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R.M.F. Brown won first prize in July's short fiction contest with his story called 'Reality', you can read it below. If you haven't read the other winning stories then you can do so here, they're great stories.
Why not check out some of R.M.F. Brown's other stories:
Reality? by R.M.F. Brown
Richard didn’t know why he snatched the spectacles from the antique shop, his wild flight breaking the atmosphere of sombre oil paintings and stern looking china dolls, as he dashed through the door, the bell hanging above it clattering loudly.
He ran down the street, provoking angry glances from other pedestrians or annoyed hoots of horns as he weaved through traffic, cars screeching to a halt. He ignored their curses as he ran down an alley, its gloom swallowing him up.
He leaned against a wall, catching his breath, the stench of mouldy food from nearby bins wafting over him.
He looked at the spectacles - they seemed ordinary enough – a brass frame with thin lenses. And yet, they felt heavy and antique, as though they hinted at dark secrets.
Emerging from the alley, the brightness of the sun hit his eyes as he put the spectacles on.
He froze. Everything around him had been transformed, buildings seemed to melt and merge into their neighbours or float away.
He yanked the spectacles off, heartbeat fluctuating wildly as he staggered back, almost knocking over a bin.
Everything was normal – the buildings stood placidly, the din of traffic merging almost into melody as it drifted past.
He put the spectacles on again, the transformation like night and day. In the distance, Big Ben seemed to teeter over, the numbers on the clock face oozing down, melting away…
He looked at his hands, they were on fire! He fell over, almost merging into the ground. Then dark shapes approached, blotting out the sun. It was two women, but although one looked normal, the other was different. Her face had the grimace of a shark; her eyes were bright red…
‘Get away from me,’ shouted Richard, stumbling to his feet, picking up the spectacles, leaving the women standing there bewildered as he ran off.
He doubted his sanity, wondered if he had been drugged or bitten by a deadly snake. He had once watched a wildlife show, the presenter going into great detail about the hallucinatory effects the venom of certain snakes had on the human body.
He dismissed this, he hadn’t been to a zoo for years, and he knew of no drugs he might have taken; it wasn’t his scene.
Then it hit him – his guilty consciences must be working overtime, punishing him for his crime.
The bell above the shop door rang out as Richard stepped back into that place. Across the counter, an old man, small, mole like in appearance, smiled at him.
Richard placed the spectacles on the counter. ‘I...um...took these earlier without payment…I’m sorry.’
The old man smiled as he picked them up. ‘That’s quite all right, no harm done…’
As he lifted the spectacles, Richard cut a glimpse of the old man’s face through the lenses, a glimpse of the demon…then stumbled backwards, catching his leg on a chair, falling over.
‘No need to worry,’ smiled the old man, as he advanced on the helpless Richard.