Wednesday 27 July 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 260

This week's picture prompt was created by Barath Ganesh from Coimbatore, India. They have some incredible art, definitely worth having a look. They call this one Floating Boat. 

A return to a piece within the word count, AND another Tricky snippet. The last one was Week 257

If you like it then, you can always grab the first book in the series: Dead Lake The second one is due out in September. 

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 empty rowing boat lying on a still lake with a leafy green tree behind it, and a blue sky with fluffy clouds perfectly reflected in the water so the horizon is invisible. Created by Barath Ganesh


‘What’s this? Why we in a boat?’


‘Safer for who? You know I don’t swim.’

‘Both of us. Now shush, this is important otherwise I wouldn’t have brought you here.’

Tricky adjusted her seat and the boat wobbled. Annie clutched the sides.

‘Watch what you’re doing or you’ll have us over!’

‘Annie, stop worrying, we’re safe. It’s not deep water; you could stand in it if you wanted. I just needed to be in another time where we couldn’t be over heard. No one can creep up on us here. What I have to tell you can ONLY be between us!’

‘So it’s not deep water?’ Annie peered over the sides. ‘Looks deep to me. And it’s so still. You can barely tell which way is up.’

Tricky beamed and looked around her. ‘I know, stunning, isn’t it? I love it. It’s amazing how some worlds look. There aren’t many places on the landmass that have areas of water this big, and none of them like this. And not with that sky!’

Tricky leaned back to admire it causing the boat to move. Annie let out a squeal.

‘Stop doing that! Just hurry up and tell me what you need to, so we can go back.’

‘This thing goes deeper that we thought. I think there’s a spy in Tumelo’s house.’

‘Do you know who?’

‘Nope. I’m not even ruling out his wife at this stage.’

‘That bad?’


‘What can I do?’

‘Use your guides. Try and find out anything you can, like who we can trust, how we can bring an end to this without chance of others knowing we are onto them.’

‘And you have no suspicions about who it could be?’

‘You know me, I’m suspicious of everyone. But Adric said something that could have ONLY been known by someone who had been in the same room as me and The Baron when I was telling him about his son. I’ve been trying to wrack my brains cuz we had more than one conversation about it, and I can’t remember exactly.’

‘Not his brother? He might have said something to him.’

‘No, Kiros was horrified when his father played that recording to him. There’s no way he would have given anything away to his brother. He knows how vital it is we keep Adric in the dark.’

‘What did Adric say?’

‘He came in all wafty like, pretending butter wouldn’t curdle in that lying mouth of his. He was all ingratiating himself with everyone, doing that silly shy, then flirtatious thing he does. Now I know what a slippery scheming turd he is, it’s like I can see straight through him.’

‘But he knows you know, right? I mean he must do after what happened?’

‘He’s pretending he doesn’t of course, because if there is a spy he must do – and I’m fairly certain there is. But I have to play along as though he doesn’t, just like he is doing. It’s a dance. He’s waiting for me to slip up – but he might just have done that himself. He said, “So tell me Tricky, you know about gemstones, what other qualities do they have? I heard someone say they could even be used to listen in, to record things?”

‘Oh! He definitely knows! Someone has told him!’

‘There’s a chance Dufray told him.’

Annie looked at Tricky, her eyes glazing over for a moment, then she refocused on her. ‘No, no he didn’t. He knows that for sure.’

‘Okay then, there is a spy.’

‘So what now?’

‘Search about, amongst your guides, amongst your feelings, in anything you receive. Help me work out who it is. We need to ‘cause otherwise it’s all for nothing.’

‘Have you shared this with Tumelo?’

‘I know, I need to, but what if … what if …’ Tricky couldn’t quite say it.

‘He’s in on it too? Yes, that would be tricky – even for you.’ 

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Review: Six! by Mark Cassell

SIX!SIX! by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed this collection from Mark Cassell. He excels at keeping the reader enthralled, and compells them to turn the page with the dark, tense suspense, and these stories are no exception.

I really enjoyed In Loving Memory, and the idea of what a lightning strike can do. But I think On Set with North was my favourite. True horror at its finest, but definitely not for the faint-hearted or the squeamish. If you like the dark gothic Victorian writing style of the likes of Poe, then The Space Between Spaces is for you. I love it for its otherworldly, dark intrigue.

There's much to enjoy here. This is also a good introduction to Mark Cassell's work, so if you haven't yet tried his dark delights, this is a good starting point before you tackle The Shadow Fabric novel and the myriad stories surrounding the mythos. I can't recommend Mark's writing enough. He has a defined clear style that I really enjoy reading.

View all my reviews

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 259

This week's picture prompt was taken by Richard of Hollins over on twitter. Taken in January this year in Lancashire, England. 

I had an image for this one in my head, but it went much darker than expected and double the word count! But if I cut it off it wouldn't make sense. It needed its end, so it's a short story instead of just a piece of flash. And TW/CW: Sexual Assault/Rape suggested. But not graphic. 

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 out of focus image of a snow laden path across a bridge at night. Ahead is a headlight, which is creating green circular swirling effect. Picture taken by Richard of Hollins


Trisha staggered and almost slipped on the ice. Fuck, this wasn’t good. She could barely see. She’d had a few but not that many. She could see the street lamp on the other side of the bridge, but it felt like everything was spinning; the snow on the ground moving round and round. She took a deep breath and tried opening her eyes wider, but it didn’t help.

She remembered Jamie buying her two beers in Henry’s, but when they’d moved to the Angel, she couldn’t remember how many she’d had. She’d kept pace with the girls so maybe three. At the peacock they’d only had one, because it was almost closing, but down the club she remembered someone bringing them shots. Had someone put something in one?

Trisha heard footsteps behind her. She tried to glance behind, but it unbalanced her and she thought she might fall off her heels. Then she heard voices and realised there was more than one. She tried to hurry up but it was hard walking on semi-hard snow in high heels.

‘You alright, love?’ A deep voice from behind her. She could feel panic rising from her stomach.

‘Yeah, I’m fine thanks.’ She tried to say it in her clearest voice, but knew it sounded slurred.

‘Your Nathan’s sister, aren’t you?’ A different voice. Did she know them?

She glanced back again, but her eyes couldn’t focus properly on their faces.

‘Yeah. He’s my little brother.’

‘I’m Dan. I work with him at Griggs.’

Trisha didn’t know whether this was a good thing or not. It wasn’t a name that rang a bell, but Griggs was a big factory and Nath knew a lot of people.

‘Oh right.’

‘Can we help you get home, love? You seem to be having trouble on this ice.’

‘Yeah, got the wrong shoes on for this stuff that’s for sure.’

The other guy came up on her left side and took her arm and Dan offered his arm on her right. Together they helped her get over the bridge.

She tried to relax and chat to them, but she was still on guard.

‘So who are you then?’ she said to the guy on her left.

‘I’m Craig. Just moved to the area. I work in the lasting room with Dan.’

‘Nath’s your supervisor then?’

‘Yeah, he runs our production line.’

‘So how come you know who I am then?’

‘He pointed you out to us earlier tonight, when you were in the Angel,’ Craig said.

‘Oh right. And he didn’t stay with you then?’

‘No, he said he wasn’t up to the club.’

‘No, Nath’s never been one for the nightclub. Not his scene.’ Trisha thought of how her little brother preferred goth music.

They eventually came out of the park. Trisha’s head was still spinning and she felt like she was losing moments of time, no longer being able to keep track of the conversation they’d been having, but fortunately she lived close by. They were only a few feet from her door when Craig said, ‘So you live by yourself then?’

Trisha didn’t want to answer because of where it might lead, so she lied. ‘Usually yeah, but Nath crashes on the weekends cuz I’m closer than mum and dads. I expect he’s snoring upstairs already.’

‘That’s good then. Not sure you should be left alone in your state,’ he grinned at her.

‘Oi, you cheeky bugger. I’m alright. I know what I’m doing.’

She left them on the road watching her as she walked up the path to her door and fumbled the key into the lock. She was still worried they might try and come in after her, so she opened it a tiny bit and squeezed through, trying to keep them in sight as she did it.

‘Bye then,’ she called.

They both put a hand up to wave goodbye and walked away. She closed the door behind her and put on the chain. Leaning against it, she tried to get her bearings and stop her head from spinning.

She heard movement in the lounge. Her breath caught in her throat. Who the fuck was that?

Then the hallway light was snapped on and her brother’s head appeared at the lounge doorway. He yawned and rubbed his hand in his hair.

‘You alright, Trish? Hope you don’t mind me crashing. I lost my wallet and didn’t have the money to get back home. I fell asleep on the couch.’

She let out a low breath. ‘You scared the shit out of me! Especially after that walk home with your work mates.’

‘Work mates?’

‘Yeah, Dan and Craig. They said they work in the lasting room with you.’

Nathan frowned. ‘Never heard of them. They’re not in my lasting room. You sure they work at Griggs?’

‘They said they were out with you tonight. You pointed me out to them.’

 ‘I was out with Mick. You saw me in the Angel with him.’

Trisha rubbed her head. She had a vague memory of it, but her head wasn’t very clear.

‘You alright, sis?’ Nath stepped towards her and put his hand on her shoulder.

‘I feel really out of it, but I haven’t had more than normal.’

‘You think someone spiked your drink? Maybe those blokes that claim to know me.’

Trish felt herself swoon and fall into her brother and then she blacked out.

When she woke up she was lying on the sofa and sun was coming through the window. She cracked an eye open and saw her brother standing at it, her dad standing next to him.

‘Nath? Dad? What you doing here?’

They both turned round. ‘What do you remember from last night, Trish?’ her dad asked as she approached her and sat down on the edge of the sofa next to her.

She tried to think but her head was fuzzy. ‘Not a lot. Just out with the girls. I felt rough coming home. Oh and some lads helped walked me home.’

‘And no one touched you inappropriately?’

‘What you on about dad?’

Her mum walked into the room with a cup of tea in her hand. ‘Oh good, you’re awake.’

‘Mum! What are you guys doing here?’

‘Nath called us. He was worried about you. Did something happen to you last night?’

‘Why do you all keep asking me that?’

Her mum looked down at her skirt; it was ripped and there was blood on her leg.

‘How did that happen?’

‘You sure we shouldn’t take you up to the hospital and get you checked out?’ Trisha’s dad asked.

She didn’t know. She realised she did feel sore underneath … but when and how? Tears sprang into her eyes. ‘I don’t know dad, maybe that’s a good idea.’

‘Oh Trish, darling.’ Her mum put her arm round her. ‘It’s gonna be alright.’

‘I’m just glad your brother was here,’ her dad said.

‘Me too. When I find out who those blokes are, I’m gonna batter them!’ Nathan said between clenched teeth.

‘Shh now Nath, let’s focus on Trish. Come on darling. Let’s get you up there now, then we can get back and you have a long bath. Maybe come back to ours for a few days.’

Trish had never been so grateful for the support of her family. She wasn’t sure what had happened, or when it had happened, but something had. 

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 258

This week's picture prompt was take by horror writer Patrick McDonough over on twitter. He said: 

"I work at a wastewater treatment plant. It’s a weird job. Most areas I work in are perfect settings for Horror and Crime. Today, I walked in a room that demonstrates that perfectly."

Something a little bit different. I wasn't sure where this was going to go, but I think it worked out alright. 

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 manniquin in a blue t-shirt and white shorts, with a yellow climbing strap around his torso, is lying on a grey concrete floor, with limbs twisted sll different ways, as though just thrown down. It is lying in a shaft of sunlight. Image taken by Patrick Mcdonaugh


Amanda put a hand on his leg and patted it. Yes, you’ll do nicely, she thought to herself as she started the car engine, happy to have someone along for the ride. It would give her neighbours an eye full too, which was her plan. Bunch of stickybeaks who loved putting their noses into everyone’s business; she hated them. She knew that sounded harsh, but it was true and the sooner she moved away from here the better.

She took a deep breath. That sort of talk didn’t help her, it only wound her up. But she wasn’t having any of it today, oh no, they could go stuff themselves. She had someone new here and they could stick it where the sun didn’t shine.

She waved to Gloria who was out in her garden pretending to tend to flowers, when really her life was so non-existent she would hover out there to see what everyone else was doing. It was the price you paid when you were on your own. It got lonely. But that was going to change for Amanda now. This was the first step; the next was getting out of this sad-sack neighbourhood.

She grinned at the surprised look on Gloria’s face when she registered Amanda’s companion riding along with her. Yes, that’s right, be jealous. She sniggered to herself. Sod you all!

Work would be more tricky; people there weren’t so easily convinced – or interested. Why would they? They all had lives. She’s seen their photos on their desks of their spouses and children. She’d heard them chatter about how busy they were with all their social engagements. They knew how to rub it in.

She’d taken pictures: a selfie with him behind her in the car, and one seen through the car window. She imagined herself saying, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my boyfriend’. And they’d all be smiles and wanting to know more. She might finally get to be in on some of the conversations in the lunch room. It could open up a whole new world.

When she got to work she had her photos ready. She pinned them up on her corkboard, and waited. Then an email came in from the boss and her stomach dropped.

She hadn’t thought any of them would notice. He’d been in a room that no one had been in for months. There’d been a thick layer of dust over everything in there. It had taken her ages to get him out, taking him home piece by piece over a long period of time. Nothing had been said, no notices had gone up. And now, just when she was ready with the next part of her plan, suddenly they wanted to run an employee’s first aid course, and wondered if anyone knew where the resuscitation dummy had gone. Damn! And worse yet she had the evidence here right in front of her.

She snatched the photos off the cork board and pretended she was off to the toilets, taking a quick divert down to her car in the underground company car park.

She hadn’t been stupid; she’d made sure he was out of sight in the boot of her car, but now she had to dump him. But where?

She scanned the area and saw a blue door across from her. She went over and tried it. It opened into a little cleaning room. Perfect! She chucked him in there, letting him fall to the floor in an undignified manner. Sorry, she thought to herself, you were nice and all but it wasn’t working out. If I lose this job, I’ll never get out of that shitty neighbourhood.

She scurried back out, keeping a watchful eye, but no one was about, and returned to her desk unseen. She sighed. She didn’t know what was worse, having no one in her life or losing the fake one.


Wednesday 6 July 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 257

This week's picture prompt was taken by photographer, Steve Bougeno. Taken back in November 2015, he says it is a wind break at Shaw Nature Reserve in the Missouri Botanical Gardens. He has some wonderful nature photos, definitely worth checking out. And apparently, according to the person who posted this picture on twitter, it is a 'crinkle crankle wall' which means it resists horizontal forces, like wind, more than straight walls.

Another glimpse into Tricky's world for this week's piece. The last time was on Week 253

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 arial view of a  terracotta-coloured, single brick wall, built so that it goes in and out, like a squiggle. It's called a Crinkle Crankle wall. It is across a wooded landscape in autumn.

Getting Ahead

Tricky waited for the view to stop wobbling, then realised it was wobbly – the brick wall was not straight. Odd, she’d not seen one like that before. Was it meant to be like that, or had someone been drinking when they built it?

One of the first things to make a return after the shift was alcohol. It seemed humans didn’t want to live without it, although the methods and vegetables they now used had become creative. She wasn’t really interested in it. She preferred herbal tea. She didn’t need to get out of her mind to have fun; when you could open pockets of time and step into other worlds, it paled by comparison.

She climbed down off the wall she’d found herself on and walked along it. Nope, that wobble was definitely deliberate as it was perfectly constructed to flick-flack at certain intervals. Weird. She wondered what else was off kilter here.

The thing with opening rents in time was that really you had no idea where you were and when you were. And although everyone called it ‘time’, it wasn’t really; it was some kind of inter dimensional movement. Tricky wasn’t into all the complicated science of the how or why, it just was, and she accepted it, much as she would accept a mole on a man’s penis. It’s there, you take it or leave it – doesn’t make much difference to the doing or the outcome. Although maybe with dimensions the outcome could be affected depending what you were doing. She snickered to herself. Ha! She’d have to explore that one, one day. She wondered if Nathan was the experimental type … but she wasn’t here to ponder all that, she was here to get her arse moving and get ahead of Stanislav and his crony.

She didn’t have to travel far, but she did have to make sure she was opening at the right place. She rushed down the length of the wall, vaguely wondering what it was doing here, and then saw there was a wood at the end where the wall went left. Excellent, just what she needed.

Tricky climbed back on the wall, and at the corner gripped onto an overhanging oak. It’s deep green energy seeping into her arms as she clambered up and onto a branch, settling into a nook a few feet off the ground.

She pulled the mirror out of her pocket, the one Nathan had returned to her. It wasn’t just a mirror, it could see between dimensions. She didn’t know how her mother had discovered it, but it had been part of their family collection of tools for their craft. Tricky had assumed it had ended up in the hands of the network. She loved that Nathan had held onto it.

She placed it in her palm, her energy activating it, and held it up so the light caught it. It glinted. The image it reflected wasn’t of this place but of the Ferriston forest. She turned it slightly so the path came into view and she could see them walking along. Yes, she was ahead of them. Good.

She rummaged in her pocket for the chip of obsidian with her other hand, the germwort still wrapped around it, and ran a finger along the lining of the pocket, feeling for a few crumbs of creasy. She grasped a big one with the tips of her fingers and brought them out into the open. When she manoeuvred the crumb onto the stone, a loud crack in the air caused the tree to rustle in surprise and a small gap opened up. She hoped the crack hadn’t been as loud on the other side or they might have heard it.

She slid through the gap, climbing from one tree to the other – a nice pine who seemed pleased to greet her. She felt the excited bright green energy run up her arm. She took her thumb off the crumb of creasy, letting it fall to the ground, and nestled into the trunk of the tree, her eyes on her stalkers. She was keen to see where they were going. 


Tuesday 5 July 2022

Review: Below, by Kev Harrison

BelowBelow by Kev Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short, suspense filled novel, Below delivers a scary and creepy story with a tense build up to finding out exactly what is below in an old mine shaft.

Dr. Nick Johns and two female companions, Sophia and Jess venture down to uncover tools & remains left by a few men that were trapped down there after the mine caved in some sixty years previously, one of them being Nick's grandfather. But what they find is far more sinister.

A gripping read, great tension and good character development. I really enjoyed it. Although there were a few editing niggles, which I felt should have been picked by the publishing house. But I definitely look forward to more from Kev Harrison.

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