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.


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 of 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.’


‘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.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 94

I picked this week's photo as it is Valentine's week and it seemed appropriate. It was created by a company called Ars Thanea, and it is an actual sculpture they made, called The Ash. An explanation about how they did it is here.

I have gone with a standard storyline this week, one of heart break, although some might relate to 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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.


She used the poker to push them into the centre of the coals and sat back watching them crinkle and burn. The initial burst of fire consumed the fake roses then died down. The blackened roses retained their shape as the embers lit them from beneath, giving them an ethereal glow and tingeing their edges with red light.

Alexis remembered when she’d bought them; they were part of the fad of roses that had become the in-thing to have in your home. She’d been full of love then, full of hope, full of dreams about her new relationship.

Rafe had moved in just weeks before. It had been heady days, they’d barely come out of bed that first week. Then they had slipped into an easy routine and easy roles, never a cross word; everything talked out properly. Their hearts and feelings taken seriously by each other, and the flowers had sat proudly on the mantelpiece as a representation of that, of their commitment to each other.

Alexis felt her heart ache for those times, but years had passed and slowly things had decayed. She couldn’t pinpoint when or what, just a slow erosion of life, and then of distance as Rafe found a new job that included a lot of travel, and the silences between them became less comfortable and more like a void.

She’d developed her own life, both career and social life. She’d had to establish one on her own with him being absent most of the time. And when he’d return he’d talk about people, places and a life she didn’t know, a life she was no longer part of, and then she’d realised she was doing the same.

And then the thought had crept in, ‘what was the point of being together if they were living separate lives?’ And it had grown, making the void bigger and become like an abyss. Then the tension had grown. When he was home it had felt like he was in the way, that he was interrupting her life, and she knew he felt it too.

But rather than talk about it, like they would have done at the beginning, they kept their own counsel. Fear had crept in, fear that if they voiced it, it would be painful, that it might make it worse – when it fact it probably would have made it better.

And then the day had come. The day they both had dreaded. He had told her about another job opportunity, another life he could go and lead, but this time permanent in a far off land she’d never heard of. He had suggested she could come too, a tiny spark in his eyes, but in the same breath he had also provided reasons why it wouldn’t be a good idea, and she wasn’t convinced it was what he wanted.

Then the tears had come, the ending had come, and although they used the excuse of the job as the reason for the break-up they both knew the truth: their love had died and they had let it, and there was nothing to share anymore.

Alexis sat looking in the fireplace at the roses that had meant so much to her. No tears came now, no regret, just numb. And as the coals slumped and broke apart so did the roses, crumbling to ash, just like her heart.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Review of Traps by MacKenzie Bezos

TrapsTraps by MacKenzie Bezos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was chosen by my local bookclub for the next read. I was dubious that I would like it, but I did. There was a certain amount of intrigue as to how the four characters would interconnect and that drew me in.

I found the point of view a little distracting. It was omniscient, meaning that the story was narrated in a way that we, the readers, were observing it as it unfolded. There were a couple of instances where it even uses 'we' (such as 'we can see from how often she ...'), making this POV apparent. It keeps the reader at a distance from both the characters and the story in some ways, but at the same time it was like watching it in real time: we didn't know what was coming at all, there was no alluding to what would come, and we also didn't know the backstory of each of the characters so this unfolded before us, keeping the reader captivated and engaged.

We are introduced to the four characters, Jessica, Dana, Lynn, and Vivian, individually at the beginning of the book, and then we start to slowly see how they cross paths, or are connected to each other. Some of them are a surprise. In some ways we only get a snippet of their lives, just a moment as they intersect, never knowing the full outcome to their situations or the history behind them.

For me that was probably the only thing I felt lacked here. It felt too brief, and in some ways had little point, short of being a 'fly on the wall' with each one and observing the situation or dilemma they were facing at that time. Yet strangely I felt okay with this when it came to an end. I had engaged with each emotional moment and experienced it along with them, so that in itself provided a certain satisfaction.

This was a very different read for me, and a different style of writing. One that I felt had room for development and improvement.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 93

This week's photo, was taken by Laura Williams, a photographer from Cambridge, England. She calls this one Invisible. She takes some fabulous shots. You can find them on her Flickr account here. She calls this one Invisible.

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.


It first occurred when the hair dresser tried to show Lucinda the back of her hair. She couldn’t see it; her head wasn’t there. The strange thing was she could see herself in the mirror in front of her, just not in the one held by the hairdresser when showing her the back.

If the hairdresser hadn’t freaked, she could have pretended she had seen her hair and gone home and processed the event there. But the stylist got hysterical, especially after testing it out on her other clients and it only being Lucinda.

Lucinda had dropped cash on the counter and rushed out.

At home she tested it out herself. It was handheld mirrors – she tried several of them. It’s like she was invisible in them. She even turned her back to the full length mirror and faced the handheld. There was no reflection of her face in the handheld mirror, but she could see the full length mirror reflected and her back in it. It was bizarre.

Lucinda went into her sister’s bedroom and tried it out on her, making some excuse about her new haircut and wanting to compare it. The back of her sister’s head showed just fine in the mirror. However, she made sure her sister didn’t see her reflection – or non-reflection.

She did the same with her brother and her mother and again, theirs were perfectly normal. In the large oval hallway mirror she could see herself, but when she took it off the wall she disappeared. It made no sense.

But when she attempted to hang the mirror back onto the wall, her thumb slipped and disappeared into the mirror. She paused, looking at her thumbless hand clasping the mirror. She wiggled her thumb, she could feel it move, but there was no movement on the surface of the mirror. She drew her hand back, her thumb was intact.

She needed to investigate further, so she took the mirror up to her bedroom and shut her door. She propped it up against her bed. She sat cross legged in front of it and reached out, putting her index finger against the surface. But there was no surface, her finger vanished. Again no ripple; the surface was not liquid, it just wasn’t there. But she couldn’t see her finger. She could only see the reflection of the wardrobe behind her.

She pulled her hand back. Her finger was unchanged.

She laid the mirror flat on the floor and stood. She dipped a bare toe in, it disappeared, and then she put her whole foot in until the ankle. She did a sort of hokey cokey with it: in out, in out, shaking it about. It was normal.

She knelt down on one knee and lowered her entire leg in. There was no resistance, nothing to stop her. She then moved round onto her bottom and lowered her other leg in to join it, right up to her thighs and sat there swinging them about – or at least that’s what it felt like. There was no sensation. It was like she was dangling them over a building, she just couldn’t see them.

Then she turned herself round, laying face down on the floor, her legs still inside the mirror, and slowly shuffled her body further and further in, until only her arms, shoulders and head were out. Her arms taking her weight, because there was nothing under her feet.

She contemplated letting go. Wondering what she would drop into; wondering what was on the other side of the mirror. She debated until her arms started to ache, and then she thought, why not? And let go.


A few hours later her mother came upstairs. She’d called her for dinner and had no reply. She knocked on her bedroom door. No answer. She opened the door and found Lucinda’s room empty, the hallway mirror lying on the floor. She tutted and picked it up, taking it back downstairs with her, while calling for Lucinda again. She hung it back on the wall and adjusted her hair in it, and went back into the kitchen.  

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Snowflakes Challenge - Mad and Sad

Snowflake's Challenge is a monthly writing challenge hosted by R.B. McConnell. Every month a picture is provided to write a piece of Flash Fiction. Here's mine for prompt No.4.

Mad and Sad

Nadia stood trembling in the bushes watching the door & waiting. She could hear the noise, as could all the neighbours. People were starting to come to their front doors and look, standing out on their front steps and gossiping. Nadia pushed herself further into the shrubbery so they wouldn’t see her; she worried they might take her.

She’d heard about that happening at school. If people found out things weren’t right at home, they took you away to live with another family. She didn’t want that to happen. If they did that how would she protect her mother? If they took her too maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but where would they go? And what would happen to her brother? She could feel her breath getting short and her limbs feeling twitchy as the sick feeling in her stomach spread.

There was a big crash inside and Nadia felt her belly jump. What was he doing in there to her mum? She heard her mother cry out. She was torn between rushing in and staying put. She stayed put. Mum always said, stay put, it’s not safe when your brother gets in one of his rages.

She stuck her fingers in her mouth. It helped sooth her. She started to hear crying. It was loud crying – not her mother’s. She felt her stomach loosen. When he did that, it meant the end. It meant things would calm down now. Whatever had upset him was now making him sad, not angry anymore.

She took in a sudden breath and it helped. Things were different for her brother, people didn’t understand that. He felt things too much. He couldn’t stop it and it made him mad. He’d let her hug him now. And her mum too.