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)


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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. 


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