Sunday, 30 March 2014

Dinner Date (Flash Frenzy)

Photo by Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy Challenge)

First dates sucked.  Cal knew that.  Had been prepared even, resolutely; to endure awkward, polite talk over dinner and drinks.  The Japanese place was great for that – busy enough that they wouldn’t warrant too much attention from the wait staff; not so busy other customers would notice if he crashed and burned in conversation.  He’d managed to make sure they weren’t seated in the window either, where any passer-by might gauge his potential ineptitude from the sense of suffering or plea on a woman’s face as she wished for a swift exit.  His exit.  It had happened before.  Unfortunately. 

Hazel eyes flashed at him from across the burnished table, framed by brunette corkscrew curls.  “She’s waving at you, you know?”

“Sorry?  Who?”  He’d taken care to pay attention to her, solely.  Cardinal rule.  Aside from the fact that she was attractive enough to warrant it.

“The lucky cat.”

Cal couldn’t tell if she was teasing.  Hard to read, this one.  “You mean the maneki-neko?”  It hit him he was seeking to show off, display his knowledge; make an impression on the dark, dancing gaze facing him.

“That’s the one. You’ve made a friend.  Perhaps I should be jealous.” The tone was light, all banter.

“She’s beckoning, actually.” The words left his mouth before he had thought.  He shut his lips hastily, before anything more ridiculous escaped.

“Much better, then.” Her eyebrows were raised slightly, lessening the smart accompanying the smallest hint of sarcasm, fingers toying with strands of her long hair.  “Up on high too.”

“Excuse me?”

“Her paws.  You know what that means, of course?”  Now he knew she had been playing him, for what it was worth.

“Of course,” he responded, in kind.  Surely it must get better from here on in?

“ Let’s just order, shall we?” A minimal reprieve.


“You need to relax.  You take yourself too seriously.  She doesn’t – look at that smile.  Not a care in the world.”  Back to the cat, then.  A small pause.  “Wine with the food?”  The look was measured this time, waiting for a line back.

“Why not?”  Why not indeed.  Perhaps his luck was in, after all.

(360 words)


Another flash fiction piece for the Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy Challenge this week.  Including dialogue, unusually for me!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Remembrance (Flash! Friday)

Bicycle Tunnel, double exposure. CC photo by r. nial bradshaw. (via Flash! Friday)

Ted comes to remember.  How it had been.  How it might have been, if things had played out differently.  If.  Only, if.  He sees it before him; immeasurable, endless possibility, before it was swept away by circumstance.  The paths they might have travelled in time and space; the journeys they could have taken.  Pathways forsaken and spared.  Choices they would have shared, if he had had his way.  Too late now; way too late – the tunnel led only one way in the end.  Still, he finds himself returning, inevitably.  Every once in a while; not too often.  Perhaps it is his homage to the spaces of times past.  He fancies he sees the groove left by the bicycles they rested against the tunnel walls when they came here, though that is untrue.  He would have noticed before now, at least once.  He has been here numerous times.  His penance to the wrongly travelled path.  If thought alone could transport him.

(160 words)


The word prompt for this week's challenge was space travel.  I took this one in a different direction off the back of the prompt.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Siren Song (MWBB)

Time stands still as we sit there, listening to Pat sing; harmonica battling bravely against the storms. Winds whistling outside; rattling against the wooden doors, shut against the howl.  Time and again, we have been lured inside to listen.  So many times, perhaps, we have forgotten – or simply forgotten to keep count.  It scarcely matters.  The music is its own allure.  We are held in its thrall.  It holds all else at bay, until the morning dawns; until the song, like the storm, breaks. 

Grouped together, so we gather, evening upon evening.  Mid week, Friday; weekends.  Incapable of leaving.  Starving for comfort; knowing the grief of loss, before it has begun, by virtue of anticipation.  Lulled into lethargy, unable to pass, still knowing the need for safe passage by.

He hails from pastures strange; Pat who holds other names, if you catch hold of the worlds beneath his words and tie them fast; quickly, quickly!  Singer of the small isle of Sirenum scopuli, rotting corpses in his wake, skin shrivelling about their bones.  Heed him; yet not too well, for fear you will not live to tell the tale.  These words hold your warning amongst them. 

I listen with half an ear only, most evenings.  Those who came before me mentioned the need to plug my ears, barman to barman.  The old remedies work; beeswax comes well recommended, so they say, the unmentioned and unmentionable predecessors.  To date, I have not known it fail.  Week upon week, I make good my escape.  Still, there is always a first time.  When the slow and steady crawl home at dawn fails to materialise.  So I am told.  It happens to us all, unless guarded against well, at all times. 

I dare not ask how many have poured their pints before me.  I think I am better not knowing the numbers for those who have headed heavenwards without word or warning.  I am already deep enough in.  I always return, though I leave, resolved to be on my way.  My feet bring me back, far from the beyond I think I am aiming for.  Bodily betrayal, time and again.  It defeats me, chained as much as the punters I serve.

Mirror man, he is – Parthenope, shortened to Pat – I think I would be glad not to have caught the glimpse of his true reflection; feather and wing; scaly feet.  Now I carry it with me wherever I go.  The singing I leave behind, albeit momentarily, ever to return.  The silence into which the images creep unbidden – that I cannot escape.  Never, ever.  That I carry with me, after.  Perhaps it is my penance for exposure to the truth; the sentence awarded for close proximity.  Perhaps it is due diligence.  Perhaps, I do not care.  Perhaps I care too much.  Perhaps not at all.  Perhaps, perhaps.  Perhaps the imponderables will bring me full circle before the song is played out and the lyrics leave.  Perhaps, perhaps.  Perhaps.  I do not know.  Not really.  I suspect none of the others did either.  Maybe this is how the music played out for them too, before they left for the last train to their final destination. 

I clear the bar one last time.  One for the road, for what it’s worth.  I suspect little, although I seek to delude myself, even midst recognition.  There will be none to walk me to the station, for the journey.  The newest crowd crush themselves into the corner; enamoured.  There will be no stirring them until the dawn breaks.  Been there, done that.  They cannot help themselves.  Neither can I help them from the hold they find themselves in.  Circle full cycle, though my time within it comes to an end.  All so inevitable.  Still, I raise a final glass to the best little boozer, as I take my leave unnoticed, new barman already at the helm.  I suspect I will be seeing some of the faces before me again, though I must be on my way now.  Travelling far, far away.  Their journey lies before them.  Soon enough, they may follow my footsteps.  Then, I may have company.  Now, I look for the footprints of those who passed before me.  


Another one for this week's Mid Week Blues Buster - this week's song was The Pogues "Sally MacLennane" in honour of St. Patrick's Day.  I put a twist on things with this piece involving music and sirens.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Ingenious Solutions (VisDare)

Photo Source via VisDare

Ingenious Solutions

Dan and Paul had thought it through.  Carefully.  They needed to climb the seemingly insurmountable wooden walls of the shed to get there.  Far and away, into the boughs and branches of the tree which would transport them.  Beyond.  To the realms they knew were there, if they could reach them, beyond.  Thus, the plank balanced as strut against the structure, to climb up and away. 

Paul had gone first, as ever.  Where he went, Dan would follow, ever faithful.  Sometimes in his own time, but still.

It was higher up than Dan had imagined with feet firmly grounded.  The plank was wont to wobble, although it had not yet seen fit to shift.  That would have been the end of things.  The end, too, of Dan, for all he knew.  He imagined he could hear the branches whisper to him as he climbed.  To the world waiting for them.   

(150 words)


This week's word was ingenious - which I included in my title, as opposed to the body of the piece of flash fiction on this occasion.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Stone (Flash Frenzy)

Photo Source by The Shakes (via The Angry Hourglass)


They had always fascinated Jenna with their wizened expressions, gaping jaws and stone moulded grotesque.  She wondered what the hunky punks and chimera would tell her, if able to speak.  What they had seen over the days, years, centuries.  She always looked upwards to them, passing, to and from work.  Sure there were more to be found in hidden nooks and crannies, secretly safe from prying eyes and the bustle of human society, working their weird form of apotropaism.  The world of rictualism around the corner; just out of sight.

Jenna tried to count them, once, twice; many times.  Found herself losing count, having to start over, distracted by their short, squatting haunches.  She told herself it didn’t matter; she would try again, another time; it was her own fault for searching at dusk, a time between times.  So she said the first time – and the second.  The third.  By the fourth, when she failed to reach her count, she had started to think differently; to see a knowing slant in the smiles carved into the rock, their open maws.

Stubborn ever, Jenna renewed her energies; searched anew.  Discovered a different problem.  Her twilight wandering seemed to bring her into contact with new carvings; ones she had not seen before.  She thought not, anyway.  She had tried to tread new paths, mark routes on maps, including the location of each figure, though when she came to seek the papers, they were not where she thought she had left them.  At least, they didn’t seem to be.  She had looked all over.  That made it difficult to remember precisely where they were, how they had been positioned.  Still, she was almost positive she would have remembered the simian acrobat, perched atop the streetlight, arrows in hand, pointing eastwards.  Jenna shivered, glad the arrows weren’t pointing in her direction.  Time to call it a night; for one evening, at least.  There was always tomorrow.

The following evening brought Jenna up short, before she set off en route.  Face to face with granite gazes over her house lintel, just beyond the doorstep.  She had thought to find them. Now they had found her.  


This is up at The Angry Hourglass for the weekly Flash Frenzy competition - entries are based on a photo prompt and can be up to 360 words in length.  This one stemmed from the fact that I wanted to write a gargoyle story (ish!)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Avid Diva (Trifecta)

Something a bit different for this week's Trifecta challenge, which asks for the use of a palindrome or palindromic phrase as one of/part of the 33 word submission.  The clue's in the title for this one and the rest is just tongue in cheek messing with rhyme off the back of the palindromic phrasing - so semi poetry, as opposed to flash fiction this time around, really..

As an aside, it's sad to see the competition come to an end shortly - I've been enjoying contributing intermittently as part of the writing community at the site.

Avid Diva

Avid diva, I see ya
Strutting your stuff, doing your thing
Avid diva, wanna meet ya
Spirits raised by that gin sling
Avid diva, be my teacher
In wilful wit, zest and zing!

(33 words)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Freewheeling (VisDare)

Photo Source via the VisDare Challenge

Tess feels the wind as it runs through her hair, fluttering in the breeze; head bent back, unthinking, unheeding.  It is the closest she comes to flying, whilst grounded.  Pedals moving of their own volition, round and round.  She pulls her feet above the handle bar, rests them in place.  In that moment, she forgets that the world spins around her, what has been and gone; what is lost, never to return.  For a split second she is free; possibility endless, racing towards what is or may yet be.  In the sensation that surrounds her, she flies.  The ‘plane by the fence is more grounded than she.  Her arms spread wide; emulate the wings she simulates.  Still, today, she soars on her own.  Today, she flies.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.

(132 words)


Another one written for this week's VisDare.  Slightly shorter than a couple of recent entries.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Put Your Lights On (MWBB)

Put your lights on.  Kit hears the words; knows what they mean.  It is time now, more than, to take the steps to ensure their safety.  The little ones race to light the wick; to set flame ablaze.  They think it a game; too young yet to understand what it means to sing their song; what lies waiting, beyond, in the darkness.  Kit has learned to fear the shadows; what they may hide amongst them.  She has heard the stories – words whispered only during daylight and then only in passing. 

They have all suffered losses.  Disappearances were many before it became apparent what was happening.  Before the darkness living within those it had captured surfaced, again and again, to feed for its self-serving purpose – to ravage those whom the vessels remaining had once loved and now lost completely, having succumbed.

Their numbers are legion.  Kit refuses to consider it, to confront the thought head on.  Not with the darkness surrounding them; not now, tonight.  Instead lets the light shine, bright and steady.  Focuses on it, to pass through the night. 

They all have their tricks; tried and tested.  Some sing the song, defiant.  Their prayer in a world where bravado is what is left when daylight fades and the community huddles in corners, keeping those left close about them through the twilight hours.  Until they emerge from lamp light, blinking, to see who is still with them.  How many are left.  To mark the losses. 

No matter how they try, there are always the missing, though the lights glow, night after night.  They ignore that too – focus on the safe; fight off the fear.  Leave the words unspoken.  The doubt which is the lesser darkness within them all, though they are the sane amongst those who have fallen to the greater, ever looming one.  The one from which there is no returning.  It won’t help any of them when all of their attempts to combat it have proven ineffective.  They try, too, not to scare the children; to remind them of the monsters they live among now that the world is changed and life is lived differently.  They are closeted and cossetted enough when the lights go out.

Others pray to the gods of the world they have left behind.  Any of them.  All of them.  Kit has seen the signs on venturing out to scavenge, daubed on brickwork, beyond their walls.  Seeking salvation for the sinners, for themselves; believing what has happened is a punishment.  She is unsure what exactly for, given all are being dealt the same hand, failings great or small alike.  She suspects they don’t either, though they search for meaning buried beneath the madness which is their day to day.  Perhaps the quest acts as distraction, perhaps it serves as comfort.  Whatever works, as they serve their time out, to get them through both day and night.    

Occasionally it is possible to hear the refrain from beyond their own walls, as souls seek solace to drown out the silence.  Put your lights on.  Sometimes it echoes through the surrounding darkness, as others join the chorus, add soprano, treble, bass or alto to the tune.  Occasionally, some can even sing.  Still, that isn’t what matters.  The words speak for themselves; hold their own strength.  The joinder helps them hold their nerve.  Remind them they are not alone, in amongst the darkness, for what it is worth.  Some nights, it is all there is.  On those nights, it is everything. 

Still, Kit wonders how they will fare when they run out of candles, run low on oil.  Better not to think of it, not now; to think of the light, rather than the darkness which will follow, when the light fades away.


Another one for this week's Mid-Week Blues-Buster.  The prompt for this one was Santana's "Put Your Lights On", hence the title to the piece.  I started with the image of a light in the darkness and ended up writing a slant on a post apocalyptic world, with unspecified monsters hiding in the shadows.  Or something.  Mainly because the song seemed to call for this kind of piece - to me, at least :).  

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Salvation (MWBB)

They are all working on their salvation here.  Working it hard, out there on the dance floor; a mish mash of heights and shapes, lit intermittently from above, cloaked in heat.  Product of proximity on the floor, too many bodies in too small a space.  The beat draws him in, loud and thumping; a double drum echo to follow a multitude of raised heartbeats.  Friday night salvation starts here.  Rhythm is the reason.  The only.  He feels it.  All.  The possibility and potential of where the night will take him.  Who it will lead to, as it leads simultaneously to his salvation.  The floor is beer sticky beneath his feet, soles tacky and protesting at their need to move, though the notes carry him too, destination bound.  Such is the pull to which he, too, must answer. 

Soon enough, he spots her.  No name.  No need.  She is a poem in imperfection, sway and sashay in the hips, hair mussed and tangled, slight glisten across her brow, smudge in the eyeliner; heat induced.  Smile on her lips, a secret she doesn’t care to share.  Not with him, hidden by the pillar, outsider on the outskirts.  Not so much with anyone.  No need; not here.  The answer is in the vibe; the pulse as the boards reverberate with strident sound.  The moment is what matters and she is carried by it; takes it with her, onwards into the night, beat beneath her skin.

Tonight is the night all too often lacking, where heels and toe tapping are loud enough to drown out the insistence of his need for sole salvation, carried deep within, hidden away.  Lovers laugh, life lives itself on and on, as an age old tune talks of sweet surrender; irony, too, rampant raging, something he is careful to note.  It is enough, for now.  He is able to take his leave without playing the crowd.  To resist the urge to draw them in.  Her, particularly.  Especially.  He doesn’t want to know her name, for her to learn his; momentary proximity eclipsed by what will follow.  Incubus.  The last word to form on a number of lips.  A number he doesn’t care to remember.  Has found reason to forget.  There is no pride in remembering.  The majority make it as far as ink – a misnomer – before the rest is swallowed by silence. 

Such reluctance is unusual, his reticence causing him to question it.  It is what he is; what he does.  Night after night, after night.  Cycle circles round and round, mirrored by the moves on the dance floor.  It is what it is. 

Still, she draws him in.  Again, nights later.  He knows it is a mistake to return; fails to fight it fully.  Lacking, perhaps, the will.  Whatever.  He is used of old to playing the voyeur.  Now, it fails to hit home as it should in the face of pillar box red lips, mascara and kohl.  That same secret smile.  Not for him.  Not for anyone other than herself, though tonight she dances amidst more than one admirer, circle cycling round and round.  

He turns from her, from pretty promise and possibility.  It is time to move.  Somehow, he fancies he prefers her where she is.

(540 words)


Trying something new, this was written for Mid-Week Blues-Buster, which uses a music as opposed to word/picture prompt.  The resulting flash fiction can be anything from 300-700 words.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Woman Who Holds The World In Her Head (VisDare)

Photo Source via (as ever) VisDare

It is tiring, sometimes.  Seeing as she does.  Being a Remote.  At least that’s what she calls herself.  It seems as good a term as any for one who holds the world in her head.  She sees it all – but only in fragments.  Any more would drive her mad.  Tune it in, then tune it out.  Quickly, ever so quickly.  Switch.  Searching for silence.  Seeking.  The one channel she knows for certain it will be impossible to find, try as she might.  She has seen across oceans and continents; drifted into dreams – all to no avail.  No help, only hindrance.  The constant competing chatter; mundane, inane, drama, pathos alike.  Each, too, seeks peace; the focus of her own search.  She wishes she could tell them the little she has learned.

She doesn’t have all the answers.  She only knows how it will all end.  She has seen it all before.

(150 words)


Another VisDare challenge.  The word prompt for this week was "remote".  I tried to produce a slightly different take on it.