A Sting in the Tale

Jonathan Holloway - No Conferring

Set in 1983, a University Challenge team heads to a isolated moorland cottage for a Christmas bonding event. The team from Bracewell College consists of captain Derek, Dilly, Ernest, and Donald. The time starts badly when Donald is dumped, by phone call, by his girlfriend Emily on the way to the cottage. They arrive to a cottage featuring a large number of stuffed animals, as well as the horrors of a outdoor hole-in-the-floor for a toilet. Awaiting Dilly's arrival, Donald begins to feel somewhat unwell and decides to stay in the cabin while Ernest and Derek head to the local pub to meet Dilly. It isn't long before Derek and Dilly get romantic and decide to head back to the cottage, where they discover from a distance that the downstairs windows have been smashed and there are no lights on. Inside, they find Donald very drunk with badly cut hands. Attempting to avoid a scandal in the newspapers, Ernest and Dilly decide against ringing an ambulance in the hope that they can resolve the situation in the morning. However, the following morning, the three awake to find Donald dead. Deciding on burying Donald's body, he is not missed by anyone, and despite a minor investigation which is blamed on him running away due to being dumped. Emily also does not return to University, much to Derek's delight with he having been somewhat involved with her during their freshers' week. Some years later, they discover a broadcast of University Challenge with a contestant, Theo, who looks exactly like Donald and believe it may be Donald's son - his mother being Emily. Derek sets about contacting Emily to find out if he is Donald's son, which is confirmed, though Emily fills in some of the gaps around her breakup with Donald. Derek however speaks to Dilly, and suggests that the dates of her pregnancy do not line up. Continuing to watch the episode of University Challenge, Derek discovers that Theo has a pendant around his neck that Donald had intended to give to Emily.

Briony Glassco - Myrtle, Mahonia and Rue

Myrtle gives birth to twin girls named Mahonia and Rue. The pair take after their names somewhat, and are encouraged to be gardeners much like their mother. Another child is eventually born and named Forget-Me-Not and nicknamed Getty, though she is not as boisterous as her older sisters. Now older, Getty is part of the family business as a landscape gardener and remains much more reserved compared to her outgoing and competitive sisters who are now twenty-five, they also take to mocking their younger sister who has had recurring nightmares. The nightmares manifest as a tapping on her window, which she opens, and a number of fairies fly in whispering at her to come and fix their garden, suggesting she is under significant pressure. Talking with her mother who is sneaking a cigarette, she suggests that Getty teach both Mahonia and Rue to help with the design work part of the business, and reduce the stress on her, before suggesting that she take a step back from the company if that helps. Working on the next garden, Myrtle, Mahonia, and Rue are working on a garden though lament that Getty has proved hard to get in contact with. The suggestion that Getty teach the pair however is met with reluctance by them, and their lesson results in both Mahonia and Rue spending most of the time mocking her. Another nightmare arrives, and Getty agrees to the fairies demands that she help them, and at breakfast the following morning, announces her plan with an unusual assertion over her sisters. She tells them that she might be going away for a short while, and takes to giving her sisters an "infusion" drink. The pair soon begin to be affected, which Getty reveals she has been drinking since she was eight, and allows her to understand the plants communications which she shares with her sisters. Myrtle awakens in the middle of the night in a fright, and finds Getty alone who says that both Mahonia and Rue have "gone away" together leaving just her and her mother together in peace.

Philip Martin - Voices from Another Room

Tom hears voices in a room, but when he tries to talk to the people who are discussing his artwork, they ignore him. His wife Jane soon arrives home, and puts the voices down to the neighbours. She also queries how his work is going, and pushes him to sell some of his work soon. After another day hearing voices, Jane arrives back at the house again, and is quickly hostile at the same painting still being on his easel after ten days, which results in Tom grabbing Jane. Tom hears the voice of Richard, who claims he owns the house, talking with a girl Lily about a murder which occurred in the room, while Tom continues to wonder if he is going insane. Tom soon believes the event is about him committing an awful event. The conversations between Richard and Lily continue as she attempts to persuade Richard to display the pictures in the gallery she works at. They also comment on a self-portrait that Richard believes is his best, while Tom is left confused at the sight of a painting he has not yet painted. Meanwhile, Jane becomes concerned about him talking to people she can't see or hear, as she spots that his work has begun to change. Jane takes to contacting a doctor who works with schizophrenic patients, before confronting Tom about his mental condition. Several days later, Tom is angered to find that Jane has shipped off some of his paintings to a dealer and as an argument brews, he insists that they not argue for fear of what may happen. Tom, now also working as a teacher, meanwhile returns home to show student Natalie his work, and the two quickly begin an affair. Later, Jane arrives home to reveal that two of Tom's paintings have been sold, though questions his recent work, which happens to be a nude of Natalie. Tom decides to give up his teaching now having sold his works, which leaves Natalie distraught, as she claims she is pregnant. Natalie turns up at the house and tells Jane, which leaves her furious and demanding to know the reasons for his infidelity. Tom hears Richard discuss the location of the murder, before Tom is hit over the head twice with an axe by Jane.

Natalia Power - Sally Go Round the Moon

Sally is awoken by the phone ringing by sister Laura, who is wishing her luck at her job interview to become a partner in the law firm she works for. Their conversation is interrupted however by Laura's baby crying, which Sally remarks is also keeping her awake, having heard crying in the night while trying to sleep. Finally getting out of bed, she answers the door to a man delivering flowers - white lilies. On the train to the interview, she continues to hear a baby crying and laughing and enquires with an elderly lady as to whether she can also hear it. Starting to feel somewhat unwell, she makes it to the interview and continues to hear it, which causes her to breakdown and results in her boss giving her the rest of the week off. On the way home, she falls and has to visit a hospital to have her leg bandaged but uses the waiting time to call Simon, her partner, to let him know about her day which she puts down to someone playing a trick on her. While talking about her problem with the nurse, he questions whether she has banged her head which causes to run out of the hospital refusing to talk about the issue. Returning home, Sally contemplates whether she is going mad and resorts to phoning Laura to calm herself down and discusses what it was like for her to have children despite her always complaining about them. Laura suggests talking with Simon about the situation, but Laura suggests she can't go through it again, having been glad "it" happened previously. Her "child" having grown during the day, Sally has to ignore its demands to play with her and saying that her mummy hates her. Struggling under the pressure, Sally recalls the loss of her unborn child in a skiing accident. Simon soon arrives home to find Sally kneeling on the floor, though she can no longer hear the child, which was due to have been today.

Gregory Evans - Ghosting

Novellist Michael has had great success with his first book, but his most recent work is rejected by his literary agent who insists it is not shown to a publisher for fear of ruining his career. Struggling with money issues, his agent suggests ghostwriting the autobiography of now-retired supermodel Vita who she has also just taken on as a client. Initially rejecting the idea outright, he heads in to sign the contract and confidentiality agreement the following day. Heading to her large house, he initially meets her third husband Desmond, before being introduced to her. Taking to recording her life's anecdotes, Vita begins at the beginning of her life while Michael struggles to remain interested in what she is saying. He eventually upsets her when he yawns during her describing of her childhood dog dying, causing a pause in work for several weeks. Eventually starting up again, Michael makes a suggestion that she change the angle of the book to focus on her beauty, which leads to questions from both Vita and his agent. Desmond is away on business for a couple of weeks during which Vita eventually breaks down decrying her life focusing solely on her beauty, and the two end up in bed together repeatedly during the time. When Desmond returns, Vita cancels their appointments and the next time they see each other, Michael finds she has black eyes after he discovers her infidelity via a private investigator. Vita goes on to describe Desmond's jealousy and own infidelity, before demanding that they not see each other again. Getting Vita to confirm her love for him, Michael sets about plotting to kill Desmond. Her autobiography begins with the events which happened a year prior - Michael breaking into her house to steal, and killing her husband, before Vita "defends" herself by killing him.