[Fast 500] Where are my shoes?

A 500-word story for learners of English.

Ann loves shoes. Today she is wearing a pair of beautiful red high-heels that she bought in Paris. It is the first time she has worn them. At lunchtime Ann is walking to a café when she sees a sign outside the shoe shop.



We are moving to a new shop in the Mall.

We are selling all our old stock at low prices.

Come in and look!


Of course Ann goes into the shoe shop. The shop is full of people. There is big box in the middle of the shop. There is a sign on the box.




$25 a pair


Ann hurries to the box. Many people are taking pairs of shoes out of the box and trying them on. She sees a pair of green sandals.

They would be great for the beach, she thinks.

She takes the sandals and checks the size. They will fit. I’ll just try them on.

Ann finds an empty seat and sits down. She takes of her red high heels and tries on the sandals. They fit well. She walks over to a mirror to see how they look. They are perfect. She looks at the shoes on the shelves but there is nothing else she likes.

Ann goes back to the seat and takes the sandals off. I’ll buy these, she thinks.

She looks for her red high heels. They are not on the floor where she left them.

Where are my shoes? My beautiful red shoes!

She hurries to the counter carrying the green sandals.

“Excuse me”, she says to the salesperson. “My shoes have disappeared.”

“What shoes?” asks the salesperson.

“I came into this shop wearing a pair of high-heeled shoes. I took them off to try on these sandals. They have disappeared.”

“Oh,” said the salesperson. “Are they red?”

“Yes, they are red. I just bought them in Paris.”

“Oh, no!” said the salesperson. “I thought they came out of that box of $25 shoes. I just sold them. I am so sorry.”

“Who did you sell them to?” Ann is very unhappy.

“A young woman in a black business suit. She is not in the shop now. I guess she has gone.”

Ann and the salesperson run out of the shop and onto the street.

“There she is!” shouts the salesperson. She points to a woman in a black suit, carrying a shoe shop bag. Ann and the salesperson run after the young woman. They get close to her. Ann is shouting “Stop! Stop!”

The young woman stops and turns around.

“Are you shouting at me?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I made a bad mistake.” The salesperson explains that the shoes belong to Ann.

The three women walk back to the shoe shop. The salesperson gives the woman in the suit her money back. She takes the red shoes out of the bag and Ann puts them on. Ann is still holding the green sandals.

“You can keep them,” says the salesperson. “I caused you trouble. So those sandals are a gift.”

Then she turns to the woman in the business suit. “If you can find something you like in the $25 box, you can have them for free.”

Everyone is happy, but Ann thinks she will be more careful in the future. She thinks, Always carry the shoes you wore into the shop when you are walking around. Especially if there is a sale.


[Fast 500] The Yellow Hat

A short 500-word story for learners of English.

Mindy has a pet dog. She takes him for a walk every day. Usually she takes him to a park near her house. The park is next to a river.

Many people take their dogs there. The dog owners all know each other. They stop and talk.  It is a happy place. But last year a homeless man moved into the park. He slept under the trees near the river. He was very dirty. He had no teeth. His clothes were old. He talked to himself. He frightened Mindy. When she went to the park, she tried to stay near the other people walking their dogs. She didn’t want to meet the homeless man when she was alone.

When winter came, it was often cold and wet in the park. Mindy wore a thick jacket, gloves, a scarf and a wool hat when she went walking there. The homeless man looked very cold and ill.

One day Mindy saw he was wearing a warm yellow hat. It was new and clean. He came towards her. He was smiling and pointing at his hat. Mindy was scared. She ran away.

One of the dog walkers called out to her. “Mindy!” Mindy ran towards her. It was Alison. “Mindy! He is harmless! He won’t hurt you! He just wants to show you his new hat! He is so happy.”

Mindy felt bad. “I’m sorry. Where did he get the hat?” she asked.

“I bought it for him. I saw it in the $2 shop. It is so cold and he is so poor. I wanted to give him something. I left it under the trees for him,” said Alison.

“You are very kind,” said Mindy. The next few days the weather was very bad. It rained and rained.  Mindy didn’t want to go to the park. She felt bad, but she was still frightened of the homeless man. She took her dog to for walks along the streets.

One night she was watching the news on TV. “Homeless hero saves child!” came up the screen. The newsreader explained that a car had gone into the river near Mindy’s house. People walking dogs in the park had run to help. A homeless man was faster than all of them. He jumped into the river and got the driver out of the car. Then he had pulled a child from the back seat of the car. He saved the child but he could not save himself. The heavy rain meant that the river was very deep and fast. He handed the child to the other people but then the water pulled him down. He drowned in the river.

Mindy stared at the TV. “I could have been there,” she thought.

The phone rang. It was Alison. “Did you see the news?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Mindy. “It is so sad. Were you there?”

“Yes, I was,” said Alison. “He was so brave. We all tried to help. We helped carry the driver and child away from the river. We called the emergency services. But we couldn’t save him.”

“Was it our homeless man?” asked Mindy. She was crying.

“Yes, it was our homeless man. We are all meeting at the park tomorrow at 4 o’clock. We are going to throw flowers in the river. I know you didn’t like him but do you want to join us?”

“Yes. I’ll be there,” said Mindy.

The next morning, Mindy went shopping. She wanted to buy some flowers. When she walked past the $2 shop, she saw a display of yellow hats. They were the same as the one Alison had bought for the homeless man. Mindy went into the shop and bought one. I will wear it this afternoon, she thought.

In the park that afternoon, all the dog walkers stood together by the river. They talked about the homeless man. They threw flowers into the river, and everyone was wearing a yellow hat.

Another Halloween Story from Old Jack

A short story for learners of English. We hope you enjoy it!


Hello everyone! I’m Old Jack. I travel around the world searching for interesting ghost stories. It is almost Halloween, so I have decided to share a special story with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Around fifty years ago, when I was about twenty years old, I visited London. I stayed with my friend, Richard, for a weekend. We had a great time. I lived in the north of England, so I couldn’t go to London often. I was very excited. We went sightseeing, and drank beer every night.

On my last night in London, Richard said, “I’ll take you to an interesting pub. It has a ghost. You like ghosts, don’t you?”

“Oh yes!” I said. “I have been interested in ghosts since  I was a young boy. Let’s go!”



We walked to the pub from Richard’s house. It was a cold night in late October, just before Halloween. We were very glad when we arrived at the pub and saw a nice warm fire, and a friendly landlord waiting to serve us beer.

We sat at the bar and talked to the landlord, the owner of the pub.

“Richard tells me you have a ghost,” I said.

“Oh, yes. We do,” said the landlord. “I’ll tell you about it.”

“Please do! I said.

“Well, we have to go back a hundred years,” said the landlord. “This pub was a very popular pub then. It had many customers. But one day, something terrible happened. It was late at night, and the pub was closing. The last customers left the pub. They were drunk and happy. The landlord locked the door and started to count the money.

“Then he heard a noise. Knock knock. Someone was knocking on the door.

“‘We are closed!’ he shouted. But the knocking sound did not stop. Knock knock. Knock knock.

“‘Who is it?’ shouted the landlord.

“‘It’s John! I think I left my coat!’ said a voice.

“The landlord went to the door and unlocked it. But it wasn’t John. It was a different man. The man pushed the landlord into the pub and closed the door. ‘The money!’ he shouted. ‘Give me the money!’

“The landlord tried to fight him, but the man was very strong. He pulled the mirror from the wall above the fire, and smashed it over the landlord’s head. The broken glass from the mirror cut the landlord’s face and neck, and he died. The robber took the landlord’s body to the cellar under the pub, and locked the cellar door. Then, he took all the money and some bottles of whisky, and ran away.

“The next day, many people came to the pub, but they couldn’t find the landlord. The police came, and finally they found the landlord’s body in the cellar.”

“Did they catch the robber?” I asked.

“Yes, they did,” said the landlord. “He was a man from the other side of London. He had robbed many other pubs and shops. The police had been looking for him for a long time. When the police caught him, he cried and said, ‘I didn’t want to kill him! I just wanted the money! I’m sorry!’ A few weeks later, he was hanged.”

“So who is the ghost in here? Is it the landlord, or the robber? Or both?” I asked.

“I think both the men are here. I haven’t seen them, but I hear strange things,” said the landlord. “When I go to the cellar to get more beer, I sometimes hear a strange sound. It sounds like someone is pulling something heavy across the floor. But there is no one there! I live upstairs. Sometimes, late at night when I am in bed, I hear men’s voices. They are fighting. And I hear the sound of breaking glass. But when I come down here, no one is there.”

“That sounds scary,” I said.

“That sounds stupid!”

I turned around and saw a man with a glass of whisky in his hand. His face was very red. He looked quite drunk.

“I don’t believe any of that!” he said. “I don’t believe in ghosts! What a stupid story!”



Just then, the lights went out! The pub became very dark! We couldn’t see anything!

Everyone started talking. “What is it?” “Is it a power cut?” “It’s dark! I can’t see anything!”

Then, we heard a very loud CRASH!!!

Some people started shouting. Some were screaming.

Then, suddenly, the lights came on. The mirror from the wall was now on the floor. It was broken into many small pieces around the man with the red face. Everyone was quiet. We all looked at the man. We couldn’t believe it.

Then the landlord asked the man, “Are you OK? Are you cut?”

The man shook his head. “No, but my neck hurts.”

We looked at his neck. There were rope marks around his neck. He was too shocked to talk. He picked up his coat and walked out of the pub.



We all helped to clean up the glass on the floor. The landlord gave us all free whisky.

We all talked about the mirror and the lights, but no one could understand it. In that pub, there were people who believed in ghosts and people who didn’t believe in ghosts. But by the end of the night, I think everyone believed.



Old Jack has written five books of ghost stories. You can find more information about his books here. Old Jack’s Ghost Stories

Happy Halloween!







Short Story for Halloween from Old Jack

A short story for learners of English (EFL)


Halloween – now that’s a time for ghosts. Halloween is my favourite time of year.

I’m Old Jack. I live in the north of England.  My hobby is collecting ghost stories.  I travel around and listen to people’s strange and scary stories. Some of my best stories come from people I meet in pubs.

But for Halloween I’d like to tell you something a bit special. This is not a story from a famous castle or hotel. This is a story from my own family.

I’m from Northwest England, but I have an aunt who lives in Scotland. Her name is Edna. She lives near Holy Corner in Edinburgh in an old stone house.

It’s a nice house. But, one October, many years ago, a strange thing happened. It was late October, around Halloween. The gas heater in Aunt Edna’s living room broke. The weather get’s very cold in Scotland in November and December. So, of course, Aunt Edna wanted to get the heater fixed.

This gas heater was in the fireplace in the living room.  A long time ago, the people who lived in the house used to burn coal and wood in the fireplace to keep warm. When my Aunt Edna bought the house, there was a gas heater in the fireplace. She was glad. It was much cleaner and more convenient than coal or wood. Of course, the chimney was still there, but no smoke had travelled up the chimney for many years.


A repairman came to look at the heater.

“It’s no good,” said the man. “The heater’s too old. You will have to buy a new heater.”

“OK,” said Aunt Edna. “But I need it very soon. It’s getting cold.”

“I’ll take the old heater out and bring you a nice new one tomorrow,” said the repairman.

The man took the old heater away. It was the 31st of October. It was the night of Halloween.

That night Aunt Edna couldn’t sleep. She woke up in the middle of the night. She was very cold.

I’ll just go downstairs and make myself a hot drink, she thought.

When she got downstairs, she got a shock. The living room was icy cold. It was colder than her bedroom. It was colder than any other room in the house.

What’s that? she thought.

Aunt Edna could hear strange noises coming from the empty fireplace.  It was like something was scratching inside the chimney.

Aunt Edna ran to the kitchen and got a broom.

A cat or a bird has come down the chimney! I’ll have to get it out, she thought.

When she went back into the living room she stopped at the door. She could not move. It was like a large, very cold and very powerful hand was stopping her. It wouldn’t let her go into the living room.

She stood at the door and looked around the living room. There was no one there. She could still hear the strange noises in the chimney. The noises were getting louder.

She put the broom back in the kitchen. Then, she hurried into the living room. This time, nothing stopped her. She hurried back upstairs to the bedroom. Aunt Edna didn’t believe in ghosts, but she thought the experience in the living room was very strange.

The next morning, she woke up, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. She walked into the living room.

“What’s that?!” she said.

There was a large old-fashioned doll lying in the fireplace. She walked over to the doll and picked it up. It was a very old doll. Maybe 100 years old. She looked up the chimney. She couldn’t see anything.


That’s strange, she thought. She put the doll on a chair and made breakfast.

Later that morning, the repairman came back and put the new heater in the fireplace.

Aunt Edna is very old now. She still doesn’t believe in ghosts, but she still has the doll. She keeps it in a dark cupboard in the living room. She says that if you take the doll out of the living room, the room gets very cold, even in summer…


We hope you enjoyed Old Jack’s story!

For more information about Old Jack’s ghost stories, see here.

Happy Halloween! 🙂

The Mystery House


The Mystery House

Tommy delivers newspapers. Every morning he gets up at 4:00 a.m. He rides his motor scooter to the newspaper centre. He collects 100 newspapers. Then he rides his motor scooter around the neighbourhood. He puts the newspapers into the letterboxes of the people on his list.

It is dark, and often it is cold. But Tommy likes it. There are no people on the streets so early. Everyone is still sleeping. Tommy likes to think about the people in the houses. He has never seen them. But he likes to make up stories about them. Some houses are very big. They have expensive cars in their garages. Some houses are very small. Some people have beautiful gardens. Some people have children’s toys outside. Tommy has ideas about the people in almost every house. This house belongs to a bank manager, he is very fat, thinks Tommy. The children in this house are in high school. The woman in this house is lazy. She doesn’t take her garbage out and she doesn’t tidy her garden.

There is just one house that Tommy doesn’t understand. It is small and old. It has expensive curtains and a beautiful garden. There is never a car, or a bicycle or toys outside. Who lives there? wonders Tommy. Is it a man or a woman? Are they young? Are they old? It’s a mystery.

Tommy often thinks about the mystery house.  Then one morning he meets the owner of the house. It happens like this. It is winter and it is snowing. The snow started just as Tommy got up. The first house on Tommy’s list is the mystery house. When Tommy stops his motor scooter to put the newspaper in the letterbox, he sees that the door of the house is open. Then he sees footprints. They go from the front door of the house towards the road. Then they go towards the garden. Tommy is puzzled. He puts the newspaper in the letterbox and then goes to look at the footprints. Someone got up early this morning, he thinks. It only started snowing at 4:00 a.m.

The footprints are very small. They look like a child’s footprints. But Tommy doesn’t think a child lives in the house. The other strange thing is that the person was not wearing shoes. They are footprints of bare feet.

Tommy is worried. He thinks there is something wrong. He follows the footprints. In the garden, he sees someone lying on the ground. He runs towards the person lying on the ground. It is a very small, very old woman. She is wearing a nightgown. There is blood on the back of her head. Tommy thinks she is dead, but he kneels down and touches her. “Are you OK?”

She isn’t dead. She says something. Tommy has to put his head next to her face to hear. “The house. Someone inside. Hit me. I ran away. Frightened.”

Tommy looks at the house. He takes his mobile phone and calls the police and an ambulance. He runs to his motor scooter. Someone is coming out of the house. He has a gun. Tommy throws his bag of newspapers at the gunman. The man shoots. But the bullet hits the bag. The man is running towards Tommy but he falls over the bag. Tommy jumps on the man and sits on his head.

Then the police and ambulance arrive. The old woman is very ill but the ambulance people think she will be OK. The police take the man with the gun away. Tommy’s newspapers are wet from the snow. Some of them have holes in them from the bullet.

Tommy has to go back to the newspaper centre and get more newspapers. He must finish his delivery. The newspapers will be late today. Tommy hopes the readers don’t mind. He is wet and cold but he is happy. The policemen told him he was a hero. That makes him feel good. But he also feels good because he knows who lives in the mystery house.

The Perfect Face


The Perfect Face

Kylie is beautiful, but she doesn’t know it. She thinks her nose is too big. She has curly black hair but she wants long blonde hair. She always wears a hat when she goes to work on the train. She doesn’t like people looking at her.  She thinks they are laughing at her nose. So she always reads a book on the train.


One Friday morning, Kylie is late. She usually catches the 7:05am train but she misses it. She has to catch the next train at 7:25. This train is more crowded. There are no seats, so Kylie has to stand all the way. She can’t read her book. There is a man standing next to her. He is looking at her. Kylie doesn’t like it. The man smiles and starts to speak to her. “Excuse me, I…..”


Kylie turns around so the man can’t see her face.


At last the train arrives in the city. Kylie gets off the train. As she walks up the road towards her office, she sees the man from the train. He is walking behind her. Kylie walks faster, but when she looks behind her, the man is still there. She is a little frightened, but it is 8am on a Friday morning, and she is in the middle of a big city full of people. There is no reason to be frightened.


At lunchtime, Kylie goes to the park. She always makes sandwiches in the morning and takes them to work to eat at lunchtime. She doesn’t go to restaurants. They are expensive and Kylie doesn’t have a lot of money. Her mother is sick and it takes most of Kylie’s money to pay for the doctor and the drugs her mother needs.


In the park, she finds a seat. She is happy eating her lunch and reading her book. Then suddenly, there is someone standing in front of her. It is the man from the train!


“I waited outside your office until you came out,” he says. “Then I followed you. I bought us some coffee. I hope you like cappuccino.” He gives Kylie a cup of coffee in a plastic cup.


“Go away!” says Kylie. “If you don’t, I’ll call the police!”


The man sits down next to her. “I’m sorry I followed you. But you wouldn’t speak to me on the train. And I really wanted to talk to you. I don’t follow young woman, I am not that sort of man.”




“I work in advertising. My office just got a new job. It is for a Japanese company. Have you heard of New Ume-leaf Cosmetics? The company opened two shops here in America. They plan to open many more. So, they want to have a big advertising campaign on television and in fashion magazines.”


Kylie  knows about New Ume-leaf Cosmetics products, but they are too expensive for her.


“I don’t know why you are telling me this. Please go away,” she says.


“You have the perfect face,” says the man. “I want you to be the model for New Ume-leaf Cosmetics in America. You are so beautiful.”


“Me!” says Kylie. “You are crazy!”


The man laughs. He takes a business card from his pocket and gives it to Kylie. “Come to my company’s offices. If you won’t believe me, maybe you will believe the other people in my company. They will tell you that you have the perfect face and hair to be a famous model. Come with your mother or your father. You are very young and I don’t want you to be frightened. Also you get a lot of money if you do this.”


The man goes away.


Kylie sits and looks at the business card. She thinks that she will go to visit the advertising company. Kylie loves fashion and makeup. She dreams of having a small nose, long blonde hair and a lot of money to buy clothes. If she does this, she will have enough money to realize her dream.



A Surprise Birthday Party


A Surprise Birthday Party


Ted had a new girlfriend. His friends were pleased. Ted had dated Samantha for two years. When Samantha told Ted it was over, he was very upset. He was sad all the time. A few months later, he met Angela.

“I am arranging a surprise birthday party for Angela!” Ted told the people in his office. “It will be great!”

“Who’s Angela?” asked Tony. Tony had just come back to the office after six months working in America. “I thought your girlfriend’s name was Samantha.”

“Samantha was my girlfriend last year,” said Ted. “We broke up at New Year. I met Angela three weeks ago. Angela’s my new girlfriend.”

“Where did you meet her?” asked Anne.

“I met her at my kick boxing club. She has been a member for a long time.”

“When’s Angela’s birthday. Are we invited?” asked Anne. She likes parties.

“It’s on Saturday. It’s in the back bar at the Highlander Pub. Of course you and Tony are invited. It will be great!”

“Are you sure a surprise birthday party is a good idea?” asked Tony. “She might have other plans for her birthday.”

“No, no. I asked her out on a date on Saturday and she said ‘yes’, so she doesn’t have other plans.”

“Are you sure it’s her birthday?” asked Tony.

“What do you mean, Tony?” Ted was angry. “Of course it’s her birthday! When I changed the page on the calendar in my kitchen I saw ‘birthday’ written in pink pen in the space for Saturday. And there’s a big heart drawn around it. Angela must have written it there when she was in my apartment.”


Unfortunately, neither Tony nor Anne could go to the surprise birthday party. Anne caught a cold and Tony’s parents came to visit him so he couldn’t go out. When Ted came into work on Monday morning, Angela said. “How was the party? I was so sorry I couldn’t go!”

“Me too,” added Tony. “Did you have a good time?”

“No,” said Ted. “It was terrible!”

“What happened?” asked Anne.

“Well, I told Angela I would meet her at the pub. I don’t know Angela’s friends, so I asked my friends. I thought it would be a good chance for them to meet her. I put up a big poster that said Happy birthday to my best girlfriend. I put the cake with Happy Birthday Darling on it on the table. Then Angela arrived, and at the same time, Samantha came in with her new boyfriend. We all shouted ‘surprise!’ and sang happy birthday. Angela was very surprised. And then she was very angry.”

“Why?” Tony and Anne asked together.

“It wasn’t Angela’s birthday at all! It was Samantha’s! I forgot. But Samantha had given me the calendar just before we broke up. She must have written the message on the calendar.”

Tony and Ann could not stop laughing. “I’m sorry, Ted,” said Anne. “It’s terrible. But it is funny too.”


Ted started laughing too. “I can’t believe I made such a terrible mistake. And of course now I have no girlfriend again. But the cake was very nice.”