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.  

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 222

This week's photo prompt was taken by Laura Ferreira a photographer and artist from Trinidad, and her subject was Kiwan Landreth-Smith a musician (model & actor) from Trinidad, taken around 2010/2011. 

A dip into Tricky's background this week and the background of a couple of the characters.  (Last Tricky Tale was on Week 220)

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.

Eye Candy

He could get whatever he wanted with eyes like those, they saw straight into you and through you. It was unnerving but compelling; you couldn’t help but look back, and that was when he had you – or at least when you dreamed of him having you.

Tricky chuckled to herself; she really was incorrigible, but she couldn’t help it, not when he was in the room.

Since Adric’s arrival at their home to study under her mother, he hadn’t spoken much, just looked at her with those striking pale green eyes, set into that beautiful dark complexion. He was young though, a good couple of decades behind her, and a little too skinny for her liking. But he’d fatten up and when he did women on the landmass would not be safe – oh no, not with the likes of someone so fine. She sighed to herself. Yes, he would be something special one day and she was interested to see it.

Her mother didn’t seem affected by it though. She treated him like any other student even though he’d turn that charm on her too sometimes. Tricky admired that about her mother. She didn’t seem easily impressed by a man. They had to work for recognition with her. She was strong and made sure they respected her before relenting and gracing them with her softer more flirtatious side.

Tricky liked flirting. It was a good way to test the waters with some men. If they became testy and a bit up-themselves, she knew they weren’t worth her time. But those that were playful back, now they might earn a hair flick or side glance, and if they were lucky a trip into her knickers. But she picked careful mind. Not just anyone.

She glanced across the table at Lucien. His closed, secretive demeanour appealed to her. He was a kindred spirit and one she hoped to engage. But so far he had barely looked at her, being far too beguiled by her mother. She didn’t feel jealous though, her mother was beguiling.

Lately the only person that seemed to get her mother’s interest was Vincent Linley. He was a man of upstanding in the district of Delane where Tricky had grown up. He’d built a network of friends that seemed to have influence everywhere, and they were keen to bring her mother onside; bring the community of gifted folk into their realm.

Tricky had a nagging feeling about him, and Annie, her best friend outright hated him. But this new one, Adric, seemed to wheedle his way into their favour. She’d seen him leaving Linley’s apartments on a couple of occasions. Although, Tricky supposed, Adric was used to powerful men, seeing as his father was The Baron and ran the landmass. He was probably more comfortable around them and maybe he even knew him through his father.

It made him more attractive in some ways. He clearly had his own way of influencing. She’d like to develop that skill. She just needed to stop herself being so easily seduced by the likes of him. Oh but was he such a beautiful piece of eye candy. 

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


‘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.   (Last Tricky Tale was on Week 218)

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.