Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 81

This week's photo prompt is of a red phone box graveyard, in a northern village called Carlton Miniott, Yorkshire. This photo take by Nicolas Ritter for the Mercury Press newspaper. He visited the yard back when he was just starting out as a photographer's assistant in 2012 and now lives in Berlin. More fascinating pictures in an article The Daily Mail ran.

I hope my story manages to impart what I imagine doing with these phone boxes. I chose dialogue rather than narration to impart it this time. It would/could be so cool.

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.




Terminus

Alfie surveyed the yard. Yep, they were all here. He rubbed his hands together. This was going to be good.

He went into the mobile office where Gary was just finishing a call. He looked up. “We got them all?”

“Yep, all of them. There’s no more to be had anywhere.” Alfie perched on Gary’s desk.

“Excellent. Now the work can begin. When’s Ralph coming up?”

“Tomorrow, he’s bringing his tech crew with him. Two of his top guys, Matt and Leonard.”

“How long will it take?”

“What for all of them?”

“Well the first one’s going to be the most important as it’ll be the hub, so I should imagine it will take the longest.”

“Ralph estimated a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of four for the hub.”

“And we’re sure the government has shut down the entire system? We don’t want to risk any cock ups like arriving in one of their terminals.”

Alfie nodded. “They’re definitely all shut down. I’ve got two separate informants on the inside confirming it, and both worked directly with them. The entire system was abolished after the Faraday incident. Once that all unravelled so did the entire department.”

“Good.” Gary got up and went over to the small window that overlooked the lot. Alfie joined him.

The roofs of the decaying red telephone boxes looked like sentinels waiting for orders. Alfie could already imagine them all painted up.

He glanced at Gary who was smiling. “Penny for them?”

“It’s ingenious. We can hide them in plain sight. People’ll think they are just monuments or pieces of art. We can put them anywhere we want. We’re going to make a killing.”

Alfie grinned. “We are. We’ve already got 100 elites signed up waiting to go.”

“We’re going to have to pace ourselves. We don’t want to rush it. If we get found out at this stage the entire thing could collapse. But if this works and we get enough of the elite influentials on board, they won’t be able to close us down.”

“Got to let the dust settle. People are still worried about a repeat of what happened to Faraday.”

“And, what are the chances of a repeat?” Gary shot Alfie a sharp look.

Alfie pursed his lips. “Let’s just say I wouldn’t advise using them until Ralph and his crew have done their test runs.”

“Test runs?”

“Yeah, the 100 elites. Ralph says if they want it so badly let them take the risk. He wants to see more than 10 teleports on each terminal before he’s satisfied. They’ve all signed up to the exemption clause.”

“And you’re sure there’s no risk of come back on us?”

Alfie folded his arms and rocked on his heels. “Iron clad. Had the lawyers check it every which way.”

“Good.”

“Ralph says he thinks he knows what caused it anyway.”

“They’ve still got the guy in hospital, haven’t they?”

“Yep, high security psychiatric wing. They’re still trying to work out if his brain will ever function properly again.”

“It wasn’t just his mind though, was it? They were always worried teleportation would affect the brain, but it screwed up his body too, didn’t it?”

“Yep, that’s what Beggsey said when he called me from the scene. Limbs round the wrong way, hair in wrong places. Enough to make you shudder.”

Gary did shudder. “But Ralph thinks he knows the answer?”

“Yep. He said something about molecule recalibration. He’s got such a brain on him.”

“And we’re able to tap it!” Gary’s eyes sparkled as he turned back to his desk. “Which reminds me, we need to get him and his crew signed up when they arrive. Don’t want them doing this tech with anyone else.” He shuffled papers around on the desk, putting a particular one on top.

Alfie followed him back to the desk and picked up the contract. “Yep, got to get all our ducks in a row. An underground teleportation system disguised in antique telephone boxes. It’s brilliant. This is going to be so good.”



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 80

This week's picture prompt was taken by a friend of mine, Michael Sands, when he was in Oxford. This building is called The Radcliffe's Camera and it's part of Oxford University. It houses the Science Library.

This one was a bit tricky with how to get the wording right and not repeat words. And yes, that is the ending. It's up to the reader to figure it out. 😉

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.



Puddle

He hurried through the destroyed city unsure where he was going to find sanctuary before sundown, but eager to get across before nightfall. By the time he reached the university it was raining hard and getting difficult to see. Broad Street was still intact and he managed to reach the start of Catte Street without much trouble, but he could see the road ahead was blocked; they’d taken out Radcliffe Camera.

It was devastating to see the dome in pieces, laying half in and half out of the shattered library, the buildings around adding to the chaos of debris. He wondered how he was going to get through. It took some negotiation. He squeezed through some parts and climbed over others, until he came out at a clear patch in front of the building where nothing appeared to have fallen.

The coloured cobble stones of the square contrasting the grey stone detritus covering everything else. He found it strange; it had a defined perimeter, creating a circle a couple of metres across. And although the dust from the broken buildings hadn’t penetrated it, the rain had; a large puddle had formed across the space.

As Randolf paused, he noticed something else too, in the reflection, something he struggled to comprehend. To begin with he thought it was the angle and the trick of the light, but as he circled the water it didn’t change; the reflection showed Radcliffe Camera, but not as it was now, the broken carcass of a majestic building, it showed it as it had been: the dome intact, the pillars holding the roof, the ball on top of the spire. He rubbed his eyes a few times but it remained the same. Then he dipped a toe.

It wasn’t the lack of a ripple that disturbed him as his shoe touched the water; it was that when he pulled it out it wasn’t wet. There was no discolouration of the suede, no damp sensation, no drops back into the puddle.

Randolf squatted down and put his finger to the liquid. He watched his finger break the surface with no sensation and no reaction. Not cold, not wet, no motion. Nothing. He put his entire hand in. The same: nothing. When he pulled it out, he found it as dry as his shoe. He watched raindrops hit the liquid and just be absorbed without a sound or winkle.

He stood up and dipped his toe in again, shifting it deeper and deeper until his entire ankle was submerged. He brought his other foot round and shuffled it in too. He felt nothing. He moved towards the centre of the puddle and found himself waste deep, but no sloshing sound, no movement. Nothing.

He could still see the reflection. It hadn’t changed or moved. He was inside it now. And then he fell – or at least that was how it felt, his stomach being the only thing to register it. One minute the reflection was around his waist, the next it was up in the sky and he was standing on the cobble stones looking up at it. But it wasn’t a reflection, it was the building.

He turned slowly. All the buildings were intact. There was no rubble. The sky was blue. There was no rain. Then he heard a sound, voices. He watched two people with armfuls of books walk past him to the science library. They were chatting as though all was well. And it was.

Randolf ran back down the street. Everything was unscathed. He continued to run through the centre of town, observing all the people going about their day, walking, talking, eating. Shops were open and doing business. People were living their lives as though there was no threat of war. He saw a newspaper on top of a bin and snatched it up as he passed. The date was correct but nothing about the war. But how could it be?

He ran through town to the other side, into suburbia, into his street, up to his house, to his front door, which an hour ago was buried under rubble. He stood panting at the door, trying to catch his breath before he rang the doorbell. Could they still be here, still be alive?

He pressed the button. He heard the familiar chime. He saw a figure through the frosted glass coming to the door. It opened. He held his breath, and looked into his own face, and his own eyes. 



Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 79

This week's prompt picture is again all over the net and various pinterest accounts globally. A lot comes up in Arabic so it could be from someone in the Middle East, but sadly can't be tracked.

In an attempt for originality I tried to encompass different ideas of what a castaway situation might be caused by. I liked where it ended up. 

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.



Portent

She crawled out onto the beach, having spotted something from the safety of her dark hole. She winced a little in the glare of the rising sun, the first she had seen for a long time – maybe even a year - thanks to the monsoon. At least that’s what she called it. She’d wondered if the constant storms and torrential rain would ever stop or whether that would be it, now until the end of time. She’d survived on the scrapings she’d found in the hole, of left over dead things and insects, plus the leaves from a bush at the entrance; it had remained green throughout the onslaught of weather.

The colour of the item had been enough to bring her out, to pull her emaciated frame over the pebbles down to the shoreline. It was there, resting on a flat stone, bright and friendly, and very pink: a flower head. She wondered how the petals would taste. But when she touched it, she found they were material. It was a fake flower. It explained how it had survived the storms.

She picked it up and fondled it, enjoying the view of something different; a remnant from a time past that had travelled on the waves to reach her remote location. She wondered that there weren’t more objects. What had happened to all the things that people once had? All the objects they coveted and kept around them to feel some sense of ... what? Belonging? Completeness? Existence? Didn’t they all end up in the sea? Isn’t that were all humanities rubbish ended up?

She supposed that maybe they had been swallowed up by all the eruptions and fissures in the earth. Burnt up rather than washed away; incineration cleansing the earth more deeply than mere washing.

Some would say she’d been lucky to survive, but she wasn’t so sure. Her luck had only been in her decision to take a trip in a one man boat, to brave the seas of the southern oceans. Her motives were less than pure with the hope of attention and sponsorship and an income that would provide her with a lifestyle she wanted. But even before she climbed into her little sail boat she had known that the world was undertaking a rapid change, one where the human race risked extinction. It had been the reason she had brought her departure date forward, and stocked her little boat more heavily with supplies.

She hoped for survival and she had been granted that, all be it as a shipwreck victim, or a castaway. But there would be no chance of rescue for her. She didn’t plan any escape. She knew there was nothing left to go back to. She’d heard the end of it all on her little radio before the storms had capsized her. The only hope she had now was that with the return of the sun she could continue her survival, and she chose to believe that the arrival of the flower was an indicator of that – a portent.




Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Review - The Lingering by SJI Holliday

The LingeringThe Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had high expectations for this book. Being a fan of Susi's work, particularly her darker writing, maybe I put too much pressure on this one. As always Susi's writing is exceptional, her use of words, her ability to create suspense and a darkness that draws you in, spinning webs of intrigue and always leaving you wanting - needing - to know more, which drives you on. Coupled with short chapters, told through different points of view, it makes for a fast read, with a story which sets out as a slow burner and then heats right up, running at full speed and you just don't want it to stop until you know everything.

The story follows a couple who join a commune to make a fresh start, although we soon realise there is something they are also trying to get away from, or cover up. There are many suggestions and many threads of plot to follow, and the story is told through two main characters, Ali and Angela.

But the telling for me is where I had trouble. I couldn't decide in the beginning if I didn't like Angela as a character, or whether it was the 1st person aspect coupled with her being a narrator. She told the reader everything, all the time, and I felt this detracted from the book. It stopped me being able to 'see' what was going on. It stopped me being able to experience it, or engage with the characters properly and feel an emotion about them. I was being told by this character who they were, and who the others were all the time. It also overshadowed the more spooky aspects of the novel (and there are plenty), which I felt should have had more reaction from the characters - particularly the ones experiencing them.

There was also a sense of chaos in this book, yet I couldn't decide if it was intentional, because the lead character Ali is in a state of chaos in her head. But the narration of this chaos sort of made it more messy - although maybe that was the intent. I felt the entire novel could have been slowed down and more time taken over it, more of a slow dripping effect - even written as a series.

All the threads were tied, but they were tied exposing everything, nothing was left hanging. In some respects not enough was left 'lingering'.

I enjoyed this book very much, there is a lot here to embrace and soak up, some chilling scenes, expertly written. Maybe I am being too critical, as I am an editor and writer myself, but my favourite of Susi's still remains Willow Walk.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 78

These beautiful objects were made by Lia Griffiths. Not only are they a perfect picture prompt, but a great idea to make. There are instruction on her site.

I changed my mind with what I had planned to write for this prompt. My initial idea had been light. I feel I've moved away from my dark side over this past year, having written more science fiction or dystopian stories, and am going to try and find paths back to it. The struggle is, as always, to find something unique. I like how this one turned out.

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.




Precious Trophy


He picked up one of the fragile paper feathers and caressed its edge. It was almost as soft as her skin had been. He brought it to his nose and inhaled deeply. He could still catch her scent off it. She had made these with such care: cutting them out, shaping them, and then decorating them with the gold spray she’d found in the corner of her room.

He’d forgotten the spray was there. If he’d remembered she might still be with him. He might still be able to touch her and smell her fragrance – a light, citrus fragrance, with an acrid edge. Fear always gave everything an acrid edge. It was a shame.

Few had been as gratifying as her, and now his ability to find others was severely handicapped. Living with one eye made everything difficult, especially hunting for prey. He couldn’t be as swift when snatching them off the street, or able to defend himself when they tried to fight back; it made it easier for them to blindside him. He’d only attempted it once since his injury, and the resultant failure had put him off.

It was a shame she had attempted to escape. He’d planned on keeping her a long time, and although some would stay he still had her, necrophilia was not his thing. He knew others who enjoyed it, but he wasn’t about to share her with anyone – not even in death.   

So besides the grave, all he had left were these little trophies reflecting her beauty and delicate nature. And despite the loss of his eye, leading to the loss of her, he secretly liked that she had left such a physical mark on him. He liked that she’d had spirit.