Monday 23 December 2019

Christmas Sale!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - and decade!

And to celebrate all the kindle version of my books are on sale for £0.99 / $0.99!

So if there are any of my books you haven't yet got, now's the time to snatch them up! 

Thursday 19 December 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 138

This week's photo was taken by Tien-Chien Chen, a landscape photographer from Taiwan. This photo was taken on the Jancing Historic Trail in  Taipingshan National Forest, which follows along an old logging railroad, and is at an elevation of 2000 meters, hence clouds form and linger. You can find it, and many other incredible landscapes over on Chen's flicker account

She's back! Tricky strikes again and each time giving me a little bit more. (previous tales can be found here.)

And this will be the last tale for a while, as Mid-Week Flash is taking a hiatus over Christmas and New year. I just don't have time to spin more tales. 

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.

Railroad Memories

She knew this railroad well; she remembered when it was built. Tricky had been around a long time, longer than even she could tell. Many things had happened on the railroad, many nasty things. Some she was responsible for, others not. That time of John the Thatcher she’d only played witness, but had managed to see the end of that nasty piece of work that had befallen the district of Clancy.

Randolf Carter was a man people didn’t like to mess with, even Tricky was wary. But she’d taken him on that dawn morning along this track. She’d been up here doing other business, Tricky business, business that was none of nobody’s no mind. She’d been gathering and drawing things to her the forest trees could provide, things she didn’t like to talk about lest others should learn her secrets – although that was but a tiny one.

She’d been in the dell, concentrating, when a scream had hit the air. She’d known who it was immediately but not who was responsible and crawled up the side of the embankment to find out.

There’d been three of them. They’d done a good job tying John to the sleepers, and were busy poking things into him. But what had caught Tricky’s eye was another, standing further away, the dawn mist covering their face. So she’d used the energy she’d collected to move the mist, and it had revealed the ugly mantel of that canny, perfidious, snake of a man. People might call her Tricky, but she was as squeaky as a pair of clean skivvies compared to crater-face Carter. His pox marked face confirmed he’d even managed to scare off the lurgy. No one messed with that man. Not till then.
Tricky’d had a soft spot for the Thatcher and not just because she’d seen what was in his pants, oh no, he was a man of purity and wholesomeness that rarely got the credit it deserved.

She’d listened to the ranting and intermittent questions old crater-face had plied John with, something about a woman and a debt he was owed. John had barely been allowed to speak, though screaming he’d done well. Tricky wasn’t squeamish by nature; she liked a good blood letting when it was warranted, but this hadn’t sat right with her.

She’d taken a breath, calling upon the woods for their help, and tapping John’s screams for energy. She’d drawn it all up, channelling it through the chakras to refine it, and the trees had responded, their movement clearing the air. As expected it unsettled the men even if they’d only thought it a storm. It had been enough to get them leaving John’s side. Then she’d whipped up the air between them and sent the three men flying in all directions, leaving her to treat the fourth to some extra special attention.

Tricky still snickered now remembering the look on his face as he’d been taken from the ground. The wide-eyed horror as the branches had swept him up and played ball with him, catching him on the ends of their branches, impaling him a little more each time. The blood had flown that morning. She still wondered where he had ended up. No one had ever found his remains, not that anyone had looked. That’s the trouble when you’re rotten to the core, people only care you’re gone, they weren’t interested in finding you.

She’d gone to John’s aid and healed him up proper, reminding him of the promise they’d shared for nigh on five years and to continue to keep it if he wanted to remain in good health. He’d been grateful but in a hurry to leave, and she remembered how she’d enjoyed watching his arse as he’d walked away between the tracks.

That was one of her better moments, when she’d done something for someone else. She shivered; it didn’t come natural though; it wasn’t how she’d survived this long.

She turned her mind back to the task at hand. The one good thing about the railroad falling out of use was that it was now covered in such delightful moss, one she needed to complete her current conjuring trick – a trick that would need to last several years if it was to be of any benefit. She set too scraping what she needed into a hessian pocket she’d brought with her.

A new type of Randolf Carter had befallen not just Clancy but the whole province. This one was much nastier and more insipid, but she’d been link to his game the second he’d arrived. She’d met him before, although he didn’t know that, and that was the tiny little pick in the jersey she was going to unravel. Oh yes. 

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 137

This week's picture prompt is of Barber's chair in the Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, a former American prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is now abandoned but was was operational from 1829 until 1971. Taken in 2004, by Wiki contributor Bruce Cooper known as CentPacRR

This one went dark, as I suspected it might! In some ways not as dark as it could have gone, but still. 

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.


He lay back in the chair as the barber pumped the foot, raising him up. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of someone touching his hair. It wasn’t often these days that he got to experience such luxury as the caress of another human. He missed the sensation of skin on skin, even if only finger tips on scalp. He enjoyed the warmth of the massage and the thrill of it. He squeezed his legs together hoping that thrill wouldn’t show. It seemed crazy for a grown man to react such a way, especially as it was a male barber, but still, it had been years, more than twenty now.

He thought about other things he missed to take his mind off it: walks in the park holding hands with someone, seeing others moving about in the sunshine, the movement of trees and how clouds would sail across the sky.

He imagined the air on his face and the smell of it. He took a deep breath, almost tasting it. He thought about all those bodies moving around in it, expending their energy. How he used to enjoy people-watching during the day – and at night, too. He’d walk along the street and catch glimpses of them in their living rooms. Occasionally he would stand on the other side of the street and look for longer. He’d envy them their cosy warmth, cuddled up with a loved one, or surrounded by family or friends, all so snugly, never really knowing what it was to be alone and rejected by society, by your peers, and especially by your family.

He shuffled in the seat, trying to shift the unpleasant feelings such remembrances brought. Instead he turned his mind to her – the one.

He’d loved her intensely. People said it wasn’t possible to love someone like that from afar, but he had done. He’d watched her and followed her, and kept her safe. She’d had no idea how many men he’d diverted and disposed of for her.

But eventually he’d wanted to be close to her – needed to be close to her. He’d wanted to have her to himself. And he’d known she’d wouldn’t come willingly, oh no, not to him.

That’s when everything had started to slide. He’d had to keep her locked up, because she would make so much noise and protest so much when he’d wanted to touch her. It hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped or imagined. She hadn’t eventually given in and loved him back as he had believed. And then she’d managed to break free one day and the police had turned up.

His brain hadn’t retained much of the details, not after all this time or after all the things they had done to him in here; all the electric shock treatments and other delights for the criminally insane.

He shuffled in the chair again. His face was itching now the barber had shaved his face, but he couldn’t reach it. He’d have to wait until they took him back to his cell and took this straight jacket off. It was the worst part of the six-weekly visits to the prison barber.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Review: Terror Threads by Mark Cassell

Terror Threads: a collection of horror storiesTerror Threads: a collection of horror stories by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant, terrifying collection of horror stories. The last story, Sunset Companion has a nice little twist at the end to finish it off. My favourite has to be Diagonal Dead, but I also really enjoyed Dust Devils and Rebirth.

Mark Cassell continues his exploration of shadows and mist in this collection and a couple of stories were reminiscent of Hell Cat of the Holt (one of my favourites from the Shadow Fabric mythos). There are terrifying moments, and intrigue that just keep you turning the page and things you couldn't imagine even in your worst nightmares.

These stories aren't for the faint hearted or the squeamish, but for those that like their horror dark.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 136

This week's picture I could not find a credit for. It doesn't appear that much, but it is all pinterest and no one has said where it is or who owns it. I suspect it could be an infared photograph. But either way it caught my eye.

It took me a while to find an ending to this, but it turned out quite well.

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 opened her eyes and looked up. She knew what she was seeing couldn’t be real; it had to be an artificial simulation. She was light years from Earth so how could it be real? And where on Earth could blue skies still be seen, let alone trees in blossom. Everything there was poisoned.

But Melissa could feel air on her face and that didn’t happen in AS; the only senses engaged were sight and sound, never smell or touch. Her hand rubbed something soft yet prickly next to her. She looked down and saw green grass. She’d heard of it and seen it in pictures, but its scent sparked something deep in her soul, as though she was connected to it. She picked some blades out with her fingers and brought them to her nose and then her lips. It had a strange texture, stringy, but a refreshing taste.

She slowly sat up. More trees surrounded her. They had a white finish with brown nobbles in them. She touched them and felt the contrast: white silky versus brown rough. Bird sound reached her and high up in ... what were they? Pink flowers? ... she could see movement and hear fluttering.

Wow, the detail was incredible. She wondered who had created this. She tried to recall how she got here. She’d been on an interplanetary placement cruiser. There’d been a delay due to comet activity causing debris. They’d recommended stasis. She’d willingly gone in and now she was here. But where exactly was here?

She stood up and walked forward. If this was an AS she would either hit a wall or walk out of the projection. She put an arm out just in case. But the landscape moved downhill and then opened out into a clearing containing a large pool of water. She walked to its edge. She could hear and smell it. She crouched and put a hand in it, making a splash. The surprise caused her to laugh and the sound didn’t echo as it would in an AS room. It carried away on the air. She’d only experienced that once before, when they touched down on GSP4579. Its atmosphere had allowed them to go helmetless for a time, although the view had been barren and grey unlike this incredible depiction.

It had to be a depiction. Melissa’s brain couldn’t fathom any other explanation. Even if it was real, how did she get here? Although she knew she could be transported in a stasis pod. But where was the pod? She’d woken up on the ground, alone. Where were the others if she had been placed here?

She cupped her hand and brought some of the fluid to her lips. Sweet water. It was beyond delicious; her system hadn’t experienced anything like it – ever. Recyc was what she’d been raised and lived on all her life.

This was madness. Who was doing this?

She stood and looked around her. She seemed to be the sole occupant. She slowly turned, taking in the woods around her. There was no sign of movement anywhere – not from anything big enough to be human.

Then she heard a mechanical sound, an engine of some sort. She saw a craft overhead. It hovered over the area she was standing in as though noticing her. Was it from their ship? She hadn’t seen the pods they carried, but it looked possible. She waved her arms at it only in that moment realising that if she was actually here, and this wasn’t a simulation, she had no idea what she was meant to do.
The craft descended and hovered just a few feet off the ground, a door on the side opened and a familiar face appeared.

‘You okay, Melissa?’

‘Greg! So good to see you. This is real, then?’

‘Yes, it’s GSP6598 – some are calling it Second Earth. But you have your papers, right? With instructions?’

Melissa pulled a face. ‘Nope. No papers, no instructions. I’ve never heard of this place.’

Greg looked shocked. ‘Hold on.’

He disappeared inside the craft then came back to the door.

‘Shit! It looks like they got the names mixed up. It’s a different Melissa. I’m going to need to take you back.’ The craft landed on the ground.

‘That’s a shame, it’s beautiful here.’

‘It is. Maybe you can request it when we get back. But we need to sort this mess out first. Hop in.’

Melissa climbed up into the craft and sat down on one of the four seats available and strapped in. As they lifted off she watched the land fall away under them and hoped she would be returning. This was definitely the placement she wanted.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 135

This week's photo took me a while to track down, but this is of Sarah Chambers, and she took it herself. She does make up and design, and is stunning - as you can see. You can find her on Insta (click the link on her name) and she has a page on FB. I just love this shot, so many potential stories. 

I'm still exploring Tricky, she really wants her tale to be told - or tales, as I think there will be multiple. This is her in her younger years. Yes, quite a stunner.

So far she has appeared in Week 132, Week 126 and I collected others in Week 122, making this one her 6th story!! (collating them here more for me, than for you, dear reader)

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.

Shot of a photo with purple make-up with special designs
Sarah Chambers - @sarahc_29

Tricky watched his eyes flutter open and widen. A small gasp escaped his lips and she recognised that expression, she’d seen it many times. Sigh, another one. They were so easy to enamour.

She’d inherited her birth mother’s striking Western eyes, and her step mother’s artistic flare for the dramatic in design and make-up. She knew how to get what she wanted. But she didn’t have time for all the flirting, she needed information fast.

She knew it had passed through this boy’s hands, she’s seen it; The Many had shown her and they only told the truth. But what they hadn’t shown her was where it was now, and she had to find out. She had to get her hands on it before the Baron did; if he got hold of this all her plans would have been for nothing.

“That’s it, lovey, open your eyes and look deep into mine. What see you?” She drew the energy up, feeling it course through her body into her eyes and pouring into his. His aura began to expand around him starting with a faint rose glow, and growing into an intense red. He was a sprit one, this one, and link to what was going on around him, although not enough to keep him out of her clutches. She watched as the story unfolded in the wisps that enveloped the boy.

She saw him on the job, standing to attention, doing as he was bid by his master, a bulging, swollen, squat little man who liked to bellow in the faces of his charges. This one took no mind, he kept his eyes straight. When the carriage arrived bearing her desired item, he’d jumped forward and presented himself to the dispatcher, relieving him of his burden. It had been a plain wood box, nothing fancy.

“What did you see, lovey, tell me in your pretty words, what was in the box?”

The boy’s eyes were no longer on hers, they were looking past into what had been.

“It felt heavy yet light, it felt warm yet cold. I wanted it.” He paused, relishing his desire. “It felt warm and when the Mayster opened it, it lit up his face. But he wouldn’t let me look, I was shooed out.” His face dropped. “I felt sad after, empty.”

“Was it for the Mayster then, lovey? Does he still have possession of it?”

The boy’s eyes had returned to her face, and he lifted a finger to trace the designs drawn on it. “It was meant for higher up. But I didn’t see it leave.”

“Good, my pretty young thing. That’s good.” It was. It meant she was still in with a chance. The boy’s hand moved down her face and onto her neck. He lifted his head and kissed it. She rather liked that. Maybe she wasn’t in a hurry to lose the boy; maybe he could be of some use first. Afterall, it never hurt to take pleasure in your work.

She lay down gently next to him, letting him take the lead. A good service would give her time to plan. And she might want to travel back with him and find out if it was still in the Mayster’s possession. He’d be able to take her to his rooms. In fact, he might be of more use than she first thought. She moved clothing out of the way as his lips trailed a line of kisses down her torso. She chuckled to herself. Yes, this youngun might be of service in multiple ways.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Review: The Beautiful Ones, by Prince & Dan Piepenbring

The Beautiful OnesThe Beautiful Ones by Prince
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful! I was overjoyed when a friend sent me this for my birthday. And I had tears in my eyes when I opened the book to see Prince's handwriting inside.

Many argue that this isn't how he would have wanted it, but I think at this stage it's the best we can except and the closest we as fans (or friends as he preferred to call us) will come to knowing what was on his mind before he died, and get to taste of the memoir he had begun writing just months before he died. It made me wonder if the urgency to start sharing his memoir and all the other books he had planned was because he felt the clock ticking.

There is a bit of filler in this book, mostly photos and handwritten lyrics of some of his more famous songs - even an old copy of a passport. But for the lifelong devoted fans, like myself, it felt like - just for a moment - he was still here.

This is a book I will treasure, if only so I can open it and see his handwriting.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 134

This week's photo prompt is of a sculpture made by Mirek Struzik a polish artist. Inspired by Dandelions in nature. This picture is from the exhibit in Wroclaw, Poland. This photo was taken by the artists. Has created some incredible things, his website is worth checking out. (click on his name).

I had the opening line to this one days before I wrote it, which sometimes happens, but I've had such a busy time of it, I haven't had a chance to get it down. A bit last night and finishing touches today. I wondered if it was going to go darker, but it didn't. 

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 Song of the Dandelions

He watched her looking up at them in awe. The moonlight made them sparkle and vibrate with the glow that bounced off them. Giant metal Dandelions, who would have thought such a thing would mesmerise a girl so much. She had no idea he was there, on the other side of the street, staring at her. She was lost in her fascination. And in some ways he was lost in his.

He admired her agile body as it stood mid-stride, poised as though on pause as the sculptured flowers caught her attention. He imagined it in other poses, ones that made it uncomfortable for him to remain standing in his current position for much longer.

A ripple through the fronds of the imposing seed heads brought an eerie high-pitched sound, like the ghost of a violin. It spooked her and she started moving, glancing across the street at him and registering his existence, including his cool appraisal of her. It provoked a worried expression, and after one more peek over her shoulder at the fake blooms, she rushed off.

He debated following her, but knew that no matter what was in his mind, it would never cross hers, in fact after the look she’d given him it would scare her.

The sound again from the glistening flowers brought his gaze back to them. They were a marvel and a delight, even if only for being a girl magnet as he watched another approach from the train station, fresh faced and eager to see what had emitted the sound.

This one he might dare to approach, the whisper of the flower effigies lulling him into the idea as it entranced him and the new girl. He drifted across the road and struck up a conversation about what they were viewing. She responded with a smile and they’re conversation continued as they walked away. He hoped to a pub for a drink and then after ... who knew.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 133

This painting was done by William Michael Harnett, an Irish/American painter in 1877 and is titled:  'Still Life Writing Table.' It's owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art

As a writer it appealed to me, and I tried to do something different with 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.


Dear Georgie,

Hello. Yes, I’m still here, it’s just my hands aren’t doing as well as they were and that’s difficult now with us all being reduced to handwritten letters. I’d never imagined we would go back to using ink and feathers, like in medieval times, and my hands are struggling with it at my age. Who ever thought we could run out of biros, and pencils? Looking back we had such strange ideas of what dystopia would be like, always viewing it from the idea of wars, and violence, and anarchy, only missing food or power. We totally overlooked the simple things, like pens or pencils, or certain sanitary products.

I miss transport. Yes, we have horses, but the idea of having to stay within the country or even county and never being about to go overseas on holiday again is a strange one. I know I should be used to it by now, several decades on, but I’m not.

What happened to the idea we could put it all back together and carry on? Why aren’t we able to? I can see the youth already not caring or being interested in what we had before. They make it out to be such an evil time, full of evil products that damaged the earth, but they have no idea the convenience they would bring, especially simple things like pens. But then there is the whole push back against learning and education and being literate, it’s worrying. It’s like an uprise of a whole new religion and I thought we were finally done with all that, silly beliefs based around some kind of Chinese whispers. Do you remember those, Georgie? We used to play them all the time when we were young.

The only thing the youth have achieved since the Final Days is eradicate power and corruption. Finally gone are all those god awful politicians and wars, and people trying to control other people – and of course the thing that drove them all – money. Community has become key. I love that. I never imagined that would ever happen. It’s like something out of Star Trek – do you remember that show? Gosh I miss television sometimes, and even the concept of travel into space has also been eradicated, none of them are interested in that anymore. Madison said to me the other day, when he came over with his family, ‘Dad, we’re not interested in that anymore, we’re only interested in loving and thriving and being here for each other. That’s what the world’s about now, and a good thing too.’

I have to say, Georgie, I couldn’t argue with that one. It’s like the dream that was endlessly proffered to us all, of world peace, has arrived. Yes, it’s not quite as we imagined, with the last of humanity living in small clusters with only the basics, but I don’t miss the noise of the world at all. And it got so much worse after with the advent of the Internet and mobile phones, and then that awful creation, social media. I sometimes wonder how different it would have been if no one had ever developed that. The world population might still be here, and we’d still have so many luxury items – even pens! And I wouldn’t be handwriting this to you with this scratchy piece of bird feather. I’d be typing instead – gosh how I miss the simplicity of pressing keys to get something.

And on that note, I’ll sign off. My hands get so tired these days. I can’t do the ten or eleven page missives I used to.

I’ll definitely make a trip to you next month, hopefully this will reach you by before then.

Take care until then.

Love Mastin xx

Friday 8 November 2019

All Author Book Cover Contest

My book cover has made it through to the second round of
the All Author's book cover contest! 😀

But now I need votes! 

I need to get into the top 50 and stay there until next Thursday, the 14th of November, 
to be in with a chance of going through to the next round. 

So if you like the cover of my book, Sleep, please vote for it!

You don't have to register to vote. 
NB. If you voted in the first round, you are allowed to vote again.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 132

This week's photo prompt was taken by Markus Lang. He calls this one simply Autumn. 

And this is another story that Tricky has decided to own. I am at the mercy of this character at the moment. Although I am building a nice portfolio and a bit of background on her.

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.

Hidden Power

It was only a little leaf, barely conspicuous there on the ground, but it was yellow, and Tricky knew what that meant. She stopped and looked about her. The trees had eyes, she’d never doubted that.

She had to have it; its value was more than most people knew, and those that did know wouldn’t be careless enough to leave it here, which is why she couldn’t. She dropped her carpet bag down beside it, making out it was heavy and she needed a rest. She bent over it, shuffling and muttering, making out everything was an effort. She looked old and feeble and that was a benefit in these suspicious times. As she scooped it back up again, she included the leaf. She could feel it warm in her hand. It was ready for use.

She skipped off down the road, trying hard to keep her eyes front; nothing more obvious than someone looking over their shoulder while scurrying away. When she reached her dwelling, safe out on the lake, she dared to open her hand and catch an eyeful of what she had collected.

It was perfect; its edges a little ragged from drifting across the road, but the yellow was pure, and full of magical goodness.

She took it over to her table where all the implements of her craft were laid out. If she followed the instructions correctly she could end up with an entire vial, which would keep her going for several years. Her eyes gleamed in the light of her hastily created hearth fire. Imagine being able to entrance others for that long. The power it would bring her!

But she chastised those grandiose ideas. Power would bring attention, potentially of the wrong sort. She had to be careful. She had to be wily. She had to be tricky. She cackled to herself; she was so funny!

She set to making her potion, daydreaming about the plans she had: the control she would exert and the revenge she would exact. It was long overdue. Those in charge were complacent and fat, reaping rewards they hadn’t earnt. Not that she was some kind of warrior of justice, oh no, she cackled again, this was for her – all for her, it just might be what they deserved too.

She stirred the pot and the golden glow increased until it lit up the inside of her cabin. Oh it was so pretty, so pretty – as she soon would be. 

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 131

This week's photo prompt was taken by American photographer Phil Koch He has some incredible photographs and they are also available to buy on his site (click on his name) and you can also check out more at his page on 500px

I wanted something different, but in the end I went with an old idea I'd had years ago. 

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.

Arctic Ark

We had finally arrived at the water. It had been a hard slog across a frozen desert on snowmobiles, and then pushing them through a scrub forest, but we were here at last; there was hope.

There was still snow on the beach but it wouldn’t last long. It didn’t matter how high up we travelled, anymore there was no escaping it.  But there was still time, enough time to build a boat – at least we hoped there would be.

We’d look at the trees as we had come through the scrub. It wasn’t going to be easy, but there was enough here.

I sat on the shore looking at the view with Jake Hanson.
‘It’s red, even this far up.’

‘You knew it would be.’

‘I hoped it wouldn’t be. I’d thought we’d still have some blue sky days.’

‘I think they’re gone from the earth for now.’

Rob Peterson came over and joined us. He had an armful of driftwood with him which he arranged in a pyramid.

Hanson looked around. ‘Where are the others?’

 ‘They’re getting started on some shelters. And Amy and Marcus have gone off to mark some trees ready for felling tomorrow.’

‘Okay. I think Kani brought the tools on his sled, didn’t he?’

‘Yep.’ Rob started fanning the spark he had made.’

I stared at the little flame. ‘It’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s what’s killing us but we can’t live without it.’

‘The irony of life.’ Jake pulled me closer into him and wrapped an arm round me.

We heard barking and saw Kani coming over the ridge between forest and beach, his arms full of equipment, the huskies dancing round his legs. Hanson got up to go help him. I waited for them to arrive before receiving doggy kisses as they barrelled into me, their tails almost catching light in the beachside fire. It was one of the few pleasures left.

He looked the sky over the water. ‘Magnificent and eerie. I’ve never seen anything like it up here.’

‘No one has. When was the last time this water flowed?’ Rob pointed at the ocean in front of us.

‘I’ve never seen it flow. When it cracked open last month there was no one in the village who had ever seen it thaw. It’s crazy.’

‘I wish you’d managed to persuade them to join us, they would have been invaluable.’

Kani looked sombre. ‘Me too. But they don’t believe it is the end, they think it is a new beginning.’

I shivered. It was a new beginning of sorts; the fires would cleanse the earth. Taking to water was the only way to survive, and our little band of engineers would hopefully build something sturdy to endure and wait for them to burn out. We had all brought skills. Mine was navigation. I could get us anywhere with my eidetic memory for maps. The trick was keeping healthy and fed. If we managed that we just might make it.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 130

This week's photo was taken by Michael Wombat, a writer friend on Twitter. It is Hawick Town Hall. I thought it looked very moody and was worth writing about. 

Okay, so this story ran away with itself, and actually turned into 1500 - and wasn't all done, so I might have to return to it. I saved it at that length and cut what I could, but it's come out at 950 words, so for this week all of you can have up 950 words too! 

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.


They crossed the street to the town hall and went round the back of the building. The moon was high and the night was crisp so they didn’t have a problem seeing where they were going. When they reach the side door Russell revealed a key he’d got from a mate that worked there.

They snuck inside, Marina took the opportunity to link her arm through his and grasped it with both hands. He quite liked that – and not just as an excuse to be close, it felt comforting in the eerie darkness.

They didn’t speak as they made their way into the building. Russell had been here plenty of times, so he easily found the stairs to the clock tower where the reports of ghost sightings had been. He was excited to see if they were true.

The thick carpet underfoot helped them move silently as they ascended, but by the time they reached the top they were out of breath.

They stood on the landing catching their breath, looking round at the three doors that faced them, one glass where the clock was housed. They could see the back of the clock inside.

‘Where to now?’ asked Marina.

‘I’m not sure.’ Russell’s warm breath left plumes in the air.

‘I didn’t think it was that cold in here,’ observed Marina noticing.

‘It shouldn’t be.’

Marina started to shiver. ‘Is it getting colder?’

Russell’s eyes lit up. ‘A sudden drop in temperature normally precedes a paranormal event. This could be it!’

Marina returned the look of excitement, and they waited. The only sound was the clock ticking away the hour. Then they heard footsteps. Marina moved closer to Russell, and he took her hand, pulling her into his side, his eyes glued to the clock room door where they came from.  

They grew louder and the handle on the glass door moved, yet no one could be seen on the other side.
Russell felt a mixture of curiosity and fear as it swung open. The footsteps stopped when they reached the carpet so he had no idea if whatever had opened it was still there.

Then the handle on the door to their right moved. He could feel Marina clutching his arm and waist. It opened and closed. No sounds, no footsteps – there was carpet in that room too.

They continued to wait, but nothing happened. Russell felt Marina’s hands relax. He went over to the door on the right, to look inside, but it wouldn’t open. It was locked.

‘What the ...?’ he whispered.

He glanced at Marina. She’d seen it too and looked at him wide-eyed.

‘That’s insane.’

‘I think we should get out of here.’

‘It might come back.’

‘I don’t want to be here when it does, Russell.’

He looked at her. She was shaking, although the freezing air had past. Then they heard footsteps at the bottom of the stairwell.

‘Shit! Someone’s here!’ he whispered.

Despite the carpet, they could hear someone climbing, and the shuffle of cloth against the wall. Then a glow appeared.

‘We need to hide,’ he hissed. He knew one door was locked, but were the others? He was relieved to find the glass door open, and pulled Marina through, gently shutting it behind them.

They pressed themselves up against the wall to one side of the door, hoping they wouldn’t be seen if someone looked in.

The landing filled with light as the person reached the top. Russell wanted to peek but daren’t, and held his breath as light filled the room. They were moving toward the clock room.

The handle turned, and he could see his own breath as well as Marina’s. The temperature had dropped again and he realised this might not be a living person.

It opened and they stepped in. Russell had assumed the light had come from a torch, but it hadn’t; the ethereal being emitted it. Dressed in some kind of uniform, not quite military, when it turned from closing the door, Marina gasped.

‘Dad?’ she whispered.

The apparition turned and upon seeing her, smiled. It shook its head.

‘Nay child, great grandfather I believe – you’re Geoffrey’s daughter, yes?’ Its deep voice resonated through the room.  

She nodded. Russell could see tears sparkling in her eyes.

‘Yes, is he here?’

It gave a sad shake of the head. ‘Nay, he has passed over beyond the light.’

She frowned slightly. ‘Why haven’t you?’

‘My work here is not done; I must wind the clock.’

‘But there’s someone else doing that now; it’s not your responsibility.’

‘I must, otherwise she will be late and doom will fall.’

Its face dropped and it turned away continuing its walk to the clock, but vanished as it reached it.
The two of them stood in stunned silence. Then they looked at each other.

‘Do you know what he was talking about?’ Marina asked.

‘No.’ Russell was bewildered by his words.

‘I need to know. I need to find out. Maybe it will release him.’


Marina shuddered. ‘Can we go now? I don’t think I can handle any more.’

‘Me either.’

They left the room and descended in silence, sneaking out the way they’d come in.

Out on the street, Russell grabbed her hand. ‘Are you okay? Do you want to come back to mine for a cuppa before you go home?’

Marina had seemed distant on the way out, but now she came back to herself.

‘I’d love to.’

‘Great, and you can tell me about your dad and who that guy was.’

‘I’m not sure I know. I think I’ll need to do a trip to the library tomorrow.’

‘I’ll come with you.’

She squeezed his hand and they walked off down the street, still trying to process what they’d just witnessed.