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.