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.


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.  


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.


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!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Chick With The Chat (Angry Hourglass)

Photo Courtesy of TheShakes72 (via The Angry Hourglass)

Chick With The Chat

Kev sees her sitting on the high stool at the bar when he arrives, all angled shoulders beneath slim spaghetti straps, kitten heels resting on the wooden struts, as she toys with her glass, fingers teasing at the rim.  He sits at the opposite end, leaving space between them, guessing a friend or two will return from the loo shortly, though they generally go in pairs, in his experience – or lack thereof.  Several minutes later and he figures he is safe.

“Okay there?”

“I was.”  No eye contact.  The tone is low, almost monosyllabic, though Kev can tell she hasn’t had a lot to drink.

“I meant can I get you anything?”

“Some sensible conversation?” she responds, raising an eye towards his; aquamarine and penetrating.

“You riding me?” Kev asks, serious.  “I didn’t mean anything by it.  Seriously.”  He holds his hands out in mock surrender.  “You just look like you could possibly do with another drink.  Simple as.”

The woman looks at him; considering.  “Okay.  Fair play.  This is gin, if you’re willing.”  Kev nods, gesturing to the bartender.  “It’s me who got taken for a ride, by the way.”

Kev nods again.  “Your guy?”

“Not mine anymore.  Someone else’s.  Apparently.  Wish I’d figured that out sooner, believe me.  Cue me sitting here – apparently talking to you, no offence.”

“None taken, as such,” Kev responds.  The woman shoots him an amused glance.

“You’re far too polite,” she says.  “You don’t mean that.  You’re thinking something along the lines of cut me some slack given I’m the guy decent enough to buy you a drink, aren’t you?”

“Maybe I am, at that,” Kev says, grinning a little.  The woman’s candour, whether generated by the gin or otherwise, is disarming.

“Mel,” she says, proffering a hand.

“Charmed, I’m sure.”

“Uh huh,” Mel says, raising an eyebrow pointedly.

“He really did a number on you, didn’t he?” Kev asks.

Mel gestures assent.  “Broken into bits, can’t you tell?  Not necessarily needing fixing though – just so you know.”  Kev senses she is laughing at them both.  He is gathering rapidly her process of repair is well underway, despite original appearances to the contrary.


Last week's Angry Hourglass-Round-31 entry.  A slightly oblique take on the prompt but I went with something different on this occasion!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Ahem! (Publication Announcement)

I received an e-mail the other evening confirming that my story "Dealbreaker" will feature in J.A.Mes Press's Halloween themed anthology "In Creeps The Night" for which 100% of the book sales benefit the Mothers Without Borders charity.  Further announcement related to the publication date to follow in due course for those who are interested in having a read!

By The Book (Flash! Friday)

John Talbot's presentation of the Book of Shrewsbury to Queen Margaret of Anjou ca 1445 AD. Public domain, courtesy of the British Library Royal.

By The Book

They’d been told the ceremony would be strictly by the book beforehand; had the spiel on protocol.  Now, they were listening to words familiar yet foreign; not foreseen in the circumstances – at least, not today.  It had kind of been sprung on them.  Kelly thought she was a little young yet to be making her vows for forever - though she hadn’t been asked to voice an opinion – felt dwarfed by the tall priestly presence before them, bible at the ready.  James was shuffling sideways, hands in blazer pockets, increasing the distance between them, to the extent that he was able.  That was fine by Kelly, too.  If by some miracle he made it out the door, it would save them both from their coupled fate in the presence of witnesses who would never let them forget it.

“Do you..”

Soon it was over.  Married in name and taught her lesson, Kelly thanked God the Religious Studies session wasn’t binding.


Monday, 18 August 2014

The Party To End All Parties (Luminous Creatures)

(Photo courtesy of Beth Deitchman)

The Party To End All Parties

Mark passes dancers, graceful in movement to music, kegs, debaters, clusters of people clutching mugs of tea on his right and others indulging in what he thinks passes for tai chi on his left, warm sand grains lodging between his toes, as he makes for his goal.  He knows where she will be whilst the tide is out.

“Hey, you,” he says, settling himself onto the outstretched picnic blanket.

“Hey,” Rach says, glancing at him, before her gaze returns to the horizon.

“Fancy seeing you here.”

“Fancy indeed,” Rach returns, without inflection.  She offers him a plastic beaker.  “Afraid I started without you.  Apologies and all that.  Figured you wouldn’t mind in the circumstances.”

“Guess not.  Means I’m playing catch up though, doesn’t it?  You going to give me chance?”  Mark is rewarded with a look, Rach’s blue eyes catching hold of his, holding him in place briefly, before she looks away again, with a shake of her head.  The slight breeze whips her dark hair away from her shoulders, before bringing it to rest again.  “Sorry.  Should’ve thought about that one really.”

Rach shrugs.

“No, really,” Mark says.  “I don’t want to waste time arsing about.  Not today.”

“With so much to experience at the party to end all parties,” Rach says, mocking.  “Why would you?”

“Seriously?” Mark says, reaching towards her, to turn her chin gently in his direction.  His fingers move strands of hair from across her face. 

“Well, who can blame you for wanting to spend your final moments with me, I guess.  After all, I am the best thing you’ve never had.”  Rach casts a glance in Mark’s direction, eyebrows raising pointedly; mischievous; possibly semi self-mocking too.  He grins at her, simple and sudden – the change in her mood is infectious.

“Possibly you are, at that,” he responds.  “Why is that again?” 

“You weren’t particularly clear on your reasons,” Rach says, with a smile, the first proper one he has seen tonight.

“Glad we finally solved that one then, at the end of everything.”

“Does it matter?” Rach says, querying.  There is no rancour in the question; it simply is.

“Not really,” Mark answers, swigging from his cup.  The liquor is strong, burning slightly as it passes down his throat.  Proper firewater.  He coughs slightly, as Rach pats him swiftly several times on the back.

“Okay?” she asks, then frowns, brow creasing.  “Bugger.  Stupid question.  Scratch that.”

“Just come here,” Mark says.  He has been looking into the distance, towards the skyline.  The tide is turning, though they have time before they are done yet.  He holds out a hand.  Rach moves closer, cuddling into the circle of his arm, wrapping her own around him in return.  There is a slight chill as the waves move nearer to the shore, though they are warm enough, huddled together.  There is a murmur from the distant revellers, celebrating or commiserating in their own fashion, as they sit, waiting.  No need for words between them.  Not any more.

(500 words)


Another piece for Luminous Creatures Week Nine after a slight break.  I enjoyed writing there again this week and some great stories from everyone else across at the site too!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

In The Eye Of The Beholder (Horror Bites)

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Mike wanted to remember the minutiae; the passing moments, easy to forget. The simplest gestures, as she sipped her coffee in the morning in the cafĂ©, savouring that first taste; the casual spread hand, holding the pages of her book apart as she read; the sweeping of the curls from her forehead; flame lit in the sudden glint of sun.  He would retain it all.  That was the why.  Now he could.  And would.  They had assured him of total recall, as and when; whenever.  Hit of a switch, no glitch.  Prompt playback.  It had proved perfection so far – and pretty painless, all things considered.  Worth a slight discomfort, for considerably greater gain.  No more moments lost; not ever. 

Mike had them all to hand, for later evenings - date order; perfectly catalogued.  Something to while away the time whilst they were apart.  It allowed him to appreciate her lipstick kissed smile.  Sadly, he hadn’t seen that in a while.  Checking back, it had been one week, one day, nine hours and twenty five minutes, precisely.  More recently, it had been replaced by a slight crease of the brow – something he simply wanted to smooth away.  It had been there too often – six occasions and counting.  He had.  He knew.  Just not what to do about it – and he had thought it through, many times.  So much so, he had a headache somewhere behind the back of his eyeballs; a grinding, relentless thud, which wouldn’t give over, no matter how many painkillers he took. 

Mike had tried distracting himself; replaying recent moments of footage.  It simply seemed to make things worse – the dull ache becoming a hammer head pounding out its drum beat, making him queasy to the stomach.  It made him wonder, given its recent appearance.  They had, after all, offered him complete and total recall, no limits.  There had, however, been no guarantee that there would be sufficient space or storage, capacity-wise, to allow for it fully.  He wanted – needed - for it to fit.  No matter what, he had to have everything.  He had to have her.  

(350 words)


Another piece for the Office Mango "Horror Bites" challenge, which I haven't been unable to write for for a while, unfortunately, due to lack of proper internet access and time constraints.  It's nice to be able to put something together for the prompt again!  This one is my random sci-fi (sort of) stalker story..