feel to escape this metal bullet, laden as it is, in bacteria, stale air and the invisible parasitic germs of the old man whose hacking cough punctuated the entire flight.

As the steps are attached and the departing line moves inexorably closer to freedom, I exhale briskly, my contribution to the decrepit atmosphere. The door unseals with a hiss and I descend the sparkly risers, gripping the rubbery rails so I don't tumble to the bottom of my stairway to heaven.

Redolent in sunshine kisses and sultry humidity, my chapped lips plump moistly, as I float downwards smelling the fruit-infused air serenaded by the chirping welcome of birdsong.

Poolside, I swoon with lust as they hand me a tropical libation, ice cold, beaded with droplets; thick with coconut and sweet pineapple.

I love spring break in Florida.

Story 107

A New Team Goes Live in the Contact Centre

by Jonathan Martindale

We know not from whence they shall call, nor the demands they shall make upon us; we will be left without faces to put to their names. All we know is that they are waiting for us...

Like men condemned, we sit sombrely in silence, awaiting the order, "Headsets on." I perch, feet dangling, erect and uncomfortable, in a worn office chair. (I have forgotten, since training, how you are meant to adjust it.) The blazing glare of the computer screen fills my vision. On it, various windows jostle angrily for my attention.

My right hand, clammy with sweat, seeks for the reassuring solidity of my mouse. The air is warm and still. A single 'left click' is now all that stands between me and my first customer, and this, my last defence, I know alas I must forgo. There is, for an instant, silence, before a piercing dial-in tone erupts from the headset clamped tightly to my ear. I take a deep breath.

"Good afternoon. I mean, good morning..."

Story 108

Athens Punned And Sensorised

by Michael Rumsey

Held on Site 4, Sorise, the Athens Cultural Gala offered something for all.

Not least the smell of Greece Paint in the Art Gallery and the, "Hear, hear," roar of the crowd at the Auditorium.

In the Theatre, many a play to stir the hormones, some starring Sophie Klees.

A hands on performance by the Choir Practioners.

The Taverna, set at the right angle, offered mouth watering temptations such as Pie Thagoros, Hippo Tachos and a variety of Pitsas, all delicious, but best if taken with a tasty pinch of salt.

There were no complaints, but quite a lot of wining accompanied by the merry pop of corks, cheers and a bouquet that drifted towards the dazzling, perfumed, well tended flower gardens.

Not a whiff of trouble thanks to the far seeing security and tight grip of the Akro Police.

To make sense of it all it appears to have been an ear thumping, silky touched, spicily lip smacking, eye-catching, sweet smelling event that turned out  profitable according its pereceptive Financial Director, Gregg Sitt.

Story 109

Sweet Heaven, Sunday Afternoon, 1955

by Dee La Vardera

Family Favourites on the wireless, Father is in the kitchen, clattering and tut-tutting, laying everything out with military precision on the daffodil yellow Formica table. In blue and white striped apron, he looks like a butcher – without the blood spatters.

My toes tap on the brown linoleum floor as I dance around, dodging my brother's muscular left hook. Dad stirs the battered jam pan of fiercely boiling sugar mixture. It roars and spits like some angry monster until it's ready to test. A teaspoonful dropped into a cup of cold water turns into golden teardrops.

Time to pour the hardening mass into a metal tray lined with buttered greaseproof paper. It spreads like hot tarmac across a road and cools.

Tap, tap the tin, tip out the glossy bronze block, whack it with a tiny hammer. Dad puts the pieces into a glass jar, sprinkles more sugar, and shakes it with a cocktail barman's skill.

Hilarious laughter from What's My Line? does not drown out the squeak of the stopper loosening in the jar.

Story 110

A Kid Like Me

by Pam Keevil

The ball is so close I can count every pock mark on the scarred surface. But my legs and feet tangle together like a skein of unravelled wool and I fall. Mud oozes through my fingers and the green bile smell of cut grass catches in my throat. Crow like cackles of laughter pierce the misty air. I am the loser no one wants in their team.

In lessons my fingers leak blue ink across the page. The words bob up and down in a frenzy, never settling on the lines. I force my eyes to focus until a dozen hammers pound in my head. It's no use. Each letter forms and reforms like a snake of plasticine.

One day someone will find a way to capture the words that float through my brain like thistledown. Sentences of gossamer, stretched over an autumn hedge and spangled with crystals will showcase my thoughts. And the jumping words will finally be stilled.

Then everyone will understand a kid like me.

Story 111

Cat's Eyes

by Tracey Chapman

The lush emerald green carpet stretches for miles, tinged with the sunshine yellow masses of buttercups, soldier like standing to attention. I tiptoe, my whiskers glistening with pearl drops from the dank morning dew.

The hedgerow encompasses my arena from all sides, the lively chitter chatter from the nests of new born's calling for their breakfast. I crouch lower to my terrain, momentarily distracted by a black and yellow fuzzy ball hovering silently among the velvety petals. I ready myself to pounce. Breakfast could come early today. I leap, somersaulting into the clump of buttercups, my black and yellow fuzzy ball a mere dot now floating away.

To the side of the hedgerow, a haze of grey and white bounces and hops above the whispery strands of grass. I quicken my pace, remaining stealth-like amongst my camouflage. Almost upon them, I sit and wait. I pounce...

A resonating call comes from the gardens beyond as the grey and white haze disappears down crumbling earth mounds.

"Rio, Rio."

Breakfast gone, cat food it is.

Story 112

The Drowning

by Max Aldous

My body plunged down into the sub-zero waters of the Atlantic. I stared at the soft shimmer of the ocean as it flew further away from me in an almost ironic homage to my doom. The salt in the waters burned at my eyes and blurred my vision as both literal and metaphorical darkness wound its way around my body. My lungs had the weight of 1,000 gallons of water pressed against them, making each one want to crumble.

Eventually, they succumbed to the pressure and I opened my freezing mouth. The water was like a razor, slipping down my gullet, burning as it filled my exhausted lungs. Despite this, the sound (or lack thereof) hurt worse. The muffled sound of my screams, which I knew no one would hear, echoed against my ears, reminding me once again of my solitude.

My vision blurred further, leaving only darkness. I had no fear at this point, I felt nothing. Only the beating of my heart growing softer and softer. Until, eventually, that too fell silent.

Story 113

The Last Autumn

by Jaz Leigh

Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out.

The fresh autumn air felt divine as it ran through my sinuses and down my throat. That was until it reached my lungs. There... there, it burned. It burned like an inferno blazing in my chest. Honestly, I'm surprised I couldn't smell the intoxicating stench of incinerated flesh.

NO. Nothing would ruin my last day. I could taste the morning dew without having to open my mouth. I could smell the freshly cut grass of the hospital garden. Everything was so fresh. Everything, except for me.

Trembling fingers pressed against the damp wood of the bench and a contented sigh tickled my lips as I rubbed the cool moisture between my withering digits. Sliding my feet from the safety of my woolly slippers, I brushed my toes over the dew-coated grass. I would never feel this again, I thought sadly.

Birds sang melodically from the golden leaves of the maple tree and it was the last song I'd hear.

I'd die with a smile, because...

Time's up.

Story 114

An Old Friend Beckons

by Kaitlin Munro

He inhaled deeply, funnelling the cigar's sinuous smoke down his paper thin throat. His exhale was careful, considered, though he knew he must be quicker.

The clock read 11:58; almost midnight. He had until the rich chimes of 12 to die.

The embers danced, grew and fell, as he watched with weary eagerness. His haggard face, reflected in the window opposite the velvety chair, was quite impassive. A swirling cloud of smoke invaded his nostrils and with it came the acrid smell of burning, so unfamiliar yet welcome. 700 years is too long to live without a life to be had, he mused.

The warm orange glow faded as his cigar, laced with a tasteless poison, burned down almost to a stump. He would have felt cozy, if not for the pale, marbled figure in the corner of his eye. His oldest friend, the one that had given him new life, had come to watch him die. As darkness swallowed his vision, he saw the devil beckon.

Story 115

Sleep In The Hole

by Endri Vela

It was a green day. We took the beds, with magic stars, into the hole to sleep. Even the blankets. To see dreams with wizards, glasses of flowers were in the drawers. We enlighted fire, violets, the mouth of Asllan smelt.

Girls wear lipstick; we threw tears in the flowers... Inside was brilliance.

Stars were the light, God was in the sky.

David has stars in the eyes, Lukas breathes inside, Malvy has deep blue eyes.

*

Our covers were a beauty that I can't describe. It was hot, like Arabia, the desert of being with girls. Rivers started from our eyes, we had to cry to grow a bunch of flowers in the hole.

I love my soul.

Story 116

Sights And Sounds In Africa

by Jennifer Chislett

"Look, lions."

Driving along the roads outside Nairobi, we always saw animals strolling along. There was no fenced game reserve – they wandered at will.

One night we nearly drove underneath a giraffe which straddled the road. Gazelles danced gracefully amongst the cars, monkeys leapt onto the bonnets and tried to wrench off the windscreen wipers, chattering away to each other in excitement.

Within the game reserve, we sat watching a group of lions, one of which had  blissfully gone to sleep, leaning against the front wheel of a landrover. Gentle snores erupted regularly, to everyone's amusement. The family had to stay there, unable to drive on, and eventually a game ranger had to be called to move the pride. Striped zebras nibbled at the grass, unafraid of the dozing lions.

Hippos came out at night, shining pinkly in the car headlights. Cars came to a standstill as the animals were very dangerous and apt to charge.

Yes, driving outside Nairobi was a challenge, but oh, such fun.

Story 117

Watched

by Gavin Biddlecombe

My bruised hands support me on this rough branch high above the ground. I'm thankful to be up here and, even more so, that it cannot climb. It's been a few days since I found my refuge but the unbearable heat works against me.

The sweat rolls down into my tired eyes, stinging them and blurring my vision. I glimpse it occasionally, stalking in cover. Watching me. Waiting.

Its odour is repulsive. It lingers, clogging up my nostrils more than my own unwashed stink. I know when it's close as I fight off the urge to gag from its overpowering stench.

The random dropped nut which taps its way down the branches beneath me is no longer a distraction. I recognise its sound, just audible but ever present. Continuous.

I reach for my water bottle, rationing the warm but satisfying liquid that slides down my dry throat as I fight off the fatigue. I must hold on. Surely, one of the others must have got away and found help.

Story 118

Hopeful

by Amy Pilkington

Another morning. Under the warmth of the soft and crumpled covers, limbs are like lead. The uncomfortably humid night remains on the skin; sticky, acrid, and damp. Mindless and forgettable dreams have done aught but pass the time between one hazy day and the next. Hunger quietly nags to be tended to, but nothing tastes good enough to justify the exertion, the creeping eternal exhaustion weighing down upon the bones and trapping them in a cocoon of stagnation. A sip of stale water parches the painful desert of the mouth and throat, but struggles to be palatable.

The world outside this quiet and everlasting prison shivers and sings with life. Sweet chirrups of birdsong between the boughs of the bristling trees in the breeze, and the gentle gradient lightshow on the giant grazing clouds. How refreshing it would be to sit amongst the colours and calls of nature, instead of a claustrophobic reminder of the courage it takes to continue to face the day. Even still, tomorrow is always another chance to feel the sun.

Story 119

Sensory Overload

by Jeanna Jones

Senses snapping to attention, fully awake now. Long tentacles of fear reaching out, snaking through darkness, touching, enveloping, overwhelming me. Cold, damp, smell, slowly penetrates every pore, seeping into nostrils. Air, thick, pungent tasting, sticking in throat, choking, unable to swallow. Eyes, darting, seeing nothing. Ears straining for slightest sounds. Heart beating loudly, drowning out everything. Terror taking over, senses scream out, almost overwhelming all reminders to breathe, breathe, and breathe again. Shut everything out, stop listening, stop looking, concentrate on breathing. Panicked breaths, gulping air too thick to swallow. Close eyes, stop straining, shut down. Breathe, imagine a funnel, thick putrid air passing through. Breathe, think of nothing, concentrate, focus. One breath, two, faster, choking again, concentrate, slow down. Count, count slowly, even slower. Breathe, ears shut, eyes shut, close out the thick blackness that surrounds. Heart beats, so loud and fast, like one long continuous roar, slow it down, count it down. Breathe, frozen, unable to move, scream, shout. Focus, concentrate, breathe, count. Fingertips reaching out, too late, no escape, no way out.

Story 120

Snowball

by Neil Brooks

The smooth, round, hard packed snowball tumbled silently through the still air in a graceful arc and crashed violently with a satisfying crump into the side of his plump rosy cheeks. As if in slow motion, the snowball exploded into a thousand fragments and cascaded down his front like the start of a silent avalanche. 

His soft and warm wooly hat was knocked off, exposing his tangled mop of orange hair to the chill of the air. Bright red blood trickled from his lower lip where the small cut oozed slowly and dripped onto his frozen chin.

He detected an oddly sour, coppery taste combined with a watery flatness of the melted snow that had impudently entered his mouth. Another taste, altogether unpleasant, began to identify itself and there was an unmistakable whiff of dog poo.

He shuddered involuntarily as he wondered what else had been in that snowball. The shrill screams and shouts of the other children washed over him but it was the braying laughter of Belinda Brand that cut the deepest.

Story 121

An Unfortunate Olfactory Own-Goal

by Mike Scott Thomson

As the caterer for the launch party, the PR department emails you a wish list. You read it, and think, Well, someone's taken leave of their senses.

  • Lavender {blossoms swaying in a springtide zephyr}
  • Cardamom, pimento, vanilla {dying patter of autumn rain on a hot tin roof}
  • Spicy coriander {crackling embers on an Après Ski log fire}

Suitably selected sustenance, perhaps, to accompany the release of Mr Big Brand Footballer's new Eau de Cologne?

Lucky there's a Waitrose nearby.

*

An afternoon of inventive cuisine later, you arrive at the venue laden with the most pungent canapés you’ve ever had to prepare.

On stage is the promotional placard for 'Target™ {For The Sporting Gentleman}'. Something about it seems off, you feel.

  • Top notes: cocktail sausages, scotch eggs
  • Heart notes: cheese and pineapple on sticks
  • Base notes: gherkins

Either PR muddled their electronic communiqués

…or Mr Big Brand Footballer isn’t the most fragrant of fellows.

You struggle to decide which is the more likely.

Story 122

A Yorkshire Stream

by Betty Hattersley

Winding and twisting, flowing so free,

Dancing with pebbles, a sight for to see.

Shaded by tree's so tall and so proud,

With gaps here and there to view a white cloud.

Swirling around to gather up speed,

Pretty and wild, while caressing a weed.

Stopping in places, enjoying a rest,

Then onward again now full of fine zest.

Where has it come from, where will it go?

Nature's decided the path it will flow.

Sparkling like diamonds scattered about,

From a blanket of daylight, of that there's no doubt.

Bending so gracefully, without a care,

Such beauty behold for us to share.

Colours will change as the seasons go past,

In winter the water will flow not so fast.

A fountain for wildlife, so fresh and so cool,

Insects and beetles will bask in a pool.

This treasure to find, what is its worth?

A fine priceless gift from our Mother Earth.

Story 123

Time Will Tell

by Tracey Maitland

They sat together on the low wall outside the hotel where they could smoke and drink their coffee in the morning sun as they watched the world go by.

"Why did you email me?" he asked softly.

Her mouth went dry, she sipped her smooth latte. She wanted to say, "Because I have loved you from the moment I met you," but she didn't, daren't, couldn't.  Instead she said, "Because there were two people I wanted to see, and you were one of them..."

She turned and watched him. He was so beautiful. He was staring at the ground. She wanted to reach out, touch him and nestle within his arms, but hesitated and instead took out a cigarette, placed it on her lips and lit it. She took a slow, deep breath to steady her pounding heart. They sat in silence. She wanted to fill the void, but felt inept and inexperienced. As she smoked, the aroma of the cigarette ebbed away on the warm breeze. 

Is he disappointed? she wondered. Time will tell.

Story 124

Lights Out

by Melanie Goodell

I glanced in the direction of the door to my office as the lights went out. The sudden blindness assaulted my brain, pulling fuzzy, confusing wool over my ability to find my place in time and space. A shrill voice screamed outside the window of my office. I turned toward the grating, piercing sound and banged my hand against the cold, hard glass of the window pane. My thoughts went limp at the sting of mind-numbing pain that vibrated up the surface of my arm.

I yelped and drew my hand away from the frozen glass as the door to the suffocating office burst open, the wooden slab hitting the wall like the deafening crack of a rifle. The lights suddenly came on, sending needle pricks of light through my corneas.

"Storms comin'," my secretary shrieked from the overly well-lit doorway. I shook my head, jarring my hand and wincing. Another reason to move to the beach. I grabbed stuff with a grunt at the weight of my bags. Time to head home.

Story 125

Rainforest Rumbles

by Eleanor Klein

We are not lost, Monty – I'm telling you. I know exactly where we are. Oh, those monkeys may be screeching and smell like rotting bananas, but they are not going to eat us. OK, that swarm of black insects converging on that tiger's festering corpse might. Calm down, I'm only joking.

God, it's hot. What a miserable sky: it looks like it's withering, doesn't it? Like someone spilt tea across the dawn. I'm starving. I think I swallowed a fly; I can taste something horrible and bitter – ouch. Don't throw twigs at me. We're fine, I promise. Just a bit warm, that's all.

It's so loud, isn't it? I can barely think with hundreds of creatures shrieking into my ears. If the rainforest would close its chattering mouth for a second, I might be able to get us out of this mess. Yes, I admit we're lost. Happy? Maybe that snake will share its home with us.

OK, OK – put the branch down, Monty. I'll work something out.

Story 126

A Spa Treat

by Bridget Scrannage

Spa day. Wife's idea. Ugh, panpipes, whale music and a trickling fountain that makes me want to wee. I lay on my stomach and inhale the scent of patchouli oil.

A woman approaches the massage table, unfolds the soft, fluffy towel covering my nakedness and splashes something warm onto my back. Must be oil. I relax. And oh? Where's she putting it now? Really? I didn't think it was that kind of place.

"It'll sting a bit when I rip it off."

"Rip what off?"

"The wax."

"What wax? I thought I was having a massage?"

"No, your wife booked you in for a back, sack and..."

A tearing sound – the aurora borealis flash through my head, her words drowned out by something between a banshee wail and wolf howl emitting from me. I leap from the table, run naked to the swimming pool and plunge into its soothing waters.

The wife's poolside, reclining on a sun lounger. From her smug expression, I'm guessing she's found out that I've been having an affair...

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Glynis D
It's my first writing experience on here. I'm completely green about how to do it on a computer, as I usually write by hand. How do I do it as I would live to have ago at this? Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Glynis.  Just type your story into the comments box, like you did your comment :-)

Glynis D
OK, will do. Many thanks.

Ann E
Sounds like fun! One of my writing student just sent me this link. I'll see if I can get them to enter. I'll give it a go too.

Chris Fielden
Fabulous, thanks Ann :-)

Alan B
Hello Chris. Good to see the beginning of another fine challenge. Might have an idea of my own soon.

Chris Fielden
Great, thanks Alan. There's a bit of a queue with challenges now (around 12 months) but I'm always open to ideas :-)

Sivan P
Congratulations for introducing the Sensory Writing Challenge. Enjoyed all the interesting stories published so far.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Sivan :-)

Margaret E
Good morning, Chris. It was good to read about your musical success in the USA.

I'm really enjoying reading the other entries up to date. It's wonderful to have an opportunity for deep purple prose.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Margaret - and thanks for submitting :-)

Jerry W
Extremely happy for the well-deserved growth and popularity of your website. Rock on. It matters. Wilson.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Jerry :-) Fielden.

Michael R
I put my finger on it and suggest this is not a challenge to be sniffed at. I spotted it on your site before I heard about it. It is very much to my and. it seems, many others sensitive taste.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Michael - a comment that's a sensory story all of its own... :-)

Namita M
Hi Allen and Christopher. Thank you very much  for allowing me to send my writing to this project. It's not only a great opportunity to publish my story, it's a great inspiration and fulfilling to work for the charity.

I hope this enthusiasm will be continued and the people in need will benefit from this project.

With my best wishes and many thanks again. Namita.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for your kind works, Namita.

It’s a pleasure to publish your stories and support some amazing charities.

Thank you for taking part in the challenges - it's very much appreciated :-)

Sandy P
Hi Allen and Christopher. Love the challenges. It does inspire a lot of writers to, 'have a go'. Me for one.

Chris Fielden
Great, thanks Sandy. We'll look forward to reading your submission :-)

Elizabeth M
Hope I've managed to submit properly.

This is a great site. Thank you for running it.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Elizabeth :-)

You have indeed - thanks for submitting, your story has now been published above.

Carolyn C
Grace Howard and Charley Swire are already wonderful writers.

Sheila R
Chris, this was so much fun! Your contests and challenges are the best and I look forward to receiving all your emails and newsletters. To Hull And Back is my absolute favorite and I can't wait to see your finalists.  Don't ever stop!

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Sheila!

You'll be pleased to hear that stopping is not in my nature :-)

Jasmine S
Hi There, for challenge entries, do we have to use our full proper name, or can we use our penname? My penname still uses names on my birth certificate, just not my full name.

Thanks, Jaz

Chris Fielden
Hi Jaz. Using a penname is fine. I'll look forward to receiving your story :-)

Jennifer C
I love this idea. In my life overseas I have had many sensory challenges which I can write about. Nairobi was the first in the first challenge - might do a second one, or there's Mauritius in the 1960's followed by Zambia, followed by Hong Kong in the 80's - now, there's a place! Using only 175 words is a challenge in itself!

I must collect my thoughts, make a decision, and WRITE!

Many false starts to come, but such fun to do. Thank you for this opportunity.

Chris Fielden
Well, it sounds like you have a lot of experience to draw on, Jennifer. We'll look forward to receiving your story :-)