Wednesday 31 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 13

We seem to be settling in at around 5 entries a week at the moment, which is fabulous. I also love that people keep dusting off their blogs to come and write. That's what I want - to inspire people.

This week's photo is from an abandoned Sulphur Mine, on White Island, New Zealand, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. It was taken by Dr Richard Roscoe, who is selling prints of this photo and other volcano related pictures on his website Photo Volcanica.

I felt this photo inspired many things. I might have gone for the obvious, but I couldn't help myself. I'm looking forward to see what others make of 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.

Ancient Relics 

“Apparently they used to use them for transporting themselves through space and time?” Melchey walked round the big metal circular structure.

“What? You’re kidding me. How?” Adam peered through the centre of it, looking out to sea.

“Connected them to some kind of power source and they led to other worlds.”

“You sure?” Adam knew Melchey had a tendency to wind him up about stuff. He could be doing that now. “How do you know all this?”

“It was on one of those old broadcasts they used to make. It explained how people back then used to live. Points on the metal rim would light up, and they’d step through and come out somewhere, and meet other beings. It caused a lot of wars, and brought all sorts of strange things to the planet.”

Melchey was convincing; Adam couldn’t see his eyes twitch, or any static on the feed.

“What, did it cause the big war?”

“Maybe, no one’s sure how that one got started.”

“Some say it was the concept of some great being.” It was Adam’s turn to impart knowledge. “They used to make up stories about something creating them and would fight over which parts were true or not. Maybe that connects this, then. Maybe it came from meeting all those other beings in other worlds.”

“Could have been. But all we’ve got now are remains like this to try and learn from.” Melchey patted the metal rim.

“It’s a shame we haven’t learnt how to reach other worlds like they did, though; that would be cool.” Adam mused on the idea of meeting another civilisation and what that must have been like. Their neural networks only reached out to the planets close by, and they were empty.

Adam heard a fizz and the hologram disappeared; the structure and the beach faded. The flat, bare concrete floor and walls of his bunker came back into view.

“What are you doing?” Adam had enjoyed the connection. Sharing with someone in both the real and neural worlds was rare.

“I want to show you some of that broadcast. It’s fascinating; how they dress, how they talk, how they treated themselves and others so brutally - killing seemed so easy to them back then.” Melchey brought up a file and transmuted it into a moving picture on the wall.

Adam sat cross-legged on the floor, and Melchey joined him. He liked Melchey’s company; it was the only reason he’d put with a tedious two dimensional projection from centuries ago. Although, when the first image appeared of a circular metal ring like the one they’d just visited, all shiny and new with flashing lights, he was intrigued. Wording flashed up across it.

“What does that say?” Adam had never been good at ancient lettering.

“Stargate. It’s what they called them.”

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 12

Last week's prompt brought 5 wonderful entries - with a couple of people dusting off their dormant blogs to join. And some incredible tales along with it. I'm constantly surprised by the high quality of ideas and writing shared. I am also humbled.

I struggled to find the owner of this week's photo. I tracked it to someone called mbies55 on, but their page seems to no longer exist. The photo was named 'Sunset at Pier'.

I also struggled to write for this picture - not that it didn't inspire lots of tales; in fact it inspired too many, but I didn't feel they had enough depth or said what I wanted to stay, or were complete enough. The final result, finished just this morning, managed to finally do it.

I look forward to reading how it inspires you.

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.

The Calling 

Prince Argolis stomped to the end of the pier and threw up his arms at the raging sky.

“Why? In the name of all that is sacred, why?!”

No reply came. The clouds appeared to flee his words, streaking across the brilliance of the setting sun as it threw up its fiery hues.

He dropped to his knees, shaking the dust out of the jetty, and covered his face, letting loose heart rendering sobs that wracked the world around him. He didn’t care that the city below could hear him. Maybe if they all fell to their knees too, something could be done; maybe the Gods would stop playing their sick games and stop taking the lives of children through the sickness of minds.

But the Gods fed the sickness of minds.

The thought struck him, and his hands fell from his face as understanding dawned. Looking out at the sky unseeing, his mind started to make sense of what needed to be done.

There would be no more laying blame at the feet of an elusive concept; some ethereal idol that existed only in the minds of people. He would have no more of this devotion and paying homage to something imagined. He would take down the place of prayer and start a new tradition, one that put man first, made kindness to each other a priority – even law – with honesty and integrity.

He stood up, and facing the fading sun, paced back and forth across the end of the platform. He knew he could not do this in a heavy handed way; it had to be gentle and make sense to the people. If it didn’t, they would fight it, they would rail against it; it would result in more blood being shed. And enough of it had been spent on the different factions refusing to respect each other and accept each other.

It had always seemed crazy to the Prince how just one person deciding that a piece of ancient writing meant something slightly different to another, could result in the destruction of so many innocent people. They used it as a way to gain power and wealth, hiding behind the veil of what they called ‘righteousness’.

There was nothing righteous about looking down on others, judging others, and treating them unfairly; it was cruel and heartless. In fact it indicated something wrong in their minds; someone who was not able to think clearly or feel properly. If you could torture or kill another, how could you be capable of having healthy relations with another? And yet, more still supported or accepted that it took place – even considered it necessary! – or pretended it was not associated with them or their beliefs. The whole thing stank of hypocrisy, and the Prince would have no more of it.

He was fully aware that he was in a position of power and influence, one that had been granted to him by the concept of such idols, but he was willing to renounce that if he must; if that is what it took. He knew he had the favour of the people. The words he spoke were taken seriously and were heartfelt. He had to grasp that opportunity, but wield it in the right way, be careful and thoughtful.

He abruptly stopped pacing and turned his back to the sky, returning with renewed purpose to the palace. The words of his coming speech were forming in his mind and he needed to capture them and work on them if he was going to begin on this path. Other ideas were also entering his mind and flowing in a way that had never happened before. He knew it; this was his calling, his path to walk. Let the journey begin.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2017 - I'm in!

I was over the moon last week to find out I am going to be in the National Flash Fiction Day 2017 Anthology. I sent in two entries, and my entry 'Friends' made it through. I'm delighted!

For those that don't know, National Flash Fiction Day is a yearly event founded and run by Calum Kerr, who himself is an avid flash writer. It has taken place for several years now, and this year it takes place on the 24th of June.

On the actually day there is also a Flash Flood Journal, where a piece of flash is put up on the blog every 10 minutes by a different writer for the entire 24 hours. I have managed to get a piece accepted for the last four years, and I plan on trying again this year.

Various events take place around the UK to support it. You can find more details about those on the official website.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 11

Despite the stir last week's picture created, only 3 entries were produced - although they were rather magnificent entries, with some really diverse perspectives. It's what I love the most about running this challenge, how differently the prompt photo speaks to writers.

This weeks' photo is from the inside of the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadephia, PA, which was was operational from 1829 until 1971. The photo was taken by Simon Woolbert, who can be found over on Flicker.

My story reflects the darkness of this photo, but yours doesn't have to. What perspective do you see?

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. 

Life Sentence 

She brought her arm up and dragged the nail down as hard as she could to mark the wall. It took all the energy she had. There wasn’t much left now, the raging thirst having given way to a burning throat and a light, almost out of body feeling. These marks were the only thing that registered her time here, or even her existence.

She’d been here a long time; so long she couldn’t remember not being here anymore. She knew there was some semblance of a memory in the back of her mind, something bright, free, like a breath of fresh air – although that too was a memory, that didn’t exist here. It was a prison, she knew that, could see it from the bars on the tiny window up at the top of the wall. Window would normally indicate light, but the only light she caught a glimpse of was the flashing of a strip light out in the hallway that came in under the door. It stuttered and changed. She knew it would go out eventually, but she was no longer sure if she would survive to see it happen.

She wondered why there were boards on the window, but not as much as she wondered why the water had stopped. The water in the tap had been her lifeline since she had woken up here. Despite the dust and grime in the cell and coating the sink, water still came through. She caught bugs and things crawling along the floor to feed herself, to try and keep the pain in her stomach at bay, but she needed the water more. She didn’t know why they had stopped it.

There was a they – there had to be. Someone had put her here. She didn’t know who or why; no one came, no one checked in on her. There was no sound; there was no noise, other than the scuttling of insects and creatures in the walls or across the floor. She’d sat and listened ever endingly for something, anything, but there was nothing.

Her hand dropped back to the floor and she watched the nail fall out of her hand. She looked at the marks, the hundreds of them. They signified a day as best as she could ascertain by the crack of light that came through the boards on the tiny window. But there could be more than there should be. She didn’t know. It didn’t matter. Who would ever see them?


“If you follow the corridor down this way, you will find the cell where she was found.” A tour guide took the group down another one of the penitentiary’s abandoned corridors.

“And who was she?” someone asked.

“Nobody knows. No identification was found. We only know that she was about 7 years old when she died, and from the markings on the wall she had been in there for over 2 years.”

“Surely she had a family who missed her?” A southern accent from the back.

“Maybe, but there are so many missing children, it can be hard to identify them.”

“Not even by dental records?” A woman in the front found the idea incredulous.

“Her teeth had rotted from malnutrition, there was nothing to work with.”

The silence of minds working overtime on all the possible scenarios lingered in the air as the group paused outside the closed cell door.

“But I don’t get it, why was she brought here and left here?” A young guy off to the side spoke for the group.

“Many theories have been suggested: something happened to the person who brought her here – maybe got killed in an accident or something and no one knew she was here; she was kidnapped and the kidnapper couldn’t get the ransom paid; someone wanted rid of their child. Unfortunately none of them are pleasant.”

The tour guide observed that enough time had been spent on this particular story, and led the group on.

“Now, if we turn right at the end of this corridor we will arrive at the cell that the infamous mobster, Al Capone, was held in for a brief eight month stint back at the end of the 1920s ...”

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 10

Oh my goodness, we are now in double figures: 10 weeks! And it only feels like yesterday that I started this challenge. And last week we topped the record with a whopping 8 incredible entries! Whoo Hoo!

The challenge is coming along nicely, with a few regulars who are showing such wonderful support by sharing it around and encouraging others to join. I am extremely grateful, thank you.

So to this week's photo prompt. This piece of art is by Igor Zenin, a photographer from the Republic of Moldova. This piece is called, quite simply, Dancing Trees.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

A few people have asked how to leave a clickable link. Blogger is annoying that it doesn't automatically happen. You need to use a bit of HTML code:

Enter the following HTML code into the comment box: <a href="">Home</a> Change "" to whatever website you want to link to. Change "Home" to whatever text you want to display as the link.

But if it is too complicated. I am happy to do it for you in a reply underneath.


Pete snuggled down into the underbrush and lay in wait. He was going to capture them this time for sure. It was going to be sensational, and he was going to rock the world with it.

It had been a hard trudge here in the dark finding his way through the trees and the underbrush with just a small torch, but the sky had lightened since he had settled in, and once the sun started to peep over the horizon he knew they would come out.

The first time he’d seen them he’d been sure it was some kind of flash back from the poppers he’d taken at a rave a couple of nights before. Such a thing wasn’t possible. Trees weren’t people, or more accurately: beautiful feminine effigies.

When the trunks had lifted up out of the ground like released balloons, Pete had shut his eyes and shaken his head, sure that it was some hallucination or distortion in his brain. But when he’d opened them again there were no rooted trees in the area, only carved naked women dancing around wearing trees like hats as though celebrating some invisible party.

He’d remained transfixed and unmoving like a garden gnome, with his fishing rod poised over the small lake that divided him from the spectacle, watching their movements until, after an indeterminate amount of time, they’d sank back down into the earth and all that could be seen were trees again.

He’d waited a while and then gone over and walked round the trees, touching them, reassuring himself that they were indeed trees, that the bark was wood.

From then on he had returned, randomly, covering a variety of times, and established they only came at sunrise, and only for a few moments; that the window of their existence was short and if he was to capture evidence of them he had to be ready and waiting.

So here he was, video camera set up in front of him on a mini tripod, and a photographic camera round his neck.

As the bottom of the sun rose above the hills on the horizon, the bottom of the trees lifted and the dancing ladies returned to life.

Pete pressed the record button and sat back to watch, mesmerised, lifting the photographic camera up to his eye intending to take some shots, but finding himself lowering it again to watch them through his human lenses; their movements hypnotic, ebbing and flowing. Although he became aware that time was running out, and wanting stills as much as footage he placed his finger on the button, intending to let the shutter run and take picture after picture.

But he hadn’t considered the sound the camera would make. They might be dancing, but it was to an inner music, there was only the swishing sound of wind through trees as they moved.

By time the shutter closed on the first photograph, they stopped moving and all eyes turned to the bush he was under. By the second it was whisked away from above him. There was no third because he dropped the camera when a branch swung across and threw him up into the air, before another grasped him. It pulled him into the folds of its branches and he was only aware of a downward motion as darkness surrounded him.

He came to rest in a hollow earth chamber, and waited, his eyes unable to penetrate the darkness, his mind unable to calculate the passing of time. But nothing happened and no sounds reached him, and he began to wonder if they ever would. 

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 9

I'm on holiday and this is scheduled, so I have NO idea how many of you entered last week's - well I might if I have peeked on the laptop. Hopefully you all were inspired and loved last weeks.

This week I have gone for a different sort of face - a clock face, in particular a destroyed clock face. This is from the clock tower in Finale Emilia, Italy, after an earthquake which struck the area May 20, 2012. And this image appeared in several news sites with no one credited.

I wasn't sure how my story for this one was going to turn out. But I like it a lot. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

The After 

Oiyou foraged some Greenies out of the new growth. This area hadn’t been trampled so he was in luck. It was early, so he pushed back against some rubble and sat down to enjoy them before other peeples came along.

He looked up at the tall pile of rocks that held the strange piece of circle. Some said it was the moon, but Gammy had said that was nonsense; the moon only came out at night and wasn’t there in the day. This never went away. It was stuck on the pile of rocks, which looked like they’d fall any minute. Plus it never went changed, it always stayed half round. 

Oiyou pondered the strange marks on it. He didn’t know what they were. Someone over by the jungleyard had said they were numbers, but Gammy had shown him those and these looked nothing like them.

Gammy knew lots of things. She knew about the Before. She’d been born near it. She hadn’t got sick like the others, she said. She’d been put in a special hole, and stayed there a long time. She said it was why she didn’t like foraging: too much open, too much space. She didn’t know what to do with it.

Oiyou didn’t think you could do anything with it. It was just there and you had to get across it to get to good forage. It was why he was fatter than some of them – that and he didn’t get the Bellyarc. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed to be put them off eating, so much so that they got thin and lay down till they were dead. He liked eating. He hoped he never got it. Gammy said maybe acuz she never did, he never would. He didn’t know how you could tell.

He heard someone scrabbling further over. He popped his head up and saw Grabhem. He didn’t like him, no one did. He was trouble. Would hit and hurt till he got what you had.

Oiyou shuffled round the other side of the rubble and headed to the Grandplace with the funny shaped metal. ‘Statchews’ Gammy called them. She said she’d had a couple of tiny ones when she was shorter. She’d played with them. Oiyou didn’t see the point of them. They looked strange, like they were peeples but weren’t. And some were shaped funny. Gammy called them animoles. Oiyou had never seen one of those. Gammy said there were lots in the Before, but they were all gone now.

He wondered if they were like those creepy crawly things that ran up your legs sometimes when you were foraging, but bigger. He didn’t know. If so, he was glad they weren’t here anymore.

He looked round. He’d lost Grabhem. Good. He didn’t need to keep moving on. He wanted to look for some more Greenies to take back to Gammy. She looked different this morning. Her face looked like the colour of rocks and she said she needed to sleep more today. Her breath sounded wrong. He hoped she wasn’t going to be dead. The thought made water come into his eyes. He hated it when that happened. It made his tummy hurt, which could mean the Bellyarc, and he didn’t want that, no, no, no.

He sniffed, then heard a rumble behind him. Others were coming. He shuffled off, spotting another bit of new brush he hadn’t looked in. He’d find some good fat Greenies for Gammy, then she’d be the right colour again.