Monday, 22 December 2014

Publishing Pending..

Checking in here briefly to note a couple of pending publications in the offing as a result of recent submissions and writing online.

My story "Sorrow's Baptised" will feature in the December edition of The Sirens Call eZine later this month.

Additionally, I have two stories due for publication mid January as a result of the Luminous Creatures "Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness" competition, which has been running over the past seven weeks.  The first is an expanded version of my story "Their Guardian Generals" (originally featured at the website here).  The other is called "Colourful Talents" and will feature in the forthcoming chapbook which is a collection of competition entries representing the work of some very talented authors.  Very pleasing news and I'm really flattered to have my work alongside theirs!


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Our Final Dance (Angry Hourglass)


Photo prompt via The Angry Hourglass



They told me they took her heart pre burying her down deep.  Such were our instructions.  Specific to the last, when we could hide no more from it – from her.  For that, they thought us heartless.  They did not see them as they lay, bloodless; the vacant eyed stares, scattered across the parquet.  I scrubbed it myself until spotless, once they were gone; though I saw them still – could scarcely help it; after.  I had helped heft their weight, before the remainder.

She returns, red-eyed, against snow skin; cherry stain smudges at her lips; faded brown marks beneath her fingertips to face me, accusing.  I know well what we have done and that which we have failed in.  The dark spread pooling across her front tells its tale.  They tried for the liver.  They paid dearly for it.  She is rich with the toll – its metal tang clinging to her still, though she is not full.  Not now.  Not yet.  Not ever.

No need to call for her father – she has him with her, by the hand, between gripped nails.  A hopeful glance becomes hopeless, as I see he is cold beyond me, though I may join him yet before we are through.

“Daughter,” I say simply.  “Snow.”  The hand I hold out merits me a glance lacking recognition.  “My child.”  Her little legs are whittled into wastage – the ivory flesh pared to minimal covering over bone.  Her hair is pitch plastered to her skull.  She smiles sweetly, showing sharpened teeth.  The blood-shot gaze aimed towards me speaks for her.  With a thud, she discards her father’s arm – my previous prince – my once king – throwing him from her, to leave her own limbs free and able.  There is no helping her now – nor me, if I am accurate in my assessment.  I have seen the results of her handiwork when left to her own devices before.  There will be no savouring scraps beneath restraint for her.  Not now.  Nor for her, ever.

I loved her once, before.  Still now, I love her, ever.  I thought to save her this.  Instead, she forces me to dance final, failing steps for her.



Comment

Another piece for Angry Hourglass.  This one placed as Second Runner Up for the week.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Flash Dogs Anthology - Volume One

The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted a couple of mentions for the Flash Dogs on this blog already.  Anyone following me on Twitter will have seen several more along the way!

Briefly put, the Flash Dogs are a group of flash fiction writers from all across the globe who formed organically into a community via a number of flash fiction contests and regular interaction on Twitter.  As someone who's been running with the pack for a little while now, I'm privileged to be part of such a supportive bunch and improve my writing in their company.

Having grown significantly already on Twitter since forming, the first Flash Dogs project is due for release very shortly in the form of the first anthology in e-book format on 13th December 2014.  The profits for anthology sales will go to the global charity, IBBY, The International Board on Books for Young People, a non-profit organisation representing an international network of people committed to bringing books and children together.

The anthology will be available on Amazon for Kindle at £1.53 - for which you will receive one hundred and ten diverse stories written by 34 authors, the vast majority of whom have only met online.

 
Credit for the cover displayed above goes to the very talented @tamrogers.


An incredible amount of work has also been undertaken by several of the authors involved in the anthology as part of the Flash Dogs HQ - these being Mark King and David Shakes, in addition to Emily June Street's attention to detail as part of the editing process and Tamara Rogers' fabulous artwork.

Added to which, the very generous Natalie Bowers recently donated her prize of book promotion to the anthology's cause as part of it's launch.  Very kind indeed!


Once you've downloaded the book and enjoyed the contents, please come follow us on Twitter. #FlashDogs

http://theflashdogs.com/

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Cause or Effect (Mad Verse)

We are reflections
Shaped by time's making,
Casting our ripples outwards
And beyond;
Created cause with effect.

Surrender (Heartsmeal)

Shadows embrace languid limbs
In the dead hours,
As souls slumber oblivious;
Taking control of their charges,
Surrender owed only to light.

Fading Faster (Fiery Verse)

He wrote her into script,
Unknowing,
Each detail inscribed indelible -
Rendering her fading faster
From reality into fiction.

Proved Unnecessary (Written River)

As the world fell
Into stillness,
Slowly,
Words between
Those remaining
Proved unnecessary.

Fragile Hope (Mad Verse)

Hope holds fragile
In each heart,
Fighting free
Of the chambers
Of a past
No longer present.

With a Twinkle (Captured Hearts)

Hooves thunder overhead;
Spray stardust
In their wake
With a twinkle.
A horn fades,
As hounds chase
Jet on pitch,
Momentarily lit.

Crimson Ribbon (Fiery Verse)

She presents herself
Packed in crimson ribbon,
Fresh wounds,
Gifting her layers
To the one
To work through
Them
To her centre.

Linger (Fiery Verse)

Past shades,
Still familiar,
Linger here,
Whilst memory
Lives.

Kiss Me (Fiery Verse)

Pursed lips,
Pause momentarily;
Breathless anticipation
Before meeting
To consummate
Their liaison.

Quills (Fiery Verse)

Quills piled
Upon one another;
Never enough
Alone;
If only
They could create
Her word worlds
For her
Without impetus.

Make Believe (Fiery Verse)

She constructs characters;
Make believe dwellers,
Until her creations
Speak freely,
Demanding she scribes
Their actions
For them

Silent Voices (Captured Hearts)

Voices silent,
Their every gesture
Communicates itself
Perfectly
One to the other.

Endless Embrace (Written River)

Darkness' endless embrace
Beckons daily
Followers,
Casting shadows on lights.
Present passed,
They wane into surrender's sleep.

With Or Without (Fiery Verse)

With or without
Ideas,
She picks up her pen
And starts to write.
One word, then another,
Until
- Ends -
Before beginning
Again.

Undertow (Killer Poets)

Drifting deep in the Undertow,
Beneath the meniscus' divide,
Is a Queen of sodden skirts and muck
Seeking suitors for society;
When eye meets eye,
Below as above,
She drags them down
Into the depths,
Their lifeless leaden limbs
Her playthings;
Whilst their composure lasts,
At least.

Dance With Me (Written River)

Dance with me,
Her eyes invite;
A challenge accepted
Only by those
Sure of their steps.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Illusion and artifice (Written River)

Illusion and Artifice
Reign my dream realms;
To leave means
Accompanying Reality
Beyond their shifting borders.

Come What May (Fiery Verse)

They conjure their magic together,
As the shadows descend;
Come what may,
All is hidden
Beneath the illusion
Of darkness' cloak.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Controversy (Fiery Verse)

The flames she creates
Cause controversy
Amongst all close enough
To reach towards her heart;
She warned them well not to touch.


Comment

An oblique reference to Bonfire Night for this one, given the night the prompt posted!

Of The Night (Killer Poets)

Shades of the night
Descend without warning,
Devouring what lies in their way;
Devastations clearly displayed
By light of day.

Fallen Words (Written River)

Fallen words,
Unused,
Rest in slumber;
Their formed shapes
Captured still amidst
Closed pages and ink.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

In Loving Memory (Luminous Creatures)



Photo courtesy of Melissa Thornhill (via Luminous Creatures Summer of Super Short Stories)


In Loving Memory


Calder will depart for the afterlife a hero. They have ensured it is so, after his return from the raids to them, scarred, otherwise unscathed. They have no wish for him to revisit, reformed as revenant or draugr, to torment them, though Astrid has volunteered to wield the sword to remove his head if necessary. Brenna favours a stake through the corpse if the eventuality arises. They observe the requirements carefully, conscious of their need for perfection. The body is placed into a temporary grave, covered, whilst they sew, creating the clothes to accompany him on his journey. Brenna sings, strong and true, as they sit, imbibing the drinks proffered to her by Selby, one after another. They will help her see her way when the time comes. “Farið vel og með góðum tíma,” Selby says with each. Brenna nods, accepting the liquor filling the bowl to the brim, fingers touching Selby’s briefly, as the vessel passes back and forth again. There is no guard for this, their private ceremony. They are family now.

With a glance between them, they raise Brenna aloft, moving her towards the door frame, to lift her on their palms, once, twice, thrice. Now, she sees out and beyond, into the other realms. They lower her carefully, to stand on her own feet. She is ready and they are one in their task.

The women walk together to the water’s edge where the narrow longship waits for them, pre weighted with Calder’s battle worn weapons and armour, sail hoisted aloft. The dragon at its head points seaward, pre-seeking the eventual destination from which there is no return. Brenna climbs aboard carefully, placing cushions onto the wood to create the bed on which Calder’s body will rest. She accepts no helping hand as she clambers in and then out.

“Far-wanderer – there is the line of my people, where the brave may life forever,” Brenna says, standing at a slight distance from the bronze prow. They all nod, before clutching hold of one another closely, then breaking apart, standing together this last time. Slowly, Brenna removes the bracelets on her wrists, transferring them into Selby’s outstretched hands. She removes the finger rings enclosing three of her fingers; places them into Astrid’s palm. Once done, she turns from the assembled women, walking towards the vessel where Calder lies waiting for her to join him.

Brenna sits beside Calder’s cushioned body as his remaining relatives take their flame lit torches from the villagers who have joined them. She makes no sound as they set them to the oak and drive the boat out into the water. Burning arrows mark their progress as the ship sets sail in earnest. Brenna takes her secrets with her as she performs her final service for her family. Though Calder sets sail for Valhalla, she will chart their true course. Calder departs, presumed hero. She must ensure he faces his gods armed only with the truth. They will decide where he ends up.




Sunday, 2 November 2014

Mission of Faith (Flash! Friday)


Caution: Radiation Controlled Area. Creative Commons 2.0 photo by Oleg (via Flash! Friday Vol-2-47)


Mission of Faith

There isn’t much time.  You feel it.  You jump bodies before you; some already behind.  The ground is littered, as you scramble, losing purchase.  It is through the small doorway.  Caution all who enter.  By doing, you may die.  By not doing, you will die. 

Your fingers are shifting as you move - pushing – pulling - forwards – backwards - thrusting obstacles away.  You are accessing hidden strength; knowing it won’t last – that it drains your energy levels.  You hope to see the door designated “authorised personnel”.  You need to see it soon.

You wish you’d purchased maps but you had to choose between two options.  You went for the other and hope it counts.  A wrong choice means you lose your life.  You must not fail your mission.

Now you see it; the hooded habits already assembled in front.  First, defeat them to reach the missile silo.  Then you’ll open the door to the final level to disarm the reactor. 



Comment

Another piece for Flash! Friday in response to the photo prompt above.  The word prompt/task this week was to include a monk in the piece.  Somehow, I started thinking about gaming and came up with this slight twist on the "nuclear" scenario.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Strange Things (Fiery Verse)

Strange things
Play beneath
Cover of darkness
In unsuspecting minds;
Their footsteps
Missing memories merely
When light arrives.


Comment

Another "Fiery Verse" micropoem.  The prompt for this one was "strange things".

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ghost of Myself (Mad Verse)

Slightly more than see through,
Less now than opaque,
Ghosts of selves wander;
Separated illusions,
Seeking solidity.
My eyes; they see yet
Those who think themselves
Reduced to slivers of wraith.


Comment

Written for the "Mad Verse" micropoetry prompt - this one refused to fit itself into a Tweet sized entry, so I'm posting it here instead.  The actual prompt was "ghost of myself", which I played with a little, to produce something - hopefully different - from.

The Crescent Quarters (Angry Hourglass)



Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)


The Crescent Quarters

They will take you to the Crescent Quarters on dark, moonless nights, if you know where to find them.  That is Test One.  Do you see them yet?  Those shadow silhouettes with painted faces, casting themselves as chameleon; as tricks of the light?  They are there to locate, once you know how; in the hidden spaces.  Once spotted, they show themselves immediately to the sharp eyed.  Such is the bargain they made, though no one knows with who or how it was arrived at.  The details remain shrouded; lost in time’s passing.  Perhaps they too will be rediscovered, though not today; not by you.  They are not your task.  You are already upon it. 

Will you take them by the hand, to let them lead you where they will?  That is Test Two, though none can say whether yes or no means pass or fail.  All stay silent on that score.  The decision is yours alone for the making.  You have taken it already. 

The way lies above ground, through the Long Ages; that you gather, as the white gloved hand leads on and into the dark.  You fancy their cries beat upon you, as the long, carved staff hits the ground; it’s constant click the audible companion to your own footsteps.  Your guide keeps his counsel, face forwards, dark eyes averted.  What do you hear?  What calls to you?  Is it the jolt towards justice?  The sound of sympathy?  What do you feel stir beneath your bones?  Is it the burn of revenge?  That is Test Three.  Multiple choice.  You have your answer ready.

The top hat bobs beside you, leading you further in.  Deeper; still deeper.  The shaded city is side to side now, its buildings all around you; its shadows upon you.  You hear them now, around you.  The souls stirring to meet you.  They hear you breathe; feel your heat amidst their chill.   

Your heart jolts as you realise it is you and them now.  Your guide has stolen silent from the scene, somehow; somewhere.  Now you have no choice.  You must find your own way back or remain amongst them.  It is your final test.


Comment

For some reason this picture prompt started me thinking about New Orleans and tours of the Quarter, which led me eventually to this little tale.  I might even try to expand on it, time allowing...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ran Red (Fiery Verse)

They ran as
Red descended,
Raging,
Into head and heart;
Displacing
Human occupants
With something clearly
Other.


Comment

Another "Fiery Verse" word prompt effort.  The prompt this time was "ran red".  This was what I came up with - a slight slant on the prompt as a result of a conscious decision to split the words to try and produce something different.

Dangerous Angel (Captured Hearts)

Serene sighted,
They stalk silent
In their angels' flight;
Dangerous aspect revealed
When closing on their prey.


Comment

This stems from the "Captured Hearts" poetry prompt on Twitter, which was "dangerous angel" for the particular day.  I didn't get chance to post my entry and so thought I'd bring it to the blog instead.

3Line Thursday (Week Three)


Perfectly poised
Waters sway,
Hanging in the balance.


Comment

The photograph which inspired this micropoem (and all of the other entries) are here.  I kept this one short this week.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wifely Wisdom (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)


Wifely Wisdom


All Hallows Eve was the night Will lost his head.  Literally.  Fortunately, his wife had some insight, being versed in witchcraft, as she was.

“Not to worry, darling,” she said, as the body crawled over the threshold, “though you might want to wait there for a minute whilst we work something out – the blood’s staining the floors and I don’t want to have to worry about castings on top of this one.  We need the energies.”  The stump assented, as far as Cara could tell.  At least, it was dipping and swaying the right way.

“D’we know where and when you lost it?” she asked.  “A point in the general direction would save time in the searching, that’s all.”  Will’s finger hit the air aimlessly.  “I’ll take that as no,” Cara surmised.  “Guess that’s not so surprising, considering.”

Cara sighed.  “You know we’ll have to work quickly, given we don’t know where to look yet?”  Her husband’s neck waggled at her.  “No need to get tetchy!” Cara exclaimed.  “I’m not the one who got careless with my bodily bits on my travels.  Plus, I’m doing my best here, under pressure I might add!”  The stump subsided in its movements.

“Better.  Now, we need a substitute ‘til we find the real one.  I know just the thing.  Have it here.  Lucky it’s still intact.  Hadn’t gotten around to carving it.”  Cara moved towards the stove, placing both hands on the rounded orange object on the work surface.  “Might be a bit heavy,” she said, doubtfully.  “We’ll have to see.  Bend down, there’s a dear.”  Will’s body obliged, stumbling to kneeling.  “There we go!”

Cara thought for a moment, whilst the newly assembled body remained motionless.  “Nose and eyes,” she said, decisively.  “This might sting,” she warned, as she inserted the knife’s point into the pumpkin’s surface.  “Stay still.”  Will did, as she carved.  “Mouth will have to wait,” she said, after.  “I can only do so much magic at once and shedloads went into animating the head.  You can wait ‘til tomorrow, sweetheart, can’t you?” 

There was a pause before Will's body moved violently.  “That’s a yes, then,” Cara responded, placid.


Comment

I couldn't resist writing a slightly tongue in cheek entry for this week's photo prompt - this being the result.  This placed as one of the runners up for the week.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Exercise of the Heart (Flash! Friday)


Circus clowns visit sick boy.  CC public photo Boston Public Library (via Flash! Friday)


Exercise of the Heart

He is there in the morning, when passing.  Heather shudders at the painted grin-stroke-grimace, frozen in place.  She can take living statues.  Clowns, she dislikes.  His hand stretches towards her.  She quickens her pace, leaving him standing.

Random route or no, he is there – muted - the next day; silver replacing carnival colouring, save a specific cluster of pink.  Looking more closely, lingering, she spots it clutched between metallic fingertips – the crimson paper fluttering with the wind.  His arm reaches, mutely.  Brown eyes look into hers.  A single black tear drop hangs mid cheek.  Then there is a quirk of the mouth; an eyebrow raised; suggestive.

Despite herself, Heather is smiling slightly.  She knows what will be on the cut out he holds.  It mirrors the make -up marks drawn onto his chest.  An excised heart; painstakingly precise in the drawing.  Digits marked across its length.  Silently proffered.  Despite questionable taste in dress, perhaps she’ll give this joker a chance.  


Comment

My second effort for Flash! Friday this last week.  I deliberately took this one in a completely different direction, given I'd gone "dark" for the original entry.  Funnily enough, the dark one got more comments!

The Guessing Game (Flash! Friday)


 Circus clowns visit sick boy.  CC Boston Public Library. (via Flash! Friday)


The Guessing Game

Clown Face laughs, the sound muffled by the latex mask hiding his features.  “We’re going to play a game,” he says.  “You want to play, don’t you?  We want to play with you.”

Cal shakes his head – or tries.  His body is uncooperative, though he is conscious now.  That’s a start, he thinks, twitching muscles at the corner of his eyes.  His limbs remain leaden.  For now, Cal surmises.  

“Play time!” Clown Face says, clapping gloved hands together.  “You can meet my friends now.  We’ll play guessing games.”  Cal hears a click as, presumably, a door opens.  His head is angled so he can’t see.

“Which first?”  Clown Face asks, red lips passing Cal’s eye line.  Silence, before he speaks again.  “Too slow!  For that, you’ll miss part of the fun.”   

Suddenly, Cal can’t see.  He thinks he, too, is masked.  “It’s called Operation!” Clown Face says.  “Let’s play together!”

Cal doesn’t need to see to know what comes next.


Comment

One of this week's entries for Flash! Friday - couldn't resist adding a reference to "Operation" into it in a different context, given the word prompt was "surgery"...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

3Line Thursday (Week Two)


Speared by your shackles, link upon lengthening link;
Their weight a chain of heavy obligation,
Fashioned too strongly for simplistic breakage.


Comment

The photo prompt which inspired this micropoem is here, along with the other entries for the week.

Sleepwalking (Heart Soup)


Morning sees them shuffling;
Those sleepwalking shufflers,
Moving inexorably,
Autopilot on,
Whilst walking wanderers,
Sometime freed,
Seek a path
Amidst their tide.


Comment

This micropoem stems from the "Heart Soup" prompt on Twitter, which was "sleepwalking" on the given date.  I missed posting on the day and so thought I'd post my effort here instead.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Flash-Lit Fiction 2014 (Flash Fiction)

So, I participated in Flash-Lit Fiction 2014 this year via Twitter (see entries below), which was good fun.  To my surprise, I was shortlisted with the first of the flash fiction pieces posted below!



They meet at colour shifts in dreams; sleep their nightly rendezvous – confronting shades’ shadow disguises & dissipating confusion.

***

Sentences seed into sentience; taking root in slow suggestion. Mapping minds; synaptic symbiosis. Brought into being, they are boundless.

***

Waking to silence, she seeks solace in searching.  She refuses to believe herself sole oblivious survivor.  Someone is here somewhere.

***

Their ride rages night’s skies sleepless, slumbering snores below them ; specks of stardust in their wake.

3LineThursday


An inexorable fall;
Crimson clad dancing breaks, leaving skeletal remains;
Colour hewed brittle by the shadow season's beguiling.



Comment

As the title suggests, this micropoem was written for the Three Line Thursday challenge - newly launched - which asks you to produce a three line response to a photo prompt (see here for the photo which inspired the poem above and to check out all of the other responses).

My effort received an Honourable Mention for the week and was deemed to use "excellent imagery" to quote the judge's response.  Definitely not expected, so a nice surprise!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Hidden From View (Fiery Verse)


Hidden from view,
Beneath darkness' cover
She hears them.
Creeping.
Closer.
Steps shuffling,
They are with her.
Now.



Comment

Something a little different here.  On occasion, I write micropoetry (published on Twitter at @FallIntoFiction) for various prompt accounts, which generally post on a daily basis.  I wanted to keep track of them, save for via my profile and so thought I'd share them here on an ad hoc, as and when, basis.  This one was written for the "Fiery Verse" account (#FieryVerse, for those who want to check the many and various responses to the daily prompts) and the prompt was "hidden from view".

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Doing My Little Happy Dance (Publication Announcements)

So, I received an e-mail this afternoon confirming that my story "Appearances and Disappearances" would be featuring in the forthcoming October Paper Swans Press iPamphlet (due out tomorrow).  Very pleasing news!

Also - "In Creeps The Night" (with my story "Dealbreaker" in it) is officially out now - I've downloaded my copy already!

Ursilla (Angry Hourglass)




Ursilla

Tam had clipped dutifully, shearing the horny substances crusted into her small palms and soles, amidst winces and squirming.  Slices of horn had formed slowly in their place; barriers harder to break down, spreading - finally - into webs between digits.  That had decided it.  Now, the water sings as he stitches stalks, liquid reach kissing his knees; needle driving through velvet thickness lit by moonlight.  Its point pierced his skin when salty distractions blurred his vision; the pin prick dulled now to numbness as he works onward, methodical, towards the finish.  Blood soaks the makeshift thread as it closes the gaps, sealing over the criss-crossed weeds hugging its breathing centre.  Dark eyes watch within as he does.  He would have the best for his girl.

Tam loses track of time in the driving of sharpened bone, one side to the other - finds himself keeping count of the tiny crosses closing over the X marked chest.  By the end the number is beyond him; no way of knowing.  Once fully sewn in and left with a fur filled sack requiring dispatch, he hefts his heavy burden further into the waters, holding her carefully still above the caresses of the cresting waves.  Tam looks further out; watching; waiting.  She had told him, though he hadn’t listened then.  No choice now – just as he had no choice then.  He is up to his middle, clothes sodden, arms outstretched, feet as yet holding firm beneath him.  She will know.  She will come at the waves’ calling.

A bobbing break in the surface announces the harem’s presence and Tam relieves himself of her weight, pushing her out into the depths.  His breath catches momentarily before he sees her borne aloft by semi sunken silk undulations; a rise and fall, out and into the beyond. 

Wading from the brine, Tam seeks higher ground, climbing cliff side stairs to glimpse her before she is gone completely; still cloaked in the salt’s sting, its traces tracked upon his cheeks, as well as clothing.  He will watch the distant specks a while longer, with the scent of the sea on his skin.  Until they swim from sight.


Comment

This one was written for The Angry Hourglass Flash-Frenzy-Round-37.  Somehow I found myself writing about selkie children and weaving hints from various folktales into my piece...  This one placed as First Runner Up for the week, which I was surprised and pleased by, given the number of incredible entries!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Due Service (Flash! Friday)


 Typhoon Maid Thursday. CC photo by Shuji Moriwaki (via Flash! Friday)


Due Service


Shi stands, black clad, before the water’s chill.  Bronze has crossed the coin-eyed’s palm to dive their depths already – servitude now due.  It is hers to perform; the nine time circle into pain’s swamp, past drowsy oblivion; beyond fire and wailing.  Hers to see that he drinks of the infernal rivers; brackish and brine filled, pre return; cup filled to the brim.  He will choke at their taste; a spilled splutter.  It will be enough, even so.  Pitch unremitting at the epicentre, repetition will suffice to see them to the surface, though the journey is longer in the making now, each time.  He will not remember the struggle; scarce still Shi’s name when waking, coughing, atop solid rock.  He will not know the cost for his return; the price paid to swim within the realms.  He will not recall the salt sodden tears shed into his glass.  He will never know she exchanged a portion of her life for his.


Comment

A second piece for this week's Flash! Friday, given I had another idea after writing the first story and couldn't resist writing the second one down.  Think there's a longer story in this one too...

The Vigil (Flash! Friday)


Typhoon Maid Thursday. CC photo by Shuji Moriwaki (via Flash! Friday)

The Vigil


Wednesday wanted to be buried at sea.  They obliged, setting him to sail, then sink, beneath the water’s lapping.

“Should’ve been me,” Thursday said, watching the surface; still post-submergence.

“Wouldn’t’ve worked,” Tuesday answered.  “It’s as it needs to be.” 

“Still – never let it be said you haven’t had your use here.”  Friday’s eyes remained turned towards the water.

“We agreed!”  Thursday’s voice was sharp.  “You couldn’t have called the storm!”

Wouldn’t have,” Friday said, eyes hard now; stare unremitting.

“Wednesday’s choice, ultimately.  As always,” Tuesday said.  “Guess I’d want to switch things up by now; hang tradition.  Maybe.”

Friday’s eyes turned towards the one-handed man to her side, eyebrows raised.

Sjaund, anyone?” Sunday interjected, smile determined, raising a liquor filled bowl, contents swimming from the sides.

“Too early yet, surely?” Monday said.

Sunday shrugged, sipping.  “Won’t be long.”  

“It’s time,” Saturday interjected, eyes cast out into the distance.  Faces pointed forwards now, together the family watched; expectant of his emergence.


Comment

Written for Flash! Friday Vol-2-42.  This week's challenge was to include a death within the story.  Somehow this transformed into the story of the gods behind the days of the week and a differing slant on Odin's vigil... 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Ahem! Ahem! (Publication Announcements)

So, I received an e-mail the other day confirming that my story "Fight The Fear" will feature in the October issue of The Opening Line Literary 'Zine.  Really good news.

Additionally, I'm aware that the publication date for "In Creeps The Night" has been set as 30th September 2014 for anyone who fancies getting into the Halloween spirit early this year!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Dispensary (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy Ashwin Rao via The Angry Hourglass


The Dispensary

Everyone ends up at The Dispensary eventually.  Some go beforehand to visit.  To feel better.  Temporarily.  Feeling worse afterwards.  Hollow.  Bereft.  One visit leading to another  and another.  The regular clockwork crowd crawling in.  Callum relies on them and they never let him down.  Whether they will or no, they can’t avoid their final visit here.

“Y’got it for me?” Jordan asks.

“As promised.  Pretty decent, all things considered.  Had compliments from the punters.  Kept her back special for you.  Had a feeling you’d be in today.”

“Pass her over then.”  Jordan reaches a hand to the dispenser, taking the slim vial from his grasp, pressing it to his lips.  He swallows it down, throat working once as it passes into his system.  The dispenser sees his eyes glaze immediately, hand curving on the counter, as it takes hold of him.  He breathes – in – out, expelling in a slow sigh.

“Sweet,” Jordan says.

“Rich, from what I’ve heard,” Callum responds.  “With body.”  He raises on eyebrow.

“Nice little number,” Jordan agrees.  “Not what I’m looking for though.”  “Guessing you knew already.”

“Might’ve had an inkling.  She’s special order though.  Still waiting for her to come in.”

“Any idea on timings?”

“Hard to say.  You know how it is.”

“Request’s been through some time now,” Jordan reminds Callum.

“Got folks on it, for what it’s worth.  She’ll come in.”

“Better do.”  The words are sharp.

“Everyone ends up here eventually,” Callum says.  “Just a matter of time.  Plus there’s a pretty decent palate to work your way through in the meantime.  Plenty of choice.  Daily deliveries.”

“Just not the one.”  Insistent.

“She’ll turn up.”  A pause.  “Try another in the meantime.  On the house.”  The dark glass is already in front of Jordan, liquid obscured behind the opaque surface.  His eyes light as he sniffs, savouring the scent, before gesturing at the colour of the receptacle.  

“Really?” Jordan asks.  “I’d have your sources if I wanted.   Sod them.  Told her I’d find her, one way or another.  She can’t hide forever.  Everyone ends up here eventually.  You said it yourself.  Just a matter of time, that’s all.  Then I’ll have her.”


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This last week's story forThe Angry Hourglass  Flash-Frenzy-Round-36.  This one follows on from a previous Hourglass story I wrote, "Sampling Spirits".  It was plenty of fun to write!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sorrow's Baptised (MWBB)

Erin had been baptised in pain and a flood of saltwater tears, earth still crusted beneath her fingernails from the silt laden waters.  She emerges still riding her rage; the tang of blood at her lips, ratty snake tailed hair hissing into her ears, the ghost of a slit-smile kissing the base of her throat.  Somewhere beyond this, she can hear her call.  To her, it roars.  She is clear where she must be, though crimson colours her vision; the beat of fury coursing – quickening - through her veins.  His name is the curse clamouring upon her lips.  He is where she must go.  He is the favour owed her before the remainder.  Before she truly becomes one of those formed from sorrow, favouring the wronged, seeking to restore balance through chaos’ call.

Dark limbs on shadowed wings’ flight, she spreads them wide, to travel swiftly, skirt shifting slightly with the winds.  His pain will be her pleasure – the necessary price.  She knows this to be true; the justice of blood for blood.  She is his storm cloud summoned.   

Justin.  An irony, that.  One date and she had known herself drowning deep, though she might still have made an escape - then.  She hadn’t meant to fall in love.  By the time she had realised, she was already teetering on the brink - and then up and over.  She had thought herself loved.  Told herself he had had a bad day when they had words.  Stayed.  He had made a mistake.  It wouldn’t happen again.  Trite self-assurances.

It is difficult to remember the night it happened; blurred as it is beneath her collapse into unconsciousness.  She recalls sticky, carmine stained fingers, clutched towards her throat, before the floor rose up to greet her.  The silver scar tracing her skin reminds her of the end.  She touches a fingertip to its ridges.  There is satisfaction in seeing into the secret depths of others, where once one could only guess.  Now, she can know the truth; can practice virtuous vengeance where its weight sets its summons upon her.

Erin feels pressure pulling in her bones, where previously they were light.  She is near now.  She dips lower, boots coming into contact with tarmac as she lands; the slight initial shock of impact reverberating through her soles.  The suggestion of feather shading at her shoulders fades as she stands.  A slight smile as she recognises her surroundings.  It would be here.

Crouching slightly, Erin pushes the four figure combination into the key safe, hearing the click as it opens on its hinges.  The code is unchanged.  He could scarcely have expected her return to use it, given how he had left her.  Still, she is here, restless coils slithering –soundless now - about her temples, whip wound about her waist.  Raised by her calling, claimed by blood’s bindings, irrevocably promised to her mission once it is over.  Once she is beyond him.

The stairs towards the bedroom are steep; higher than in the average house.  Erin is used to their proportions.  She has climbed them many times before.  It is the first doorway on the right.  She turns the brass handle slowly.  It creaks if one is less than careful.  A light jump and she is passed the raised floorboard just beyond the entrance, liable to catch one’s toes and stub them.  He is a slight snore beneath the duvet; a cocooned length in its white folds.

The movement about Erin’s head increases as she nears the bed.  The red is with her now, singing through her body.  She feels dizzy drunk on its spinning, as it pulls her under.  Somewhere, there is shouting, a frenzy of serpentine seething and they are eye ball to eye ball as Justin startles straight from sleep into wide eyed stare, immediate.  Locked into contact, Erin sees a form of recognition, accompanied by something else, as his gaze cracks.  She sees herself reflected upon his eyes, as they stare openly into hers.    Leaning forwards slowly, gently, she bestows her final kiss upon his lips.  He is still as she does so; unmoving, scarcely breathing; blinking rapidly now.  Somewhere, inside, she hears him scream.  And cry.  And cry.


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Last week's piece for Mid-Week-Blues-Buster Week 2-20, the music prompt being P J Harvey's "Long Snake Moan".  I couldn't resist writing a 700 word story of Furies and revenge..

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A World of Waiting (Flash! Friday)


Krak des Chevaliers/Qalat al-Hosn, Syria. CC photo by Jon Martin (via Flash! Friday)


A World of Waiting

John shut the curtains on both view and sun.  They were for later.  It had seemed simple at first.  So few words to create; a minute – micro - task, really.  Instead, he was staring at the current blank page, sitting in silence, wishing he were anywhere but shut away from distractions, waiting for the whispered words to rescue him, crumpled papers mounting in the bin by the bed.  They were slow at it, though he knew they would be there.  They always were, somewhere, hidden away.  Until then, he and the room were wed together; the simple proposal – proving anything but - accepted on opening the door.  He would not leave his world of waiting until they were documented.  Only then could he consider other offers.  Tempting though they might be, he would prove himself faithful.  He hoped they would hurry though.  He wasn’t keen on the concept of a forever commitment, vow aside.  He liked life outside four walls.  


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160 slightly tongue in cheek words for this week's Flash! Friday prompt.  The challenge this week was to include a marriage proposal within the story.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Invitation (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

The Invitation

You pass the door several times, circling the block, before making your way to the door, invitation in hand.  No need to check the number.  You know it is here.  The sign across the frontage is faded,  unobtrusive - in contrast to the fluorescent slivers of light moving behind the glass from side to side.  You touch a hand to it, watching as the school gather swiftly about your fingertips before flitting away once more.  The door swings outward, inviting you to enter; to pass beyond the velvet curtain inside, into the warmth.  The fabric parts and you move forward through its whispering folds, which hold the remnants of a rich scent you cannot place precisely between them.

Beyond them, a white gloved hand proffers the embossed tray to you.  You exchange the crumpled paper folded into your palm for one of the chilled morsels with a nod, placing it to your lips, head back, swallowing quickly; one gulp and gone.  The aftermath is the kiss of bitter sweet brine at the back of your throat.  Pinprick lights dance overhead, their steps reflected in the sheen of the polished floor beneath your feet, before dimming down into blur.  The room spins on its axis about you, as you ride your silken slide into oblivion, over and over, colour swimming circles, around and around.

You open your eyes to dark shadows clearing.  A deserted hallway lies before you, a door at the very end.  A peal of low laughter sounds from beyond its silence.  You make your way to its promise, tiny blasts of breath creating caresses of heat at the nape of your neck as you move closer.  It is almost time.  You know your way now.

Your fingers grasp the door handle firmly.  You hear the sharp click of the mechanism as you turn the ridged metal clockwise, opening the burnished wood wide on its frame.  You move through, eyes searching; expectant.  Now you see them in front of you; take a step towards them, raising a hand in greeting to the familiar faces, brushing with the other at your moist cheeks.  You are here.  Together again.  At last.


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This one was written for this last week's Angry Hourglass competition.  I wanted to try something different and so put together a - slightly tricksy - sense oriented second person point of view piece.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Silent Struggles (Flash! Friday)


1896 Olympic Marathon.  Public domain photo by Burton Holmes.  (Via Flash! Friday)


Silent Struggles

We have been at war now for a while, you and I.  Struggling silently; fighting for precedence.  Have come at last to know each other intimately, one with each other, as you coax me towards your finish line, sweat browed and queasy.  I will not rush to get there.  I know how this race ends.  Still, sleep shuts you out, sometimes – until I wake again to light.  Once more round the track, perhaps?
Our exertions have pared me to planes and edges; a featherweight run ragged by the battle; not yet down and out for the count.  Not beaten.  Not yet, my corporeal competitor.  Not yet – thought I lag behind a little, breath rattling.  You are in front, back to me – a challenge in target.  To reach.  To move beyond.  A marathon endurance without training enough to accomplish the feat, so it seems.  I am no Olympiad, I know.  Your path stretches out before me.  Still.  I crawl forwards.


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My entry for Flash-Friday-Vol-2-40.  This one received an Honourable Mention and lovely feedback, which made for really pleasant reading.  I really didn't expect to place, considering how many great stories were submitted!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Work In Progress (Writing Process Blog Tour)

I was honoured to receive an unexpected DM from the decidedly talented Jacki Donnellan requesting permission to co-opt me for the current Writing Process Blog Tour as one of her three writers whose work she enjoys recently – especially given how much I enjoyed her recent Angry Hourglass winner "I Serve" and the incredibly powerful and moving "Cynthia".  Add to that her impressive record over at Flash! Friday and fact that her micro poetry has recently been distributed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (other publications aside) and I can only say thank you, given I’m well aware of the number of talented writers she could have chosen to feature – especially given I’m a relative newcomer to the flash fiction scene in real terms.

In appreciation of the opportunity afforded to me, on with the questions, before giving a nod to several great writers I’ve had the fortune to happen across during my time online…


What Am I Working On?

At the time of writing this entry I guess I’m currently juggling a number of projects and/or have more than one potential project bubbling away at the back of my subconscious, waiting to steal the forefront away from other current writing.  

In an average week there tends to be a steady mix of Twitter based micro poetry and flash fiction based prompts – or so I’ve found to date, this being only a ten odd month work in progress in terms of consistent writing for prompt/website/Twitter/whatever.  

Presently pending is my story “Dealbreaker”, a horror/mythology/urban legend mash up, which will feature in "In Creeps The Night" as of 30th September 2014 – just in time for Halloween!  Alongside my own tale, a couple of other writers whose names will be/may be familiar are featuring.  I’m very much looking forward to reading the stories from them in due course!

I’m particularly looking forward to the opportunity to write for my writing group The Poised Pen's first Halloween based (and international) flash fiction competition (fellow “flash dogs”, do you have your ideas at the ready yet? ;)).  I also have four or so short chapters of a novelette length YA story in first draft format and the beginnings of something holding out for a darker steampunk premise – probably also likely to end up at novelette length unless it gets carried away with itself!  

Ideally I’m also aiming to head back into the world of music prompts via Mid-Week-Blues-Buster, now the competition’s recently returned from what was previously specified as an indefinite hiatus.  Given the opportunity, I quite enjoy the chance to write something slightly longer than two hundred or so words, as a bit of a change of pace.  Also – there can never be too many fictional words (or indeed worlds!) shared between writers, surely…


How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

As a couple of the writers who’ve posted on this topic before me have mentioned, I’m another writer (albeit fledgling seeking to spread my wings compared to a number of others I might care to mention!) who tends to play out ideas off the back of my reading matter and viewing experiences.  I suppose this explains why I’m prone to jump from a Milford style crossroads demon story to poetry prose on Atlantis, resulting in a mix of stories and poetry, as opposed to sticking completely to one particular medium/genre/sub-genre, given I’ll read anything ranging from Shakespeare to Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, depending on my mood.  Experience to date suggests that’s a habit which reproduces itself in my writing, to an extent.  

Having thought about it a little for the purposes of the blog post and with @TheShakes72's previous comment on Twitter about “imaginative takes” on prompts in mind, I guess it would be fair to say occasionally I consciously “subvert” prompts by writing for them at a tangent.  That’s probably me deliberately trying to stretch myself as a writer and make progress, given I always know there’s plenty for me to make as a relative newcomer to writing!

The very kind @DonnellanJacki tells me my writing is poetic, which might result from the musical “aspect” of my head.  Aside from a love of music in general terms, I used to be involved in an orchestra, meaning I tend to “hear” my story’s/poem's cadences in my head, dialogue included.  Occasionally, this means I can also “hear” the right fit for the patterns and the rhythm clicks into place.  Obviously, that’s on a good day!


Why Do I Write What I Write?

Partially because my fellow “Poised Penner” @zevonesque made reference to a number of flash fiction competitions at meetings a while back (alongside reading his own work), beginning with Flash! Friday and I followed up on the website links and have carried on writing flash fiction ever since… 

I liked the concept of writing “small scale” with a designated number of words and – to an extent – the immediacy that would demand with deadlines in mind as a way of getting back into writing, given I’d been scribbling bits of things down since a relatively early age but never really written regularly on an ongoing basis.  Given I’ve also been known historically to muse on how and why fiction works, I suspect my love for reading translates directly into seeking to work with words myself and – hopefully - establishing my own connections with fellow readers somewhere along the way.

Opportunity to practice writing aside (and hopefully improve too!), it’s given me the chance to frequent a number of great websites and become part of active, continuously supportive writing communities - Flash! Friday and Angry Hourglass being some of the first ones I came across.  (The corner of the internet frequented by my fellow “Flash Dogs”, particularly – you know who you are, all of you -  seems to be going from strength to strength over the recent weeks!)  I’ve also posted reasonably regularly at Mid-Week-Blues-Buster and Office Mango's "Horror Bites" challenges, as well as for @Angela_Goff's VisDare photo prompt and previously at Trifecta and Race The Date.

I guess I like trying to maintain an eclectic mix in terms of the types of prompts I’m writing for at any given time and the type of story they are likely to inspire, because it forces me to write beyond the boundaries of my “default”, which tends to be spec fic – something I read (and thus reproduce in writing terms) regularly.   


How Does My Writing Process Work?

I actually wrote a “How I Write” drabble about this fairly recently for the The Poised Pen's third anthology "Half Baked".  In essence, it depends on the prompt and how it “speaks” to me.  For online poetry prompts I tend to scribble the word prompts down by hand and pick one or two on any given date that I think I can work with.  Mostly, I work them through on paper before they make it into type and onto Twitter.  Occasionally, this means I end up having to cut them down to fit the requisite number of characters! 

With photo prompts, I like to make sure I’ve taken a look at them at an early stage to allow an idea to develop itself.  If I’m really lucky, I’ll have an idea straight away – sometimes accompanied by a line of dialogue belonging to the story, which I end up writing down on paper.  Occasionally, if I’m pushed for time but have a story idea I want to see through to completion I can end up typing straight away onto the computer screen with a deadline looming!  There’ve also been a couple of occasions I’ve found myself writing towards a specific ending without necessarily knowing how I’ll get there but my favourite stories are definitely those that somehow seem to write themselves along the way and where I get to surprise myself with where I end up…



Introduction To 3 Other Writers

It goes without saying that there are any number of extremely talented writers who could feature here – and, indeed, a number have already been tagged previously – justifiably - as part of the tour.

L E Jamez


Twitter: @LEJamez

Laura is a fellow flash fiction writer and author of the collection of flash fiction stories "Kitchen Antics", as well as running the "Horror Bites" horror flash fiction challenge over at Office Mango.com.  She is also involved in the soon to be published flash fiction anthology "In Creeps The Night"

Laura already has her writing process blog tour post up here.


Casey Rose Frank



Twitter: @CaseyCaseRose

Casey is a fellow “Angry Hourglass” contributor (and back to back winner!)   Read her wonderful winning story "Communing With Nature" here and “Farmer’s Market” here.  She writes everything from quirky humour to stories involving powerful, human emotion and I always enjoy seeing what she creates in response to any given prompt.


Ruth Long



Twitter: @bullishink

Ruth is a fellow Office Mango "Horror Bites" flash fiction contributor whose ongoing The 12th Paladin series (written for the site's prompt) I've really been enjoying.  She's also written for a number of anthologies, as well as being due for inclusion in the forthcoming "In Creeps The Night".  Additionally, she's working on an urban fantasy novella.   

Ruth already has her writing process tour blog entry up here




Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Getting Closer.. (In Creeps The Night)

Couldn't resist sharing the cover reveal for the forthcoming anthology "In Creeps The Night", which will feature my story "Dealbreaker" here.  I'm really looking forward to reading it, given I'm lucky enough to know a couple of the other authors who will feature.  For those who appreciate horror-themed flash fiction, the anthology will be available on 30th September (in time for Halloween!) in both paperback and as an eBook.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Heading West (Horror Bites)


Photo via Office Mango.com


Heading West

They are heading west – always west.  The only way forwards now.  By car.  By foot, if needs be.  Sal hopes it won’t come to that for a while yet.

They’ve lost track of the towns they’ve passed through – all one and the same.  Interchangeable locations, with a saving grace.  They haven’t succumbed yet.  Buildings stand proud, brickwork still on show, though they will crumble beneath the living embrace to their rear.  It is coming.  Creating chaotic coloured cocoons; moistened mummies lying abandoned, enveloped, in its wake.

“Keep out of Maudsley,” Tim reads, squinting slightly at the erratic scribbled words, as they pass a sign, words muffled by the mask across his nose and mouth.  Sal makes a brief note on their battered map.  Someone’s hard earned lesson.  They are silent briefly.

“We need to find somewhere to bed down,” Sal says.  “Someplace indoors.”  They exchange a glance.

“There’ll be somewhere.  There always is.”

“True enough.”  Sal glances at her watch.  “Couple of hours yet.”

“We’ll make it,” Tim says.  “No worries.”  Suddenly, their heads turn as a twin set of lights reach towards them, contrasting clearly with the surrounding darkness.  They hear the low note of a car engine, growing closer.  Finally, a door – open, then shut, once the vehicle is within eye line.

“Might prove useful,” Sal says tersely.

The couple watch as a man and woman, younger by perhaps five years approach them, hesitant smile at their lips belying the caution in their eyes.  “You crazy?” Tim says sharply, gesturing at the lack of muffler either of them displays.  He takes a step backwards, increasing the distance between them, clutching at Sal’s arm. 

“Mostly, I guess,” the man says.  “Comes to us all.”

“You know about the seedlings?  The spores?” Tim says, insistent.

“Doesn’t everybody?” the woman asks.

“But..”

“They’re north now,” the man says.  “South, east, west – you name it.  We’ve been.  Seen the bodies.”

Sal shudders.

“Masks don’t work,” the woman says, tone decided.  “You were exposed way back.”  Slowly, after a look at each other, Tim and Sal remove the fabric stretched over their faces.


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A short piece for Office Mango's "Horror Bites" challenge - drafted slightly quicker than I would have liked due to time constraints!  Fun to write though!




Monday, 8 September 2014

Running The Gauntlet (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy of TheShakes72 (via The Angry Hourglass)


Running The Gauntlet

They will be there, waiting.  They always are.  Leaning casually against the lockers at intervals along the corridor – wanting - needing - Mark to run their gauntlet.  Instead, he is crawling towards the group of guys standing between him and his exit into a world beyond theirs, within these walls.

“Div!”  Whispered words, tone low; still he hears them as he passes Daz, the first of them.  Already, he is retreating into himself, head tucked hidden, a small shouldered curling, feet sliding forwards, as though sticky substances seemingly glue them to the ground underfoot.  He feels them threatening to pull him in; to consume him with what they see.  He tells himself he cannot – will not - be devoured by their daily lessons in diminishing. 

“Spaz!”  Louder, as he walks passed Chris avoiding eye contact, then Mark is on his hands and knees, fingers outspread to catch himself, as his feet are out and from under him in one swift motion and he is feeling the friction burns on his skin; the dull ache in his leg in the aftermath of its initial contact with the floor.  His right ankle is a separate, competing sting.  Water threatens to spill and blur from his eyes.  He holds it in, heaving - in, out. 

Suddenly, they are circled surrounding him, silent, whilst he sprawls stunned on the cold tile, red stains from his grazes marking the otherwise ivory white, the broken frames of his glasses to his side. 

“See ya later, Specs!” Joe says, pointing into his face, he thinks, and they are turning en masse, walking away whooping with one another, leaving Mark to catch and calm his breath, which is still racing through his chest, along with the thud of his heart.

Mark breathes, eyes suddenly – thankfully - shut, constructing the layers of himself again from scratch, building them, bit by bit, spiralling forwards, upon each other, as best he can, whilst he remains closeted within darkness, keeping out external threats. 

Finally, he raises himself to his feet, with them steady beneath him, surface shell restored.  One day he will build layers such that they can’t hurt him anymore. 


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Another Hourglass entry - this time for Flash-Frenzy-Round-34.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Drowning Deep (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)


Drowning Deep

Gazing into the murk over the flagstone clad edge, Lee wonders how it feels to drown - that surface struggle near-vertical, gasping at non-existent air and holding of breath whilst bobbing up, then down; further still, cloth soaked, floundering, arms grasping, windmilling, emoting mute bubbles; face tilted up towards what little shafts of light might make their way into the water’s midst.  He considers how long it would take him to sink towards submergence before he would be beyond saving.  He thinks he could hold his breath for perhaps thirty or so seconds – maybe slightly more – sixty? – ninety, max? - before being forced to inhale as his body betrays him, self-preservation’s survival kicking in, like his legs beneath him, though he would be weighted to drag himself down, choice pre made, for what that would matter then.

Splutter.  Cough.  Inadvertently imbibing more water.  Reflexive laryngospasm tearing and burning its way through his chest.   Squeeze slipping softly into a euphoric blanket of tranquillity - no movement now.  Unconscious sinking slowly towards a bottom he cannot see from his current vantage point – it is beyond him; far below and into the deep down depths.  He doesn’t know precisely how long it would take to hit rocky resistance; to reach his eventual end; he would be blue; a disappearance beyond recognition by that stage, in any event.  Finally a true water baby, colour gilled at the nail beds; liquid’s kiss at the lips.  He sees – knows - how it would be, at his conclusion.  Lee draws in air, pulse beating faster, heart pacing, as he considers the permutations in their possibilities.  The water laps beside him, silent companion in his contemplation. 

Lee takes a further deep breath – a beat - filling his lungs with air, expelling it slowly again - wholly, completely.  Again.  Another.  Now that he is certain, finally, Lana is not going to surface again, he feels free to walk away from the jutting ledge, pulling his toes from their previous curled position at its perimeter.   He doesn’t look back after he turns.

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Another entry for Angry Hourglass - this one for Flash Frenzy-Round-33.  Somehow this one wrote itself into quite a dark ending to produce the relevant twist in the tale!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Civilisation's Pillars (Flash! Friday)



Gemini V, August 29, 1965, Public domain photograph courtesy of NASA (via Flash! Friday)


Civilisation's Pillars

Some say civilisation’s pillars are submerged beneath the surface, depthless deep devastated, if you dive down, their particulars preserved in red rock and crumbling concentric canals, pure white ivory at the heart.  Alien ancients of no place are held captive by the ocean’s sway; an isle overthrown, swallowed whole in silt slavery, their shattered city-soul secreted sunken beneath the host gulfs and eddies of a boundless continent.  Thus did decline and chaotic corruption bring their just ends full circle in chastisement within one day and one night in the first fight.  Now, year on year and with the turn of the tide the sea’s triumphant swell drowns out the ghosted warning whispers of the geographical fiction seeking to break their water bonds and rise towards liberation’s lights. 

They dwell there still in rumoured existence under muddy subsidence, a semi-forgotten nation.  One day they may make themselves heard by civilisation, so some say.  They hope not to be doomed to failure.  


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This week's entry for Flash! Friday Vol-2-38.  The word prompt this week was to include an alien.  As opposed to including spaceships in the traditional sense, I took things in a slightly different direction and ended up writing prose poetry (ish!) concentrating on Atlantis...  That involved a bit of research too!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cuban Heels (Angry Hourglass)


Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via Angry Hourglass Flash-Frenzy-Round-32)

Cuban Heels

Heat emerges from beyond Casino’s double doors, as Jay pushes them open and moves inside, tiny sombrero stamp displayed at his wrist.  The floor is full of bodies, improvisation at the ready.  Already he recognises integrated elements of Cha Cha Cha, Danzon and rumba, beyond the usual Dile Que No and a contratiempo.  The band – a short statured trio - Techichi tonight, he thinks - is playing for all their worth, sweat browed.  Still, he isn’t feeling it yet, though the music is hopping.

“Care to dance?” a female voice asks, behind him and he turns, taking in a flame coloured up do above green eyes, looking into his own, decided, daring him to say no.  He doesn’t.  Instead, they are up and onto the floor together, before he is thinking about it and she is pulling his arms around her into position, pre figures and turns.  She is close enough to him he can smell the remnants of a perfume he can’t quite place, before he realises he has missed his count and the beat is beyond him already and away.

“Sorry,” Jay mutters.  “Start again?”

“Sure,” his companion says, smiling a little.  “When you’re ready.”  She raises a pencilled eyebrow at him, eyes sparking. 

Jay looks away briefly, starts to count; to concentrate.  This time he has found the rhythm and they are in it together, hips noting the swing and away, break step firmly in place.  He finds she anticipates easily, given he has never been the strongest of leaders really; quick and graceful in her spins, single and double.  He senses, rather than sees, the looks they are garnering from others around them; knows they are down to his petite partner, who takes the credit.  Suddenly, he is grinning, pulse increased and the steps are sorting themselves, as they work the floor, two together, deep beneath the base.

“We’ll have to try that again,” she says, causing him to realise the song has slowed to a close.  Jay realises right then he could easily jump to her tune for time to come.  The concept doesn’t bother him much – and he doesn’t even know her name yet.

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Another Hourglass entry.  I couldn't resist writing a salsa based piece this week, given the photo.  The reference to the dogs is relatively subtle!