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  • Michael Braccia

Writing Challenge - 'Finished Story'

Read the following start to a short story ('Spare Ticket'), which is just over 750 words. Your challenge is to write the remainder of the story in approximately 750 - 900 words. I will upload the best versions to this blog page. Please use the phrase 'Finished Story' in the subject line of your email (Word file to be attached to your email). Sorry, there's no prize. This is just for fun!


Spare Ticket

‘What are you doing there?’

‘I told you Dad. The Paris thing really upset me. I had to do something.’

‘I worry about you all the time. After what happened, you know I’ll be frantic.’

‘Please don’t say that Dad. This is something I have to do.’

Lisa Jones believed in solidarity. Her union duties took her all over the country, but this was a risk. Not because of the chance of a second attack, but as a senior civil servant in the Home Office, she had special responsibilities. They tended to frown upon demonstrations or political rallies, even though in this case the events at The Theatre de la Vie cried out for demonstration.

Lisa had a personal reason for getting involved. John told her three weeks before that he was going to the concert.

‘There’s a spare ticket if you want it. I’ll arrange the transport and accommodation.’

‘Not my kind of music, but thanks for asking. Sweet of you.’

At the Theatre de la Vie, three figures silently crossed the flat roof. The night before, they stayed in an abandoned laundry room on the top floor of the adjacent building. Easy to cross from one roof to the other. Trained and ready. They wanted to hit westerners whenever they could and cause maximum panic. It didn’t occur to them that these were young, innocent rock fans of all faiths and nationalities. It didn’t occur, or they didn’t care. Within minutes they moved onto the gallery on the first floor.

The first bullet hit him in the chest. The second in the face. By then, any further shots no more deadly than the first two. John died along with more than eighty other young music-lovers at the hands of fanatics. Cowards. Lisa would stand in defiance outside the Theatre de la Vie and lay flowers at the spot where John had fallen. Beyond the loss of a close friend, Lisa had no idea how profoundly the experience might affect her, and how her life would change from that point.

Not my kind of music, she thought. If only I’d accepted his offer, at least he wouldn’t have been alone. Dad wouldn’t agree. Lisa didn’t know what to expect, but approaching the entrance of the theatre she sensed that this was the path he’d walked along; the last steps he’d taken. What she hadn’t expected was a line of people with cards. You know the sort of thing you see at the airport. Taxi drivers, family members, police officers maybe. She didn’t see her at first. Then, near the main door, a young woman held a card in the air. ‘Lisa Jones’ it said.

‘Hi I’m Lisa.’


‘Did you know John?’

‘No, I didn’t even know his name until the following day. The police told me once his parents had been informed.’

‘Yes. Cheryl and Roger. So sad.’

The girl began to sob, quietly, but beckoned Lisa to walk with her.

‘Shall we get a coffee? I’m sorry, I can’t get the image out of my mind.’

‘No please, it was bad enough hearing it on the news. It must have been awful. Are you able to tell me what happened?’

Through many pauses, eighteen-year-old Georgina told Lisa how she had travelled from London with three friends. A rock concert for God’s sake. They didn’t expect a blood bath.

‘Where are they now?’

‘All dead.’

‘Christ Georgina, I’m so sorry, what happened?’

‘The band had played two numbers. They’d just started another one and there was a sound from up in the gallery. Like fire-crackers.’

‘The gun men.’

‘Yes. The group all dropped to the floor of the stage. When I realised someone was shooting, I thought they had been hit, but it seems they were diving for cover. They could see the men in the gallery. Three of them. It took us a while to work out what was going on.’

‘Where does John come into this?’

‘I’m coming to that. It became obvious that they were using automatic rifles, spraying bullets all over the place. As my friends were hit, they knocked me over. There was a man. I’d never met him before, in front of us. He turned round and shouted to me “are you ok?” At that moment a bullet, at least one anyway, hit him in the chest. He fell on top of me. Still alive, but badly injured. He must have realised that the terrorists were now in the main hall, checking for anyone left alive....’


So far, the story is just over 750 words. Your challenge - write another 750 – 900 words approx to complete the second half of the story. i.e. the short story in total must not exceed 1700 words.

What do you think happens next?

How will the story finish?

Email your version of the end of this short story (750 – 900 approx) to

I will publish the best of the versions on the Michael Braccia blog.

Good luck!

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