Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 146

This weeks prompt photo was created by Hermin Abramovitch, an artist from Israel - known as ahermin over on their page on Deviant Art. He calls this Picture of a City. He creates all sorts of surreal things.

Okay, inadvertently I ended up with another tale from Tricky, but every day I am getting more clarity about what her story will be telling me.

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.




Jumping Through Time

Bollox! That would teach her to muck about with things she shouldn’t. She could see him coming in the distance and needed to work fast.

The mirrors worked, she knew that, but she couldn’t be sure she’d set them to the right frequency; if it was wrong whoever was coming would be in for a nasty shock.

She could see his red shorts and those luminescent funny-shaped shoes they wear with the laces off centre; she’d seen them last time she’d travelled through that particular mirror. It had been a strange place, full of buildings all crowded together and machines that spewed nasty toxins into the air – and all these people running.

She’d tried to work out what they were running from or to, but couldn’t. And they wore different clothes from people who weren’t running. She even saw huge posters up on walls displaying those shoes and people running in the background. Maybe it was some kind of fashion, thankfully lost in the annals of time, never to return – at least not to her time.

She shuffled the other mirror round on the wet sand, trying to put them where they’d meet in the right place. It should only feel like he tripped on something and almost fell when he came through. The water surrounding them reflected the sky so he should only experience a bit of disorientation for a few seconds before (hopefully) rejoining the road on the other side.

She could hear him breathing now as he ran. Was she right? He was just one of those running people, wasn’t he? She really hoped nothing was chasing him; she wasn’t prepared for two of them to jump through, that would create a problem. She hadn’t calculated for two; the rift wouldn’t hold.

She could hear the footfalls now, thumping on the wet sand. She held the mirror steady as it shook with his arrival. She put a hand on the other mirror making sure they remained lined up. His breathing was in her ear and she heard a grunt as he broke through, with a sort of yell that turned into a yip as he almost somersaulted through into the other mirror. She heard his feet land heavily in the other mirror, and a few stumbles, then he was running again.

But he glanced over his shoulder for a second and caught her eye. She was sure he had looked straight at her and seen her.

She shuddered. No, it was just a trick of the light. He couldn’t have known she was there. Surely not, unless … unless he wasn’t just one of those running people, someone for her to experiment on; what if he was an agent sent by Carter? What if he was clued up on what she was doing?

Arse! Damn her tricky mind and its whisperings.

She put the mirrors together and shoved them back into her carpetbag. She stumbled in her rush to stand, her knees stiff from being in the residue water the tide had left behind. She needed to get back and think about this, and needed to do it in a safe place – her home being the only one. He couldn’t reach her there.



Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 145

This week's prompt is a photo of an object made by Daan Botlek, a Dutch artist. He calls these Obscure objects. He creates some interesting things, worth checking out.

I had to cut this heavily to fit the word count ... I maybe be over slightly too! Eep!  Enjoy.

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.






Ninja Monks

When they brought him into the room, Kenta knew. It was the last piece of evidence he needed – well, ‘needed, he hadn’t questioned coming here, or speculated what they did here, that had been his father. He’d always wanted to be a part of what the kids called the ‘Ninja Monks’.

He’d dreamt about climbing the mountain and being accepted into the rambling castle-like monastery at the top. He’d imagined training with the monks and being revered by his friends on the Sacred Day when they would come into town to join the festivities and show off their skills.

And until the last month it had been a dream come true: Kenta had converted to the required beliefs and been ordained into the order; he’d passed the first three levels of skills required to train as a master, and proven his devotion to their way of life without putting a foot wrong.

Then after his acceptance ceremony into the skilled group it had started, subtly so as not to startle him. Kenta tolerated the washing of your peers as a cleansing ritual, and he appreciated that any touch could cause a reaction, but each week it had become more intimate to a point where Kenta realised he was being groomed. And then during the sparring sessions ‘resistance techniques’ had been introduced, each day increasing in intensity, sometimes in the form of an object and other times as an illegal hit employed to force him into submission. No-one questioned it, so he didn’t either. He realised they considered it a rite of passage.

And now in this room, a dojo stripped bare, Kenta was faced with what looked like a practising wheel, but the items on it would damage his body. They didn’t just want him to submit today, they wanted to break him. And the fact the two monks hadn’t left the room was also telling: this wouldn’t be optional. This place was a cult.

In that moment Kenta knew he had to leave – now.

The upside to being here was that he had accumulated skills, and not just physical skills, his mind was as nimble as his body. He knew that challenging these two wouldn’t get him far – they were master ninjas after all. He had to outsmart them. This meant lulling them into a false sense of security. He let them run the wheel and took on the challenge wholeheartedly; he didn’t hesitate or show any signs of trepidation; he knew it was the only way to get out of this room.

By the first break he only had two tears in his torso; his forearms had taken the worst of it. They took him to the bathing room to rinse them. This was his chance.

The toilets faced east, the steepest side of the mountain so they wouldn’t suspect anything and be off guard, allowing him to close the door. Climbing out of the tiny window was a circus act, but Kenta made it through and was over the outer wall before the alarm bells rang – and ring they did. He hadn’t expected that – just as he hadn’t expected the lines of cable on the mountain side.

He’d never looked over the edge before, he’d never needed to, but now he would see that he hadn’t been the first to try to escape: a net had been set up across the entire escarpment, and there was no way down without being caught in it.

His hesitation cost him as a shroud was thrown over him causing him to tumble forward and fall over the side. However, the covering also benefitted him by literally saving his skin; when the net was activated it stopped most of the electrification getting through. And it meant he rolled over the net without stopping. He wondered if a friend had thrown it … until he was ejected out over a sheer drop into free fall.

Even though death was mildly better than being broken and submitting to their twisted ways, it hadn’t been Kenta’s plan; he wasn’t ready to give up. As he fell he pulled the cloth off and was just in time to grab a tree growing out of a crevice. The sudden stop almost jolted his arm out of its socket, but he used the momentum to swing himself up and hold on with both arms and a leg. The tree took his weight.

He took a moment to catch his breath and look around. Had he stranded himself? He could see other vegetation coming out of the cliff face giving him a chance to climb down, and if he could get low enough he’d enter a forest. It would take time, but he’d plot the downfall of this barbaric citadel on the way; people needed to know the truth. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 144

This week's photo was taken by Alfonso Leon, a photographer from Bogata, Colombia. He calls this Surreal. He takes loads of interesting urban shots. 

This one was one of my favourite sorts of stories. I always have to go there when I see this kind of prompt. 

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.



Reflected Reality

He didn’t feel right when he came off the plane, and it only got worse when he reached the check-in desk at the hotel. They couldn’t find the name he gave, Randy Mertland, but they could find someone called Ross Mortel who had the same credit card details.

He pulled out his drivers’ license but they still called the police. It got even weirder when the cops looked up Ross Mortel’s drivers’ licence and it was the same photo. But they decided there had to be an error somewhere so they let him check in and use his credit card. He wondered if someone had attempted to steal his ID.

He tried to relax and follow the itinerary he had planned but he was confused when the second museum gave dates for things that just couldn’t be possible. He’d thought it was just him the first time – ancient Egypt wasn’t his forte after all, but he knew his recent wars, and there was no way the First World War had started in November of 1914, it had definitely been July. Most of the other details were right, but not those dates. He didn’t get it.

Then the final rabbit hole grew bigger when he arrived at Trafalgar square.

Randy was sure he would have heard about a replica of the Paris Louvre museum being built here, after all he lived in Paris, plus he’d only been to London six months ago. The glass domes reflected the cloudy sky around. He was so fascinated he bought a ticket and went in.

The literature about the museum said it had been there for over twenty years. It was insane. Many of the exhibits were the same as the Paris ones, but there was always something slightly off: a name spelled differently, dates not right, or wrong location. What was going on?

When he came out it was raining hard and had been for some time. He wondered if it was just him. Maybe there was something wrong with him; maybe someone had slipped something into his drink when he’d slept on the plane. He really didn’t know.

As he stood at the traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn, he stared at his reflection in a gutter puddle wondering, until he realised the sky was clear in the reflection. Huh? He looked up, it was still raining. How could that be? The buildings in the puddle were different too. What was going on?

He squatted down to take a closer look, ignoring the light change. No one took any notice of him as they moved past, and then someone bumped him.

He put out a hand to stop himself falling but it went straight through the puddle, and he fell, tumbling through, until he hit something hard and blacked out.

When Randy came round he was lying on the pavement, and someone was crouched over him asking him if he was okay. He felt a bump on his head but otherwise he was fine. But it was sunny here, the sky was blue and the buildings around him weren’t the same as the ones before he’d fallen.

He got up and thanked the person for their help. He knew where he was; he was just on a different street. He walked back and turned the corner into Trafalgar square.

His sudden stop caused the people behind him to tut and sigh as they passed.

The Lourve replica was gone. The lions were there, Nelson’s column, the fountains, but no glass pyramid, no long queue of people waiting to go into the underground museum.

This was crazy – or was it? Was he back in his reality? Had he had some kind of delusion or dream? He didn’t want to entertain the wacko idea that he had slipped through time some how.

To be sure, he went back to the museums and found all the dates were as they should be. And when he returned to the hotel, the receptionist at the desk gave him a strange look when he asked if all was fine with the mix up with his name.

‘I’m sorry, Sir, you must have spoken to someone else, I don’t know anything about that.’


Monday, 10 February 2020

Love Bites - Flash Fiction Competition - with Prizes!!

In the build up to Valentine's Day, the #FabFive are back with with another holiday themed Flash Challenge, this time hosted by Katheryn Avila , called Love Bites!

It runs from the 10th of February to the 21st of February - midnight to midnight EST (Eastern Standard Time)

And yes, there are prizes! ðŸ˜ƒ

1st Prize - $10 Amazon Gift Voucher
2nd Prize - $5 Amazon Gift Voucher

(NB. Amazon gift vouchers can be assigned to the country of the entrant - such as amazon UK gift vouchers)

The prompts for the theme are:
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Trapped in an Elevator
  • Forbidden Love
  • Secret Billionaire
  • The Fake Relationship
So give us the tales of love won, lost, and kicked to the curb, and add them to the link on Katheryn Avila's website. (click on the picture below).

Be aware that it may take a couple of weeks after this date to finalise the winners (there are five of us in different time zones, so it can take a while to discuss and decide!) so don't worry if you don't hear anything straight after the deadline.

Here is my entry below - which is, of course, not ineligible for the prizes, as are none of the hosts entries. I went with the Trapped in Lift trope, and although I tried to think of a way for this to not turn out well, I couldn't. Meh, I'm a romantic at heart!




Caught

Gareth couldn’t believe his luck when Vanessa pushed into the already crowded lift and his plans immediately changed. He was no longer going to the roof to do prep work for his latest assignment; he was going to see where she was going.

She’d been Gareth’s personal project for some time now. He’d followed her all over the city. It had reaffirmed one thing: Vanessa was way out of his league. Tall, good looking, confident women like her didn’t notice small unassuming men like him, although in truth that was what he wanted – he’d built an entire career around it.

By the time the lift reached the top floor of the thirty storey building, it was down to the two of them. She wanted the ground floor but being the only lift in a complex of over a hundred apartments, it was wait or brave the stairs. Like him, she lived above the tenth floor so you learnt to be patient.
When he didn’t get out, she glanced at him.

‘Yeah, I don’t know who pressed it,’ he said with a shrug.

She pressed the G button again to get the lift moving. He tried to think of something to say but couldn’t.

The lift rattled a bit and Vanessa glanced nervously at the ceiling. Then it let out a squeal and shuddered to a halt. They both waited, nothing happened.

‘Should we jump or something?’ she said with a half laugh.

‘I don’t know. Do you want to try?’

They looked at each other.

‘What if it plummets?’ she said.

‘My thought’s exactly.’ They both laughed, releasing some of the tension.

‘Is there a call button?’ Gareth stepped forward and pressed the red emergency button. There was a ringing and then a tinny voice asked what the problem was. He reported where they were and was told someone would resolve it shortly.

It occurred to Gareth that this was his chance – if he was honestly interested in this woman, rather than just stalking her.

‘You live on 11th , don’t you?’ he said.

‘Yeah, and your on 12th, aren’t you?’

Her reply surprised him.

‘Yeah, I’m in 12b.’

‘Thought so, I’ve got a friend in 12a and she’s mentioned you a few times.’

‘Really?’ He felt his face redden. Were there women in the building talking about him?

She giggled; a sound that raised his heart rate. ‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. She’s single and notices all the guys around her, especially the single ones.’

‘Is that right?’ She knew he was single. He felt exposed. He didn’t like being observed by others – he was the one who watched people for a living.

‘Have you seen her? Would you be interested?’

Was she serious? The woman he’d had a crush on for over a year was trying to fix him up with his neighbour.

‘She’s not my type.’

Vanessa’s smile faltered. ‘Oh sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed you were into women.’

Shit! That wasn’t what he meant. ‘No, no, it’s not that. I’m into women; I just have someone else in mind at the moment.’

She let out a breath. ‘Oh good, I haven’t offended you.’

He smiled. 

‘Can I be nosey and ask who?’

This was his chance, his moment, but her frankness caught him off guard.

‘Erm … you can, but I might not answer.’

Did he really just say that?

‘Oh.’ She blushed, embarrassed. He glanced away embarrassed too and annoyed with himself.

Then just as he planned to come clean, there was a crackle on the speaker and the tinny voice announced they’d be moving any minute.

There was a clunk and the lift jerked causing Vanessa to stumble. Gareth caught her, and she let him pull her in close. She was almost a full head taller and he could smell her hair.

‘It’s you,’ he said. He felt her body tense.

She looked down at him, her grey-green eyes registering surprise, but she didn’t pull away.

Then the lift jostled one last time and started moving.

She still didn’t pull away and he didn’t release his hold.

‘Oh’ is all she said before leaning down and kissing him.

The ting of their arrival on the ground floor broke the kiss and they pulled apart. She looked flushed.

‘I’ve got to go, but you’ve got my number, right?’

He smiled. ‘I do.’

‘Call me.’

And with that she was gone. He just stood there grinning while people piled into the lift to go back up. 


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 143



This week's photo prompt is of an art installation by German artist Cornelia Konrads which she did for the Centre d'Arts ete de Nature, in Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, (France). I am not sure who actually took this photo though as I can't find it on her site and have been unable to trace it further. 

I had no idea where this story was going, but then the ending arrived and I liked it. It worked. 

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.



Doorway

He could see it, but had the others? As they came to a halt along the pathway in the woods and observed the ‘green door’, as Marjory referred to it, they thought it was just a pretty piece of artwork, but Travis noticed something more. There were loose branches suspended in the air around it. They could be set up with wires, but he didn’t believe this – mostly because he could feel the power radiating from it.

He also found it curious that Steve had brought them to a stop. Up until now, whenever he asked to stop they wouldn’t, as it hadn’t been long enough since the last stop. They’d only been walking for 20 minutes; usually they walked for at least an hour before taking a break. Had they sensed the power too, but weren’t conscious of it?

He considered mentioning it, but he was considered the goofball of their group, a science geek who had a particular interest in unknown phenomena that couldn’t be explained by human theories of physics or chemistry. He believed humans had basic calculations wrong, but despite years spent trying to prove it, no-one took him seriously.

This brought him back to the doorway. This could be a piece of evidence. He walked up to the door.
Jackie called to him, “Where’re you going, Travis? Aren’t you thirsty?”

He half-smiled as he glanced over his shoulder at her; she was trying to stop him without realising why. The sixth-sense of human intuition, maybe? Another thing science couldn’t provide evidence for.

“I’m just checking it out, Jackie, I’ll come and get a drink in a minute.”

“Okay.”

He walked up to the door and scrutinised the twigs and branches around it. They were rigid and unmoving, and when he leaned in he could hear an electrical crackle. There was energy flowing through them, attracting them like a magnet to the shape of the doorway. It was not a built structure; it was formed by the collection of material drawn to it.

He stood in the opening and looked through. The path continued, looking no different to what they had just walked through. In fact, he turned round, it looked identical to the path they’d just taken, except ... he turned round to look, yes it was a perfect mirror reflection, yet their group wasn’t in it.
It might have been a trick of the eye if it weren’t for the collection of birch trees off at the back right. They’d passed an identical number on their left a few moments ago. And the placement of marks on the bark were identical, and then the rest of the matching plants and trees became apparent.

“What are you looking at?” Steve looked at the path behind them and back at Travis, having noticed him looking back and forth.

“I’m not sure about this doorway. I think it’s more than just a piece of artwork. I think it’s some kind of mirror.”

It was the simplest way to explain it to them, although it might not be accurate, but saying it was some kind of reflective orb of power would only result in laughter. Plus, maybe it WAS a mirror. Was it solid? He reached out his hand, taking his time, feeling the throb of power in his fingers as they moved closer. They went past the edge of the doorway, and kept on going until his entire hand was through, there was no resistance at all.

But then a strange thing occurred: He saw his fingers wobble, almost shimmer, and when he tried to pull his hand back it wouldn’t move. He was pulling from the shoulder, but there was no give. His hand was trapped.

The others had been watching him, and Steve jumped up. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” Travis tried to keep his voice calm, but panic was rising. “I can’t get my hand back, it won’t budge.”

Steve joined him and took hold of his arm, pulling on it, but it still wouldn’t move.

Then Travis felt a yank on the other side and his entire arm went through. “Help me!” he cried.

Steve grabbed Travis by the waist, pulling him back as hard as he could. For a moment there was a sort of tug of war, but then they both fell back as Travis was released. They lay there for a moment, relieved, but it was short lived as the girls started screaming and he realised his hand was missing. 



Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 142

This week's photo is of a sculpture by Rook Floro. He calls it 'Shadow.' If click on the link you will see a variety of angles it is taken at. 

This week it just poured out onto the page, which was a good thing as I am late 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.



Shadow


She wanted to be so much more. She wanted to exist fully and to an extent that she was seen and heard and visible to the rest of the world, but no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t seem to achieve it.

She went out of her way to help people; she offered her skills, her assistance, her time, her loyalty. And some of them took it, readily enough, but it was never reciprocated. She was the stormy weather friend: there for all of them through the hard times, but never through the happy times – and never there for her through either times.

Inside she knew she was more, knew she could be more, wanted to be so much more, but could never seem to bring it out. Everyone said you had to support yourself, be independent, be self-sufficient, and she did that, she did all that. But it changed nothing externally.

They said she was surrounding herself with the wrong people, the wrong energy, in the wrong place and the wrong time. She changed all that. Then they said it was her who was wrong, full of the wrong energy, emitting the wrong vibes, that people didn’t want to know her.

No matter which way she turned she couldn’t seem to get it right. And it drained her, it frazzled her, it sucked her dry. And so she stopped. She stopped stepping forward. She stopped speaking up. She stopped trying to engage. Instead she withdrew and isolated herself.

She stopped offering her help, stopped being the first to make contact and she waited. And as she has suspected all along: nothing.

Not from anyone: not those that called themselves friends, and especially not from those that called themselves family. Her fears were confirmed. Her paranoia wasn’t in her head, it was tangible and evident.

She could say she felt lost, but she wasn’t, she was just alone – emotionally and physically.

She still wanted to be so much more, still dreamt of being so much more, felt it stir inside her, but now she wasn’t who she was anymore, she was just a shadow of her former self, trying desperately to find her true self again – her whole self. 





Thursday, 23 January 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 141

This week's photo prompt was taken by Kevin McElheran, in Sorrento, British Columbia, Canada. Unfortuately, his website doesn't seem to exist and he hasn't tweeted since 2014, so there isn't really anything to link it to, but by all reports he called it The Happening, and said this about it: "This abandoned 100 year old church is what's left from what was the rail town of Sorrento, British Columbia. I was driving through this area late one night when I noticed a train in the distance approaching which outlined this structure in it's glow."

The subject for the story was an obvious one for me. I had to cut it this piece back to make the word count though. 

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.




Justice


Some say it was an act of God dispelling evil; others said it was a fluke lightening strike. Either way the church had come to a pretty dramatic end.

I liked to think of it as a cleansing, even though I didn’t feel cleansed. It might have brought it all into the light – both literally and metaphorically – but who was going to take the next step and make them accountable for what they’d done?

Some even denied it; they couldn’t believe their precious church could be so depraved. They’d blamed the victims, even though some of them had been victims themselves. It was warped, but the sick underbelly in town had been exposed. If we didn’t clean it up, it would fester and continue to infect.

I had one ally: George, who was the state deputy in the region. He’d seen for himself what they had done, but he’d told me there were no plans to pursue the abusers because any evidence had been lost in the fire. He’d said the only place it could be found now was in the priest’s house, but they had no grounds to look. He’d said it to me with a glint in his eye.

So here I was standing on the flat roof of the priest’s garage extension, hoping I didn’t spark the automatic security lights that covered the front of this white weatherboard five-bedroom house. It was amazing how much money brainwashing people and abusing their children accrued.

I’d done my research; even swallowed down my feelings and gone round to give my commiserations, just to get invited in to get the layout of the place. There was a study and a private chapel out the back that I needed to look in.

The chapel had been empty, besides an Alter and a few pews, so here I was climbing up the house, hoping to gain access through an open bathroom window.

It was then I heard the car coming. I immediately dropped to my stomach and tried to make myself as flat as the roof. It was after midnight and a quiet road, hopefully it would pass. But it didn’t, it turned into the driveway. Shit! They weren’t all home and asleep!

But it wasn’t one of the residents. It was Justin Lanerky from the hardware store. He was drunk and angry. I could hear him stumble as he got out and started shouting.

“You good for-nuthin’ piece of shit! You fucked up my life!’

Lights came on. The front door opened.

‘Now now, Mr Lanerky, I don’t think coming round here shouting the odds is a good idea. You need to go home, cool off and sober up.’ The priest tried to placate him.

‘He’s in no fit state to drive, Davy, he’ll have to come into the house and get some coffee.’ His wife’s voice was as sweet as candy.

‘You’re right, Norma. Why don’t you come in Mr Lanerky.’

‘I ain’t going in there. I don’t know what you might do to me!’

‘Don’t be silly, Mr Lanerky, my wife’s just going to make some coffee and help you calm down.’

I heard scuffling and Mr Lanerky’s protests reduce as they brought him inside. I slid back down the roof, no longer worrying about the light now it was on, just wanting to get the hell out of there. Then I heard a scream and then another that ended in a gurgle. I crept up to the front window and peeked through the corner where the net curtain didn’t quite reach. I saw a body on the floor covered in blood, and the priest standing over it smiling while his wife wiped the blade of a knife. They’d killed him!

It was then I ran, as hard and fast as I could all the way back to my car, parked a couple of blocks away. Once inside I called George. At first I was so out of breath I could barely get my words out, but he was patient and waited. He told me to stay put while he rallied the troops.

The wait in the car seemed excruciating, but hearing those sirens was sweet relief. There was no way they could cover up the murder that quick. It made me wonder; others from the congregation had gone missing. Maybe I’d narrowly escaped going missing myself! 



Monday, 20 January 2020

Book Review: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Nothing Important Happened TodayNothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book very much. I had heard a lot about it - and not just because I inadvertently was at a London book launch for it (it was a double booklaunch, I was there for the other book - Violet, by SJI Holliday, go read it, it's brilliant!) but because people who's opinion I rated raved about it.

I am not a crime thriller reader on the whole. I like some books, depending on the author and the story. But I was surprised this was placed in this genre - and raved about by the very tight circle of crime thriller supporters that go to all the events within the crime genre. Yes, there is a detective that features in a bit of it, and yes, in the last 10% of the novel you find out that there was actually someone behind what is taking place in this novel, but other than that it was simply a diatribe the author wishes to make about Suicide, Society, Social Media and Cults - touching on subjects like therapy and hypnosis along with it. It was bleak and depressing, and not just because it is about mass suicides.

I almost DNF at around 30% but someone in a review had said it picks up after 50% so I carried on. But I didn't find that, I found the entire story was really in the last 10-20%. I don't think I've ever skim read any book so much in my life before!

There is nothing wrong with the writing itself, but it is narrated as though by an observer so that we the reader are also observing it all happening, with constant digressions into information about famous serial killers and their motivations as though they were relevant to the story. In a very vague way they were, but not until the end. If you are a crime thriller reader maybe this gave it a more interest but sadly it didn't help for me.

This POV is fine for setting up the story or the character, other authors like Stephen King do this, so the reader can get an overview of what is going on, but it just didn't stop. It meant it was not possible to engage with the characters or care about any of them particularly - which maybe was a reflective of the disconnect the characters were having in the story, leading them to the suicides, but I found myself waiting to find out what it was all about really and that didn't come until the last 10% and by then I wanted it over. I like to engage with characters and the story when I am reading, otherwise what is the point?

The author has his own theatre company and writes plays and screenplays and to me that was what this reflected - having a theatre background myself - someone giving stage directions and describing the setting of each scene, but continually to the end.

It was repetitive and went back and forth a lot and kept slipping into rants about the same topics, going over and over them. The author occasionally changed into what is called Collective First, where they use 'You' as a plural instead of 'I' - like you are talking about yourself to someone. It brought me slightly closer to the characters involved and enabled me to keep reading.

There was something compelling about it, and I was curious to what or who was behind it which is what kept me reading. I don't like to give up on books, particularly ones that are a sort of mystery. I just had to learn to skim read, which I hate doing.

This book did not work for me, and did not inspire me to read any more of this author's books. Clearly it worked for others and if you are reading this, it might work for you. The bleakness or bluntness of the suicides did not bother me at all, but it definitely would trigger others who have had suicide affect their life.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 140

I found this week's photo prompt on twitter, when an artist called Richard Wells shared a selection of pictures with the tweet: "That time I went through a phase of Photoshopping Victorians out of their cabinet photos...… "

I had expected the stories for this to flood into my mind, but I couldn't get anything to work or that didn't sound cliche, so I went with poetry this time. Always feel free to write poetry - short of long. Writing is writing after all!

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 girl with no face

They had loved her
Though they were told they wouldn't
They had kept her
Thought they were told they shouldn't
They had hidden her
Thought they were told they couldn't

They had taught her
Though they were told she'd be no student
And coddled her
Though they were told it wasn't prudent
And sheltered her when they called her a mutant

They had let her play
Sometimes all day
Refusing to send her away
Covering her little face
With a delicate piece of lace
Treating her with kindness and grace

Until the day she'd fled the house
Some say in fear of a mouse
Her little toddler legs pumping
Over the boundary wall jumping

They say you can still hear the sounds
Of her playing in the grounds
And of her singing in the underbrush
Though they say it in a kind of hush
'Cause the townspeople hadn't wanted her there

They'd treated her with cruelty and been unfair
Some say they'd even been the ones

To set the trap that made her run
So they could catch her and make her gone
Returning her to what they called her rightful place
All because they couldn't tolerate the girl with no face




Tuesday, 14 January 2020

#NYR2020 – New Year’s Revolution Flash Fiction Event.

I have recently joined the #FabFlashFive - a team of flash fiction writers who host flash fiction contests and challenges throughout the year and who come together at different times of the year to host joint events, like this one, where there is a prize in the offing!

This New Year’s Revolution Flash Fiction Event is hosted by Cara Michaels (host of the weekly #MenageMonday writing contest)

It's running for two weeks - starting Monday 13th of Jan to Friday 24th of Jan - Midnight to Midnight (EST).

My entry is below - but my entry, along with my co-hosts, will be ineligible for the prize.

We will be hosting other events throughout the year too so look out for them:

Love Bites - Katheryn Avila (Feb) - host weekly #SwiftFicFriday
Midsummer Madness - Miranda Kate (June) - host of weekly #MidWeekFlash
Monster Mash - Siobhan Muir (Oct) - host of weekly #ThursThreads
Tipsy Santa - Ever Addams (Dec) - supporter & prompter of all!

(NB: All links on names lead to twitter accounts where you can search the hashtag)

So click on the picture below and check out submission details and write something for us!


Picture of a crow in some dark clouds.

Be careful what you wish for

Hayden had been told they’d been doing this ritual for centuries. He was hopeful it would open new opportunities for him, enable him to start the new year fresh with a clean slate, and also give him more freedom. He needed that freedom so he could get more creative.

The granite beneath him was cold and he could feel it seep through into his skin. It felt like part of the process and a kind of anaesthetic, so he would be numb for the next stage. There was something exciting about it. It reminded him of his last sin and how he hadn’t allowed them any relief; they’d had to feel everything. The thought titillated him as much now as it had then, and he shifted his hips trying to offset the pressure building in that area. But he was laid out on the slab, wrists and ankles restrained. There was no way he could hide what was growing.

The priest paused, glancing at it. It didn’t help Hayden’s predicament, only increased it. He saw the priest’s eyebrow raise and a smirk spread across his face. He made eye contact with Hayden. It seemed Hayden was not alone in his enjoyment. Hayden relaxed and released his shame, sighing deeply.

“Good,” the priest said. “Let yourself be in the moment. Embrace all while you still can.”

Hayden’s brow twitched in a frown. Did he hear that correctly?

He heard metal against stone in a swiping motion. The blades were being prepared. The sound moved closer as the two assistants brought them to the priest. The freshly sharpened long clip blade was passed to him. He wiped it off on a clean white cloth, turning it so the candle-light glinted off the steel.

Hayden braced himself.

The priest raised the blade slowly above his head, chanting words, while looking up at the blade. All the focus was on the knife in his hands. Hayden could see symbols engraved on the flat of the blade as well as the handle. He was mesmerised by its beauty, which was why, when a sharp sensation moved across his wrists, he cried out – as much in shock as in pain.

He turned his head left and right and saw that the assistants had opened up the arteries by his hands. They moved swiftly down to his feet as the priest continued with his diatribe, making slits behind his heels causing Hayden to take in another sharp breath.

Hayden could feel the heat of his body leaving him through his open extremities, and his mind swooned. He had understood they would be making the cuts, but he thought they would be small for a bloodletting; these were sacrificial.

The priest’s words were building, getting louder and louder until they abruptly stopped. All eyes fell on Hayden’s.

“Are you ready to receive absolution, my son?”

Although unsure if he truly was, Hayden replied, “Yes.”

“Then, I decree your soul absolved, released from this body.” The priest began the descent down with the blade.

“Wait? What?!” Hayden tried to sit up. His head swam at the movement, his vitality waning with the blood loss.

The priest paused. “You wish to be absolved of your sin, of your depraved ways in this world. The only way is for you to be removed from this world.”

“But you said, absolution would mean a clean slate!”

“On the other side, yes.” The priest’s arms were still raised.

“But ... I didn’t agree to that.”

“Did you answer in the affirmative when I asked?”

“Yes.”

“Then you did agree.”

The priest didn’t give time for further discussion. The blade came down swiftly, and Hayden remained conscious as it opened him from sternum to groin. He wished for his tolerance of pain to reduce so he could pass out, but it wasn’t until the removal of the third organ that he finally fell out of consciousness, never to return.

640 ineligible words