Story :: Intelligence

Intelligence (130 words)


In the false daylight of the train carriage, Kevin looked at his watch for the seventeenth time. Sound in the tunnel was dampened and clammy; a wet static of distant rumbling, hushed voices. He closed his eyes. The metallic scritching noise gnawed at the dark, knotted corner of his mind where he had been hiding.

The case between his feet seemed to throb. Derek had said it made him look like a Soviet agent, a pathetic throwback. Derek had a disparaging nostalgia for the old days of intelligence. Derek had a tendency to talk bollocks.

Scritch. Kevin put his hands over his ears. Soon the train would move.

The lights failed with a vague plink.

Kevin squeezed the case between his worn heels, but he could feel it struggling.



Written for the CAKE.shortandsweet Wednesday Write-in

Read my other free stories here.


About sarahgracelogan

Sarah Grace is an itinerant scribbler and general layabout. She runs a writing group called CAKE.shortandsweet, because any form of procrastination from actual writing is always attractive to the serious author of refined taste. When not distracted by laser pens, Sarah Grace writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, poetry, stage scripts and screenplays. She has performed her work at Stirred Poetry, Bad Language and Tongue in Cheek Manchester. Her first publication, Humping the Boonies is a self-published chapbook available directly from the author, or from Travelling Man, Manchester. You can find more details about her ongoing projects, not to mention a selection of free stories up for grabs right here on her blog. She also likes to talk about theatre, film, books, photography, and especially games and other things that involve collaborative storytelling. Sarah Grace likes feedback, in whatever form it comes.


  1. This is so nice. There’s something in almost every sentence that I wish I had written e.g. the false daylight…, looking at his watch for the seventeenth time…, the description of the tunnel, the sound effects… .
    And I keep wondering what’s happening in the suitcase. He’s certainly not leaving it on the luggage rack. And what’s going to happen in the dark? Stuck in the tunnel.
    Just not sure about “disparaging nostalgia”. Is there a contradiction here? Intentional?

    • Thank you, Patrick, I had a lot of fun writing this one.

      I wasn’t sure about disaparaging nostalgia either. I was trying to capture that sense of having a great fondness for something, that loving nostalgia, but also knowing that something is perhaps no good – incapable, ineffective – and wanting to tear it down. Maybe it’s something that’s built him up and he both loves and resents it. Also, Derek is just a jerk. I don’t know, I think I was trying to find just one or two words to cram all those thoughts into, but I’m not sure if it’s successful 😀

  2. Elaine Peters

    I love your words, scritch and plink, and descriptions like ‘dampened and clammy’, ‘wet static of distant rumbling’ and especially ‘gnawed at the dark, knotted corner of his mind’. But what’s in the case?

  3. Scritch.

    I like how the sentences and paragraphs get shorter throughout; it helps build tension and expectation, and the lack of descritpion about what’s going on has got me by the curiosity.

  4. Ha ha some very interesting onomatopoeia here! I’m not sure what a scritch or a plink is, but I think I have a fair idea now. I love the explanation of Derek and I would also really like to know what’s in that case! I originally thought it was a bomb, having read another piece but was confused by the movement and the scritch. I am intrigued.

    • Haha thank you. I’ve definitely heard lightbulbs plink when they fail, and scritch is a word I borrowed from Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, and one of my favourite descriptors of a creepy noise!

  5. haha, we must’ve both had trains on the mind!
    I love your descriptions, and being left to hang at the end, wanting to know more about the case. I like.
    You have a great way of describing things. I love ‘a wet static of distant rumbling’ and ‘The lights failed with a vague plink.’
    Lol, I wasn’t sure what scritch or plink meant, had never come across the words before, but that didn’t stop me from thinking of the screeching of the train.
    Nicely done!

    • We clearly did, that ‘tube’ prompt has definitely given people a very particular image this week.

      Haha plink I sort of made up, and scritch I borrowed from Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, where it’s used to brilliant creepy effect. It’s become one of my favourite words for describing an unsettling, encroaching kind of sound.

  6. Elaine McKay

    Intriguing story. I would like to be surprised/shocked by the contents of the case. Hopefully we will get to find out what’s in there. I wasn’t sure about the sound being ‘clammy’. Loved the description of his state of mind.

    • I can definitely see me revisiting this poor character, wouldn’t do to leave him sitting there forever! I think tunnel noise just gives me this sense of echo and dampness, and a cloying kind of claustrophobic feel – but then I have claustrophobia, so that’s probably why!

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