Wednesday 26 June 2013

Visual Dare 26 - Engraved

Having missed last week's, I'm going to be hot off the press with this week's Visual Dare and one of the first to enter for a change.

It came to us all, didn’t it? We’d all reach that point, well unless we were taken early, otherwise it was our future; the story of our lives engraved in our faces - although hopefully not as deeply as this mans.

Miranda stood on the underground platform and stared at the enormous billboard of his face. Although she found it repugnant she was drawn to it, fascinated by it. How old was he? Was this simply from spending too much time in the sun? Was it in his genes? Was it a cultural thing? She pondered it all as she stood there, thinking about her own mortality. Then the air whipped up around her indicating the tube was about to arrive and the poster was obscured from view. But it stayed in her mind, making her think about her own aging process, grateful that it was not as blatantly visible.  

150 Words

Five Sentence Fiction - Blades

  Lillie McFerrin Writes
Lillie McFerrin's Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt - 'Blades'

She could still see the blade out of the corner of her eye lying in the grass, with her blood on it. She could feel the rest of her blood rushing from her. Her hand squeezed her stomach in an attempt to stop it, but that attempt was getting weaker and weaker. She could feel the vibration of his footsteps fade through the soft turf as he rushed away. Was he going for help, or was he going to hide?

Saturday 22 June 2013

Kindred - MWBB

Still going strong with my Mid-Week Blues-Buster competition entries - got a 2nd place this week!

The sound prompt this week was very 'ethnic/new age travaller' for my taste, but on a second listening a story appeared. I looked for the dark turn but none came, and I came out with something far more romantic than I would usually produce...but I like it!

The prompt was a song:
  “Tinta” by Faun
Ruth pushed open the cabin door, inhaling the scent of the thick foliage and fresh wood that surrounded it. It had been too long.

She walked in and found it untouched. Her heart sank.

She traced her finger along the rough wooden kitchen table and thought about the last time they had used it. She climbed the ladder up to the eves where their bed lay. She looked at it, still pristine, not a crease in it. He hadn’t been here.

She sighed, but made her way back down the ladder and brought in her bag, putting it on the table and unpacked its tiny contents into the single kitchen cupboard. It wouldn’t be long before she could use them.

Ruth busied herself with preparing the hearth and a fire for the evening. Dusk wouldn’t be long, and then she could get to work. She only allowed the questions to surface at the edge of her thoughts, not letting them in fully. There were a millions reasons why he might not be back, and he could be on his way. She refused to acknowledge any of her nagging doubts. She would help him soon enough.

She also refused to chide herself for not having returned sooner. Things had to be arranged. She wanted this to go right; she wouldn’t risk him being taken again.  

Dusk fell and she took a stool outside so she could listen. It took a while, but soon she heard it, and smiled to herself. She went inside to fetch her tools.

As she brought out the array of objects she could feel it coming closer, and the sound increase. Her heart was light and totally open, as it should be.

Then more solid sounds were audible, in particular footfalls, or were they hoof falls? She wasn’t quite sure, but it didn’t matter.

The crashing and breaking of foliage moved closer until an outline appeared in the dark.

She was right, she had heard both. He stepped out into the clearing, leading his horse.

He stopped when he saw her, and then swept the helmet off his head as though it blocked his view.

“My lady, you have returned!”

Ruth smiled, wanting to step forward, but knew better of it. “I have.”

“And you reached me.”

“I did.”

He bowed low. She curtsied in response.

“I will come.” When he stood there was a new light in his eyes.


“Can you wait?”

“For eternity.”

He smiled. “It won’t be that long I promise.”

“Are you far?”

He looked back over his shoulder, seeing what she could not. “No, my lady, not in distance.”

“I will aid you.”

He remained silent, but his eyes told her all she needed to know. Again she resisted the urge to run to him, knowing he wasn’t really there.

He faltered as he spoke. “I must go.”

“I know.”

He started to turn, heading back into the woods. She watched him go. He glanced at her one last time, his eyes bright and smiling. It wouldn’t be long, they could both feel it.

Ruth remained outside picking up each object and delivering its incantation, until the chill bit into her. Then she moved in by the fire and continued until the embers burned so low she could barely see. Eventually she climbed the steps up to the bed and fell into a dreamless sleep, exhausted by her efforts.

She didn’t hear the creak of the cabin door, or the soft footsteps on the ladder. But she knew the arm that fell across her as a body shuffled up against her, and the scent that made her smile in her dream. They were well met at long last; there would be no more interference. 

Flash Flood Entry - Echo of a Whistle


National Flash Fiction Day is held in the UK and around the world on June 22nd 2013.

Various events and competitions take place in the run up to it, and on the day loads of flash pieces by various authors are put up on a variety of sites. One of them is the Flash Flood Journal.

Writers submit their pieces of flash in the weeks prior and wait to see if their piece is accepted. Last year my piece wasn't, but this year it was!

So I am over the moon to add this to my list of publishing successes!

Read my entry 'Echo of a Whistle' here.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

SJIBFS Flash Fiction competition entry

To celebrate this year’s National Flash Fiction Day 2013, a friend of mine, Susi Holliday collaborated with The British Fantasy Society (BFS) to create the very first SJIBFS Flash Fiction competition.

I wrote a piece for it, and was lucky enough to get Longlisted (down to the last 20). 

This was the photo that inspired me. 

Everyone said it couldn’t happen, they said, ‘We’ll be fine’, living in their ignorance as they always did with their blinkers on. Annihilate other species, destroy the environment; ‘It’ll be fine, we’ll find a way, someone will save the day. It’s not that bad, is it?’

And even when the fires started no one thought much of it. ‘We’ve had bush fires before, we can manage them, it won’t be a problem, you’ll see. The weather will change, the drought will break, and it’ll be over soon.’ And even when people started dying and homes were ravaged, and everyone thought it was awful, they still went about their day-to-day business.

But then the fires started to get bigger, started to spread into the nice neighbourhoods, burn down the well-to-do homes and that’s when it started to hit the news. And slowly every day people started tuning in, panic started rising, the rush started.

The weather didn’t break and they spread to the cities, and cropped up in places in the world that hadn’t experienced them before. Things started to get out of hand. People started to get out of hand.

Jonas looked up into the night sky. He could just make it out on the horizon, a faint dusty ball of light. It seemed incredible and ironic to Jonas that at this distance it could still be a threat, but that’s what they said.

He was lucky; he’d been one of the lucky ones to know the right people; to already be involved with the right organisations and have the right credentials to be part of the crew. He looked back at the bubble they were now living in through the visor of his Space helmet, and although it wasn’t much, he couldn’t be more grateful for its existence.

Prior to the fires the public had been so obsessed with celebrity, with social media and talking politics and religion, they hadn’t been aware of what had been going on in Space. Space travel was considered ‘passé’, so ‘last decade’. Life had been all about technology, the miniature electronic kind; Smartphones, Tablets, iPods, MP3 players, all about accessing, creating and sharing content on the Internet, and getting whatever they could for free. They weren’t listening to, or watching what was going on in Space.

And when the fires had started to get out of control the decision had been made to take it out of the public forum, to pull it back from the public eye and move it into the secrecy zone. And thanks to the distractions no one seemed to notice.

Life on Mars wasn’t as lively as the TV show, but it was certainly better than no life at all. Jonas just hoped they were wrong and that the burning ball that was once their home wasn’t going to lose its orbit and swing their way. 

Visual Dare 24 - Mastermind

This week's Visual Dare had the most intriguing photo and prompt.


He watched them move around, like ants on an ant farm, rushing here and there, going about their business; doing all those things they thought they should be doing. He particularly liked it when they checked their watches; it made him smile.

He’d done his job well, bringing structure and conformity, giving purpose and urgency to their tiny insignificant lives. If only they knew how futile it was, how they bound themselves to a concept, created by nothing more than a mastermind.

A few of them had understood the idea, that Time was nothing but a construct, but by then it was too late, they couldn’t think without it, or live outside it, they couldn’t break free. It had become the very foundation of their existence, fed to them the second they arrived, down to the time they were born. He could only pity them. 

145 Words

Monday 17 June 2013

Pearlies - MWBB

And again, I won 3rd place for this weeks Mid-Week Blues-Buster competition. And I was a little unsure of this piece and whether it worked - although I really enjoyed the song!

The prompt was a song:
  “Rag and Bone” by The White Stripes

They settled their sleeping bags outside the store in the early hours. Unfortunately they weren’t the first. Mitsy didn’t like that at all; she dished out filthy looks left, right and centre. She wasn’t going to make friends with these people, tomorrow she would be fighting with them.

They managed to get a place up against the wall. Silvia had squeezed her way in and spread herself out to make room for Mitsy to join her.

“I’m not ‘appy about this Silv, there’s too many of ‘em.”

“It’ll be good Mits, you’ll see.”

Mitsey pulled a face, unconvinced. Silvia pulled out the flask of coffee, and they took turns taking swigs from the little plastic cup. There was no way they were going to sleep, they wanted to be up and ready for those doors to open.

And they were, along with elbows flying, oblivious of the shrieks of outrage from the other women waiting. They were going to be bloody first and that was the end of it.

Silvia rushed to one of the bigger tables, the high piled jumble of glitter and sequins working it’s magic on her and drawing her in. She grabbed at handfuls of them trying to look at them all before anyone else got their hands on them.

Mitsy was on the other side and had already got into a fight with one of the other battle axes, insisting that she had it first. She didn’t even know if it was her size, but that wasn’t the point.

That was when he jumped up on the table and boomed down the megaphone at her to stop!

Mitsy leapt back in terror, releasing the garment.

He was a long thin man, dressed in a pearly suit that glistened off the overhead strip lights. And the top hat lent a quirky, jaunty look that seemed disturbing to her somehow. He kept his eyes on her; tiny dark brown, deep set things that gave her the shivers.

She rushed round to Silvia and tugged at her arm.

“Let’s leave it shall we?”

“What? You’ve gotta be kidding, ain’t ya? No way, I’m just getting started.”

“He’s giving me the willies he is, I wanna to go.”

“Who is?”

“ ‘im up there!” She jabbed her finger upwards, trying not to be seen, but his eyes hadn’t left her.

Silvia looked round, and frowned at Mitsy. “No clue who you’re talking about; there’s no blokes ‘ere.”

“Don’t be funny Silv! The pearlie on the table, with the megaphone.”

Silvia took a side glance at the table, then at Mitsy.

“You ‘avin one your turns again love? There’s nobody there.”

Mitsy froze. Silvia lowered the garment she was holding up, and gave Mitsy a sympathetic look.

“It’s always pearlies int it love?”

Mitsy’s eyes started to well up and Silvia quickly put her arm round her, pulling her in. Then she whispered, “Has he gone yet?”

Mitsy nodded, and croaked, “Why does he always do it Silv? Send them. Why don’t he just leave me alone?”

“He don’t like it Mits, never did. He hated you hunting for bargains, always thought yous were better than that.”

Mitsy gave a small laugh. “Bit of a joke seeing as he was the rag and bone man!”

Silvia giggled too. “Yeah he was a funny man, your Bill, miss him.”

“Me too.” Mitsy was sniffling into her hanky. Silvia chucked down the clothes she had in her hands.

“Come on love, let’s go down the High Street for a cuppa. There’s not much here anyway.”

Mitsy nodded as they started to push their way out again.

Five Sentence Fiction - Home

  Lillie McFerrin Writes
Lillie McFerrin's Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt - 'Home'

They’d forgotten how long they’d been here; they’d stopped trying to count years ago as neither of them was any good at it, they’d been dumped here too young to have learnt properly.

They never left each others side and walked hand in hand at every opportunity. It had started as a need for reassurance, but now they didn’t know any different. They were everything to each other, but then there was no one else on this tiny island.

There was no desire to go home, this was home, and they would hide from any ships that came too close. 

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Visual Dare 23 - Ornate

 As always the Visual Dare prompt threw up something interesting, and took me to a different place.


The Illusionist 

He tapped his fingers on the table and they all fell silent. He stood up, stepping on to his chair and then the table. They all looked up at him; all the local politicians and police chiefs. He had them in the palm of his hand.

He opened his arms, facing the decorative façade of what was once an Alter.

“You are gathered here today, to bear witness to the greatest illusion yet, that of group displacement.”

A few faces looked puzzled, but all remained upturned.

He started humming and drew out his pocket watch, letting it swing from his hand. The light from the stain glass window hit it just right, just as he’d practised. Soon they were all glass-eyed. 

When he snapped his fingers they came too, finding themselves in the dungeon. Now he had them exactly where he wanted them, under lock and key. It was playtime!

150 Words

Monday 10 June 2013

The Deal - MWBB

It seems this is becoming a regular thing, as I have yet again managed to earn a 2nd place for my entry to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster competition.

I do love the whole sound prompt thing though, and I particularly liked the song this week. It really worked for me. 

The prompt was a song:
  “Short Change Hero” by The Heavy

Josie nodded and smiled and picked up another tray of champagne to offer the guests. She slid through the suits and gave them her glazed eyed smile, just repeating the same thing over and over in her head ‘Not much longer, you can do it’.

When she got off it was late. The client offered to call her a cab, but she politely declined. She told them it was just a short walk and she would be fine.

She loved the city at this time of night; it glistened in the darkness. The streetlights reflected the recent summer storm; the air moist and hugging her close. Many wouldn’t feel safe, but she did. She had found her place here, living amongst the millions of other anonymous people. It was only the work that sucked.

She hated having to do anything, but money was a necessity and she was lucky to have found regular work. She reminded herself of that as she passed those huddled in doorways.

But she also thought about the looks on some of those suits faces as they had looked at her - or more correctly at her body. She shuddered as she walked. It was all they really wanted, to touch her body, and on occasion she had to let them.

Josie didn’t like to think about it too much, but after a night like tonight she knew she would get a call. She could say no, but then she thought about the wad of cash that would be handed to her at the end, and it was too tempting. It wouldn’t be long now before she would have enough to retire.

Jack had got her into it, telling her she could do more than just play hostess at business functions. And it was always him who called with a request, having vetted the clients first. And she would do it too - for him, and he knew why. The thought made her smile as she turned her face up to greet the light drizzle that had started. It was their own personal deal.

And she was right; the next day there was a message on her phone. Just a time and a place, she didn’t need to know more. And when she turned up there were three of them waiting.

The suite was luxurious and they allowed her to experience it as they wanted to treat her just right. They were respectful and gentle, even bathing her too. She was able to try out all the rooms, looking at them from all angles. They’d also left out the money on the ornate coffee table, which gave her something to focus on when she needed to. When they were done she left feeling more liberated than normal, and this time caught a cab home, thumbing the bundle of cash in her pocket as she went. Now it was Jack’s turn.

Josie found another message on her phone when she arrived home, telling her to block out the weekend, and she did so with a big smile.

He was waiting outside her apartment on Friday. The top down on his brand new red Mustang convertible – something he’d treated himself to as business was doing well. She climbed in looking forward to the weekend as he handed her the rings he kept in the safety deposit box.

It was just a couple of hours drive away, but it was like leaving one world and entering another. Whenever he took her home she was treated like one of the family, and for the weekend she was – the daughter-in-law, the sister-in-law, his wife. Having spent her childhood alone moving from one sleazy foster home to the next, never really belonging anywhere, this was the closest she’d ever been, and she lapped it up, embracing the fantasy.

And Jack played his part too as the dutiful husband - in every way. Sometimes she wondered how much longer she could do this, and sometimes she caught a glimpse in his eye on the way home that said the same. But for the time being it worked for them and they enjoyed the deal as it was. 

Daily Picspiration - No.3 - Catalyst

Yesterday my third Daily Picspiration entry went up.

The photo prompts are really helping the series develop.

You can read 'Catalyst' here.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

NFFD - Somebody to Die For

For the National Flash Fiction Day on June 22nd 2013, several competitions are run, and you can also submit a piece for an anthology called Jawbreakers.

I submitted a piece for the anthology, and although I wasn't successful (they picked just 50 out of 300 entries), I liked my little piece.

Title: Somebody to Die for

She squashed herself into the corner under the bridge trying to make herself as invisible as possible. She shut her eyes against the dank surroundings and the others sitting there in their dirty clothing. The smell of despair was all over them, mixed with the reek of desperation.

She slipped her ear phones out of the hidden pocket inside her jacket. She didn’t want anyone seeing them; they might snatch them off her. She pressed the button on the tiny disc play and let the music take her. If she climbed inside it she would be safe.

As the notes took her, the lyrics penetrated her mind bringing tears to her eyes. She let them fall, let them wash her face and cleanse her of the dirt of life on the street. The words recalled all the things she still desired for herself, reminding her of the frustration that they might now never be possible. She hugged her knees and rocked. She lived inside the song imagining the love and passion it spoke of, letting her soul feel the very idea, her mind drifting to scenarios of joy and happiness.

She fought the little voice that told her that it would never happen for her now. She resisted its negativity. She squeezed her eyes tight and held onto the singer’s voice willing it to carry her away.  

Like an electric shock the touch of another’s hand on her shoulder made her jump to her feet, almost causing her to head butt the owner.

“Sarah? Is it you?”

The sweetness of his voice almost broke her heart and she flicked the earphones out in one swift motion as she threw her arms round his neck.

“David, I found you!” As she squeezed him tight and buried her face in his shoulder, she ignored the foul stench of his thin coat. She caressed his oily, limp hair, remembering when it had been fresh.

“How long have you been here?” He pulled her back, anger in his eyes as he searched hers for understanding.

“About a week. I couldn’t be there without you. Everything seemed pointless.”

His hands clenched her arms and he gave her a slight shake as he said, “But you can’t be here Sarah, it’s not safe for you. You have to go back now! Tonight!”

She hadn’t expected him to reject her, her stomach churned at the thought of leaving alone. “I’m not going anywhere without you.” She stood firm, defiant.

He sighed. His eyes softening and he embraced her. “I can’t stay, you know that, I have to remain hidden, but I’ll take you back.” He noticed her earphones. “What you been listening to?”

She grinned. “Your favourite. Here have a listen.” She pushed one of them in his ear, and put the other in hers. She watched as his face relaxed and a smile appeared, and they both floated away into the song, momentarily forgetting their hopeless situation.  

Monday 3 June 2013

Five Sentence Fiction - Desolate

Lillie McFerrin Writes
Lillie McFerrin's Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt - 'Desolate'
They saw it coming and no one did anything about it. They paid no heed to all the talk about climate change or global warming; they all thought it was someone else's responsibility.

Tammy shivered trying to ignore the hunger pangs in her tummy. She stroked the frightened kitten that shared her box under the bridge, and thought about how she liked to play with the one she’d been given for her fifth birthday, just a little while ago. She wondered what had happened to it, and whether it was with her mum and dad somewhere.

Sunday 2 June 2013

High - MWBB

This was my entry to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster competition, which brought me a 2nd Place.

The prompt was a song:
  “Take it as it comes” by The Doors 
(In recognition of the keyboard player Ray Manzarek, who died recently)
She inhaled the smoke deeply and held it while he desperately tried to make her laugh, prancing about the room like a nude nymph. It didn’t suit him, he didn’t have the physique for it; he was too skinny. Her mind drifted into thoughts about the perfect figure and how it could be possible, how it was only a matter of refining certain things in your life. She looked down at herself and smiled. No matter how much ‘munchie food’ she ate she didn’t seem to gain a thing. She watched her chest deflate as she exhaled and marvelled at how amazing the body was.

Then he touched her and she felt it shiver along her skin. Every hair felt the touch of his finger as it ran up her bare thigh. She watched as he reached the top, hovering as though debating direction, then travelling on up her rib cage, faltering at a couple of moles and circling them.

She inhaled air, watching her ribcage expand and his finger going up and down. She giggled and he giggled too, and then they couldn’t stop.

The bed they lay on was messy, as though they had been there for days…and it might have been; neither of them knew anymore.

The doorbell rang and they froze looking at each other with dawning horror that there was a person out there, potentially a straight person that they’d have to interact with. Paranoia crept at the edges of their thoughts. He rushed into some loose trousers, half falling in his attempt to look respectable, and running his fingers repeatedly through his hair as he left the room, shaking his head as though trying to clear it and not look quite so stoned.

She heard laughter at the front door and then footsteps coming back. Two heads popped round the door and she grinned; it was play time. His two friends started stripping between drags of the joint they’d been working on and crawled onto the bed next to her.

Now she had three fingers to watch and they just made her giggle more and more. She slipped into the fuzzy delight of pure sensation and went with it.

The next morning she came to and found herself entangled in three other sleeping bodies. She tried to remember what had happened, but could only remember the smoking, giggling and lots of touching. She smiled to herself; they’d fallen asleep and nothing had happened. She knew it; it wasn’t the first time. So she just lay there and waited. It wouldn’t be long, and then the party would start again, but this time with some follow through.