Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 43

This weeks photo prompt is of the Kosmaj Monument  in Serbia, photo taken by John DePalatis.

John says on his blog: "The monument itself, designed by Vojin Stojić and unveiled in 1971, consists of five free-standing concrete wings surrounding a central dias. When lit, the monument can be seen from Belgrade on a clear night."

I tried to veer away from conventional sci-fi, and hadn't been sure of the ending until it arrived. No happy ending here. 

The monument celebrates a group of partisan fighters in World War II who battled against the German occupation in the south of Belgrade. During the fighting the battalions lost over 5,000 soldiers but their “guns of freedom kept shooting. The misty day in which he took it certainly makes it look interesting.


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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.





Annihilation

When they arrived everybody had panicked; it was like the movie Independence Day – well the first part, because there was no matching spacecraft found in the 50s that would overthrow them, there was only annihilation or assimilation. Riley had been one of the few to escape the first wave. She’d been prepared, although for a completely different apocalypse: climate change, not alien invasion.

She’d bought some land and built a sustainable, self-sufficient home out in the middle of a remote forest. It had all come at a bargain price too, because no one had been interested in living off grid in the middle of Europe. Everyone had wanted to stay connected and online, and be where the money was. But that connectivity had come at a high price, especially as it was disputed that it had been the internet that had been attracted the aliens to Earth in the first place – that and the car.

Some guy had thought it would be cool to send a car into outer space, apparently to prove they could send up such a weight, although there was conjecture it had been a marketing stunt. The aliens had liked the car, especially the dummy sitting in it, which represented the life form on our planet. Humans had the right shape and dexterity the aliens needed for cleaning out some kind of cells inside their purpose built planets. At least that’s what Riley understood on the cloaked radio transmissions she listened to in her little cabin. Thank goodness she’d installed a satellite dish. She could also listen in on alien transmissions, but they made no sense to her; their strange, garbled language was hard to listen to, sounding like someone eating with their mouth open.

Riley had hoped to remain hidden and ride out the invasion – that was until one of their craft arrived in the forest. Up until that point they hadn’t come near the forest. There was some kind of energy here that stopped them. They weren’t biologically set up like humans: they were tall, cumbersome giants with metal based skin. They were affected by magnetic forces, which Earth’s government tried to exploit, but the scientists hadn’t been fast enough in understanding or developing anything before the bulk of the population had been defeated. Riley knew they were on the brink of extermination, but had hoped she might be a last bastion – until she had stumbled upon the craft.

She was familiar with their strange spiky appearance, having seen the images on TV before all transmissions had been taken over. They looked like some kind of spiny sea urchin. The evening mist cloaked it, giving it an eerie edge as she skirted the trees around it. The forest had gone silent at its arrival which explained why the animal she had been tracking had gone to ground. She hid behind a tall spruce watching keenly, wondering what they had come for.

She heard a metal on concrete sound and saw a gap open in one of the legs. She waited for the giants to appear but instead there was a rustling and a dog-like creature came out. It made a strange rasping sound, which was hard on the ears. Its head turned in her direction and she froze. Was this a new tracking device? Was she about to be hunted?

Riley didn’t wait to find out. She moved swiftly backwards from the tree, crouching into the underbrush, keeping her eyes fixed on it. It didn’t move. The further back she went the less sure she was that it was looking at her, but as she turned to run it let out that rasping noise again followed by the sound of it running down the spike to the ground.

Riley fled, plunging herself full speed into forest, weaving a zigzag back and forth, her mind flying through the possibilities of escape, climbing might help, but would she reach the only climbable tree she could think of, before she was caught? It was gaining on her; she could hear its paws hitting the ground, just above her gasping breaths.

The sensation of panic was the last thing she felt as it grabbed her ankle and tossed her high overhead, slamming her into a tree. And the last thing she heard was the garble of alien voices as they came to collect their prize, dragging her numb body onto their craft. Her last thought was that the annihilation of the human race would soon be complete.


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 42

This weeks photo has proved untraceable: It is all over the internet, and trying to source the creator is impossible, which is such a shame as it's a great image - and a perfect image for Valentine's Day/Week!

I wanted to steer away from the standard Valentine story, which is what happened, but it turned out shorter and briefer than I expected, but I do like it.  What does this picture show you?

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.



Take Heart

No one wants me. I am here to give everything, open and waiting, but nothing.

I’ve been broken and discarded time after time; I’ve been ignored and dismissed as not being of any value, of having nothing valuable to offer. But yet I am the one that keeps it all together, even though I’m told I can’t be trusted.

So I have built a wall around me to protect me, but although it keeps out the pain, it has stopped the light from getting in. Now I am growing heavier and heavier, and sadder and sadder, there will be a point soon where I can no longer move.

But when I reached that point a realisation born is, and it is as though I have been plucked out of a wayward river that was washing me away. I am being held again and cherished. Bit by bit my wall is being chipped away and the light is returning, bringing with it such warmth as I have never felt before. And when there were doubts I am now consulted and my feelings valued. I have become happier than I could have ever imagine and able to express and revel in it. 


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 41

This picture was created by Ana Prazeres or Aegils, a Portugese artist. You can find her work on Deviant Art and also on 500px. She has some incredible creations. She calls this one 'The Craft' - which offers a story in itself.

I looked at this picture and saw chaos. And for me the biggest type of chaos is that of the mind. So that is what I focused on. This one poured out easily, but I need to provide a TRIGGER WARNING for suicide/suicidal thinking.

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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.




Chaos & Paranoia

You know she doesn’t like you; that’s why she moved away.
Not it wasn’t, it was to talk to the new girl at the other table.
Sure that’s what you’d like to think, isn’t it? They think you talk too much.
They’ve never really liked me.
No they haven’t.
Did you see that look she gave her friend, that roll of the eyes?
I know, they don’t like anything you say. They don’t like you.
They’re a clique.
Yes, and you are sitting on the outside of it.
I don’t want to be in it.
Yes you do, otherwise you wouldn’t feel so sick.
It doesn’t matter though because I won’t be here long.
Ha, that’s what you told yourself ten years ago.
I’m not going to be here for the rest of my life, no way.
Sure, and what are you doing about that? A big fat nothing.
There’s nothing I can do about it. I haven’t got the money.
You could find it if you wanted to.
It’s not that easy.
You don’t really want to do anything about it; it’s too much effort.
It’s all too much effort. I don’t want to see any of these people anymore.
Then who are you going to see?
No one.
You wouldn’t survive being a recluse; it would kill you to be alone every single day.
I’d be better off dead.
Yes, you would, and no one would miss you.
They all pretend they’re friends, but they aren’t really. It’s just fake. They were all relieved when I left.
What do you think they’d say if they found out you’d topped yourself?
Would it matter? I would be dead and wouldn’t be here anymore.
Do you think they would feel guilty? Or would they think you were selfish?
They already think I’m selfish.
Did you hear her make that dig about how people are bad listeners; it was directed at you.
I don’t want to be here anymore.
How are you going to get out?
Where am I going to get the money from to get out?
You don’t have any skills. You don’t bring any value to anyone.
And where would I go to?
It’ll be the same everywhere you go.
There is only one way out.

Larissa’s mind whorled as she left the drinks night, her mind buzzing with the chaotic noise of her inner voices, their conversation rushing through her head as though she’d pressed fast forward. By the time she’d reached her car, they were debating whether or not to go home.

They’ll be asleep.
They won’t know you’ve gone.
They wouldn’t notice until the morning.
It would be over by then.
They’d be too late.
It would be simple, so simple.
And painless, don’t forget that.
It might take them a couple of days to find out.
The police would eventually find the car parked up.
Maybe dust and sand on it after the days it’d been sitting there with parking tickets piling up.
The phone call to say they’d found it.
The police at the door.
It wouldn’t be fair, it just wouldn’t.
Their little faces.
They’d blame themselves.
It would affect the rest of their lives.
They need you.

Larissa held back tears as she turned the key in the lock, sparking the car into life. She had to stop this; she had to get the voices under control. She had to stop them escalating. She sighed. It took all her strength to keep her head above water, to keep holding on. She wanted to stay social, but it killed her. She didn’t trust any of them.

She wished a door would open; she wished she could step through into a bright new world where she could escape from the chaos of her mind and the emptiness of her life; where no one knew her or pre-judged her, where she was valued and needed and appreciated. Was it really so much to ask?

By the time she reached home she’d brought the noise down to a background babble. The house was dark, just the small lights left on for her to see by. She checked on the kids, smiling at their tiny snores, and climbed in next to the big snorer– her husband.

She knew she had to find a way out, but it had to be a way that worked for everyone, not just her. Larissa lulled herself to sleep with visions of what that might be. 




Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 40

This week's photo was created by Emerald-Depths (Danielle Clifton) an American digital artist over on Deviant Art. Access to this picture has been restricted on this site to members only, probably due to the amount of use it has had online - it took me a long time to track it down. Danielle has called it The Road Home. And it certainly could be.

Took me a while to get an opening line in my head for this one as so many tales were vying for my attention - but many felt like repeats of other stories I had written. Finally one came and grew in the first paragraph. It's the best type of writing when that happens, when it all starts to fall into place. Some could say this is a beginning to a novel- many of my flash pieces are - and maybe one day. So many ideas, so little time to write them all. 😉


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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.



Portal

The race to the heath was on. If Byron didn’t get there first, he might as well stop now and let Todd kill him. The portals were his only hope; if he jumped through quickly enough, there’d be no way to trace him.

He didn’t want to think about where he might be jumping to yet though. For now he just had to get up there and choose one of the standing stones before Todd and his crew blocked them off.

He knew it had only been rumours about the cult being in control of them. Todd had wanted people to believe that so he could have them all to himself. But Byron knew better. He’d been there that night, he’d seen the truth; he’d watched that guy Fenton being taken through no matter how many enchantments Todd’s crew had made to prevent it. They had no control.

And since that fateful night Byron had become curious, returning again and again to try and work it out for himself. Between time in the public library and digging around in local folklore he’d come a fair way too. He knew how to use them. He’d even experimented a couple of times.

But that was when it had happened, when Todd and his crew had found out. He’d been seen and they’d set a trap for him as he’d come out, catching it on camera. They’d attempted to blackmail him with it: show his family, show his boss. What they hadn’t banked on were people’s lack of belief. They’d thought the video had been faked; they’d thought it was a joke. His boss had laughed about it.

Todd hadn’t been happy. So now Byron’s only chance of survival was through one of the portals.

As he rushed up the heath with his heavy backpack, he thought about which one of the three to choose. The view through on the stone had to be clear: if it wasn’t clear he couldn’t risk jumping. They’d do one of two things: knock over the stones, face down, so they couldn’t be accessed anymore, or they’d send someone through to chase him down. He didn’t think they’d chase him. He didn’t think they’d be gutsy enough. Plus they wouldn’t have a clue how to return – otherwise Fenton would have come back.

It crossed Byron’s mind to find him, but it was only fleeting as he turned round, walking backwards for a few seconds to see how far behind they were. He could see Todd’s van down on the road, it looked like a matchbox car from this height. He could see Johnno’s van had joined it. They’d be on the move now. And they might have another route.

He picked up the pace and started jogging. There really was no time to lose. He knew that at least five minutes had to lapse after he jumped for there to be no trace. He’d reached the circle now and was already reciting incantations. He could feel the energy shift in the circle. He looked at the three of them, two were clear: he had a choice between the small one and the medium one. He didn’t like the look of the desert in the medium one, but the small one looked like a reflection of the heath he was on, could he trust it? One thing he had learnt was not to trust what the eye was showing you.

He spoke a stream of invocations at it. It clouded up. He knew it. They’d already been up here trying to block his way. He stood in front of the medium one and did the same, it remained clear, but it worried him. If they’d set one up to fool him, how did he know they hadn’t set another? He turned to the tallest one, which reflected darkened storm clouds. He delivered a string of enchantments and it cleared immediately, giving him a breathtaking view of rolling hills.

His choice was made. He jumped through, landing on soft firm grass. He invoked spells in the circle on the other side; they should close the portal off for a couple of days, giving him a head start. Then he headed to the nearest hill, hoping to find a town of some sort on the other side. Either way he needed to get out of site of the stone circle and find a way to survive here.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 39

This week's photo prompt was taken by Piroshki-Photography, a Serbian photographer. You can find more of their photos on their page at Deviant Art. They call this one 'Curved Reality'. It was taken in Santa Margherita Ligure, in Genoa, Italy.

I could see the opening of this tale immediately, but the story took longer to appear, although not in depth. It was tricky only hinting at it without really knowing what it was about but pretending I did! 


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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.





The Establishment

Dorian staggered into the square, holding onto the wall of the alleyway he was coming through. He sensed people looking at him, but all he could see were the buildings in the plaza swaying and wobbling. Was this actually happening? He couldn’t be sure but he was mesmerized by them.

The architecture took on new meaning as it reshaped before his eyes. He had a growing desire to go up and touch them. He moved forward, the ground rolled under his feet.  He staggered again, this time falling to his knees. He looked around him. The people he thought were there weren’t; the cafe terraces were empty, not a sole in the streets.

The buildings were still moving. Dorian crawled to the edge of one to put his hand against it. He could feel it vibrate through his palm. He rubbed the brickwork. It felt real.

Then he heard a voice.

“Mr. Bradshaw, tell us how you got here?”

Dorian looked around him again; there was still no one in the plaza. Who was speaking?

“Who are you? Where are you? Show yourself!” He didn’t like the swaying anymore; it was making him feel sick.

“You know who we are, Mr. Bradshaw, and you know why we are not showing ourselves.”

Dorian felt something nag at the back of his mind, something before he stumbled into the plaza. Where was he before he was here? He fought to gain a hold on his memory. How did he get here? He remembered the alleyway between two buildings. What two buildings? He remembered a plane journey; he remembered a city, sweet scent of trees baked in the sun. He was in Italy! Yes, Genoa. But why? He was tracking something, or was it someone? Why couldn’t he remember?

“If you know me, you know why I am here. Stop messing with my head and talk to me!” Dorian could barely raise his head now. He understood that what was happening was not real; it was a magnetic field that worked on his mind; an illusion to disorientate him, to put him off the scent. “I’m not leaving until you do, and remember I am being tracked.”

Those last words brought everything back into sharp focus: He knew why he was here and what his plan had been. Their tricks couldn’t work anymore.

The plaza faded. The blank wall it had been projected onto took its place. The wall was grey concrete. It had been real. He had managed to get inside.

Dorian heard footsteps and slumped back into a sitting position on the floor, resting his back against the wall. The men that appeared didn’t look happy.

“How did you get in here? How did you find us?”

Dorian smiled. “You should be concerning yourself with what my arrival means, and how long you have got.”

The two men glanced at each other clearly unnerved by Dorian’s words. Then another set of footsteps could be heard, these ones slower and heavier, as though trying to be threatening.

Dorian wasn’t surprised to see the man that made them. He had suspected all along that Johnson Hayward had been the head of this particular establishment. In fact he was pleased to have it finally confirmed. The smile he gave wasn’t welcomed.

“You think you have achieved something by gaining access to this location, but you seem to forget how we operate.”

“Why don’t you enlighten me, Mr Hayward?”

He gave Dorian a smirk. “You would like that, wouldn’t you? But not this time, this time we are one step ahead.”

Johnson Hayward clapped his hands and the lights went out, literally and metaphorically as a hard hit to the head rendered Dorian unconscious.

When he came to he was lying in the middle of a plaza – the same plaza that had been wobbling in front of him earlier. This time it was real and full of life, the sounds of people and cars and movement all around him. Someone came over and spoke to him in Italian, offering a hand. He took it and stood up, taking a few seconds to steady himself before thanking them and walking away.

He searched for the alleyway but he couldn’t find it. Eventually he gave up and returned to his hotel. Damn, he’d lost them, though this was the closest he had come in five years. It wasn’t over yet.