Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 183

This week's phorot promo was taken by Alexa Wilson on Twitter. Found in the middle of a field in an area called Forlorn, in the Cotswolds, UK. I had to write about it!

This turned out quite well. I wanted something unique and I think it works. 

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.




Leg

Duncan was right; it had been washed up by the tide. Damn! I stood at the top of the cliff looking down and saw the leg there on the rock. The shoe was still on the foot.

I looked around. No one was about. Good. But how was I going to get down there? It was a secluded cove, with no footpath access, and the cliff was sheer. I got my phone out and called Duncan.

‘You’re right, it’s still there!’

‘It’ll probably go out with the next tide.’

‘But what if it doesn’t? What if someone spots it and reports it to the police? We can’t risk it. We have to get it, now, and get rid of it.’

‘But how?’

‘Abseil down, it’s the only way.’

‘Rather you than me.’

‘I’ve done it before. But I don’t have the equipment, Jake has. Go to his and get it, will you?’

‘I’m a bit busy at the mo—‘

‘I couldn’t give a toss! Go and get it, NOW! We’re in this together, don’t you forget that!’ I hissed at him.

‘All right, all right. I’ll be there in fifteen. You’re at the bluff, yeah?’

‘Yeah – hurry!’

I shoved the phone back in my pocket and looked around again, still no one about. I carried on walking a bit further ahead so as not to attract any attention. I looked out at the water, the tide was still moving out, good. It would give me time to get down there. I didn’t mind heights, getting down or up wouldn’t be an issue, it was about being seen; there were so many busybodies in this tiny seaside town.

Up until now I thought we were good. It had been a week. There’d been no trace of anything washing up. We’d taken all the body parts out on Duncan’s dad’s fishing rig in the dead of night, to where we knew there was a shark colony, and we’d seen them come up to feed. So how did this leg get missed?

I heard a car horn and watched Duncan pull up in the parking bay. I walked back to the cliff edge and waited. He came rushing up with the ropes and security equipment I’d used with Jake when we’d gone down to Cheddar Gorge. I knew how to set it up, but was worried Duncan wouldn’t be heavy enough to take my weight.

‘Do you think you can hold me?’

‘Oh yeah. I can handle over 200 pounds at the gym, easy.’

I put it on, and he took the line. I walked to the edge and sat down, swinging my legs over.

‘I’ll hang here a minute, while you get your bearings.’

‘Okay.’

I turned round and hung my body over, taking the weight on my arms. Then I pushed my feet into the cliff wall and started to move my weight back. Duncan braced himself, standing firm with the ropes wrapped round him and one arm. He had special gloves on too.

‘You good?’ I asked as I let my weight pull the ropes taut.

‘Yep,’ he said, looking relaxed.

‘Okay, I’m going down.’

I leaned back and started to take steps down, and then I started to release it out quicker, taking a few leaps. I reached the bottom and detached the ropes, rushing over to the rock.

It was covered in bits of seaweed, but there was something strange about it. It wasn’t discoloured or bloated and … oh god, it wasn’t real! It was a bloody mannequin leg! Bloody hell all this over nothing! I was relieved and annoyed at the same time.

I walked back to the rope, and reattached myself. I tugged twice on the rope, and felt it go taut and started the climb back up.

But half way up, I don’t know what happened, but the rope went loose and I lost my footing, kicking out at the last minute so I didn’t slam against the rock further down. I felt a crunch and pain shot through my body. I’d landed on the rock, on top of the leg. I couldn’t move. I just hurt. And then I couldn’t breathe. I tried coughing but there was fluid in my throat and I couldn’t clear it.

I saw a head peep over the top of the cliff, Duncan, and then another head – was that Jake? And then they were gone. To get help I hoped. I lay there on top of the mannequin leg, trying to breathe, but it was getting harder. I waited for the sounds of sirens or a helicopter, even a boat, but there was nothing. I couldn’t hold on much longer, my vision was beginning to fade. 




Saturday, 16 January 2021

Review: The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner ListThe Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this for my bookclub. A book I would never have picked up otherswise, but what a journey! One that ended in tears for this reader. Heartbreaking tale.

The Dinner party is seen through the eyes of the birthday person, Sabrina, and written in first person. The chapters are divided between the conversation at the dinner party and the story of her relationship, switching back and forth, and unravelling both the reason for the party (and the particular guests), and the events in the relationship.

The best way to engage a reader is through emotion and this story has a LOT of emotion. The main characters broken childhood and her deep, in-love relationship, binds the reader to her. I felt every piece of it.

The story is revealed in such a way it is compelling, too, as you understand more and more. The ending being one of those you don't really want to see, but can't look away from. I didn't want it to end.

It was like being a fly on the wall in another person's life. I found it intensely personal, and roller coaster ride. Highly Recommend.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 182

This week's picture prompt was taken by Lurie Belegurschi, an Icelandic photographer. He took this at Jokulsarlon Glacier (in southern part of Vatnaj√∂kull National Park in Iceland), of a Lenicular cloud formation.  He has some incredible shots on his website, definitely worth checking out. 

I went sci-fi with this one. To me the photo called for it. 

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.




Occupied

It hurt. The pain cut right into my bones. I couldn’t tell if it was the arrival or what I had landed on that was causing it. All I could see was white; everything around me was white. There was water, or fluid of some sort.

What was this feeling that was getting into every single part of my body and my bones? I turned my head and saw the sky, or at least what I thought was sky. It contained strange colours. I had always been taught that it would look blue.

It had strange shapes moving across it, or in it. I didn’t know what they were; they looked like I could touch them, like they were made of something soft.

The pain became apparent again. I turned onto my side and onto my knees and stood up. The ground beneath me cracked. What was this stuff? I touched it with my fingers. It was cold, so cold. Is that what was making me hurt?

I looked around. Behind the white there was black ground, it had a texture; rock of some sort. But the white persisted between, some soft and fluffy looking, some hard and cracking. Cold and water meant ice, or snow, according to my chemistry lessons. Was that what I was seeing?

‘Report.’ The speaker button on my jacket jolted me out of my thoughts.

‘Water,’ I said. I bent to touch it and brought it to my lips. ‘It contains salt. It must be ocean. And it’s cold here, so cold there is ice and snow, tons and tons of it.’

‘Life?’ The button echoed across the empty land.

‘None visible,’ I said. ‘I’m going to walk.’

I followed the edge of the water. The shapes in the sky had changed, as had the colour. A sun was beginning to become visible on the horizon. It was fascinating. I headed towards a mound of black rock, hoping to get more visuals on high ground. I reached the peak and saw something in the distance. It looked like geometric shapes of some sort – squares, but with lines that weren’t natural. Could it be a building? I’d read about those.

I headed towards it, but could see no forms of life. When I reached it, it had windows and a door, but it was empty. There had been life here, once, but how long ago?

I said, ‘Scan.’ A light appeared out of the button and streamed over the building, taking in every inch.

‘205589,’ it announced.

I whistled; that was a long time ago. It explained its derelict state.

‘There’s nothing more here. Shall I stay?’

‘No. Prepare for removal.’

I lay down on the hard floor and stared up into what they said would be a blue sky, but was more white, reflecting the desolate landscape. I saw a spec move across it at high speed. What was that? Then a rushing sound hit my ears. I sat up, putting my hands over my ears.

‘Stop,’ I shouted.

I saw pieces of debris nearby start to fly up as the loud noise continued to batter my ears.

‘Something is here.’ Something big hit the ground. I stood up. The noise reduced but didn’t stop. Then I saw them, running towards me. They looked like us but a different colour.

Then a pain hit my body and I fell backwards. I thought it was my removal; that they hadn’t had time to cancel. If you didn’t lie down it could hurt. But I was still there on the ground and I was leaking. My bodily fluid was running out of me as the creatures arrived, three of them standing at my feet and watching me.

‘Wow, it’s blue,’ one of them said.

‘Real freak show,’ another said.

The other kicked me in the foot. ‘Is it dead yet?’

I felt like I was drifting away. I whispered, ‘Removal, now.’

‘What did it say?’ the foot kicking one said.

‘Dunno.’

‘Shall I shoot it again?’

‘Nah, leave it. It’ll be dead soon and we can drag it back.’

Then I felt it; my removal. Thank goodness.

‘What the fuck?’

‘It’s disappearing!’

‘But how?’

When I opened my eyes again I was back home and people were healing me. My captain arrived at my side.

‘Still there and still hostile, I see.’

‘Yes, Captain,’ I whispered.

‘We’ll have to leave it another millennia then.’

‘Yes, Captain.’ 


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 181

This week's photo is from Bogdan Panait, a Croatian photographer. I have no idea of the location, but you wouldn't catch me on that bridge! 

This one is a little dark, but that's just I roll sometimes. 

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



Resilience

I’d reached the bridge. I was relieved, although from my prone position I couldn’t tell if it was intact. I just prayed it was, although if it wasn’t, death would be a better alternative to being caught again.

I pulled my broken body onto the first of the bridge’s slats, willing them to hold. In the damp misty air the ropes were wet - I just hoped they weren’t weak as well. The autumn leaves from the trees at the other end had blown onto it and were decaying; it would be slippery.

The bridge swayed under my weight, raising a creaking sound. I tried to still it; it would identify my location. Despite my eagerness, I had to slow down to kill the sound, and take this slat by slat. I didn’t want to think about what might be on the other side; what was ahead of me was enough for now.

As I lifted by body slightly and pulled, the swaying and the creaking began again. I wouldn’t be able to stop it if I was ever to make it across. I could only hope the fog would muffle the sound and not carry it to him.

He had to be hunting for me by now. He had to have known I’d escaped. He thought that hobbling my ankles would be enough to stop me, but he under estimated my endurance for pain. He’d kept me for so long he’d forgotten what I could tolerate.

He’d grown distracted, probably by the new ones he’d managed to snare. I heard them going through the earlier stages. I was long past that. It was what had escalated my desire to escape; listening to it. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live with the despair it brought. I had to believe it would come to an end; that he would eventually get caught and not torment more women.

I focused my gaze on where I was going. I had to succeed in getting across this bridge. I had to succeed in finding help. I had to bring an end to this for all of us.

There was a rustle behind me. I didn’t want to turn and look. If it was him, I didn’t want to see; I didn’t want to know I had failed. My whole body was on the bridge now. I only had to twist to my left or right and I’d go into the ravine. Death might not be what I wanted, but if it was the only choice between that and going back to the hole underground and being used for his perverse pleasure, I’d welcome it.

I lay still and waited for his voice, his breathing, his skin-crawling touch. But nothing. Had it been an animal? Something in the underbrush? Was I still free? I didn’t want to turn and find out. Instead, I reached out my arm and grabbed the furthest slat, not caring about the sound or the swaying; just wanting to get on the other side.

Nothing stopped me; nothing broke my rhythm as I dragged my way across. I wouldn’t have stood even if I could. I’d have never managed to stay upright, not with my vertigo. I kept my eyes on the next goal and didn’t look down.

When the last slat came into view, driven into the ground on the other side, I dared to feel hopeful; I dared to believe I was on the home straight. I thought about breaking the bridge after me; stop him from being able to follow. But what if another managed to break free? What if another needed an exit route? I couldn’t do it.

As I pulled myself up to sitting on the solid ground on the other side, I looked back at the bridge, and there it was, the creature that had made the sound: a white dove. It was perched on the first post of the bridge on the other side. It eyed me through the swirling mist, and then took off, sweeping overhead into the woods I was about to enter.

I’d like to have taken it as a sign, but I didn’t trust them anymore, I didn’t trust anything – only my resilience; it was what had kept me alive, even on the days I’d wished I was dead, and had gotten me this far.

And if I could keep it going, I might not be the only one it saves.


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 180

This week's prompt is by Nasser Osman, an Egyptian Photographer/Artist. He call this Egrets Land. He has some wonderful creations, worth checking out. 

This story has been stuck in my head for a few days. Nice to finally get it down. 

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.




Feeding Time

‘Did you see it, George?’

‘I did, Ron.’

‘It took longer than I thought.’

‘Yeah, that thrashing about was the first mistake I think.’

‘Yeah, caught far too much attention; and then hanging off that log.’

‘Dangling is never a good idea that far out.’ George shook his head.

‘It wasn’t long before he realised that, although dragging that stump out onto what was left of the starboard side wasn’t pretty.’

‘Baking it in the sun; spreading the scent about. That’s when it started to really get crowded.’

‘Yep, up until then it had just been you, me, Ralf, Davy and a couple of the shark brothers.’

‘When did you turn up, Petunia?’ George looked past Ron to where Petunia had just landed on the end of the boat wreck.

‘Not until it was all over, really; when the black and white boys showed up to clean away the last of it.’

‘So you didn’t get any pickings, then?’ asked Ron.

‘Nope. I missed out this time, maybe next.’

‘You never know, something might wash up in a day or two,’ George suggested.

‘But then it’ll be on the turn. I’ve never been one for matured flesh.’

‘Not for my palate either,’ said Ron in agreement.

‘Some days you can’t be fussy.’ George puffed out his chest. ‘Got to make do or starve.’

The other two nodded.

‘It was just the one guy, on his own then?’ asked Petunia.

‘Yeah, think he’d lost his way, drifted maybe, and then a squall must have hit him,’ replied Ron.

‘Shame, a crew gives everyone a chance to have a feed.’

‘Remember that cruise liner that went down last year? That had been a real feast that!’ George looked out to sea, his eyes growing misty in reminiscence.

‘Oh that was exceptional. Didn’t have to hunt for food for weeks after that,’ Petunia said, staring out in the same direction.

‘Nobody did, not even the black and white boys. There’d been plenty for everyone.’ Ron joined them looking out across the ocean.

They all wondered when the next bounty would come.



Thursday, 17 December 2020

Editing Process in Publishing Houses - Pheobe Morgan articles

To round up the Editing Processes in Publishing House Q&A, here are a couple of articles by author Phoebe Morgan, which I thought were interesting and relevant to how the editing process works in Publishing Houses. Phoebe Morgan is Editorial Director of HarpersCollins UK and an author.


The first is how the editing process works seen from both sides - that of the editor and that of the author (in this article, Poebe Morgan and Abigail Dean)

 (click on the picture to go to the article)



And this gives an insight into what being an editor of a big five publishing house is like: A day in the life of an editor.

(click on the picture to go to the article)