Wednesday 13 September 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 21

This week's photo was taken by an online friend of mine, Stuart Hancock while he was travelling in America. It shows legs of the pier on Pismo Beach, California. I asked him if I could use it because it is begging to be written for. So many tales are glimpsed between those posts. What will yours be?

I ummed and arhhed over which tale to tell as several vied for position, although I felt a few were a bit cliche or darker than I fancied going. So this is what got written.

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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

Tied vs Tide.

The sloshing sound and rocking motion woke her.

Her eyes focused on the slats of wood far above her head. She kicked her feet and heard splashing; they were underwater. She put them down and felt mud and seaweed debris squelch between her toes. She tried to raise her arms to balance but found them tied to one of the pier posts. Damn! She’d forgotten about that.

Veronica awkwardly tried to stand, but couldn’t get up to full height, the rope tied round her wrists restricting the ability to do so. She could only move the rope up the post a little. Bent over with legs straight, the water had reached her thighs; the tide was coming in.

She look back at the beach, but it was wet and windy; there was no-one in sight.

She looked at the rope. It was orange poly rope: extra strong, extra tough, not easy to break. It occurred to her that if she had been able to tie herself up, surely she would be able to untie herself. Then she smiled; ever the perfectionist with attention to detail. She’d practiced that knot for months, tying it with her teeth, but never quite foolish enough to tie both hands in – not until last night.

She had no simple answer to this. She considered whether chewing through it was possible. Looking round again at the deserted beach and promenade, there wasn’t going to be any other option.

Veronica gnawed at it, kneeling in the water to keep her balance as the current of the incoming tide pushed against her. Her mouth was dry and salt water kept splashing up, making her need to spit.

After a while she stopped, barely having made a dent in one of the winds of rope – there were three to get through. She turned facing the beach and started to call out, in the hope that someone might hear her, but with the whistle of the wind rushing round the underside of the pier, the sound was carried out to sea; it was hopeless.

What had she been thinking? Not good things, clearly. Aided by two bottles of vodka she’d acted out a fantasy she’d had for a while. Although, as was always the case, it turned out the reality wasn’t going to go as smoothly as the fantasy: She hadn’t drowned in her sleep, and she hadn’t been rescued by anyone in shining armour - and scanning the still deserted beach she wasn’t going to be either.

The water was up round her waist now. She wrestled with the rope, moving it further up the pole, and continued to chew on it. It was the only chance she had. Would the same courage it took to get into this situation, now get her out? Was she strong enough to save herself?



  1. Posting in two parts to bypass the character limit, sorry!


    Encrusted pillars of aged wood gamely supported the weight of the pier above. Any other day, music and conversation would be mingling with the ambient rush of waves and crying gulls, but now silence blanketed the pier. A barrier of yellow tape and a dozen armed police officers kept the crowds at bay.

    One uniform lifted the tape to usher us through.

    “Detective,” she said in greeting to my companion. She turned an eye cooler than the March waters toward me and inclined her head. “Who’s this?”

    “Evening, Herndon.” Detective Bo Conley took a step closer to me, a visible statement of support. “This is Ambassador Maera. She’s consulting for the Elder Court.”

    Herndon snorted, the best I was going to get for a greeting.

    Shock rippled through me as Conley’s warm hand found a home at the small of my back.

    “What’ve we got?” he asked Herndon.

    “Vic’s at the end of the pier. Forensics hasn’t had their turn at the scene yet.” She turned her head to me. “Don’t mess anything up.”

    “ETA?” Conley asked sharply.

    “Not sure. Doc’s finishing up with another Outsider DOA downtown.”

    This proved enough to break my silence. I didn’t mind the Outsider moniker. Even though my kind had walked this world long before humans, we’d faded into legends eons ago. As it turned out, legends weren’t easily welcomed back to the world.

    “Another?” I watched the nuances of expression dance over Officer Herndon’s round face.

    She shrugged.

    “Don’t know the details. Just another dead freak.”

    “Herndon.” Conley’s harsh tone jolted the woman. “Enough.”

    “Sir.” She stalked off, her heels digging into the packed sand.

    “I’m sorry, Ambassador,” he said.

    “She doesn’t understand,” I said. “Why you consent to work with me. Why you’re kind to me. To her—to most—I’m just another invader who doesn’t belong.” I offered him a smile. “Even I don’t understand your behavior. You’re different.”

    “Not exactly a compliment, Ambassador. Humans have an unfortunate history of pain and evil rooted in different. If you look different, sound different, dress different, love different—someone’s bound to hate you.”

    His hand stroked a soothing trail up my spine before dropping away. I was surprised to find I missed the small touch, a slight frown edging the corners of my mouth downward.

  2. “I suppose we’re alike in that regard,” I said, shaking off the wistful melancholia. “Wars among our own broke continents and sank islands. We shaped the world as you know it. Nonetheless, I meant it as a compliment.”

    “Sank… islands.” Conley’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed.

    “Mm.” I gazed between the pillars, spying something dangling at the end. “Shall we go see?”

    “Tide’s coming in,” he said. He fingered the wispy chiffon of my dress. His casual familiarity at once confused and thrilled me. When had a man last been so gently bold with me? “And you aren’t exactly dressed for this.”

    A smile teased across his lips. I followed his gaze to my toes, peeking out from beneath the edge of my skirts.

    “What happened to your shoes?”

    “Unlike you, Detective Conley, I don’t care to ruin my footwear. Otherwise, I’m always dressed for the water,” I said. “That’s why the Elder Court sent me.”

    “Oh.” His eyes mimicked the tempestuous gray blue of the ocean. “So you’re a—mermaid or something?”

    “Nereid,” I said. “One of the fifty daughters of Poseidon, may the tides carry his soul always.”

    The water tickled my bare feet, the waves whispering secrets and warnings. The sea usually afforded me peace, but dark portents murmured in each ebb and flow. I sang softly to the tide, hearing Conley’s soft gasp as the waters parted around us.

    “Well,” he said. “That’s neat.”

    At the end of the pier, we stopped. I steadied myself before looking up, abruptly wishing Conley could handle this without me. My heart pounded, the crescendoing cries of the tide falling silent as I lifted my head.

    She hung from a rope tied around her beneath her arms. The flush of life had faded from her, discoloring her skin in a muted palate of pale blues and purples. The river of blood spilled from her slashed throat had dried, rust-colored here, almost black there.
    Death distorted her face, but not so much as to make her a stranger.

    “Beroe,” I whispered. “Oh, Father, no.”

    “You know her?” Conley’s sharp question pierced my mind’s denial.

    “She’s my sister.”

    My concentration snapped and the sea roared in, dragging us under.


    Cara Michaels | @caramichaels
    750 words in a new world

    1. Great ending! Loved it. Thanks for coming to join in. I can't find a way to extend the character limits, which is annoying. Thanks for making the effort to post it.

    2. Thank you, ma'am. Great prompt choice! :)

  3. *looks at what he wrote.* Well... You did post the picture... So... I'm blaming you for this one... Don't blame me...

    Beer Cans and Pampers

    1. I think it's great! I love a good rant. Thanks for joining.

  4. I'm going to try this again...

    I went with the Tied vs Tide theme, also.
    Here is the link to my story called Four .

    1. Love this - great bit of horror! Thanks for joining!