Thursday, 31 December 2015

Backwards and Forwards (With Links!)

It struck me recently that, things having become busy towards the back end of the year, I haven't mentioned a couple of recent publications here to date.

First off, I was extremely pleased to have a couple of short poems published as a result of my participation in Three Line Thursday this year- first off, twice over in Light Lines, an anthology full of superb, compact three line poems stemming from photo prompts posted throughout the year due to an unexpected win at the competition website one week and, secondly, in Flash Fiction Magazine due to a "Special Challenge" win for the week.

I was also lucky enough to secure a second win over at Angry Hourglass for the year, which I hadn't
really expected.

Even more surprisingly, I managed to secure a win over at Flash! Friday during the final week's contest - a competition I had always genuinely thought placing for would prove a feat impossible, having seen the superb standard of entries for week after week.

It was also lovely to be blind placed as winner by Dragon Team 8, with one half of the judging team (unknowing prior to having e-mailed the results in) being a fellow Poised Pen member !

Given my win was the last for the competition prior to Flashversary and, sadly, the competition's closure, Rebekah was kind enough to waive the word restriction for first time winners and allow me to expand on the interview questions posed.  If you so wish, you can read the final interview here .

I'm really proud to have my Winner's Page on the website alongside such talented writers!

Finally, I have also been working on three flash fiction stories which will be published as part of the Flashdogs ' third anthology (Volume Three), in due course.

(Image Credit goes to the very talented Tam Rogers ).

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Possibilities Multiply (3LineThursday)

Possibilities multiply; chaotic refractions of infinite volume;

A bubble universe - distinct - beyond life’s experience.

Myriad reflections of what might be, glimpsed, before evaporating.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Raven Girl (Luminous Creatures Summer of Super Short Stories)

Image Credit: Nereid by Claire Elizabeth Flickr CC 2.0 (via Luminous Creatures)

Raven Girl

Death comes to everything, eventually. The whispers tickle Branwen’s ears, burgeoning within; butterfly bodies beating within her stomach, as they tell her so. “Shut up,” she says. “Give over now.” The teenager clasps a hand to her stomach, rubbing it, over and over. “Not yet,” she says. “Not now.”

The raven haired girl scans the sky for a small silhouette as the light fades. “Come, Corvie,” Bran bids, swallowing saliva. Her eyes dart upwards, shifting, here and there. “Quickly,” she adds, word clipped.

A dot on the horizon plummets towards the slim figure, who stretches out a hand. “Four score, seven times seven,” Bran whispers, voice trembling. A tear forms at the corner of her eye. Her fingers curl into a trembling fist, knuckles whitening. The girl’s brow is sweaty as the black bird descends. She watches it; avid.

Moments later, Branwen opens her lips wide – hasty – all pink tongue and black backed throat; the image of the parted beak from which an indistinct grey blur drops from above. Within moments the girl has swallowed it whole, throat working quickly to pass it through her oesophagus and onwards into her system.

“Hallie,” Bran says. “Hello and welcome.” She sighs once, eyes closing, fingers caressing a slightly distended abdomen. “We travel a little together – until you disembark.”

“I’ll take another, tonight,” Bran commands quickly, addressing her jet winged companion, whose feet grasp her right shoulder. Beady eyes shine before feathers fly skywards, up and away.
“Perhaps still another,” the girl murmurs, frowning. “I hunger – today.” She clears her throat; guttural. “So it begins, in the end.” The girl nods, eyes clouded; unfocused. “I will take you – all – when I go. We are one with another.” Silence surrounds her as her chin levels.

“Though you must direct me,” the girl says, voice lifting as she finishes speaking. “What is, is unavoidable. We are what we must be, in the end,” she adds hastily.

Time lengthens. “Come, Corvie. Quick,” Bran says, voice thin.

Death comes to everything, eventually – but Bran must fill herself from them before she numbers amongst them.


The phrase to include this week was "Death comes to everything".

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Sins of the Flesh (Flash! Friday)

Joan Crawford & John Gilbert: publicity photo for the film "Four Walls", 1928 Public Domain Image in the US

Sins of the Flesh

The coffin lies length-wise along the mahogany table, glass to one side, bowl the other, lights dimmed.

“Take your leave,” I say.  “Close your ears.”

The dark haired man leaves quickly, avoiding my eyes – fumbling the mental into my hand.

I drain the vessel in one draught, placing the grubby coin in my pocket; tribute paid to the old ways.

"Free yourself," I say.  "Rest easy."  He won't hear.  The hunger rises through my gut, riding me roughshod.  "Damn."  My mouth descends; ravenous.

I gag - stale ash and sweat on my tongue - swallowing to keep it down, afterwards, before opening the door.  

"It's done," I say to the client, brow creased.  "He'll pass now."  The man nods, without asking.  They never do, after dinner.

The cough threatens premature regurgitation at the entance.  I'll reunite it with its owner later.  Money is an unfaithful mistress.  Some sins have an altogether price.

Ed to Add:-  This one received an Honourable Mention this week.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Lord and His Lady (Flash! Friday)

Lyme Part House & Estate CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus

Lord and His Lady

Lord lives – seventh of seven times seven before him half-hearted.  His Lady took his thumping whole, instantaneous, while he held still willing.  Now, the Eve the Year Dies is upon him, a multitude of little deaths gone before; blood sucked from its protective layers around his bones by his lady’s lips.  He holds no regret.  The hollow it should reside in has no beating inhabitant.  
Lady was hearty, laughing whilst life sustained her, duly bound, its beating within her fist.  Lord is her promise to herself, self-gifted – though their contract was written between marrow margins long ago, had he but known it.  Some things are as she wills it.  She is tired now; tithe falling due.  All things must end.  Men though – mortal - live in the moment.  Licking her mouth, Lady summons her Lord to his final standing.

Lord’s skin was sold at birth, time ticking afterwards.  He answers at All Hallows, son for father, as did son from father before him.  Half a heart for a future functions well enough.  Thus, Earl, eloquent, escaped his lover’s arms without compunction, to answer to another’s call.  Time, irresistible, reaped its tithe on him.  Lord still lingers.

Lady savours sucking Lord’s soul from its moorings; his life having no need for it, once wholly consumed.  Lord ponders their partnership, deceased, eyes downcast.  Head raising, he turns away from her.  He gave love freely.  Bad bargaining cannot catch hold, where its central sacrifice is missing, though she has had his heart from him.  Time take him, too, instead.  All things must end.        


This week's book prompt was Sherlock Holmes "Hound of the Baskervilles".  I wrote about a lord under a family curse and themes of cunning/(lack of) guilt.  The story had to be between 240 and 260 words.

Ed to add: This one received a Special Mention for the week as "Master of Language" - and a comparison to "Beowulf", no less! Really pleased to receive such wonderful feedback - especially given there were so many fantastic stories this week too.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Barabashka (Flash! Friday)

Scene from "Anna Karenina" , 1914 Russian film by Vladimir Gardin (via Flash! Friday)


Barabashka is wailing, from below, though I broke bread and salt pieces last night after he pinched – sharp - to prompt them from me.   I hold blankets tight over my ears, to no avail.  His neglect grows louder, penetrating my covered hollow.  Bruises the length of my arms, throbbing, I creep through his domain; rules drawn dusky in reminder on the hearth.  We guarded one another once; before. 

I spy traces of his finger marks as gusts extinguish the candles, swift. The stove is unlit, tonight.   I shuffle, slowly; sound a guide as I shiver onward.  Pitch prevails as I grope into the unknown.  He has not abandoned post – this I know.  There is yet a way to tell what follows.  I feel for his form, as Mama told me – to feel his hand in mine.  Ice answers me, fur freezing.  Eyes watering, I hug myself hard; inevitable cold comfort.


The challenge this week - based, unsurprisingly, around "Anna Karenina" was to take two of the elements from the text and produce a piece of flash fiction.  I chose conflict and tradition.  The piece needed to be 100-150 words.

This received an Honourable Mention this week, which I was extremely pleased to find out!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Isle of Roots (Luminous Creatures Summer of Super Short Stories)

Image Credit: Anthropomorphic Roots by Mike DelGaudio Flickr CC 2.0 (via Luminous Creatures)

The Isle of Roots

Few walk the Isle of Roots; its twisted, misted shores.  Little lives amidst this creeping fear, the writhing souls wailing underfoot.  A calcified collection, preserved in partial dessication, of self-sought deaths from whom answers may be sought by those brave enough to ask - though they speak only when they choose, to guide the way.  Wandering spirits return seldom when they cross the island’s bounds.  Truth takes chances in the speaking.  It has ever been the case.

The tree itself lies amidst a heart of knotted roots for those who swim tear salt tides to it, casting themselves towards the child-like keening reaching from the boughs into the ocean.  Those who reach its sanctuary place their offering before it, adding to the pile heaped about the thick trunk.  There they wait, a body of bark surrounding them, bones beginning to dry, animation engineered by their questions.  They do not know and cannot guess which items warranted success.  They do not ask.  They will not waste their singular opportunity, should it be offered.  

Once whittled to a skeletal sylph, the ghost takes residence in the brittle embrace of the prone and prostrate, lying within reach of their goal.  Pilgrim, now, she is.  Poor, those dismissed as unworthy to proffer themselves properly.  Still, they hold her close in their clutches whilst they may; scant communion with opportunity.  They number many.  There are others to be added.

Time turns before the undulations begin underfoot and she stirs, stretching arms wide.  Such is the island’s speech.  Branches hold fast to her ankles and grip at her wrists as her fingers touch the ground, hesitant, to raise her from it.  Silent amidst the now still limbs, surrounded by the entombed, she nods; an affirmation.  The answers are many, though the question was but one.  She caresses the uneven surface, which releases its hold on her hands, freeing her feet to stand.

Within an indeterminate period, a once wandering spirit returns to the island’s bounds, laying herself in offering on its twisted, misted shores, bones breaking into bark with the touch of the tear salt tides.

Never Not (3LineThursday)

Never – not – you say, negating
The letters lying between us.
Never not I see, instead, spelt out across the sheets.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Getting There (Microbookends)

Photo Credit: Tekniska Museet via CC (via Microbookends)

Getting There

Six pondered, brow puckered above dark eyebrows.  “Seven’s down now,” he said eventually, looking up, eyes focusing, a hand in his unkempt hair.  “Don’t want to be meeting my One.  Guess it’ll be another Other, odds are.  Two to One, I’ll bet?  Sums it up, doesn’t it?” 

Six looked around the predominantly empty room, gaze shifting quickly.  “Took me a bit to add it all up,” he said, “but I’ve figured it now.  Totally.”  Six paused.  “We talked before he went, you know,” he said, smiling momentarily; eyes solemn.

Six hugged his bony frame, pacing.  “Subtract us, one from the other – or we’ll multiply.”  Six was getting there by degrees.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

For Now Or Forever (Angry Hourglass)

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

For Now Or Forever

The boat is already waiting, close to the bank, with the water lapping, as Cara approaches the edge.  As she puts a foot on board it sways slightly as her weight disturbs its easy equilibrium.  The rope tethering the vessel swings in accompaniment.

“Fare, please,” a thin voice demands.  Cara looks down, seeing the tiny hand outstretched towards her.  She frowns slightly, squinting.

“What are you?” she murmurs, looking into the bleached face with its dark pupil-less eyes beneath wispy strands of white hair; looking through the skin itself, where objects behind it display themselves.

The girl shrugs her shoulders.  “Ferrymaid, for now.  Fare taker forever, perhaps, if day due Danakes remain unpaid - with lesser lads ‘n wenches.”

“I..” Cara says.

“Pay up or hop off,” the girl interjects.  “Others ‘ll be waiting.  ‘Tis not my matter when women wish to wander.  Though we’d call it wasteful when we’re all wanting ‘n wishing for farther in..”

“We?” Cara asks. 

The young girl shakes her head quickly.  “What may be – as well as what was once, though but half-formed; what should be, should circumstance allow.”

“Large thoughts for one so little,” Cara says, brow creased.  “Do you know what they mean?”

“Do you?” the girl retorts.  “Since my fare’s still owing?  Will we journey - or will you bide by the Styx?  Your choice; where others have little hope of it.”  After a pause, “You must be dead, you know.  By definition.   I’d be dead too by now, if I could.”

“Would you?” Cara asks, shortly followed by, “Sorry?  What?”

“You’ll understand, in a while.  ‘Tis not for me to say.”

“Isn’t it, though?” Cara asks.  “Is there no choice in anything for the Never Weres?  Or is that Never Ares?  Do you yourselves distinguish between the two?  If not – shouldn’t you?”  She lets out a quick breath.

“Remembering now, a little?” the girl queries.  “Though your Isle awaits.  You’ll be better there,” she adds.  “Forget about this; me.  You’ll mean to remember.  You’ll even try to – but won’t.”

“Will so!” Cara exclaims.  “God - you’ve got me regressing!”

“Not possible; not now,” the girl says.  “Time’s passed and ebbing.”


Somewhat to my surprise this week, this story won!  I received some nice praise from the week's judge (see here - along with comments concerning a strong round of stories generally)  That makes me this week's Flash Master!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Where There Is Willing (Summer of Super Short Stories - Luminous Creatures)

Image credit "My Forest Dream Is Still A Dream" by Vinoth Chandar from Flickr (CC 2.0) (via Luminous Creatures)

Where There Is Willing
Galina crosses the circle of stakes, topped by bleached skulls. A single post is devoid of a hollow eyed resident. The dark haired girl brushes her curls from her forehead; surveys them without expression, stepping forwards. Forest Grandmother’s door is before her, amidst tall trees, shifting, as the small hut jumps and rotates, atop kicking chicken legs.
“Turn your back to the forest, your front to me,” the girl whispers, looking up at the residence. It swings – circling to a halt, legs bowing to crouch. Now, the entrance is before her, angled towards the ground. Galina hesitates. She raps three times; sharp. The door swings open to admit her.
“Alone?” a voice demands. “Come close, to see.” Galina walks further into the dark room, framed solely by firelight, as bidden. A bony figure stoops before the flames, face shadowed.
“You lose your way, perhaps?” the woman questions. Galina remains silent but tiptoes forwards. “No matter,” the voice croaks. “Space for more, I have. You see, I think? You saw my many?”
Galina nods slowly, as the crone turns to face her, displaying a singularly long nose. “Forest Grandmother,” she greets her, politely.
“A name!” the old woman says. “Many, I have. You know of some, I think? My hut, it likes you. You speak together a little?” she continues, eyes meeting Galina’s, direct and beady.
Galina nods. “Some words were passed,” she concedes.
“Truth,” the crone says, having stuck her tongue beyond her lips, displaying previous few blackened teeth. “My fence admits you,” she murmurs, looking away, head turning. “As is, as must be.” Raising a finger to point, “So, you tell me! A tale!” the crone demands. “Tomorrow, again, I eat. Today, I hunger for words. So few they come, now,” she adds, a plaintive note entering her voice.
“My story is known,” Galina says, watching the older woman.
“Marinka lazes,” she responds, catching Galina’s eye and gesturing towards a figure curled unresponsive in an unlit corner. “More help, I need. Where there is willing.”
Galina nods.
“You call again, daughter mine; dark heart,” Yaga says. “When need arises.”

Luminous Creatures recently announced their Summer of Short Stories flash fiction competition. The challenge involved incorporating the photo prompt and the phrase "tell me a tale".

Weekly Solutions (Angry Hourglass)

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

Weekly Solutions

Lemon inspected the solution on the bench.  “Needs a hint of sour.  Can’t do a Monday without.”  She eyeballed the light haired girl to her left, brows raised.

“Plus some bitters,” added Olive, to their right.

“You’d know,” Honey said, shrugging.

“Save the sweet for last thing Friday,” Lemon added.  “It’ll need putting in first though.  Remember.”

The blonde girl turned towards the darker head, eyes wide.  “Just who d’you think you are, again?”

The other girl frowned before responding.  “Lemon.  This week.  Sorry.  Always takes me a while to adjust after switches.  Although you’re pretty snippy for Honey at the minute, you know!  Comes of being Lemon last week.”

“Fair point,” Olive commented, to no one in particular.

“It’s all right for you!” Honey said.  “You’re pretty much always Olive!”

“Only ‘cos no one else wants to be.”  The girl’s voice took on a sharp note.

“Yes, we know, Olive.  You’re really hard done by.  Especially compared to everyone you inflict yourself on,” Honey said, tone dry.

“Including us,” Lemon added quietly.  Honey smirked sideways at her sister in response.

“No need to get personal,” Olive grumped.

“Lighten up,” Honey said, before adding hastily, “yes, yes, I know you can’t – genuinely – but you get what I’m saying.  We know we couldn’t do it without you, okay?  Just give over whinging about it, hey?”  She pressed fingers either side of the other girl’s mouth, forcing them upwards into a smile.  “How about sorting your section of Tuesday and Wednesday out?  You’ll feel better once you’ve got some of it out of your system.  You always do.  Remember?”  Honey sighed.  “God, between the two of you, it’ll be a wonder if we get the week sorted on time!”

“It’ll get done,” Lemon said.  “Always does.  Somehow.”

“Touch too much optimism for Lemon,” Honey cautioned.

“Working on it,” Lemon said, wincing.

“This Monday’s pretty dark,” Olive commented, dipping a finger into the mixture.  “Figures.”

“A very Monday Monday,” Honey said, observing the murk.  “Saturday’ll make up for it.”

“Spoils the fun,” Olive complained.

“Jesus, Olive!” Lemon exclaimed.

“Look – I’ll be Olive next week,” Honey said hastily.

“Great idea!” the other two chorused.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The City Of Innocent Deaths (Angry Hourglass)

Image courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

The City Of Innocent Deaths

Remember is scrawled onto the palm of your right hand – uneven beneath flaking carmine crusts – the skin pale beneath the stains.  You try to, obedient to the instruction – and think you do.  You recall dimly in the dark the cauldron oil, the Pool of Blood, drowning deep; its copper taste as you floundered, fingers grasping for purchase, before finally you swam.  The moment they made you climb the Mountain of Knives amongst the labyrinthine levels of the Courts, blades cutting quick to the bone.   There is no pain now.  You cannot die once resurrection calls you.  Cold-eyed; frostbitten to the core, you rise again.  Again, once more.  Brought back; you are – a Frozen Thing.

Five flavours.  The words etched across your left hand – revealed when you open your fist.  Now you remember the bowl, filled to the brim with liquid, spilling as it got nearer.  You drank when bid to by Lady Dream, mouth opening to grasp the sharp rim.  You had no choice.  Not really.  There was no regret.  You wanted well rid of the – fall – fist – splintered bones driven deep into your body.  Your possible – probable – life – lives.  You know – knew – what they held.  You think you do. 


Water’s oblivion.  The murky bitterness of pond and herb lingers at your lips as you run your tongue across them.  Something hides beneath.  Somewhere, someone lurks.


You lift your right sleeve as far as your elbow, frowning.  The intricate lines on your skin form a maze of marks, right, left; twists and turns leading upwards.  Your brow furrows more deeply before the lines fade.

The left sleeve.  Your fingers close around it, as the right slides back into place.  You pull it up, course fabric beneath calloused fingertips.  One word.  A name.  Your choice.  You know the why now.  You can trace its raised scars.  You do, circling the ridges.  You had worried they would heal before you knew.  Before you were – again.

Two arms.  One choice.  Your choice.  You know well now where the blade came from which mapped your course.  Confusion no longer lingers.   

Remember.  You do.  You know where you must go; what to do.  


This story stems from a Chinese legend about the Lady of Forgetfulness - couldn't resist writing about that!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Of The Moment (Angry Hourglass)

Of The Moment

The sun is high and Hel can feel it on her skin as the beat reverberates from the sound stage.  She sways a little with the rhythm, bottle in hand, feeling the moment up against her skin.

“Hey,” a male voice says.

“Not interested,” she replies, without looking.  “Try the beer tent.  You’ll score there, for sure.”

“Cheers,” the voice replies more warmly.  “Literally, I guess.”

“Figuratively, too,” Hel responds, turning towards the man.  “I guess.”  She shrugs, before the corners of her mouth quirk, surveying the dishevelled dark hair and lighter eyes as she looks upward.  “Hard core tat,” she appraises.  “Corruption, though?  Really?”  She shakes her head, letting out a breath.  “Classy.”  Her eyes roll, as her shoulder shifts away.

“Where exactly did you think a guy like me would hang out?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.  “Kind of perfect, if you think about it.  Pretty great rate of success, courtesy of lowered inhibitions..”

“I’m sure,” Hel says, laughing openly now.  “Like I said – beer tent’s where you want to be.  Best of British - though you won’t need it, several ales in.”

“Spoken like a true observer,” the dark haired male says. 

Hel shrugs.  “Doesn’t take much.”

“You haven’t asked me what I’m doing here.”

“Besides hitting on the wrong women?” Hel asks, tone sharp.  “I have already told you.”

“Besides that,” he agrees, voice remaining level.  “For what it’s worth.”

“Is it?” Hel asks.  “’Cos you can’t take a hint, can you?  It’s not like I haven’t been clear.  I mean – really – is it?”

“Well, I am Corruption, as we’ve already established,” the man says, an apologetic note entering his voice.  “Seeing as you were enjoying the moment, so to speak, I couldn’t resist stopping to chat..”

“We’re done now,” Hel says, blunt.  “You’re leaving.”

“Hedonism,” he replies.  “Took me a minute or so to put a name to the face.  Got it now though.  New one on me.  Takes a careful eye – though once you know what you’re looking for…”

“Jesus!” Hel curses, looking around hastily.

“Long gone,” Corruption responds.  “New Guard all the way, sweetheart.  Get with the programme.”  He smiles.  “Y’with me yet?”


A second story for the Hourglass photo prompt this week.  This one came third.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Time For Choosing (Angry Hourglass)

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

A Time For Choosing

You fetch up onshore, drenched, coughing the vestiges of the river’s bitterness from your oesophagus onto the jagged rocks beneath your knees.  Their sharp edges are intimately acquainted with your skin.  Further into the dark maw before you, you hear Hynos’ drowsy murmurings.  “Not this time,” you say.  Turning your left wrist, you see the raw tally marks – a cluster of raised red five-bar gates across its breadth.  You run a finger over the start of the next underneath - the beginnings of a run along the length.

“Here,” a voice says, thrusting a small token into your outstretched hand.  You look towards the object gripped in your fist.  Your benefactor is nowhere to be seen when your head turns again.  You gaze instead into the pitch of the cave, from which audible rumbles echo intermittently.

Walking forward, you begin to pick your path over the prone bodies, their oblivious snoring, towards the assembled Brothers and Sisters lined waiting before the entrance’s black mouth.  You nod to each in turn. 

“Choose,” Lethe says, proffering two vessels, one already full to the brim.  The other she bends to fill from the waters running freely to her side.  Drops spill over the sides as she raises it, meeting your eyes; waiting.  Your head turns, seeing the soul to your right, who slurps greedily from an identical cup, head thrust back to down its contents in swift gulps.  A few seconds later he slumps and swoons.  The Androktasiai carry him towards the other sleepers, all shoulders and ankles.  “As ever,” one murmurs, with a sharp toothed grin, eyes glinting.

You point at one of the cups.
“You’re ready?” Atë asks.

You shrug.  “I want to remember.”  You grasp the receptacle firmly, draining its contents.  The splutters begin shortly after, though you keep the liquid down after gagging.

“Remember,” Algea says, shaking her head.  “You chose Mnemosyne; wanted everything.”

“Careless,” say the Makhai simultaneously, smirking.

“She’ll learn,” says Horkos.

“She’ll know,” adds Eris.  “Poor thing.”

Your heart jumps as you feel the pressure building beneath your skull.  You feel your mouth open without volition.  Somewhere, a cry sounds.  Someone is screaming.  Someone doesn’t stop. 

Cut To Fit (Angry Hourglass)

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

Cut To Fit

“What d’you think to that one?”  The voice, slightly nasal, carries from beyond the racks to where Carey is standing near the till.

“Colouring wouldn’t suit me,” another voice replies, dismissive.  “Plus, you know Bart wouldn’t approve, considering the expense.”

“He would the end result!  Don’t deny it!” the first voice says, tone loaded.  “Sure I can’t persuade you this time ‘round?  It’s nice sometimes to slip into something different - try it on for size.  Cut from the finest!  Great if you’re jaded.”

“See, how much do you know about the cleaning processes, Maddy?  I’ve always wondered about that side, not that I’ve looked into it,” the second voice jabbers.

“We maintain our standards rigorously,” Carey says, stepping from behind the hanging rail, scissors in her belt.  “The inspection accreditations are just over there, if you’d like to take a look?” she adds.  Both heads, red and dark, swivel towards her quickly.  “Ms Cain, my pleasure,” she greets the first woman quickly, holding out a hand to take the lady’s with her own, smile wide.  “Madam,” she nods towards the other.  The redhead’s brow tilts towards him, cheeks flushed with sudden pink.  She gestures towards the framed certificates, encased behind glass on the wall, one eyebrow raised.  The red haired woman shakes her head slightly, cheeks burning red.

“Shall we check your measurements?” Carter asks, looking at the long haired brunette.  “They’re on file, of course,” she says, “and surely won’t have altered.  Still, it’s standard for any new issue, as you know.  Particularly so with the permaskins, though you don’t need to worry about that, seeing as this is an overnight loan only.”  A pause, then, “Your made to measure’s wearing well,” Carey appraises, looking the woman up and down.  

“Thank you,” the lady, Madeleine, simpers.  “I fancied blonde tonight.  Dinner date.”

“Indeed, Ms Cain,” Carey says, face expressionless.  “Everything tallies,” she adds, winding the measuring tape about her wrist.  “Here you go.”  She passes the bagged tempaskin to the woman.  “Return due pre noon tomorrow.”  Eyes rolling as the doorbell tinkles she murmurs, “Hope she doesn’t stretch it.  There’s a pre-order for that one next week already.”


A completely different take on the same photo prompt.  Always interesting to see where a photo prompt can take you!

Allotted Apportionments (Angry Hourglass)

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass)

Allotted Apportionments

Eyelids down, pitch; they sleep unknowing in their beds, as a slim form glides into view, illuminated here and there by the streetlights’ pale glare.  Do you see her yet in your mind’s eye?  Does she call for you, tonight, the dark daughter? 

The woman’s steps are sure, as she walks, the minimal breeze blowing her long skirts from her ankles, here and there.  A pattern of knots is twined throughout, interspersed at intervals.  The scroll is crumpled in her left hand.  Aisa pays it no heed.  No need. 

The Spinners crowd about her feet, either side, gambolling, gossamer threads flying from their limbs as they jump – up down - at her heels.  Their eyes gleam; their lips upturned – the knotted strands binding them together straining slightly as they seek to part from their partnership.  They need no telling.  They never raise the unwary before their time.  The measurements are too precise for disruption.  So has it been written into the Weaving.  Such is the command.

With a nod, her arm stretches, fingers pointing.  “There,” she says.  Her crouched companions hop in front to the nearby doorstep, fading briefly from view as they reach the burnished wooden frame.  She nods again and approaches it, after them.  She, too, passes beyond its barrier.

Inside, alone, she pauses at a doorway.  “My son,” she says.  Looking towards the one alongside it, she says, “My daughter.  We will see one another soon.  So states fate’s sight.”  With that, she turns, continuing along the corridor to the final room.  Entering, she makes her way to the bedside, where the Spinners sit grouped, waiting.  Their heads turn en masse, looking up towards their mistress.
Aisa leans, her shadow falling across the long length of the body beneath her.  A breath in, before beginning.

“Night night.  Sleep tight, child mine,” she says, smiling infinitesimally, eyes a solemn contrast, as she wields the sharp shears.  They snip – a single cut of separation.  One more, one less, is in their bed.  No outward sigh.  “Come, little ones,” she says.  “He’ll follow after.  The twins are still waiting.”

How many remain in her wake?  How heavy her toll tonight?


A slightly left field response to the photo prompt for this particular entry.  I enjoyed writing it though!

FlashDogs Volume Two "Solstice : Light" and "Dark"

I'm extremely pleased to confirm that the Twitter formed FlashDogs have recently launched their second flash fiction anthology - released as two themed books "Solstice: Light" and "Solstice: Dark", with all royalities from sales donated to The Book Bus, who help aid literacy via reading schemes in Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador.

The superb artwork (seen above) stems from the multitalented Tam Rogers.

Together, the anthologies consist of 143 stories created by 48 authors - three of whom stem from my local writing group, The Poised Pen.  I'm honoured to feature alongside the work there and to have four of my stories included.

Feel free to sample the varied stories (each up to 1000 words only) capable of being created courtesy of four separate photo prompts and explore alternate dimensions, alien threats, the land of fairy, magic and heartache in aid of a very worthy cause:-

NFFD "Flash Flood" (Wifely Wisdom)

Yesterday being National Flash Fiction Day's "flash flood" in celebration of all things flash fiction related, my story "Wifely Wisdom" went live over at the site.  Feel free to check both it - and the numerous other entries - out!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Possibility's Greeting (3LineThursday)

Possibility's greeting.
Once again

Publication Announcement (Wifely Wisdom)

I'm pleased to confirm that my flash fiction piece "Wifely Wisdom" will be featured as part of the forthcoming National Flash-Fiction "flash flood" on 27th June.  My story will be appearing between 9-10 pm BST.  There will be a steady stream (couldn't resist!) appearing throughout the day, so feel free to check all of the entries there out!

Saturday, 30 May 2015


Metaman exists within a story which creates a narrative featuring a fiction.

Clockwork Weeds

Clockwork weeds tumble with the breeze.

Part Of The Sum (Flash! Friday)

Construction of the Statue of Liberty's Pedestal CC2.0 photo by National Parks Service, Statue of Liberty c.1875 (via Flash! Friday)

Part Of The Sum

One set of skinned knees in shorts.  Two long socked legs hop – jump – skip.  Year Three of six, added to, equalling Eleven Plus.  Percentages determine geography’s equation, history recorded.  Divided, two part - their sum presently unknown.  One minus one is one.

Two promise as one, united faithful before their countless congregated.  Twinned rings are exchanged, separate inscriptions catching the light.  Confetti mingles afterwards amidst her dark hair.  Three tiers of carefully constructed confectionery stand tall mid table by evening.  Two added are one.

Three form from two - wails announcing his arrival.  Paired smiles contrast with intermittent cries, interspersed with sleepy silence.  Blankets swaddle tiny tufts sprouting from an as yet misshapen head.  He is held two armed, encircled by four.  Two multiplied is three.

Two stand as one, dark clad arms holding each other, apart from a crowd.  Four trickling lines of moisture glisten across their faces, as they stand before a lone marble tablet bearing two dates, mere digits apart.  Two minus one leaves two.

One faces one, the table separating them.  He puts his pen to the paper, scrawling.  “I’m can’t anymore,” he says.  Brow furrowed, she shakes her head – pauses - signs - without meeting his gaze.  Divided, two part.  One minus one is one.


A 210 word piece for this week's Flash! Friday, which had to incorporate the above photo prompt and the theme of "defeat".  This one proved quite tricky to write, given each paragraph had to be exactly 42 words long to allow for the deliberate increase and then decrease in number from paragraph one through to five to add to the sense of loss at the conclusion.

Such Stuff As Dreams Were Made On? (Treading The Boards)

Such Stuff As Dreams Were Made On? – Associate Director Nick Bagnall’s vision of the Athenian Court versus woodland magic proves to be a sinister and enchanting realisation in one of the latest offerings from the Liverpool Everyman.

From the start of Bagnall’s contemporary, innovative interpretation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, it is clear the audience will see a world of mischief and wonder appear before their eyes in a production which places firm emphasis on the darker aspects of the text. 

Cynthia Erivo’s trapeze artist Puck appears from above clad as Master of Ceremonies to introduce us to proceedings and cast her sparkling wand-slim cane to display a predominantly bare stage backed by a graffiti scrawled blackboard.  Soon enough, the stage widens to transform from Athenian public school and grey uniforms to paperwork forest – its floor littered with discarded leaves constructed from the abandoned homework or note passing musings of the student lovers, played by Emma Curtis and Charlotte Hope (making their stage debuts) and recent graduates Tom Varey and Matt Whitchurch.

Cleverly, the woodland floor is backed by a circus-like hall of mirrors, creating the illusion of an extended dream forest cast back into the audience’ eye and literal reflection in a play rife with imagery concerning appearance and reality.  The trickery continues as, later, the woodland fairies appear unannounced from beneath the papers – once again playing with our perceptions.

Transformation, too, is key to the inspired use of the paper littered stage, as the scrunched leaves become bedding and blankets surrounding the characters as they slumber – the rustling, crunching noise as they shift whilst being reassembled adding an auditory aspect to the suggestion of the natural world we, as audience, inhabit.

The presentation of Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius as gym slip lovers is an interesting one, given it provides an alternative, more modern, explanation for the irrational infatuation induced by the love potions and sense of emotion (at the hands of the darkly mischievous Puck) wielding control over the teenagers, who are literally and figuratively helpless whilst its spell remains cast over them.  Careless crushes rule – proving fleeting and easily discarded once the initial intense flood of hormones fades.  Meanwhile, “Midsummer Madness” abounds – complete with hissy hits and rivalry between the partner switching couples.  Happily, the energy needed to convey the jealous conflict amidst the mischievous misunderstandings proves easy to conjure for the young actors. 

Contrary to some interpretations of Robin Goodfellow, there is little of the jester about Erivo’s dark and predominantly black-clad Puck, who makes solemn sport of the task of tormenting the teenagers.  Here, too, the pervading use of black and white costuming (Puck in black, the beleaguered – and innocent - teenagers in lighter whites and greys) adds to the overarching sense of the dream world into which we have been conducted courtesy of Puck’s cane at the outset.  Into this are added the sinister midnight hooded woodland fairies – sprites without discernible faces, reminiscent both of masked (and threatening) intruders and suggestive of the lack of visual clarity and confusion capable of being created mid-sleep.  Clearly, the couples are caught in the throws of a nightmare from which they can be released only once it has run its course.  Thus, the pervading sense of menace increases.   

Whilst Dean Nolan makes the most of comic opportunity in his booming Blessed Bottom, who proves energetic enough to perform an almost perfect (and definitely impressive) on stage splits, his character, too, is subject to nightmarish transformation, donning a spectral, equine skull visually reminiscent of the legendary midwinter Grey Mare – a genuinely shocking sight as he rises from the paper piles he has previously been hidden by.

By the time the characters spin in circles at the conclusion of the play, their frenzied dancing parodying the off-kilter surfacing from dream to reality, we, too, welcome the return to the world of the concrete from that of dark dream and illusion.  However, even post conclusion, we are left with the overwhelming sense that, though the couples may have escaped their woodland nightmares, there cannot be a happy ending for all.  Here, Curtis’ sulky Helena’s refusal to walk with Demetrius infers that any illusions she may have had concerning her now partner have been removed in her eyes, leaving disenchantment in their wake.  Whilst a departure from general interpretations at the denouement, this adds a suitably shadowy note to the concluding Act – suggesting that sometimes what we want is not necessarily best long-term, if we but knew it.  A suitably adult lesson learnt by the young girl, perhaps.  Thus, we leave slightly unsettled in the wake of our interlude in the company of the cast – a final trick to leave us wondering about reality and its permutations as we depart.


I was lucky enough to watch  Liverpool Everyman's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" a while back and, since it had been a while since a review article had featured here, I thought I would share the result.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Clears Throat... (Publication Announcements)

I'm very pleased to be able to confirm that some of my poetry has been published recently courtesy of and Visual Verse:-

Paying The Price  (micropoetry)

A Singular Transformation

Both can be accessed and read for free.

Light Dims

Light dims,
Life dawns.

Dreams Dance

Dreams dance
A mind's stage
Behind curtained lids,
Before lights up.

Imagination's Citadel (Fiery Verse)

In the quiet hours,
Imagination's Citadel
Can be seen clearly,
By those who know
Where to look,
Using their
Mind's eye.


Possibility stretches
Before certainty
Certainty smiles,

Sunday, 22 February 2015

If I Lay Here (Fiery Verse)

If I lay here,
Would my world
Become a universe
Possible histories,
Infinite in
Beyond me?

Monster That Haunts (Killer Poets)

Look deep into
The maw
Of the monster
That haunts
You Shadowed;
Greet the sharp teeth
Before it's chasm throat
With a kiss.

Ahem! (Publication Announcement)

I'm really pleased to be able to confirm that my story "Put Your Lights On" is available (to read for free) in the February 2015 The Sirens Call eZine "Whispers In The Dark", which also celebrates Women In Horror Month.  I'm extremely lucky that this is my third publication with the eZine and that the story was accepted for this issue particularly.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Ring of Fire Award (Flash! Friday Fiction)

Having posted consecutively over the past three weeks at Flash! Friday, I've successfully obtained the new and super sparkly "Ring of Fire" badge as a reward for my efforts.  It seemed appropriate to celebrate that with a blog post to commemorate the occasion!

A World of Words (Last Line First)

Murad’s eyes are anticipation – his mouth reconstructing the merest remnants of the stories as he steps beyond Neolexia’s haphazard turrets, piled paper high.  Words whisper upon his ears as he walks between a set of shelves; searching beyond their reaches.  Half-recollected, half-misremembered – a kaleidoscope of letters drip freely from his lips as he salivates, moving deeper towards the centre of the construct. Vowels and consonants are crisp curlicues winding themselves about his tongue as he moves further in; hoping to hold them in his head.  Sharp and sweet by turns, they settle onto the fungiform papillae; a teasing ephemeral tickle – before burrowing beneath.  Murad exhales, eyelids fluttering. Casting himself carelessly backwards, he is cushioned amidst sestina, tristich and recueillement, carefully woven and tacked together – held in place by their lines  



Overt                                                    ly

Words work once more upon him.

Murad stirs as blank spaces begin to form where words once danced and dwelt.  Slowly – reluctantly - he raises himself from the hardwood floorboards, blinking.  He knows he will return again, though he cannot say why.  The words he would search for are elusive; nonextant.


This one was written for a new flash fiction prompt - Last Line First - which encourages people to write based on a closing line as the original inspiration for their new piece.  No prizes as such - just a great excuse to write a piece of flash of up to 200 words.

I set out consciously wanting to write something connected to the concept of words and synaesthesia within this piece.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Never Lasting (Fiery Verse)

They were
Never lasting;
Left wanting
In the wake,
With their remnants
Each other.

By Dark (Heart Soup)

By dark
They lure
Sleepers unaware
Into disaster;
Pillows bereft,
Leaving warm dents
Where bodies lay -
No more.

A Universe Emerging (Fiery Verse)

Transient words root,
Shaped into sentience
- A universe
As sentences

Dare To Demand (Fiery Verse)

No choice;
They cannot resist
Those who walk
Paper worlds -
Who dare to demand
Their existence
Beyond imagining.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Publication Announcement - Sorrow's Baptised

A very quick update here at the blog to mention that my story "Sorrow's Baptised" has now gone live at Sirens Call (direct download link here, free access) if you care to take a look.  I'm really pleased to be included in the eZine again!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Mermaid Cove (Written River)

We cannot rest
Whilst water surrounds us,
Submerged, we sing;
A game, of sorts,
Once won,
We keep our catches
'Til surface seduction
Calls out


This one was written for today's "Written River" poetry prompt.  A Rusalka piece - a little too long to fit into a single tweet, so I thought I'd post it directly to the blog.

Magical Word Worlds - Five Hundred Words of Magic Release

Following on from the previous blog post, the Luminous Creatures anthology "Five Hundred Words of Magic", featuring my stories "Their Guardian Generals" and "Colourful Talents" ("Colorful Talents" in the epub), which arose from artist photo prompts for the final two weeks of the Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness competition has now been released and is available to purchase via Amazon - US here and UK here.

Payhip (for epub formats as well as .mobi free is available here)

The anthology features flash fiction featuring "fantasy realms dark and light" courtesy of a number of authors (myself included), for those who are interested in reading some short speculative fiction.  Pleasingly, it also features the work of two of my writing group The Poised Pen too.  I've already downloaded my copy!