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!