The Thin Places – Dark Tales short story competition success

For a while now I’ve been fascinated by the idea of time slips: those places where, some say, it is possible to step from one time or plane of existence, to another. It’s not so much that I believe it really happens (although, to be fair, I won’t completely discount anything science hasn’t yet disproved) but more the possibility, the what ifs of the idea.

There’s a street in Liverpool city centre, Bold Street, which has long been associated with time slips. Most of them concern contemporary individuals who reportedly found themselves whisked back to the 1960s. I’ve spent a lot of time on Bold Street over the years but, sadly, have no tale of my own to tell. Nevertheless, I’ve searched out all the accounts I can find to read and reread. I also found one about a policeman, in New Brighton, on the other side of the Mersey, who apparently experienced a time slip in the other direction: into the hostile environment of some cataclysmic event. It was after reading this that a story seeded itself in my mind.

Not far from Bold Street is what was once a large Anglican parish church, St Luke’s. Bombed in the Luftwaffe raids of spring 1941, it was reduced to a roofless, windowless shell. After the war, Liverpool City Council proposed demolishing the remains to make way for a ring road. Thankfully, this idea got nowhere and the grounds of the ruined church were developed into a peace garden. In later years, the ruin has become a centre for all kinds of community events. It is also now protected as a designated Grade II* listed building in the National Heritage List for England. However, given the rapacious nature of local politics in Liverpool for much of the latter half of the twentieth century, this could so easily not have been the outcome – and this gave me another element for my story.

I shrank the church, moved it downhill from its actual location and imagined what might have happened to it had it not been preserved after the war. Then I added a couple of characters – young girls in their late primary school years – and let them get on with it. The result is called “The Thin Places”, and it won the monthly competition at Dark Tales for March 2018. You can read it here for a limited period of time. Subsequently, I believe it will be appearing in an e-anthology.

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