Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 99

This week's photo prompt - as best as I can ascertain, I believe was created by someone under the name of Georgie69 back in 2008, as it appears on a blog with many other pictures designed around the same picture, but the blog seems not to be in use after 2009.

I seem to have lost track of days this week. I thought it was Tuesday when it's Wednesday, and in my haste to write something, nothing is working, so I've gone with a poem. 


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.



The key

To find the lock
To find the door
To find the key to unlock the door

To know what’s there
On the other side
To enter in
And reside

To see within
And to be within
To revel in
And finally begin

So find the key
And open the door
Fulfill the dream
And discover more. 


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 98

This week's photo is a photo used by many news papers, but was originally taken by photo journalist Elise Amendola of the Associate Press. The story in an article about time zone changes in Seattle, and says this about the photo: "Electric Time Co. employee Walter Rodriguez cleans the face of an 84-inch Wegman clock at the plant in Medfield, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008."

I've tried to think outside the box with this photo. It's ended up in some extreme science fiction. I do like to write this stuff, although it can be tricky working 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.



Holding Pattern


Malik smiled as he passed Henry polishing the clocks on the landing. It was his favourite time (ha, ha, time!) of year when they were brought in for their yearly service. It was also a tense time, with having to keep the world in stasis for the duration. 

Thinking of which, Rafe had requested a meeting with him. He went into his office, the curved wood panelling and bookcases greeting him. He sat down in the leather high back chair at his desk facing the door, picking up a report to read.

When Rafe arrived he came in quietly and sat down opposite Malik in a smaller leather chair. A skinny, mouse of a man, who fitted his Time Analyst job title perfectly, Rafe sat poised waiting for Malik to finish reading. Malik lifted his head and greeted Rafe with a grin. 

“Perfectly punctual as always.”

“Of course.”

“Any hiccups?”

“Nothing major, just some strange occurrences that need resolving.”

Malik arched an eyebrow and took the proffered graph. Their love of detail made it the perfect partnership; Rafe knew exactly what Malik would consider important.

The flat line on the graph depicted the timeline of the stasis holding period, the duration against movement fluctuation, and every hour there was a second jump, like a blip on a screen.

“And we’ve not seen this before?”

“Never.”

“And nothing has changed in the analysis?”

“No.”

“Mmm, odd.” Malik frowned, peering closer at the chart. “Any theories?” 

Malik knew Rafe would have some idea about what was behind it.

“I think it has something to do with the current climatic and political state going on, in that particular world, it’s influencing how time there is running. It’s like an overload.”

“What they are doing is having an impact on how time runs? But yet time is something fabricated and installed, no?”

“Yes, but the energy vibration they are creating – in particular negative energy, is causing it to fluctuate and expand.”

“But they are in stasis, nothing can fluctuate. Are you saying that this negative energy is able to penetrate a stasis field?”

“Potentially. I can’t imagine what else it can be. It’s like they are consuming more than they should, like it is starting to leech into other metaphysical bodies. It’s like they are bulging at the seams with this negative energy.”

“And what do you foresee will happen?”

“Well if you look closely it is escalating at a fraction of a millisecond, so it appears every hour, but each time it’s getting shorter.”

“Like a ticking bomb counting down?” 

“That’s a good analogy.”

“So could they breakthrough the stasis field and start running on their own without our guidance?”
“It’s a possibility, or ...”

“Or?” Malik leaned forward, looking intently at Rafe.

“Or they could implode.”

“Implode?”

“And suck surrounding dimensions in, too.”

“Like a black hole?”

“A very good likeness.”

“Is there anything we can do to stop this?”

“Well I’m fairly certain it won’t come to that during this stasis, but next year will be a risk. Another year running at their current rate could drive it faster. I was wondering if we could install a slower runtime?”

“What, increase the length of a second?”

“That’s right, but they won’t notice. It will give more space to absorb this excess energy.”

“And you are certain it will work?”

“Yes, I’ve calculated to a 99.958 success rate.”

“Should we worry about the negative percent?”

“No, that’s the probability of their behaviour improving over the next year, but the forecasts on that are in the minus.”

Malik knew Rafe’s calculation could be trust it. 

“Okay, so we need to recalibrate before we restart.”

“Yes. Is there enough time?”

Malik flashed a smile at Rafe. “We create it, so of course.”

Rafe gave a high pitched squeak that passed for a laugh. “Of course.”

“I’ll get it in motion.”

Rafe stood, turning to go.

“But Rafe, keep an eye on this world would you, even during runtime? I want to understand this anomaly better. It could be useful.”

“Certainly. I was going to do that anyway.”

“Of course you were; it’s why you’re my right hand man.”

He gave Rafe a broad smile and a wink. Rafe returned it with a slight upturn of the lips - his version of a smile, and left Malik to organise the recalibration. 

Malik started preparing the paperwork. It had been a while since they’d done one of these. This little world was going to prove to be more interesting than he’d thought when they’d taken it on.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 97

This week's picture comes from an artist I have used before (you may remember the dancing tree sprites?) - Igor Zenin, a photographer from Moldova. He calls this one Magic Bubbles. I love this, it has so much depth.

This week marks the official 2 year anniversary of #MidWeekFlash! Wow, two whole years I've been running it! Loved every minute too. Still loving it.

I went sci-fi with this weeks. I mean who wouldn't, and a little philosophical with the whole 'could you imagine' thought process. 

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.



Galaxy Eggs 

Olivia reached out a gloved finger to touch it, but it went straight through as though it wasn’t there, disturbing the world within the tiny apple shaped ball, putting a dent in the swirling clouds within. She imagined what a giant finger poking through the atmosphere of her planet might look like and quickly withdrew it.

The translucent glow they emitted reflected in her visor, making it harder to see anything on this dark planet. The only light came from a nearby galaxy, its centre, although emitting intense light, wasn’t close enough to penetrate this planet.

“What do you think they are?” John’s voice came through the headphones in her helmet.

“I have no idea. I thought they were fruit – they look like fruit – but there are swirling clouds within them, like other worlds.”

“Portals to other sections of the universe?”

“Or the relatively of size: we are giants compared to the microworld within it. Whole universes in one bubble.”

“Wow, deep. But the light is fading and I need you to come back to the ship. Is there any way you can bring one of those with you?”

“They’re not solid. They’re like bubbles you blow as a child, but with no surface tension.”

“Magic bubbles? Have you tried encompassing them in one of the baggies?”

Olivia fumbled in a top pocket and brought out a plastic bag. She endeavoured to surround the ball with it, but it moved right through the plastic.

“Nope, won’t work. It’s like the bubble isn’t really here, or we aren’t. It’s like it exists in another space and time. The plastic has no effect on it. Bizarre.”

“Bizarre, indeed. We’ve got the footage from your helmet camera though, so come back. I don’t want you getting lost.”

“You’re not far.”

“Are you sure, in a planet where things don’t exist on the same plane?”

“Okay, point taken. On the move.”

Olivia had no trouble returning and came through the airlock, shrugging off her space suit. She joined John in the small cockpit as they prepared to depart.

“How many of those magic bubbles do you think there were?” John asked.

“Thousands. The entire forest was full of them.” Olivia locked herself into her seat as they powered up for blast off.

“A forest full of worlds on different planes or dimensions, makes you wonder ...”

“Wonder what? She glanced at John as he flipped a row of switches overhead.

“Well this planet is dark and sits on the fringes of other galaxies. It bears a magical fruit of other worlds. Are we seeing something that could explain the existence of our universe?”

“I don’t follow.” Olivia completed a memorised sequence of switches and the rocket’s fired, lifting them off the ground.

“Could this be the birthplace of the galaxies that surround us? Are those trees pregnant with each new world?”

“Like galaxy eggs, you mean? No big bang theory, but a tree that produces new galaxies or worlds? Wild. But they weren’t solid – or here. They weren’t tangible.”

“Yet your finger disturbed their atmosphere,” John observed.

Olivia paused. “True. But why and how?”

“Ah, and there we have it, the age old questions that human’s have been asking since their existence and not yet answered. It’s why we are here. But maybe there is no answer. Maybe it just is.”

Olivia gave him a long look. “Getting all philosophical now?”

“Come on, that’s got to make you wonder.”

“Yes it does, but I need more solid proof, more evidence.”

John laughed. “Like any good human scientist, conditioned by a society that doesn’t like to think outside the box.”

“Are you mocking me?” Olivia smirked.

“I’m mocking all of us! But sometimes I think we need to stop thinking in rigid lines and consider that there is more we don’t know than we do know. And those things back there produce more questions than we can conceive of. They could be the holy grail of life.” 

“People would never believe it.”

“Of course they won’t, they like to believe an imaginary giant being controls and created everything, because somehow that makes more sense.”

This time Olivia laughed. “And yet, I was that giant being to those worlds. God’s finger just pushed its way through their atmosphere.”

“Exactly. Worlds within worlds.”

Conversation stopped as they prepared to dock on their mothership that was in orbit round this mysterious planet. They’d resume their musings once they were settled back in. 


Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 96

This week's image was made by Four Eyes, an American artist called Bernie from Texas. You can see more of his stuff over on his page on Deviant Art.

I tried to turn this on its head a bit, which made it go dark, but I'm not unhappy with the results.

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.




Captive 

Sitting cross legged, watching the sun set over the ocean, I was grateful for the view if nothing else. I reached out and touched the plate glass. You wouldn’t know it was there if you couldn’t feel it. I traced the glass down to the tiled floor. Just a couple of centimetres away there was sand, but I could only imagine its texture. I didn’t know if I would ever feel it again.

I hoped every day to see someone on the beach, but there was never anyone. But then I had no idea where I was in the world. I could be in any country or on a remote island in any ocean across the globe. I had no recollection of how I got here. One minute I was living my life, next I was here. I used to have my own apartment, a cushy office job, nothing elaborate, but enough to give me a life I was enjoying. And then I woke up to find myself here in this room on a beach.

I’d mind less if I was alone but of course I wasn’t. I was visited. I was here for a reason. And that reason made me grateful for my view. I could get lost in that view and in my head, and I needed to, both during and after.

I looked at the scratches on the floor in front of the glass. I’d been here a little over a year. I had no idea if I would ever get to leave here, but I didn’t think so. I’d stopped crying about it after three months, what was the point?

I was catered for, I wasn’t starved. There were clothes and toiletries for every need I had, and I couldn’t ask for a better view. But I was no victim of stockholm syndrome; I had no clue about the identity of my visitor, no conversation, no relationship. I was purely a vessel - there for functional purposes only. Some days I wish I knew more, other days I was grateful I didn’t.

The tide was coming in. I could see the line of tiny sea foam creep closer and closer. It would never quite reach. It was meditative. Hypnotic. It lulled me into the numbness that was keeping me alive. The sun touched the water. It would be dark soon. I would wait until it was gone then crawl into my bed and let my mind join it on the other side, where I could still live. 

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Review, The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King

The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I began this book thinking I hadn't read it yet. In fact I started an entire re-read of the Dark Tower series to encompass it, only to find that I HAVE read it. I kept thinking things were familiar, and then by the middle of the book began to remember what was coming - but not the end, so I kept going. Funny how the mind does that - forgets what you have read. I put it down to age as well as not spending enough time afterwards thinking about what I have read. I still loved it - and I am still going to continue the re-read of the series, just three more to go.

This is very much a story, within a story, within a story, and that is what makes it so intriguing. Roland is telling the ka-tet a story from his youth, and within that story he is telling a young boy a story his mother told him. All of it feels natural and links in, but coming out of it, I felt a bit like the character's in the film Inception when they came out of each level of a dream, you have to readjust and remember where you are, like you are waking up.

Roland's story to the Ka-tet covers his time as a new gunslinger, when he and one of his companions were sent to a place called Debaria to help a sheriff with a 'skin-man', or shape-changer, who is murdering dozens of people. We discover more about Roland and the story behind his mother's death, and see a more emotional side of him, explaining what drove him to become the hard-faced, emotionally cold gunslinger we (the constant reader) know and love.

The story he tells to the young boy in Debaria, the tale of The Wind Through the Keyhole, enables us to yet again catch a glimpse of the larger Dark Tower story, and the man in black - both Marten Broadcloak and Randall Flagg (who as we know are actually one and the same). In this tale we hear about a boy called Tim Ross, who is sent on a journey by a man called The Covenant Man after a promise that doing so would result in a potion to heal his mother's new blindness.

The thread that is used to draw us in, is also the thread that draws us through both stories - the Starkblast and how billy bumbler's foretell it's arrival.

As with many of Stephen King's stories it is full of magic and fantasy, and character's like Maerlyn the wizard, as well as dark moments of horror and hardship. I found this to be another totally immersive book, the characters and story drawing me in. I could hear Roland's voice the entire way through, as SK uses his dialect in the telling. And no matter how outlandish the story becomes - especially when Tim meets the Tyger - it all seems real in the world he creates.

I love all the Dark Tower books and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys a immersive fantasy. And this particular book can be read as a standalone.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 95

This week's photo prompt is by French photographer/artist Teddy Locquard. He has some fantastic and funny creations over on his website. You should check it out. Or click his name for his twitter feed where he shares stuff too.  

I reflected the picture with this one, went a little surreal - or is that eccentric? You decide. 

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.



Balancing Act

Walter felt he was above all that, and from his perspective he was. But he’d tripped up and it nagged at him. He had to draw a line between what he had done and what was acceptable, especially now it was in print.

Walter had always lived a better life than others, even though many wouldn’t know it. They saw his tatty top hat and boots and took him for a simpleton. It was when he started speaking that heads turned. Words made him eccentric rather than a tramp, a genius rather than a dullard. He could spin them well, into anything he wanted, and it kept him up high.

But some days they knocked him down too, and that was where he was today, on a high wire trying to find his balance.

Raven had joined him, and kept pecking at the paper as though he knew the upset they were causing and wanted to draw him away. It was hard; the words were there, in black and white and couldn’t be ignored. 

“Eccentric Billionaire Suspect in Eliza Hawcroft’s Murder

“Not To Be Trusted Sources Say”

“Current Whereabouts Unknown” 

He shook the newspaper out again as though it might rearrange the letters, but they didn’t change.

‘What a to-do, what a to-do.’

‘You’re not an owl, Raven, stop staying that.’

‘But they’ve bested you.’

‘Not yet they haven’t, not yet. Words will win the day.’

‘But what about actions?’

‘We can’t live in regret, we have to move forward.’

‘Would Eliza agree?’

Walter whipped the paper back and eyed the bird, who responded the same.

‘We can’t presume what the dead might have thought; only the living know their own minds.’

‘Too true. Too true.’

‘There’s that owl again.’

‘Sorry. But you will have to speak to them.’

‘Who?’

‘And you call me an owl!’

‘Damn, bird. To whom do you refer?’

‘Them.’ Raven pecked the paper.

Walter snorted. ‘They will have to find me first.’

‘But you said words will win the day?’

‘Yes, when they are required. In the meantime, they are not.’

‘But you will have to go home eventually.’

‘Arh, but to what home? Being that I am an eccentric billionaire I have many.’

‘But you are not a billionaire.’

‘But they don’t know that. So they won’t know what home I will be at.’

Raven remained silent.

‘Stumped you now, have I?’

‘You speak in riddles.’

‘Like the rest of them. It’s riddles that keep us alive. All the big questions contain them: what is the meaning of life? What causes a man to commit murder? Why are women and men so different? And why does blood always look more when spilled? Many a rabbit hole in that lot that will keep you talking in circles.’

‘Did her blood look more when spilled?’

‘It covered the entire floor.’

‘Ha! Tripped on the first question!’

Walter checked one side of the bird and then the other.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Looking for your warrant and badge. I see there is none.’

‘I am not a policeman. I keep the secrets of man.’

‘My point exactly.’

‘So where do we go from here.’

‘I fear the answer is down.’

They both looked at the rooftops beneath them. Walter knew Raven was right. He had to return home and there they would be waiting for him. What a to-do indeed.