Thursday 30 December 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 232

This week's photo is another by Florence Caplain, a french photographer. She says about it: 'I would be a princess and I would sail on the emerald on a prodigious throne.'

My depiction is a little bit darker ...

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 Chair

They shoved her along the jetty. Up to this point she thought it was some kind of sick joke, an empty threat the elders used, but there it was in the river waiting for her: the chair.

It had become legend; something people talked about. Someone always knew of someone who had been put in it, but no one Frances knew and no one who still lived in their community. Were they dead? No one knew. Was it survivable? No one knew. Where did it go? No one seemed to know that either. She’d thought it had been fake right up until they’d come for her and dragged her through the town bound and gagged.

And why her? She wasn’t even sure about that either. Yet all the people seemed to know as they came to their doors and watched her taken, standing mute, no surprise registering on their faces.

She didn’t know the men pushing her forward to the strange metal boat the chair was fixed in. Where had they come from? They weren’t natives. Had they brought in outsiders especially to dispose of her? She supposed so.

‘Get in!’ One of them demanded as they came to the end of the landing.

She carefully lowered herself down, finding it hard with her arms tied behind her back, unable to balance easily. She almost fell at one point, but they at least stopped her from suffering that indignity as they grabbed her and swung her back towards the chair. She slumped down into it, straightening herself as best she could. Her hands grasping one of the rungs on the back of the seat to keep herself steady.

They untied them mooring rope and kicked the metal boat off from the jetty, not saying a word. The onlookers crowded along the shoreline but didn’t venture onto the walkway. The boat swayed a bit and drifted further out into the green water until it was caught by the current and started moving forward.

Frances began chewing down on the gag, tearing bits of the material with her teeth, twisting it round her tongue to pull at it and rip it apart. It took a long time, but she had plenty of that while she sailed along at walking pace. She rubbed a piece of the rope that bound her hands against the metal bars on the back of the chair, too, hoping it would at wear enough to break. But by the time she felt it loosen she was into unknown territory and the light of the day was dimming.

She shook her hands out, relieved to be free. Finally she had means to steer – although there were no oars. In fact the boat was devoid of anything.

She scooped some handfuls of water out of the river. It tasted different to the well water she was used to but was still refreshing, the gag having absorbed most of the moisture in her mouth.

At the tip of the boat were the mooring ropes, and she snatched them up hoping she might use them to guide the boat. If she could direct it to shore maybe she could get off and find shelter. But the ends were frayed and the length stopped where they met the water. Had something eaten them away?

The boat jostled and Frances lost balance, falling back into a sitting position in the bottom of the boat. Whatever was causing the movement escalated and she gripped the sides hoping the boat wouldn’t capsize.

It started moving forward faster and faster until she was sure she must be headed to a waterfall but instead it ran aground, hitting the shore so hard she was thrown up and out, landing on a tiny sand beach surrounded by dense forest.

Frances hadn’t seen sand before. She rubbed it between her fingers as she lay there, experiencing its strange gritty feel. Then she heard breathing behind her. It was ragged and gulping. She turned and couldn’t quite believe what she saw; a large dark green scaly creature, with a long tooth-filled jaw, crouched low to the ground.

Frances didn’t dare move, but there was rustling from the trees at the perimeter, and a man appeared.

‘Ah, Gorgan, they’ve finally sent us a new one. Excellent. Just when I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have to go and fetch one ourselves.’

He walked up to Frances’ head and smiled down at her. She smiled back, but a sweep of his foot wiped it away, along with her consciousness.  

Sunday 26 December 2021

Happy Publication Day!

Dead Lake is released today!

Tricky is finally here! 😀

I'm so excited to be sharing Tricky's Tales with you all at last - although those of you that read my Mid-Week Flash pieces will already be familiar with this character. Her world is new to me, as is writing a series, but it's been a very enjoyable journey. 

There will be two more coming, hopefully in 3 month intervals, so get ready.

And for the next 48 hours the price of this first novel is discounted to $1.99/£1.99 

So grab it will you can. 

Sometimes it pays to be tricky

Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She'll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.

Dead Lake, dark paranormal fantasy, is set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world, after a massive shift of the tectonic plates has decimated the population and the land, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated. 

This is the first in the series of Tricky's Tales. 

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 231

This week's picture prompt was taken by French photographer Florence Caplain. She calls it, High Tech. 

It's a Tricky snippet this week exploring a scene I've had on my mind. I did write more of it, but it gives too much away so I've cut it short. Last Tricky tale was Week 230.

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 image of a grey and white dial telephone from the 1970s. Taken by Florence Caplain

Bringing News

Tricky had seen one before, but never a working one. It was odd, almost unnatural seeing people talk into a piece of plastic and hear a voice back.

She wondered how they had got it working, and there was some technical explanation, but she didn’t have the brain for all that nonsense; trees, energy and time were her thing, this telephone was not in any of those realms.

The weird dial was funny; you hand to turn it and it turned back itself, bit like a clock in some ways but its numbers didn’t make sense – not to Tricky. She sniffed. They were well shot of such things she reckoned. It had only led to distraction and then.

Why Tumelo wanted to be messing with them again she had no idea, and it wasn’t her business, but it felt strange sitting here listening to him speaking to someone on the other side of the city.

The city of Chestwick bustled in a way that made Tricky feel uncomfortable. They were all rushing about doing things and being somewhere and no one took the time to speak to one another. It was odd. It got busy in Clancy and also in Ballford when she lived there, but they all knew each other. Here there was at least triple the population, so they didn’t.

It wasn’t her first time here. She’d been a few times – even once with her father before he’d tried that stupid trick with the heat-ball that had backfired, quite literally. She’d last been here after her mother’s death to speak to Tumelo about what she had witnessed that night. It had been an emotional visit and she hadn’t really taken in much of her surroundings, just wanting their meeting to be over.

And she was here again, wanting the same. The news she carried was risky. Tricky could do risky if it was just herself, but it wasn’t, it was all of them. She hadn’t even begun to tell Tumelo yet. He’d only called her in moments before that old fangled telephone had made a strange noise, like the tinkling of bells, and he’d picked up the top part and started talking into it.

She was trying to hold her nerve, but Tricky wasn’t one for patience. If he didn’t hurry up she’d take the damn thing off him and slam it down. She really needed to get this news out, like a meal that had turned sour in your stomach and pushing to get out at the other end.

Tricky shuffled in her chair for the fourth time and coughed slightly. This time it worked; he glanced up while he was speaking and looked at her with those soft deep eyes of his, a question in them. She held his gaze. It wasn’t hard; it was so inviting and warm you just wanted to fall into it. What was it about him and his family and their ability to beguile you with a look alone? Even his wife could do it; Tricky had been utterly enraptured by her when she’d greeted Tricky in the hall and brought her through to The Baron’s office. Their entire family was gorgeous. Tricky could fancy them all.

Returning Tumelo’s look seemed to work. He wrapped up his conversation and put the earpiece back in its cradle, turning his full attention to her.

‘Sorry Tricky, I get a bit carried away on that thing, it has made life so much easier.’

‘I’m sure they said that about lots of things before the shift.’

Tumelo nodded his acknowledgement of her meaning. ‘No doubt they did. So what news? I assume it’s something important for you to come all this way, rather than communicate via other means.’

‘Yes, it’s very important, and you’re not going to like it.’

Thursday 16 December 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 230

This week's picture prompt is by Turkish artist, Manolya Fumero, and she calls this What Your LOVE Means. I have actually used one of her pictures before, way back in 2017 on Week33. She does some interesting art, worth checking out over on deviant art

More musings on future Tricky stories this week. Last one was Week 227.

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 image of a grey painted brick wall with a brick framed hole in the middle, which leaves and plants are growing through. And a view of what’s on the other side with beams of light coming out of it. Created by Manolya Fumero

Dazzling Dupe

Was that the jade again? Tricky couldn’t be sure if she was seeing things, but there was green light shining through the trees ahead. She headed towards it but found a wall.

What the bloody hell was a wall doing in the middle of the forest? It was a decayed painted brick wall, peeling in places to reveal its true red colour. She followed it left and right. Left it ended in rubble, but right she found an opening, like a picture frame where the foliage of plant life was bursting through along with the strange dazzling light.

She admired the tenacity of the shrubs; they took every opportunity to grow where others weren’t, spreading their roots and leaves as far out as they could to find some space. Old walls were no match for it. Tricky was surprised the piece of wall had lasted this long. It was clearly from before the shift.

She pushed aside the vegetation and climbed through the hole in the wall, finding a clearing on the other side. Beams of light shone out of something in the middle of it, but it was covered by ground dwelling plant life.

Tricky paused. Could it be a trapdoor to one of the underground bunkers? Was that where the light was coming from? But how could it be so bright? Nothing they could make at present could emit that kind of power. This wasn’t something manmade. It was probably a gemstone.

There was something about it Tricky just didn’t trust. She had a sense for these kinds of things. She took in a breath and hummed quietly, bringing her energy up and sending it out to inspect the area and see if it came up against anything.

Tricky knew Stanislav’s network was more than it seemed. He had access to things he shouldn’t have. His grubby little fingers were in many people’s pies as well as their pants. He’d baffled her so far because there was nothing sensitive about him. It wasn’t his own gifts he was using, but she hadn’t yet uncovered whose they were, let alone how he was managing to feed off them.

Either way this could all be a trap. She’d been caught once; she wasn’t going to be caught again. Oh no, Tricky had learnt to be trickier.

She could only perceive the incredible energy in the light. It was strong, and not something she’d come across in this time – and that was the thing that concerned her.

She took a few steps towards it, kicking about in the underbrush for a stick to help her move the foliage back. She found a nice long one that she could poke about with. Nothing like a good poke, she giggled to herself. Oh she was so funny.

She crept closer to what looked like its core, where the beam narrowed ... what was it coming out of?

Tricky swung the stick left to right under the leaves and ferns, prodding at the ground until she felt something hard. She tapped it and nudged it with the stick, getting an idea of its shape: it was square. She pushed some of the greenage aside and saw something reflective. Was that a mirror?

She bent over it. It seemed to be reflective but she couldn’t see her face in it or the sky above. She could only see green, a lot of green. But there was something in the centre of it. What was that?

She squatted down and put a hand out, engaging her senses as she did so, reaching out with her internal energy as well as her hand. Nothing had changed; there was still only the powerful force being emitted.

She touched its edge, feeling the throng of the light through the metal of what appeared to be a mirror. She put her hand under it and lifted it up. She looked into it and felt the light flood into her. It was like when she had visited the tree sprites; every part of her felt renewed and refreshed as though she was being charged. It was blissful.

She took a deep breath and absorbed as much as she could while trying to see inside. It was very far away but she was sure there was a figure of some sort.

Was this a spy glass? They came in many forms; crystal could be chiselled into many shapes. It would explain why it didn’t reflect her. Then she felt her ears pop and the clearing around her shimmered. Shit! Something had activated!

The wall and the clearing appeared in the mirror, and she found herself on a green hillside that swept away in all directions. Damn! She was in a time pocket. But who had put this here?

There was only one answer that sprang to mind: Stanislav. The slimy toad had trapped her. Blast! How the hell did he have the skill for this? And where the hell was he? She was sure she’d seen someone in here. But there was no one around. She was alone on the hillside.

She sat down. She had to figure this one out.

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 229

This week's photoprompt was taken by @dbereton on twitter. This was taken in a hotel in Hammersmith, London. 

I rather like it's dark foreboding feeling - lots of 'The Shining' feels. So with this one I went dark, and it's not for everyone, especially those with an arachnophobia. 

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.

Lucid Screaming

She was here again, in the hotel corridor with all the doors. This time in black and white, that was new. Theresa sighed. Now what?

She’d tried all different ways to get out of this recurring dream – waking was the most elusive. She knew the exit signs to the stairs would only lead to other corridors and not out, which meant she had to open the doors. And they would open, but the question was to what?

She shuddered. They’d lead to scenes of carnage: bloody car accidents, gory train wrecks, trapped in burning buildings, lost or drowning in the sea, and once there was even a maniac with a chainsaw. The mind knew no bounds where her fears were concerned. She didn’t want to open them, but she had no choice if she wanted this dream to end. So here she was, lucid dreaming without the option of deciding what would happen next.

Theresa moved to the first door on the left and turned the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. Okay, that was new too. She move to the other side and tried the one there, the same thing.

She frowned. Maybe the exit door would lead to somewhere else in this dream. But when she opened it, she found an identical corridor, also in black and white. Okay, not then.

She moved on down the corridor checking the doors and still nothing opened. The distance ahead was the same as it had been at the beginning, as though she hadn’t travelled at all; the corridor was infinite.

Then there was a sound. She stopped and stood in the middle of the corridor, listening.

It was like rushing air of some sort. Had the air conditioning units in the hotel come on? She couldn’t feel a breeze. Was it blowing a gale outside – if there was an outside? She couldn’t work it out. And then there was another sound under it, a strange scratching sound that increased in volume.

Theresa stood frozen to the spot, her mind filling up with potential scenarios of what that could be, what was coming along the corridor – because something was coming, she was sure of it.

As the sound escalated so did her fear; her chest tightened and her breathing became shallow. She whipped her head back and forth between the identical views ahead and behind. Which way was it coming?

She saw movement at the corner of her eye as she was moving her head to look behind her. It was in front of her. But when she turned back she couldn’t see anything … or could she?

There was something on the wall; something darker than the wall; something crawling. But was it one thing?

No, no it wasn’t. It was hundreds of little things.

She stared at the mass as it moved along the walls on both sides of the corridor coming towards her. She still couldn’t make out what it was; it had grown and the density of whatever it was made it look black. Were they spiders? Ants? Beetles?

The sound increased with their appearance, and it wasn’t just their scurrying that was making the noise; they were making some kind of chittering sound. What the hell were they?

But Theresa’s body refused to hang around to find out. She took a step back and then another, and then blind panic took over, and she turned and fled.

But the corridor behind was the same as the one in front; it didn’t matter how far she ran there was still more of it. And whatever the swarm was it had picked up speed as well, because it was just on the edge of her peripheral vision keeping pace with her.

It was going to catch her, overwhelm her; do whatever it wanted to do to her. She had no choice, not in this corridor.

She could feel them at her heels.

She could even feel them on her skin.

She was running out of breath; she was running out of strength. She wasn’t going to win this one.

She opened her mouth to scream, but they were there, filling it.

Theresa sat bold upright in her bed, clawing at her throat, her scream turning to a cough, and a big fat spider that had crawled into her mouth while she slept, shot out onto the duvet in front of her and scurried away.    

Thursday 2 December 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 228

This week's picture prompt is by photographer Kari Liimatainen from Finland. He has some wonderful landscape pictures, worth a look at his galley on DeviantArt

I could see him looking through the branches. But who was he, and what was he looking at?

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 image of a lake seen through snow laden tree branches, with the sun coming up and giving everything a warm glow.


He’d sit here and wait, and then when they came out he’d have his fun. It was the best bit; the waiting and the anticipation.

The forest was muffled under snow, and little moved in the freezing hour before dawn, but Puck was here, eyes keen and watchful. He wouldn’t miss a trick.

The lake was all aglow and so were his eyes as the sun crested the horizon. Oh the glory, oh the delight. He was such a lucky Puck.

He saw them on the edge of the bank, appearing out of the water. They were tiny and delicate and oh how he wanted one. But they weren’t to be had; they weren’t to be owned. There were strict rules he had to adhere to – imps like him couldn’t get away with it. He might be named after the most famous fae, but he was a lowly dark half-fairy. These water sprites were elegant and fragile, and not for the likes of him.

No, the best he would get is this, peeking at them from the other side of the water, remaining hidden, and startling them a little to capture some of their essence to trade.

Water sprites held a lot of power, which is why catching them had been banned. It could lead to abusing and enslaving them and that wasn’t something the enchanted community would tolerate – unless you were one of the privileged few who could pretend it was consensual. But if they gave away a bit of their power, intentionally or accidentally, then that was allowed.

Puck shifted a little in his position and prepared to shake the branches above him. It might not seem like much but it would be enough to spark their fear, which would release electric shocks into the air. He was a nimble Puck and could easily catch them.

When it looked like the group had all emerged from the water and were basking in the morning sunshine on the snowy banks, Puck raised his arm up to the branch overhead, and with a sudden movement swiped it with his hand, causing it to snap out and back, sending showers of snow to the ground.

It worked. The sprites leapt to their feet, letting out tiny bolts of what looked like lightning into the air, across the lake to the object of their startlement and where Puck was sitting. He swiftly reached out with a bottle he’d brought in preparation and swept it through the air to catch them. It filled up fast, and he stoppered it quickly, not wanting any to escape.

Oh he was going to be a rich Puck for a while now too. But as he watched them return to the water, a darker shadow appeared in their wake and moved in his direction. He squealed. Puck knew what that was; you couldn’t get up to tricks and not know the consequences. Guarding demon spirits were in the employ of water sprites. They could take you over and cause you to lose yourself for several days. Puck didn’t want to suffer that, oh no.

He scrambled back up the riverbank and over the top rushing into the woods for protection. He shimmered up the nearest trunk and waited. The shadow appeared below circling round the trunks, but it hadn’t seen which one he’d picked. Oh thank Aine for its oblivion. The only problem now was how long it would stay down there. Puck settled into the nook of a branch. It might be hours but now he had his treasure, he could spare the time.  

Friday 26 November 2021

Cover Reveal & Release Date Announcement - Dead Lake, Tricky's Tales Book 1

I am finally here to announce the release date for the first book about my character Tricky, who has been appearing on my blog in my Mid-Week Flash fiction challenge entries for three years now!
(her first story was back on Week 77

Not all of her stories appear in the series. I have often used the opportunity to explore the world and characters, and taken ideas or themes from them. You can find a catalogue of all her tales here, if you fancy reading them and getting a taster for the story. 

The release date will be: 26th December 2021

The book is available for pre-order, so get your copy now at a reduced price. 

Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She'll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.


Wednesday 24 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 227

This week's picture prompt is from artist and underwater photographer Elena Kalis. Based in the Bahamas Elena has some incredible images and attained global success in her field. 

Another dabble into Tricky's world to see where it ends up.  (Last Tricky Tale was on Week 222)

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.

Image of a woman in a white dress underwater but facing a wall of water and touching her own reflection. Taken by photographer Elena Kalis

Play Dead

Tricky was thankful her mother had taught her how to swim. She’d struggle otherwise. She’d been wise enough to take in a deep breath when they’d chucked her overboard, and swum down as far as she could despite her tied hands.

She felt the riverbed under her feet and pushed herself away in a horizontal line under the water, getting as far from the boat as she could. She hoped they’d think she’d drowned.

The River Red was wide, so it was going to be a struggle to get to the side without coming up for another breath, but she kept going as long as she could. Then turned over on her back and floated up slowly, letting her face and mouth break the water just enough so she could exhale and take in another breath.

She daren’t look back. They were nasty pigs onboard, cut you up as soon as look at you. Tricky knew their sort, and under Stanislav’s vicious hand they’d been given free rein to abuse the people in their charge. It mattered little to them; you were just a piece of meat for them to try out their sick perversions. Even in the water Tricky could still feel all the sore spots where they’d attempted to extract information they’d wanted. She’d given them nothing.

But one thing was for sure, they’d still be looking out for her body to appear. Stanislav wasn’t stupid – at least not that way. He knew their ilk better ... in fact she wasn’t even sure he wasn’t one of them. He knew more than any non-gifted person should, and things that weren’t in any book or learnt in any classroom.

It wasn’t like Tricky to be unnerved, but he’d achieved it. He’d even managed to scare her, which since her mother’s death she hadn’t thought possible – despite all they’d put her through.

The water grew darker ahead and she was confident she would see the side of the river soon. She hoped to come out under the shelter of some trees, even draw some energy from them, because she couldn’t pull herself out of the water just yet – oh no, she would be trickier than that. She wasn’t going to let those slimy rancid slugs spot her again, no definitely not. They were never going to get their filthy hog paws on her again. Next time they saw her it would be their death, oh yes.

When the muddy wall of the river appeared in front of her, she drifted up as close to the side as possible, her fingers touching the soil wall, and tilted her head back so her face broke the water surface. She blinked, trying not to sputter or make any sound, and looked up into the leaves of an overhanging willow. Wonderful.

She reached out and sent her energy reserves and felt them met with the deep green energy all trees possessed. She felt immediately refreshed.

But rather than come further out, she took another breath and went back down, underwater until her feet were on the bottom and put her hands out against the riverbank. She breathed out hard, humming as she did, the sound filling her head, and a pocket of air opened up.

She watched the water part and shimmer as the air pushed it out. Her floating underskirt and camisole top dropped and stuck against her it moved round her, and she opened her mouth to breathe, taking in big gasps as she relaxed.

Some people would think she had been able to part water, but really all she had done was create a time bubble. The tiny bit of river bed she was standing in was not actually here, but in another time and place.

She considered opening it out further and travelling through it away from the river, but she wasn’t sure where she might end up. It was always a nice idea travelling through pockets of time, but you could come out on the other side of the landmass even though you might have only travelled a few feet. Time was tricky like that. It’s what gave her an affinity for it. She liked tricky, she understood tricky.

And not just that, she didn’t trust Stanislav not to anticipate such a move. She’d found she wasn’t the only one adept at manipulating time. Where had he learnt that skill? Who had trained him and honed it? Someone must have. She’d seen his ability wasn’t natural like hers; he needed tools to achieve the same effects. But the only other person that knew as much had been her mother. Or was there someone else, someone unseen?

She sat on the floor of her time bubble and pondered such things. She had plenty of time to do that, oh yes she did. She chuckled, time was never hard to come by for her, oh no. She’d sit here and wait out those dumb meat heads and play dead.     

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 226

This week's picture prompt is from Italian photographer Sergio Pessolano. This is a salt flat in Bolvia - Salar de Uyuni. Sergio calls this 'Just Salt'. He also suggests that the viewer scroll up and down fast. You should see light/shadow changing, depending on the gamma value of your monitor. 

Just a glimpse of what I saw when I looked at this picture. 

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 image of a salt flat in Bolivia, with the salt dried out in a pentagonal pattern, and the shadow gives it a purple tinge. There are mountains at the horizon under a cloud broken sky. Photograph taken by Sergio Pessolano

Hallowed Ground

It was in sight at last. He didn’t know how many weeks he had been staggering toward this, but Logan struggled to believe it. He knew what a mirage was; he’d had plenty of them on this journey, yet it was still there.

He tripped over the edge of one of the strange raised pentagons that the salt had shaped into, and fell to his knees. He was grateful for his long trousers, although the knees were thin after the times he’d only had the strength to crawl.

He’d come close to death from dehydration so many times, but fortunately the skies had opened and rain had fallen, and he was able to catch enough to carry on.

He didn’t want to think about where he had come from, he only wanted to think about the future. The pain and captivity were over and that was all that mattered.

He swiped his hand through the air in front of him. The image of the mountains in the distance didn’t waver or change in any way, unlike a mirage. A spark of hope lifted inside him.

He got back up to standing and allowed himself to take a single drop of the rain water he had collected two days ago, and continued with his stagger.

Thoughts of seeing people again entered his head. What would he look like to them? Had the wounds on his face from the continual beatings during his imprisonment healed, or would they still be visible? What would they think of him? Would he be considered weak for having been caught in the first place, or praised for escaping? Few escaped and even less made it across the salt desert.

For a second Logan was filled with terror. What if they took him back? What if they felt he didn’t deserve freedom? What if they returned him?

But his mind at least gave him a reprieve from those thoughts; he knew that escapees were never sent back and that they were hailed as survivors, his own uncle had been one. Maybe it was in the genes.

His mind continued to ponder all the notions and he let it run like credits at the end of a film, watching his feet as he continued to move forward. When he lifted his head again the mountains had grown and he could see details. This was no mirage. He was almost home.

The way the clouds covered the sky above and the sun sat behind the mountains, it gave them a halo as though he was headed for hallowed ground – which to Logan he was.

For over four years he had been trapped and confined in that hell hole, and despite the initial excitement of freedom and space, the salt desert had become its own prison. Empty of life and hope with no sense of place or direction, if it hadn’t been for the sun Logan would have been lost or dead. And now with it there, lighting up his destination, actual liberation was within his grasp.

For the first time since he’d broken out, the surface beneath his feet began to change. The pentagon pattern was beginning to disappear as yellow sand and grit replaced it. Soon he could feel hard stone under his shoeless toes. He would reach the town soon. He increased into a staggering lope.

Lights in the distance came into view and increased the closer he came. The land opened out and cultivated swathes of earth appeared between the rocks. He could smell the sweet smell of desert dried foliage in the air.

Tears came to his eyes as he walked, he couldn’t help it, he was beyond thankful he could behold life again, instead of a cell wall. He had dreamed of this moment.

He started to see people farming the land. A few looked up and then he saw people running towards him, calling to others for help. As they reached him the last of his strength gave out and he collapsed into the arms. Safe at last.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 225

This week's picture prompt was created by Australian artist Cameron Gray, known as Parablev on DeviantArt He calls it Cage. He has some incredible creations. I really love his art. Worth a look. 

This week it went a bit dark. Not what I had initally intended, but still like 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.

Test Subject

Dr Hayden chiselled round the face. It was messy work, but she managed to pry it off. She knew the top of the head came off easily, but she was surprised the face did too. There was blood everywhere and the flesh underneath was deeper than expected.

She stuck her fingers in and rooted around. Yep, there it was. She could feel the hard nub at the back of the third eye. She got her fingers under it and pulled it out, holding the blinking purple light up to inspect it, some sinews still dripping off.

It seemed intact and was still working so what had gone wrong?

She dug around further, going in around the brain which had gone mushy. All the wires were where they should be, and there was no evidence of a short circuit. So what had happened?

There’d never been a case of such a psychosis; all were stable and never questioned themselves like this one had. Self-esteem had never been questioned before and certainly none had displayed paranoid delusions that they turned on themselves.

The entire point of the third eye neural transmitter had been to help individuals remain open and to have a healthy perspective. It kept them looking forward and not back, out instead of in. It had been one of the most successful resolutions to the mental health problems over the last century. It had even become standard practice to have one implanted once adulthood was reached. Those that chose not to were considered feral.

So why now, after all these decades had this one malfunctioned?

Dr Hayden took the transmitter over to the counter. She washed it off and inspected the outside of it. There was no evidence of any kind of tampering, and with its position behind the skull it was well protected. She opened it up and found nothing out of the ordinary inside either. It was a complete puzzle.

She took out the patient’s paper file and leafed through. There had been no accidents in their thirty-two years – they’d actually had an exemplary medical record. But something struck her; when the patient reached her thirties there had been repeating visits to their doctor.

She went over to the computer and put in the patient’s details. The name of the doctor appeared. Hayden covered her mouth as she read the name of one of her former colleagues. He’d been relieved of his position at their lab because of his unethical ideas about patient care. He believed the transmitters were a manipulation tool to keep people passive, and wanted to see if they could be removed.

She quickly brought up the specifics of the visits. He’d been giving her medication, a wide variety of them including hormonal replacement therapies and heavy duty stimulants. They were virtually unheard of now. Only those without the transmitters were given them and then at a high cost. Why had he been giving them to this patient? She had no requirement for them. Her initial visit to him had been for a simple bacterial infection.

But then she noticed the note under the initial visit: ‘test subject for hormonal activation of transmitter’. He’d wanted to see if it could be triggered.

And it had; an early death by turning the brain to pulp. But had it been the transmitter or the drugs? That would be the next investigation, after she had made a call to the authorities to report the murder.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 224

This week's photo prompt was taken by Jonathan Steele, an American photographer. He calls it Winter Train. He says: Essex Steam Train passing through Deep River Ct during a snowstorm. (that's Essex in Connecticut in the US).

I tried not to go for the obvious, and I think I managed 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.


It was coming, she could hear it. Finally she’d be on her way. She could see the plumes of smoke above the bare woods in the distance, extra large in the frigid air. If she could just manage to get on it, freedom would be in reach.

She looked round the platform. It was busy. People were jostling for position. It wasn’t going to be easy to get on, let alone get a seat, but in the crowd she was invisible. He would come, she knew he would, and force her to go back. She didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want the guilt manipulation: the begging, the tears. She wanted to be gone and on her way.

She manoeuvred her way through to the edge of the platform. People didn’t like it, but she was a small frail-looking woman, so they gave way – plus she had exceptionally sharp elbows. She didn’t look at them, just said, ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Sorry’ even though she wasn’t.

She looked along the tracks and could see the train coming, its headlamp cutting through the veils of freezing mist. It was like watching her future arrive.  She really hoped she could get on it.

She looked back at the crowds, worrying that he was there and had spotted her, maybe even working his way towards her. But she couldn’t see him amongst the hat-covered heads.

She edged a little over the platform line. She had to get on this train. She had to get away from him. He pretended every time to be sorry, but as soon as he had her back in that house, she would be the one that was sorry – sorry to have believed him again. He feigned to others that he was the victim of a cold hearted woman, but behind closed doors she was the victim of a cold hearted man. No more. Today she would get on the train and be free.

She took another step closer as the train was starting to slow down, ready to pull into the station. It was a huge magnificent black beast, ready to take her way.

She could feel movement behind her and a sudden pang of fear shot through her. It was him pushing through to get to her, she was sure of it. She turned this way and that trying to see behind her, but the crowd were only interested in getting on the train. They were trying to see round her and pushing forward.

She slipped, falling backwards, and cried out. A man grabbed her hand and for a second she was relieved. But then as he pulled her up his face came into view, and she panicked, letting go. It was him; he’d found her.

The crowd of people emitted a collective yell, but they were too late to save her. She fell onto the tracks seconds before the large engine pulled into the very same spot and rolled straight over her.

  She’d found her freedom. 

Monday 1 November 2021

New Release! - Nocturnal Nibbles - A collection of short, dark tales

I have a new book out today! 😀

I decided to gather together all the tales I’ve had published in anthologies and online ezines over the years and put them together with some of the tales I've written for my weekly writing challenge, Mid-Week Flash which I've been hosting for over four years now. This collection also includes a couple of new stories which haven’t been published anywhere.

To celebrate this new release, I'm offering it at the super low price of £1.99/$1.99 for today and tomorrow, so grab a copy while you can!

Click on the cover

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 223

This week's picture prompt is by Peruvian graphic artist Enzzo Barrena. He has some incredible abstract art. This one is called Broken Flower

Took a while for me to get started with this little tale, but once I did it flowed. A nice dark tale 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.

Painting by Enzzo Barrena of a naked woman made of porcelain, lying down and broken open at the waist, with red petals representing blood scattered around her, and a crow hovering over her with a red petal in its mouth.


Angie was broken. At least she felt like she was – her feelings on display for all to see and pick at, like birds of prey over road kill. He’d humiliated her again. It was bad enough having to put on a show for their social circle that all was fine in their marriage, but when he chose to flirt with the young women right in front of her it made a mockery of it.

She made her excuses and went to the rest room. It was an elaborate affair with a luxurious seating area and mirrored walls – standard for this opulent stately home. She stood and stared at herself in the mirror, and took out her comb, primping at her hair in an attempt to make herself feel better. She inspected the aging lines of her face. It didn’t matter what she did they were still there and increasing, but she wasn’t prepared to go under the knife to try and erase them, you couldn’t cheap time or death.

The door went behind her and one of the young pretty things her husband had been letching at came in. She was young and nubile and had spent the evening making eyes at him. Barely giving Angie a glance, the girl locked herself in one of the cubicles.

Angie stared at herself in the mirror, her anger rising. She hated girls that thought they were invincible in their perfect little, half emaciated bodies, coloured and cajoled into something popular media considered desirable, but was in fact sickly and woefully lacking. Not enough food meant their brains were malnourished and their ability to understand was limited. It made them selfish, spiteful people who believed they had a right to anything they wanted, including other women’s husbands.

The comb in her hand snapped under the pressure of her rage. She looked down at the long handle that had now come away from the main comb.

She heard the toilet flush and moved away from the mirror to stand in front of the door to the occupied cubicle. She heard the lock turn and saw the door begin to move inwards.

The girl inside was still looking behind her, and flicked her hair back as she turned. Angie stepped in front of her causing her to cry out.

But the sound was cut short by a grunt as Angie wedge the comb handle up under the girl’s ribs, cutting her air supply and ability to call out. The girl looked down to see the nub of comb handle protruding from the middle of her dress and blood seeping out around it.

Angie pushed her back into the cubicle and sat her down on the toilet, where she slumped back, her eyes glazed.

Angie pushed the end of the comb handle in further to conceal it, and cleaned up the few drops of blood that had fallen. Then she locked the cubicle door and used the toilet as a step to climb up and squeeze herself over the top into the next stall.

She dropped down and straightened her dress, composing herself before stepping out even though no one had entered the rest room.

Angie returned to the mirror, wiping dust off her silk dress. There were a few creases, but no marks. She put the remains of the comb into her clutch purse. Her face was flushed, so she ran her wrists under cold water and dabbed at her forehead with it, to bring her temperature down. Within a few minutes Angie looked fit again.

She dried her hands and returned to the ballroom, sitting down at their side table and graciously accepting a drink from the waiter’s trays. Her husband returned to the table too and smiled at her, taking her hand and kissing it. His apology. Her rage appeased, she accepted it.