Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 151

This week's picture took a bit of tracking down because the info on many of the postings seem incorrect - well they have the sculptors name right but claim it won an award in 2011. So I contacted the museum that seemed to be quoted with it, and got this info:

The HORNET sculpture is on the facade of the Museum of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo.

It is the work of Gabrovo-based artist GEORGI BALABANOV (b. 1970). The sculpture is made of chrome and nickel, and was installed on 5 August 2013 under the project Gabrovo - New Urban Culture Industry , implemented by Gabrovo Municipality.

As to the year 2011, that year Georgi Balabanov' s work Tale about the Ladder was awarded the Golden Aesop Grand Prix of the 20th International Biennial of Humour and Satire in the Arts held by the Museum of Humour and Satire since 1973.

I haven't been able to get a website address for the artist though, or track them online, which is a shame, but at least we know what it is - and where, if you wish to go and see it.

It's important to me to credit pictures correctly, so I always try my best. It can take many hours at times too, and a lot of clicking and google translating. Sometimes images have been sold to companies to be used as online wallpaper, and then I rarely managed to find the original creator.

This week I've gone back to my horror roots, so a bit gory. Get ready!

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.



Hornets Nest


Travis sat upright in bed. “What was that?”

His wife mumbled something next to him, but he couldn’t hear over an extremely loud whirring sound coming from outside. It sounded like a chainsaw. Surely, Shonty wasn’t up and about in her workshop at this time of night? He knew she got inspired at odd times, but usually she was considerate of her neighbours during the night.

He swung his legs out of the bed and pushed his feet into slippers, grabbing a large stick he kept under the bed in case of intruders. The noise was such that creeping down the stairs wasn’t necessary. He looked out of the glass panel by the front door and could see sparks shooting out of the wall of his garage.

When he went out to see what was going on, two of his neighbours, Jeb and Frankie, were coming up the street. Jeb had pulled trousers on, but Frankie was only in boxers and boots, a rifle in hand.

“What the bloody hell is it, Travis?”  

“I’m not sure, Jeb.”

They approached the garage.

“You got no light up there?”

“I have, but whatever that thing is, it’s shorted it out. Hang on.”

Travis went back in the house and returned with a torch. He shone it up at where the metallic buzzing was coming from. They could see what looked like the back end of a bug. Its wings were flapping, creating most of the noise, and sparks sprayed out from the head end which was jammed into the brickwork. There was what looked like a stinger on the butt end, and it spun round and round, whirring.

“Is that thing metal?” asked Frankie.

“Looks like,” said Jeb.

“Where in heck has it come from? It looks like a Hornet,” said Travis. “That stinger’s nasty. Is this someone’s project?”

“Shonty, maybe?” Jeb suggested.

They turned to look at her house, but there were no lights on; she was either asleep or not home.   

“I don’t think so. She’d be out here apologising if it was.” Travis poked it with his stick. The buzzing increased but it was stuck fast.

“Should we try to get it out?” Frankie said, pushing it with the butt of his rifle.

“Looks dangerous; I wouldn’t want to see it flying around,” Jeb observed.

“Yeah, definitely dangerous, but we need to shut it up.” Travis hit it harder with his stick, but it did nothing to reduce the sound.

“It’s mechanical, it’s gotta be someone’s toy,” said Frankie. “Jackson knows about these things, he’s all technical. Shall I go knock him up?”

“Maybe. If it wasn’t so darn noisy, I’d leave it ‘til morning,” Travis said.

Frankie walked off in the direction of Jackson’s place, and Travis continued to prod it. Then they heard a scream, so high it made Travis’ toes tingle. He spun the torch round, and they scanned the lawn behind them. Frankie lay sprawled on the grass, a bloody hole right through his chest.

“Shit!” Jeb said. “What the fuck did that?”

“There must be another one.” Travis waved the torch round, cursing that the residence had decided to reduce street lighting in this usually safe neighbourhood. He couldn’t see anything, but was sure the sound of whirring was louder.

Then he heard Jeb yell, and saw another one sliced through his neck with its stinger. Blood gushed out, and Jeb reached for Travis, but he stepped back, letting Jeb fall and held up his stick ready as the bug returned.

He took a swing and hit it on the side. It went off course, but it was heavy and Travis knew that if he didn’t incapacitate it, he’d be its next victim. Two more strikes and he managed to disable it by bending one of its wings. It crash landed by the front door, the buzzing reverberating off the glass. He took a breath, admiring the result of his handiwork, but that was a mistake.

Another one struck him in the back, sending him flying across the driveway and skidding to a halt under the one wedged in the wall. He tried to get up, but it hit him again, slicing him across the back with its stinger as it turned. He yelled out, but it was short lived, as the bug returned again and again, repeating the attack until Travis was flayed open and dying. As consciousness faded he heard his wife call from the house. Too weak to warn her, he knew he’d be seeing her shortly on the other side of death.


Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 150

This week's picture prompt is of the bronze sculpture of King Arthur which stands on top of the Tintagel Cliffs in Cornwall, UK. It was made by sculptor, Rubin Eynon, and there's some interesting angles and pics of how it was made on his website.  

This particular image has been taken by Chris Smith, from the UK, who shared it on his page on Flickr.

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.




Last Stand

He was ragged and worn, but he stood strong. He wasn’t one to give up easily, he hadn’t at Camlann, and he wouldn’t now. From his vantage point on the cliff he could see the whole of his retinue: the tent tops, the open fires, the injured. They might be having a respite to regroup and bury their dead, but they weren’t done yet. He could still hear laughter and singing.

He glanced up at the horizon, at the sun setting into the ocean, giving off its light as though refusing to give in. They would rise again, as it would, but for how much longer?

“Your Majesty, Karl Duggen has arrived for the meet.”

Arthur turned, and smiled at his aide. “Good. I’ll be there forthwith.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” His aide retreated.

“Oh, and John-Arran?”

“Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Don’t forget to alert Humphries and Pathanridge, I want them there too.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” He turned and rushed off down the hill.

Arthur paused, taking one last breath of the sea air. He thought of home and his beautiful wife, Guinevere. How he longed to be in her arms, and he hoped he would again this side of death. This meeting would be the decider. With that thought in mind, he made his way down.

When he joined Humphries and Panthanridge, along with his aide, in the large pavilion Arthur called home, Duggen and his entourage were not there.

“Where is he?”

“Freshening up, Your Majesty,” said his aide.

“He’s had plenty of time for that, what’s he really up to?”

“He was spotted talking to some of the troops, Your Majesty,” said Humphries.

“Go and escort him here, this minute!” Arthur bellowed.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Humphries and Panthanridge rushed out of the tent.

“Ridiculous! Making me wait. Who does he think he is?”

A few minutes later a small, unobtrusive man in a long robe, flanked by Humphries and Panthanridge, appeared at the entrance to the pavilion. Behind them three more robed men remained outside.

“Finally,” said Arthur, stepping forward to receive a bow from Duggen. “Where have you been?”

“Apologies for my delay, Your Majesty, but I thought it prudent to get the sense of the battlefield mindset.”

“The what?” Arthur hated Duggen’s simpering tone and slimy grin; trusting this man was like trying to hold an eel fresh out of the water, but he had a canny ability to know the next step in a battle.

“Battlefield mindset – it means what state of mind the soldiers are in: hopeful or not, and whether still keen to fight for their King.”

“And?” Arthur lifted an eyebrow.

“They’ve never been keener. It seems the last skirmish left them eager for retaliation.”

“Good.” Arthur smiled. “And what else can you share that might aid our next step?”

“You may feel you’re not in a good position, in this corner with the sea at your back, but you have the upper hand.”

“Really?” Arthur was keen to know more. “Our enemies don’t?”

“No, they don’t. They don’t see what is coming at their backs, they assume the advantage.”

“And what is coming at their backs?”

“Your are, Your Majesty, if you are so inclined to be.”

“Preposterous!” Humphries said.

“Shh, Humphries, let the man speak.” Arthur waved him into silence. “And how can we get at their back?”

“What do you see behind you, King Arthur?”

Arthur frowned. “Water, water’s behind me.”

“Then take to it.”

“Take to it? But we have no ship!”

“Do you need one?” Duggen’s eyes glinted.

“What are you getting at man? Out with it!” Arthur hated being led.

“You understand the sea, yes? The ebb and flow. What happens at low ebb?

King Arthur and his men looked at each other, puzzled. “More beach?”

“Exactly! Along with a path round the headland. It’s narrow, but it’s enough for a single file of men. It only lasts an hour or two, but it will get them to the next bay.”

“Good Lord!” exclaimed Arthur. “We had no idea! Thank you Karl Duggan, we are in your debt!”

This time Arthur bowed first, staying down until Duggan exited the tent.

“Ready the men for the next ebb, Humphries, and Panthanridge? Go with Duggan to find out where it will appear.” Both men ran out to complete their tasks.

Arthur picked up a goblet and raised it. “We might just win the day, John-Arran.” He took a swig. “We might just manage to see home again.”





Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 149

This week's photo is by photographer Juuso Hämäläinen. He took this in one of my dream location to visit, The Raja Ampat Islands (off New Guinea). I love the contrast in this photo. He takes some stunning photos and you can buy prints of his work here

An emotional tale this week, sort of a little bit about how to cope with the outside world, especially at the moment, as well as how to find your own inner calm. It's what the image made me think of straight away.

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.




Self Reflection

She had a dream that one day she would go to a tropical island and stay there forever. She imagined the warm sun, the white sand beaches and the palm trees swaying in the breeze. She imagined feeling free and unencumbered, not responsible for anyone but herself, able to go where she wanted, when she wanted, without having an obligation to fulfil, or someone to look after.

But when she finally cut all ties and arrived there, the sun wasn’t shining, there was a gale blowing across the island, driving rain; it was storm season. Everything was washed out and bleak, just like her reflection. It felt desolate, joyless, and empty, but that was nothing new for her, so she did as she had always done: she made the best of it.

Being the tropics it was still hot, and the sea was warm, so every day she donned her snorkel and swam out into the ocean. Under the surface all was calm, all was collected, and all was quiet. And the deeper she dived the more it permeated; the harmonious underwater life going on as though nothing was awry. The fish knew that the storm would pass, and although it might increase a few currents for a time, and some areas were best avoided, all was tranquil.

This newfound tranquillity was infectious, and she meditated on it as she swam out further and further to see more of what lay beneath – and not just beneath the water, but beneath her own surface, inside herself, inside her soul.

Soon the sun began to break through from time to time, lighting up the ocean floor and exposing its true glory and rainbow of colours and life. And then the winds died down and the rain stopped. The sand dried out, and she was able to lie on the beach and revel in the sun. But she was no longer dependent on it to brighten her up, her weeks of snorkelling had kindled her own inner light; by the time all was bright outside, she was shining within. She knew now that no matter what was going on externally, nothing could shake her calm within.  



Review: A Compendium of Characters by Mason Bushell - Due out 18th of Marach


I recently had the privilege of editing this new release from Mason Bushell.  It's a collection of 31 short stories across multiple genres. Many sit in the magical fantasy or ghost realm and encompass themes of mystery, suspense, paranormal - some quite dark - sci-fi, romance, and even space pirates!

Mason has a distinct style of writing which is light and easy to read. He knows how to build a story to create suspense and cliff hangers, and can create dark scary tension too. He creates engaging characters with depth and skilfully includes humour in dialogue. His descriptive abilities are often detailed in such a way that you wonder if he has professional knowledge of the subject, whether writing science fiction, architecture or tales-at-sea, and he does it without info dumping or showing off; it simply adds to the story and characters. 

This collection is an eclectic mix of light-hearted, sometimes thought provoking and heart wrenching tales. There really is something for everyone. 

It's difficult for me to pick favourites out of such an array, but there were many I liked: from the opening story Ancient Aliens, to Spirits in the Woods, Harka's Quest, The Door, Murder Tower, Buttercup Lily and the final tale, The Flying Dump (Sorry, The Sparrow)- sci-fi with space pirates, what's not to love!

It's available for pre-order on Amazon here, and there will also be a paperback edition available too. 

A Blogtour kicks off on the release on the 18th of March and runs for a whole month, and includes a giveaway. If you are interested in taking part in either the tour or the giveaway you can get more information on Mason's website. Or follow him on twitter (click the link on his name above).


Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 148

This week's photo is from Christopher Marr, a Scottish photographer.   He shared this on twitter on 21st of September 2019 and said "I have so many questions ... I found this bench in the middle of some woods I was visiting for the first time. No paths or walkways, literally stumbled across it perfect".

It is indeed. I wonder what story might be behind it ... 

Again, Tricky is talking in my ear and this is one of her tales. And with each short piece, the larger picture appears. There'll be a book coming soon. 

(and for my own reference, here's a link through to the previous ones - linked on Week 138 - and the last one which was Week 146)

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.





Unearthed

It took a while for her to locate it, but she knew it was there – had been for centuries. And she was right, the forest had absorbed it. The trees saw the bench as one of their own; they might not be able to bring it back to life, but they could spread life over it.

The moss had done its magic and covered it in a velvet green blanket, making it more elusive. On closer inspection, Tricky was pleased to find the species of moss she was hoping for. This particular kind had carnivorous tendencies, which meant the bench had seen more than just backsides over the years, it had seen blood. And she was confident it was the blood of the man she had disposed of on John Thatcher’s behalf a decade ago. She needed his blood because she needed answers.

Tricky had hit a dead-end. She knew Carter had been in possession of the item she wanted – he’d taken it from her after all, even though he had feigned ignorance when he’d been alive. And although she had thought it sold on, she had come up empty handed when she had tracked its movements. Someone had double backed somewhere and she needed to know who. And she planned for him to tell her.

She got down on her knees in front of the bench and started scraping at the thicker spots of moss. They liked to hoard round the bigger blood spots. As she tipped them into the pot a pattern emerged on the wood, a sprayed effect and then a large area as though something had landed. If a limb had landed on here there had to be more remnants, maybe even a bone. Oh she’d be a lucky Tricky to find a whole bone. She’d be able to do the ceremony much more quickly and efficiently.

She scrabbled about in the earth under and around the bench and came up with many bones, but none of them human. She paused for a moment and listened. The trees knew and they were trying to tell her. She felt green energy rise in her body and tingle.

She stood, her eyes scanning the area as she let energy pour out of her. It accumulated round the base of a tree behind the bench. She stepped over to it; there was a small mound next to the trunk. She knelt down and pushed at it; it shifted easily enough and came away in her hand. She scraped away the mud and forest debris and let out a rasping laugh.

‘Oh my pretty, I’ve found you.’

She’d hoped for a piece of bone from one of the extremities, or maybe a rib, but with the forest on her side she’d hit the jackpot: this was a skull – Carter’s skull, she could feel it. And it was ready to talk.

She stuffed it into the hessian bag she’d brought and got back onto her feet. She laughed again as she spun in a circle, pouring out her deepest, highest golden energy as thanks to the trees, making everything glow around her. And then she was off. She didn’t have time to waste. The sooner she got him talking again, the sooner she would get the answers and be back on the trail of her beloved stolen treasure.  



Monday, 9 March 2020

Review: In Pieces, by Sally Field

In PiecesIn Pieces by Sally Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've loved Sally Field ever since I saw the film Sybil, about someone with DID (Dissociative Identify Disorder), which was an intense film. And I still remember the expression on her face and noise she would make when the character changed personalities. I also adored her portrayal of a Manic Depressive mother in ER and then the head of the family in Brothers and Sister. When I saw she had a memoir out I snatched it up and I wasn't disappointed.

Like many of her characters, it conveyed someone who was tangled and complicated, but was expressed with such depth and emotion that the reader is swept away. I found myself living vicariously through her words, feeling and imagining her life as she grew up in a less than glamorous showbiz world, constantly moving, constantly changing, constantly experiencing harsh (abusive) realities of life.

Sally goes into detail about her acting career depicting the true world behind the scenes of Hollywood TV shows and films. I adored the glimpse into the Actor's Studio, and how they worked with each other having watched the series and myself having studied drama. It was like revisiting a piece of my own life - and heart - and I got lost in the description of what it was like to take on another character and the practise involved, although in a far more professional sense and setting.

I also loved her openness about her relationships, both good and bad, and wasn't really surprised about Burt Reynolds. I was sad that her second marriage was skipped over, but understood that really the book was an ode to her mother and in fact motherhood, as it traversed her own as well the progression of herself as a person, while juggling so many things in her life.

I felt the memoir really gave me a sense of who Sally Field is, and I was grateful for her candid openness.

If you enjoy her as an actress I would definitely recommend this book.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 147

This week's picture prompt is by Andrew Ferez, a Russian artist illustrator. He calls this one Violinist. You can check out more of his art on his Deviant Art page where he is 25karitnok.

This week's tale is a small and abstract, less story more dream, but it's what I see when I look at the picture. 

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.



Joining an orchestra

She was going to play to her own tune. She didn’t care what others thought, she could make her own beautiful music.

It was this decision that made her step away, and break off from the rest of society – a society that had already started to disconnect and separate itself from each other with the advent of technology.

With the wind in her skirt and a pack on her back, she stepped away from the busy world and sought out the empty places; places she could hear and listen to her soul to know what she truly wanted and needed. On the journey she met others that had made similar choices to her and together they wove their own network, a community of sorts, but spanning more than just one place as they travelled around.

Before she knew it she was up on cloud nine riding high, feeling more connected than she had ever done: feeling her existence, her life, her body and most of all love. Not romantic but the shared kind that came from being around people who were kindred spirits and understood you on a deep level; the kind of people you could talk to on any subject with no judgement and who listened with their hearts not their minds. It made her heart open and it’s how she wanted to stay forever.

And forever it became as she created a keystone: buying land and building a retreat. It became the centre of their web (a physical one rather than an electronically produced one), somewhere for people to come and rejuvenate and connect again with what was true for their soul.

She might have started out with the intention of disconnecting, but it led to a more profound connection to herself and others, and enabled her to create an opportunity for others to experience the same. Her sole violin joined an orchestra of others.