Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 221

This week's picture prompt was taken by Florence Caplain, a French photographer. It is of a piano in Chateau de Pont Remy Somme also known as the Chateau Pianiste due to all the pianos  found in the house. A less elegant name given by the many explorers and photographers who have visited, id Chateau ‘Clochard’, meaning chateau of the ‘homeless man‘, because of the state of the chateau. 

This photo was taken on the 8th of August 2021, but on the night of the 13th of August, arsonists set the Chateau alight and now all that remains is a shell. Such a shame, although a few of the furnishings were saved by firefighters. But this photo is all that remains of this piano. 

It's taken me a couple of days get this tale together. I always want to write ghost stories but they never seemed to come out as well as I hope. Here's my effort.

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.



An old disused dusty close up shot of a piano keys, with a photo of someone on the music sheet stand

Greensleeves

‘Is that the piano I can hear?’

‘It can’t be; there’s no one else here.’

‘I’m sure it is. Listen!’

The sound of Greensleeves filled the old cavernous house from top to bottom. They got out of bed and put their dressing gowns on, rushing downstairs. They went to the piano in the drawing room and watched the keys moving up and down, while opaque pages of sheet music on the stand turned one after the other.

They reached out to the papers but their hands passed right through them.

‘Oh Jeffrey, what is it?!’

‘Who is it more like!’ he replied.

‘The hairs on my body are all on end!’

‘Calm yourself, Marjory, we’ll be fine. They’re harmless.’

‘You don’t know that, they might do something to us in our sleep!’

‘They aren’t even able to touch us! Don’t be so silly!’

‘But who are they? And why are they here? Can we find out?’

‘This is an old property dating back to the 1800s. I should imagine quite a few people have passed in this house. How can we identify just one?’

‘Were any pianists?’

‘Possibly, but Marjory it’s not like I have a book on the shelf I can reference to tell me about all the previous occupants and whether they played the piano or not.’

‘True. Maybe the tune has some significance?’

‘To whoever is playing it, probably. But it’s a very well known tune, it’s been around for centuries.’

The music stopped.

‘What shall we do now?’

‘There isn’t much we can do, short of a séance.’

‘We could try that.’

‘Tricky with just two people, but possible I suppose.’

They went over to the little coffee table that had a glass chess set on it.

‘Jeffrey, could we use this as a sort of Ouija board?’

‘We could Marjory, that’s a good idea.’

They moved all the figures to one side of the board and Jeffrey wrote the letters of the alphabet on the empty squares on the other side. He used one of Marjory’s eyeliner pencils as it would write on glass and they could wipe it off later.

‘Is there anybody there?’ Jeffrey said, and they waited.

Then a pawn started to rattle on the board and move to the Y for yes.

‘Who are you?’ Marjory asked.

They spelled out Mark and Janice Freeman. Who are you?

‘We’re Jeffrey and Marjory Blackson. Why are you here?’

The reply came: We live here.

Jeffrey frowned at Marjory. ‘What do they mean by that? We live here.’ He called out, ‘I think you might need to accept it’s time to pass over. Is there anything stopping you? Something we can do to release you?’

For a long time nothing on the chess board moved. Then the piano started up again. The papers in the stand began rustling vigorously to catch their attention. Jeffrey went over to look at them. He bent closer, a frown spreading across his face.

‘What is it Jeffrey?’

‘It’s a newspaper article. I’ll read it to you, Marjory:

On the night of the 15th of September, the North Ridge Fire Brigade were called out to Blackson House on Hawthorne Crescent. Only the left wing of the large mansion was ablaze and the fireman had hoped to find the homeowners alive and well, but they were found dead. It was initially unclear if it was smoke inhalation, but later it revealed they had been strangled. A man has been taken into custody believed to be their estranged son. It is unclear whether he is a suspect or helping the police with their enquiries.’

Jeffrey stopped speaking and looked at Marjory, who had joined him by the piano. He took both her hands in his.

‘Oh Jeffrey.’

‘I’m so sorry Marjory, I should have known getting in touch with him again was a bad idea.’

She looked round the room. ‘So the house isn’t ours anymore.’

‘No sweetheart, it’s not.’

‘We’d better go then.’

‘Yes, we should.’

‘Is that light coming from the front door?’

‘Yes, I think so.’

They walked out into the hallway, and sure enough the door was open and a brilliant yellow light shone through. They stepped into it hand in hand.




Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Review: Monster Double Feature & Murder, Machinery & Snowflakes, by Mark Cassell

Monster Double Feature: River of Nine Tails / Reanimation ChannelMonster Double Feature: River of Nine Tails / Reanimation Channel by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's while since I've read a Mark Cassell story and have to admit that I really enjoyed coming back to his style of writing. It flows easily and I'm gripped and interested immediately.

I loved River of Nine Tails. Such a refreshing and new theme. I kept thinking I knew where it was going, but I was wrong, so very wrong. This is true horror, not for the faint hearted, both visually and mentally. There's gore, and there's psychological horror. You can't get away from it. It's why his stories linger.

Reanimation channel was also also a great tale, and maybe a warning. There is a new stream of ideas coming up in Gamer fiction in movies, about being able to control others through remote control with new technology, and this story takes a darker take on it, one that even encompasses old horror stories like Frankenstein. I really enjoyed it. Totally unpredictable which makes it so original.

I am becoming a die hard fan of Mark Cassell's writing and stories. For those that enjoy dark horror that doesn't shy away from blood and gore, yet isn't focused on it, I definitely recommend giving this a read. It's a great introduction to Mark's writing.


Murder, Machinery & Snowflakes (a trio of festive terror): Santa's Elite / Away in a Mangler / Ho Ho HollowMurder, Machinery & Snowflakes (a trio of festive terror): Santa's Elite / Away in a Mangler / Ho Ho Hollow by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another brilliant small collection of horror tales from Mark Cassell.

All three were original. I found the first, Santa's Elite, darkly amusing, and Ho Ho Hollow shockingly horrific yet a very new take on a horrifying santa tale. But for me, Away in a Mangler stood out the most - an epic blood and gore tale. I sat with my hand covering my mouth, my eyes barely keeping as I was gripped to see what would happen next. Mark really knows how to deliver original and unpredictable dark stories.

If you like your horror dark and don't mind gory, these really are worth a read.

View all my reviews

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 220

This week's picture prompt is by Nate Robert a photographer on Flicker. This was taken in the John Forrest National Park, near Perth, Western Australia. This is the Swan View Tunnel.

Another dip into Tricky's tales and developing the story.  

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.



Phot of the Swan View Tunnel in WA, taken from the ground viewing the dirty ground and light at the end.

Saved by the Church

Tricky kept pulling herself forward through the mud and grit. She knew this tunnel had to come out somewhere – being that it wasn’t full of water it wouldn’t be the sea!

At least she knew that for certain. She didn’t know much else, like: how much longer would this tunnel go on for? What sort of tunnel was it? She knew it was putrid, although her body was too weak to keep on retching. It must have been a sewer outlet for the people that lived in the bunkers.

She realized she could see the shape of the gravel she was crawling over and the outline of the walls at either side. She looked ahead. Was it? Yes it was; it was light. Just knowing that gave her a boost and she moved forward faster as the light grew.

Tricky paused for a moment and took a deep breath in, reaching out for the energy the light provided and drawing it in. She felt her limbs strengthen and came up onto her knees, tucking her ragged skirts under them so they wouldn’t get more damaged.

As she got closer to the opening, the tunnel started to take another shape. There were defined bricks shaping into an arched roof. What was this tunnel then, if not a sewer? She really had no idea, and probably no one left on the landmass did either, being that centuries had passed since it had been used for its original purpose.

When she finally made it outside and turned to look at it, she saw the peak of the brickwork and a cross imprinted on it. Had this been a church? Had she been saved by a church? Tricky couldn’t help but let out the guffaw that rose up. She stood there cackling at the prospect. She also giggled at the idea that it had turned into a sewer – or had that happened before the shift? Either way, it was ironic and amusing.

It would be one to tell John Thatcher, they’d have a good chuckle over that – should she ever be lucky enough to cross paths with him again. She hoped she would. But there was no telling. As soon as they knew she had escaped they would bring everything to bear to capture her again, especially now, with what she knew and where she was going.

The thought crossed her mind that they had let her escape. It filled her with panic and dread. What if this was a ploy for them to find her cohorts? What if this was some kind of decoy for something else yet unseen? What if they were watching her this very minute?

She whipped her head around, suddenly terrified, but there were only trees, multitudes of them, and she sighed, turning it into a longer exhale. She reached out with her weak energy trails and they responded by flooding her with their green energy light. She inhaled as much as she could. It wasn’t yet enough to heal her, but it was enough to enable her on the next part of her journey.

There was a screech overhead. She ducked down as though she could somehow disappear into the ground, scanning the sky for the creature that had sent out its warning, and then she heard a flapping sound in a tree to her left.

It was Melvin. She’d never been so relieved to see a bird in her life, although a peregrine falcon was a bit more than a bird.

He squawked again when she looked at him, and swooped down low over her head into the trees on the other side. He was guiding her out.

She made a note to thank Safa once she raised enough energy to get into Medie and contact her.

Melvin squawked again.

‘Alright, alright, I’m coming, keep your feathers on!’

Tricky rushed off into the sanctuary of the trees, following his flaps through the dense forest.


Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 219

This week's photo prompt was taken by Caroline Von Tuempling a London based photographer who works for Getty Images. This picture is for sale as wall art and called Shadow of a Palm Tree on a Deserted Beach. She also worked for the Maldivian Tourist Board, so I should imagine that is where this was taken. Still a place on my bucket list.

No Tricky this week. I did want to go dark, but it just wasn't there, so it's a hopeful tale instead. 

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 of a palm tree in the shallows of the sea on a white sand beach



Mindset 

She sat in the shadow of the palm tree and looked out at the deserted beach which reflected her life so accurately. It was beautiful and pristine but devoid of life. She marveled at its perfection. It was everything she had dreamed it would be yet it felt like a veneer with no depth. She longed to feel something other than being alone. She could imagine anything she wanted in her head, but it wasn’t here and tangible.

She felt the heat of the sun even though she sat in the shade. She could smell the ocean breeze and feel the ripples of the shallow waves as they touched her toes. She wanted to love this and embrace it, and she did, but … there was always a ‘but’.

She enjoyed being single, living alone, and not having to be dependent or obligated to anyone. She’d done that for enough years. And this was her reward, coming here, ticking this location off her bucket list, but alone it had no meaning. It needed to be shared, whether with a friend or a lover, it didn’t matter.

She stood up and waded into the water until she was knee deep. The wind picked up over the water and she held onto her big floppy hat as she breathed in and stood there enjoying it, refusing to let her aloneness eat away at this moment.

She heard voices and saw two people strolling along hand in hand. Was the universe taunting her? Then she heard the conversation as they passed.

‘I wanted to go snorkeling.’

‘We can do that after we’ve been to the mainland and had a look around.’

‘Can’t we just skip that and stay here and enjoy the island?’

‘We don’t have that much time. We need to see as much as we can.’

‘But we’re here to rest and relax.’

‘There’ll be time for that after.’

‘Will there? We’ve only got five days here.’

‘Exactly we need to make every second count.’

‘So then why rush around a city looking for presents people don’t even want?’

‘That’s a bit cynical.’

‘Is it? We came here for us to get away and reconnect.’

‘And we’re doing that. We’re strolling along a beach hand in hand, aren’t we?’

The forced smiles they gave each other were enough to make her feel grateful to be on her own. She could do what she wanted and go where she wanted without having to compromise to suit another.  

She took another breath and took in her surroundings through fresh eyes. She could indeed do whatever she wanted. There was a wine tasting evening tonight trying out the local wines, and right now she could be enjoying a massage at the end of the jetty.

She took her time going back to the main building, walking along the shoreline in the shallows. It was glorious. And as she walked up to reception to book her spa treatment, she spotted a lone guest reading a book. They glanced at her as she walked by and smiled. She smiled back. Maybe she wouldn’t be spending all her time alone here. 


Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 218

This week's prompt picture is another untraceable. I've been trying to track this one which is all over the place, but yet never leads to a credit. Furthest back is to 2013 on We Heart It from a private user. 

More exploring Tricky's stories. 

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.



A stream running through a woods at night, with fairy lights round the trees and on the ground

Forest Friends

She was grateful for them. They knew how to deliver when things were tough. She sent loving energy out along their roots and received it right back. She’d never underestimate the unknown forests of Ferristan again – and never consider them unknown; she’d made friends here.

Tricky stumbled along, following the effervescent leaves they’d created to help her stay on the right path and lead her out. When she looked back they were no longer visible. The trees were keeping her safe. They weren’t going to let her pursuers track her. They’d made that clear further back when she’d heard a crash and a yell and saw one of them trapped under a branch. They were letting their limbs go to block or kill on her behalf. That was loyalty and she would pay it back tenfold once she got out of here and made it to Chestwick.

She thought of returning to her cabin first, but that would delay things and she needed to get to Tumelo and tell him everything in person. He needed to know what was going on from someone he knew and trusted. At least she hoped he trusted her. This wasn’t going to be easy. But she had the evidence. It’s why they were chasing her. Why else would they bother? They’d intended to kill her until she’d got her hands on it, she knew that.

Tricky could feel herself tiring. They’d taken a lot out of her in that torture chamber and not just the pieces of her body. She needed to find out who the masked man was; he had skills that were beyond anything she’d known – even beyond her mother’s. He’d tried to suck her dry of light energy. If she hadn’t been able to block off a part of herself in another time dimension, she’d be dead. She knew that for certain.

And who’d have thought that ponce, Stanislov, could turn time tricks? She’d love to know where he’d learnt that – because it was definitely learnt not a natural gift. She wouldn’t have been able to catch him out otherwise. Someone had taught him how to conjure them. Was it that masked man? She needed to uncover them all.

There was another crash further over to her left and she heard a scream. Another one was down. She had a chance now. But she needed to rest and heal. Her beaten body couldn’t carry her much further.

A line of glowing leaves appeared up a tree trunk. She looked up into the branches.

‘I’d love to deary, but my arms don’t have the strength to pull me up.’

A creaking sound was heard and a looped vine appeared. She sat in it like a swing and held on. It lifted her easily, taking her high up into the boughs to branches thick enough to lie on comfortably. With the dense foliage she didn’t feel high up and clambered onto one, slumping down onto her back and letting herself fully relax for the first time since her capture.

She felt the green tree energy envelope her. She felt her strength returning and her own yellow inner energy growing. She loved the trees. There was no other place she’d rather be than here among them. She didn’t want to leave, but she had to, she had to reach The Baron. But that was only the beginning, until they unmasked all the players in this, none of them were safe.


Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Birthday Freebies!

 To celebrate my birthday this year, (it was yesterday, I'm a day late posting 😏)

I am giving away two of my books. 

Pool of Players - a dark sci-fi fantasy

Sleep - a psychological thriller 

Grab them while you can 






Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 217

This week's picture prompt is from Italian photographer Roberta Tocco . She calles this one: "Through the looking glass and what Alice found there".

Another chance to explore Tricky's tales, and possible events. 

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.


A woman in a cream dress holding a round handmirror that is reflecting the sky - taken by Roberta Tocco

Mirror Trick

She had to be careful: if she could see them, they could see her, so she couldn’t look directly into it. She tilted it back.

It was a good idea of Nathan’s to bring the hand held mirror. It was a clever trick she’d forgotten about; how an energised mirror could reflect others in the vicinity.  He was becoming exceptionally handy to have around. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that though, and didn’t have time in this moment to analyse it, but even his boring waffle wasn’t as boring as it had been. She wasn’t ready to admit that she liked him. Yes, he was a sexy morsel just waiting to be devoured, but he was more than that – or at least becoming more. Ugh she hated all this feeling business. Oh for the emotional detachment John Thatcher had offered her, and a bit of raw, wanton sex. Those were the days! It felt like years ago, although it was only a matter of a few weeks.

Anyway, time to get her mind back on the task at hand.

She saw it in the peripheral edge; a dark sweep of movement. They were there alright. Dammit! How was she going to gain access? She needed to get in there to see if Dufray was still alive, but they had every possible way in patrolled – even the magical ones.

How the hell had they created such a gifted network? How could folk with abilities go along with Stanislov and his desire to control and hoard so much from the people – including the use of their gifts? And who exactly was it that could teach them so much? Stanislov was the first she had come across that could manipulate time like she did. Had her mother known about him? Was that why they’d been able to hoodwink her, even though he wasn’t the man she had fallen for?

She had so many questions and wanted them answered. It’s what drove her forward. She had to get to Dufray; she had to get him out. She hated being wrong about him but wasn’t about to let them stop her from doing what was right.

Bloody hell, now he’d turned her into a good guy! He had a lot to answer for. But in the meantime she needed to use her tricks to get past this obstacle – because that was all it was, a bump in the road.

She put the mirror down on the ground. She could collect it on her way out. She had no choice, she had to hope that this worked and no one saw through it. She took a breath and put the yellow piece of birch leaf against the Periodot and felt the energy around her change as she became invisible. She looked at the open hatch at her feet in the ground. This was it, now or never, saviour or fool, she was going to do this. She took each step carefully. They might not be able to see her, but they could hear her.



Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 216

When trying to trace this week's picture prompt, I was stunned to find it only twice online and neither credited who had created it! It's been a very long time since I haven't been able to trace an image. Should anyone know who created this piece of art, please let me know. 

No Tricky snippet this week, just a very dark tale. 


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.


painting of red tulips flowers with long green stems

Trapped

She heard him enter the apartment and throw his keys on the counter.

‘Rachel, I’m home,’ he called.

She slid slowly down the back wall of the fitted wardrobe until she was sitting on the floor among the shoes. She put a hand to her mouth just in case she made a sound.

‘Rachel? Where are you?’

She could hear him moving around from room to room, looking for her.

‘Rachel, I know you’re here.’

He was persistent; he always had been. All day every day persuading her to stay with him, wanting her close, not letting her out of his sight. He was claustrophobic, just like this wardrobe, making her feel closed in and muffled.

She needed to break free. She needed to release herself from these chains. She needed to breathe again.

She heard him come into the bedroom; the sweeping motion of his feet on the carpet locating him in the room. She heard another sound, a rustling sound, as the bed creaked under his weight.

Oh god, what did he have now? What was he going to use to manipulate her now? She wasn’t sure if she could bear anymore.

She carefully stood up and felt along the clothing rail and found a metal hanger. She lifted it as gently as possible. Any sound was muffled by the clothing either side. She took off the shirt and dropped it to the floor and began to unwind the neck of the hanger, until it came apart. She pulled it apart while she braced herself and told herself she could do this. She shuffled forward to the door.

‘Rachel? Is that you? Are you in the wardrobe?’

The bed creaked again as he got up, the rustle still present with his movements. She heard him come towards the wardrobe and stand in front of it. She held her breath.

He pulled the right side open first, and then the left, using the same hand because he was holding something in his other hand.

She didn’t waste time looking to see what it was; she jabbed the pointed end of the hanger into his throat, driving it hard. He was caught off guard and tried to grab at it, but staggered back, gargling as blood sprayed out of his neck.

He dropped what was in his hand. It landed at her feet, and she looked down at the bunch of red tulips which were now getting redder as his blood soaked them.

Oh please, not more flowers. Every day there was a new bunch. Every day he was sorry for being so needy, so insecure, so desperate to be with her. She’d found it endearing at the beginning but then it had become tiresome, eventually infuriating.

He dropped down to his knees clutching at his throat, but it didn’t stop the flow of blood. Rachel sidestepped and backed out of the room, making sure he wasn’t going to get up and follow her. Then she ran to the front door, grabbing her coat and bag as she left the apartment.

At last some air!

 


Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Book Review: The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

The Discomfort of EveningThe Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a bookclub book - and what a book! It certainly provided a lot of discussion as there was so much to pick apart.

Be aware that this book may contain triggers over loss of a child, incest or suicide.

We follow a character Jas at the age of 10 to 12, through her thoughts on her life and the events that happen to her and her family, which starts with her elder brother's death, and then foot and mouth disease striking the family farm. It is a stream of consciousness ramble, which goes off on tangents, some not always very clear and some disturbing as she desperately tries to process the death of her brother and the withdrawl of her parents attention, affection and care for her and her other two siblings, without being able to express her emotions, thoughts, and ideas verbally, or have a conversation with any adult in world.

The main character is part of a heavily religious farming family, who are part of a strict reformed protestant church called The Black Stocking Church. The narrative in the book is full of religious scripture which is used to keep everyone in their place and oppressed, and it is through this lens that Jas tries to filter all the events and her emotions.

I have spent the last 18 years living in a small village in the Netherlands where this church is present, along a dike and surrounded by farms, so it was not difficult for me to understand the culture and way these people live. It actually felt like an insider view on them - all be it a distressing one.

This book was disturbing in a way that I didn't anticipate. It was less shock and horror and more an insidious feelings of upset as I realised this child (and their siblings) were being neglected to an extreme degree due to their parents being unable to cope and support each other through the loss of one of their children. It showed how little support their church community gave them, in fact how they were being judged and oppressed by it - this is not a book that shows religion in a favourable light.

Some might find the interactions Jas has with her siblings occasionally perverse and edging on sexual abuse, but when three children are left unattended with no nurturing, comforting, or loving from their parents, or any adults, over an extended period of time (2 years), it can result in them seeking ways to comfort themselves and each other in ways that aren't quite right especially when left without guidance and unobserved.

Many of our bookclub members didn't finish this book as they found it too much of a struggle due to its distressing themes, and is written and formatted in such a way that makes it hard to follow. But there are lines of extreme profound observation throughout the book across many subjects, which is no doubt why it achieved award winning status.

I likened this book to The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, which I still consider one of the most disturbing books I've ever read - and my favourite authors are all horror writers (King, Barker, Herbert) - but the elements that make The Discomfort of Evening disturbing are less cruel and more innocent. It is a book that stays with you long after you have read it, as you continue to process what you have read.

I gave it a four star as it did contain a few simple typos and could have been formatted with more paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 215

This week's picture prompt was a photograph taken by someone called @hasmodia on instagram. In the link to their IG page, it takes you the shot of the whole tree. It's quite extraordinary as the image has not been altered and it is exactly as they found it. 

Another perfect picture to take a dip into Tricky's adventures. A brief snippet this week which may or may not feature in the triology at some point. 

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.



A knot in a green coloured tree trunk that looks like an eye.

Sanctuary

They had eyes everywhere, which is why she was so grateful that she could communicate with them. Without them she would be lost, both physically and figuratively. Despite her paranoia, she never minded them tracking her, particularly now, when she needed them most.

Tricky pushed through another thicket and came out into a clearing. They were all there – the trees not her pursuers – tall and strong, waiting for her to arrive.

There was a sudden flurry of movement and a branch was lowered. A small sprig growing off it moved up and down like a finger indicating for her to climb on. She didn’t hesitate, and was lifted high up into the foliage above.

Tricky felt her stomach lurch as she was raised up, and tried hard not to let her mind swoon with vertigo. She loved trees but climbing them wasn’t her thing. She liked to connect with them at their base. But she soon realised their intention when she heard voices below.

‘She was here, like two seconds ago. How does she do that? How does she disappear?’

‘She’s a master of time, Hugo, what do you expect? She can step out of it at will.’

Tricky wished she had thought of that, but she needed presence of mind and a calmness to step out of time. Since running for her life, along with the damage they’d done to her body, staying coherent enough to connect with the trees was the best she could do.

But she also no longer trusted moving out of time, not now she knew Stanislov was adept at it. The shock of that was still sinking in. She had no idea about the extent of his ability or how he had learnt the skill – although Tricky had never been naive enough to believe she and her mother were the only people on the landmass capable of mastering the skill. But he’d displayed a prowess that concerned her. It was another puzzle she had to unravel.

There were so many and she hoped to create some connecting threads soon, but only once she was back in a safe place. Despite the trees providing her with sanctuary and a respite up here in their boughs, it was far from home where there were people and tools to support and hide her while she figured it out.




Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 214

This week's writing prompt picture is by photographer Brett Nickeson and he calls it Mammatus Road. Mammatus is the type of clouds. Looks incredible. I think it's somewhere in North America. 

We are back again with a Tricky snippet. Not sure if this will be in Book 2 or 3, or even if it will make it into the book. But I do like exploring the characters in these flash pieces. 

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.



Clouds at sunset above a dirt road

Saved

She wasn’t quite sure where she was: present, past or future. She didn’t recognise this place at all – no, sir, not a bit. And she thought she’d been everywhere; she’d spent years travelling through other time dimensions – how else do you become a master of time? But Tricky hadn’t seen clouds like these anywhere.

And were they clouds? They didn’t move right. They weren’t shaped right. They looked like soft tentacles. They looked threatening. Then she heard a rumbling sound.

She looked back along the red-dust dirt road and saw a truck. Was it him? Had he managed to track her here? She had no idea he was so adept at time travel. She thought she’d been the only one. Her mother had led her to believe that ... or had she? Had that been Tricky’s own conceited belief? She couldn’t be sure; it was all so long ago. But if he’d followed her here she really was doomed, no matter the weather.

A splitting sound cracked the sky and shattered across the strange bobbly clouds causing them to scatter and break. Tricky could see a circle of light appearing and knew it was a portal.

She glanced at the truck heading towards her. Which contained Stanislov, the truck or the portal?

She was paralysed with fear. If she waited she was doomed, but if she jumped into the portal she could be trapped.

She let out a scream of frustration. Bloody men, always causing problems! Why couldn’t they just live in peace! Why couldn’t they just be happy with their lot and not keep trying to sit on top of the cake and dictate who got a slice? Why did they have to always kill off anyone better than them? Why couldn’t they harness everyone’s strength for the greater good.

Oh sodding hell, now she sounded like a flipping politician! She hated him. She hated him so much she wanted to murder him. And she would. She had to if there was ever to be peace again.

Would it be now? Would this be the moment? She looked around the green yet barren landscape. No, it wouldn’t be now. She had no weapon and she had no place to draw energy from. Damn and buggeration! She would make him pay!

‘Tricky!’

She heard a shout from above and there in the circle of light a face appeared. The face of a man she had rejected and shunned, and always considered beneath her. But here he was, saving her arse. She could snog him. In fact, she would as soon as she got out of this shit show.

This meant the truck contained Stanislov and that meant she needed to move – fast!

She drew all the energy she could up out of the ground and flew towards the portal. She felt something tug at her, pulling her back down, causing her to dangle mid-air.

She looked back and saw Dimitry’s twisted features as he leaned out of the cab window arms outstretched trying to take the energy from her.

Tricky took in a deep breath and blew out hard towards the portal. She felt a release and an upward movement, although painfully slow.

‘Keep coming, Tricky! Just a few more inches.’ Nathan was leaning precariously through the portal, arms and hands reaching for her. She put her arms out too and watched the gap between their fingertips close in slow motion.

She took in another breath and pushed it hard out of her lungs as though someone had winded her.

It worked. Her body jerked upwards as Nathan grasped her hands and yanked her through the portal in one swift movement, turning back quickly to seal it with a sweep of his hands.

She lay gasping on the floor for a few seconds then jumped up and flung herself into his arms, their lips meeting. He responded with a passion she never imagined he contained, or at least expected would light her fuse. She’d never been so pleased to be wrong about anyone ever!

When she pulled away he looked as shocked as she felt.

‘You saved my life,’ she breathed.

‘Of course I did, you’re the love of mine.’

He said it so bluntly she could only stand and blink at him. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her waist. She responded by cupping his face and they went in for another session, but they were interrupted by a polite cough.

Tricky spun round. Annie and Safa looked on with embarrassed smiles. Tricky took in the room and realised they were standing in Annie’s living room. 



Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 213

This week's picture prompt was taken by Helmut Meyer zur Capellen It is an old wooden storage shed door painted with birds and with a cat flap, in Simonshofen, Middle Franconia, Bavaria, Germany.

Another Tricky snippet. One that is way ahead of where I am currently, but helps me know where I am headed. 

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.


White birds painted on a small blue door in Bavaria, Germany

Escape

Tricky heard them land in the trees above her and was grateful for the sound, as she had no idea which way to turn. She hoped they’d lead her somewhere – and fast!

Two magpies swooped down and flew round her in opposite directions, then headed off in one direction, a sure sign she was to follow. She ran after them. They kept enough distance that she could see them and still watch her feet as she dodged round the trees.

With each breath she felt the trees around her lend her their energy. She needed it. Her entire face ached, the exertion putting the swollen bruises under pressure. Her hands could barely grasp her coat which she had managed to requisition before her escape, and keep it held round her naked body and away from trailing branches. She didn’t have time to use the tree’s energy for healing purposes, only to speed her escape.

She knew they had means to track her, which meant they had means to catch her again too. Tricky wasn’t one to bend easily to fear but the thought of returning to that hell hole and their torturous plans filled her with a dread she struggled to shake. If it wasn’t for the focus on the birds she would probably succumb to blind panic.

Then she heard it, something she wished she hadn’t, a loud crack, and one of the magpies fell dead to the floor. Shit! They’d sighted not only her, but her guides. She was completely disoriented and had no idea which direction led her inland and which led her out to sea. She didn’t want the Unsailable Sea to trap her and return her to their bidding.

The single magpie continued on even faster and she called to the trees to fill her with yet more energy and felt her feet almost lift off the ground. But another explosion put paid to the second magpie and Tricky wasn’t sure which way to go. She didn’t dare stop though; the second she did the second she would be lost. If she could get control of her mind she might have a chance to open a rent. And then she had an idea.

Still travelling at high speed through the forest she sought for the tiny piece of Obsidian in her pocket, the last of her collection.

Her fingers struggled to move they were so swollen, and the remains of her nail beds screamed at being pushed against the material as she fumbled the stone into her hand. The same applied when she sought the herbs in the hidden compartment under her armpit. Being much smaller, picking them up was impossible. In the end she dumped the Obsidian in with them and squeezed the entire pocket, inhaling yet more energy from the ground as she cleared her mind and pushed hard.

There was a loud pop and she tumbled forward into an empty space, quickly jumping to her feet and running a finger back along the opening to seal it shut.

She stood panting in the bubble of frozen time, trying to calm her breathing and her thoughts. She had no idea how long she was safe – with Stanislov’s new found skills it might only be a few minutes, but it gave her a chance to regroup and try and locate a means to get out of here.

Then she heard a high pitch screech, followed by successive squawks in a distinct pattern, and a smile spread across her face. She might not be able to see him, but he could see her. Safa hadn’t called him Merlin for nothing. She was saved.  


Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 212

This week's picture prompt was taken by Blacklist Media on Flicker. The picture is called The Ghost Forest. It is called the Neskowin Ghost Forest, and is located in Neskowin in Tillamook County, Oregon, United States. It is the remains of an ancient forest believed to be about 2000 years old. Researchers believe they died due to an earthquake in North West and a subsequent Tsunarmi dated 26 January 1700. You can read more about it here 

It's a Tricky Book 2 snippet again this week. 

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.



Tree stumps on a beach, in Neskowin, Oregon USA - The Neskowin Ghost Forest


Community

As Tricky came over the hill she saw the lake glistening in the afternoon sun. The water was low today. No one understood how it could ebb and flow like it did, being that it was miles from the sea, but there were times it was high and times it was low. Today it was low and it uncovered the remains of the forest that had been there before the shift.

There was something sacred about the stumps when they were exposed; trees at their most raw and vulnerable. People thought they were dead, but they knew little about how forests lived and maintained their community. These trees might not produce foliage anymore but their lineage had not been forgotten. The underground system of roots meant that there was always food for them, and they still added historic value by informing the new growth of their ancestry. Much like humans felt a sense of belonging by knowing where they came from, trees used the stumps of those past to learn about how to live in the present.

Tricky approached the shore and the closest stump. She put her hand on it, and felt the energy flow into her. It was strong and bold, and as bright as if it was a hundred foot tall. But she also knew it was linked to all the other stumps and the living trees as they resonated with the same energy flowing through them. Some were brighter than others and had their own vibration, and the depth of green altered, but they lived as one. Her heart filled with love for them, and she skipped off into the woods on this side of the lake to find the glade where she would make contact with The Rabble. 


Monday, 9 August 2021

Review: Madame Monvoisin's Emporium of Extraordinary Adventures - Volume 2, by Michael Wombat

Madame Monvoisin's Emporium of Extraordinary Adventures: Volume 2: Villeneuve-sur-GravoisMadame Monvoisin's Emporium of Extraordinary Adventures: Volume 2: Villeneuve-sur-Gravois by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sequel to Madam Monvoisin Volume 1, does not disappoint. The ending is superb and I was right on the edge of my seat. I have to say I was a bit relieved too, as there was no telling how that was going to end!

Michael Wombat is a master storyteller. Not only does he weave this historically accurate tale around a large selection of his short stories and pieces of flash fiction in a way that is beguiling, but he delivers a story around them that is full of intrigue, and engaging characters.

The continuing story of Etienne and his friendship with Madame Monvoisin follows on from the cliffhangar of the first volume, and we find out about Madame Monvoisin's underground group of aristocrats and what they all get up to. She is involved in far more than just artifacts that can send a person to another place and time for a moment, and discover how she pays the price for it.

I would recommend reading both of these books and anything else written by Michael Wombat if you enjoy great writing, and unique stories.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 211

This image is taken from a short film called Coven by writer/director Mark Borchardt. It was taken from a gif, which is found here where there is a review of the film. 

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 Voices

They crowd in, getting closer and closer. I am powerless to stop them. I want to scream at them to leave me alone, to go away, that I am done with them, but I am paralysed with fear. Their darkness flows round them, like capes billowing in the wind, demanding that I join them; that I convert to their way of thinking, but I refuse. I will not be turn to their beliefs.

I am a good person. I have value. I am not wretched. I do not have to prove myself or justify my existence. I am not a burden. I do not have to be subservient to others to give my life meaning. I am enough as I am.

They kept coming, pushing in, closer and closer, their whispers starting to fill my head. I push their words back, not allowing their voices in to twist my thoughts and mind, filling it with ideas that will lead me to become as dark as them.  

I will not succumb to that darkness, to that fate. I am strong. I can be more than the demons that surround me. I can resist and hold firm in my inner faith and believe in my fundamental goodness.

They are jostling me and taunting me, daring me to be a part of the darkness they encompass. But I resist. They will not have me.

I breathe deeply, and they take a step back. I take another breath and they fall back further. They recede and I feel relief. I don’t fear them anymore. They can not turn me against myself. Their nasty words hold no power over me. I am worthy.