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.