Wednesday 31 August 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 265

This week's picture prompt was taken by Walter Arnold an American photographer. He calls this one The Pull. It was taken in Salpelo Island, off the coast of the state of Georgia, in the US. This is not the first time his work has been a prompt on Mid-Week Flash, the last time was Week 177, back in December 2020. He takes some wonderful pictures, worth checking out.  

A short piece of what I saw when I first looked at this image. 

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 dead tree trunk lying on the sand in the shallow waters of a beach, with waves receding from it, along with other branches and beach debris in the shallows. Taken from low down looking out to sea at sunset. Taken by Walter Arnold on Salpelo Island, Georgia, USA


He gripped the log, having managed to straddle the main limb, and held on for dear life as it was pulled away with the hard tidal water. He knew that it would be pushed back just as strong but he had no choice but to hang on if he wanted to stay alive.

Not one inch of this tiny little island stayed dry during the ocean tide anymore. As the sand had been dragged away so had most of the vegetation, in particular the large trees that had once kept it shaded and allowed other plants to grow.

Perry didn’t know what had brought about the change in the seasonal rotation of the sea. In the three years since he had been stranded on it, he’d mapped the weather and the tides, trying to work out the possibilities of getting off. But four months ago the first of the exceptionally high tides had started, bringing daily floods and washing away his rustic attempt at shelter. The persistent water had started to corrode the bases of the trees, the salt permeating the bark, poisoning them, making them easier to breakdown and drag away.

He scanned the sea, hoping to see any kind of boat or ship on the horizon but there was nothing, as it had been all the years he’d been stuck here; dropped by a malfunctioning plane which had sunk to a watery grave along with its pilot.

Perry considered this could be likened to a rollercoaster ride, like he used to enjoy back home – being thrown back and forth, the water rushing along with the dead tree trunk. But the chances of him losing his life back then were minimal, today they were very real. And even if he did survive this ride, then what? How much longer before he’d died from thirst or hunger? Rains weren’t due for another week or so, if they came, and if they did he had no way to catch the water or keep it. Maybe he’d be better off letting the ocean take him.

But instinct and the innate desire to live held him on the trunk as the movement started to slow and the waters began to recede, the trunk being shoved back into the sand. A respite of a couple of hours before it started again. He wondered if next time the sea might take the trunk once and for all, and him along with it. Part of him could only hope.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 264

This week's picture prompted was created by Edli Akolli, and Albanian artist over on deviant art. He calls it Valkyrie and it's stunning. He's created quite a few stunning warriors like this one. Take a look using the link above. 

This week just a short piece on how this inspired. 

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 female winged warrior standing on the top of mountain range amongst the clouds, with wings open and on display, dressed in a gold fitted tunic on the top and a long, to the floor, red skirt holding a waist-high gold sword in front of her, with the tip on the ground. It's called Valkyrie and created by Edli on DeviantArt


I fell to my knees the second I saw her. Her height, her strength, her power as she stood proud at the gates of the slain, overwhelmed me. I was already in love with her. I wondered if she would dane to let me touch her or kiss her feet, but she was too majestic. I dared not try. I was in awe. I was humbled. I was grateful to be here.

I wondered what her judgment would be; would I be going to Valhalla to join my battle mates, or would I be going to Fólkvangr where I could rest my weary head in the meadows? I didn’t mind as long as it was Valkyrie’s wish. Her wish was my every desire, and I would do anything to please her.

‘Soldier, are you tired with life?’

Her voice filled me. It was gentle, loving and sympathetic. I could listen to it for eternity.

‘Oh great Valkyrie, I only tire of spilling blood and avenging those who I have never met; of the drive to end life for the means of gaining land – land taken from another by force. I only tire of seeing children and families torn apart by war, or the poverty they are driven into. I tire of seeing human battle human for no other reason than greed.’

‘I feel your pain, warrior. I hoped that humans would do better. But they have not. But it is not for us to judge, it is only for us to serve.’

‘Oh but great Valkyrie, I am the one who should be serving you. You are magnificent and loyal to our cause. I would do anything that you wish of me.’

‘I wish for you to find peace with Freya and free your heart and soul of your sadness. You’re mortal work is done and you are here now in the after realm where you must take time to rest before your next task is set.’

‘I will do as you bid. I only hope that you will someday join me and together we might serve side by side.’

She laughed; a deep joyful sound that made her eyes light up and my heart melt.

‘Oh warrior, you do a valkyrie a great service with your words. It is long days since anyone has requested my presence anywhere other than here. I hope too that someday your hopes will be fulfilled.’

I was uplifted by such an answer and as the clouds on the mountain tops cleared to make way for the meadows below, I was hopeful that I would see her again. As I took my place in the sleepy grasses that Freya offered spent soldiers, I set to dream of such an event.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 263

Today's picture prompt was taken by Montblanc Pen Lover over on Flicker. These are special edition Montblanc Skeleton ink pens. To give you an idea of cost, the one on the far right is going for USD 9,300 on a luxury website! Just the nibs alone run at around USD 300 dollars. But it's their steampunk qualities that attracted me, so let's see what they inspire. 

Took me a while to find this story and maybe one day there might be more. 

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 picture of five MontBlanc Skeleton special edition ink pens, all with ornate designs on them in different types of gold.

A Reasonable Man

He opened the ornate wooden box on his desk. It had been delicately carved out of mahogany and had his initials stamped on it: HEA. His parents had given it to him when he had left for university. It had contained the first of his collection of special Montblanc skeleton pens. The pen was exquisite in its depiction of the world map which had been etched in gold. Henry found himself admiring the detail whenever he pondered a missive.

And that’s what he had in front of him today, some thirty years on, a missive he was reluctant to sign, but one that warranted the weight of such a pen, both in its value as well as its physical presence.

Henry watched the gold nib glide across the paper while transferring his consent on what had become a contentious issue.

‘I hereby grant permission for Mrs Isabella Aston to be transferred to the psychiatric wing of St James’ hospital without delay. It is with regret that I will be unable to attend the transfer as our son will be in my custody and I will need to reassure him that all is well.

At no point prior to the agreed time and date should Mrs Isabella Aston be made aware of this transfer to avoid undue stress and anxiety.

All the required paperwork will be present, along with the injunction and the judge’s decree.

I expect a swift and smooth operation. There will be extra bonuses made available to those who diligently adhere to the required gentle handling of this sensitive matter.’

Henry signed and dated the letter and put it on the top of the other legal papers required to complete this transaction.

He carefully replaced the lid on the pen and sat back in his office chair, pondering his choices.

Isabella had proven difficult and defiant the longer their marriage had gone on, and in recent months even combative. Henry wasn’t an unreasonable man, but he had built a large business empire and wanted his son to take it over. He couldn’t risk her snatching him away and an acrimonious divorce to take place. He hoped that once she had been in the psychiatric wing for a few days she might be more compliant and open to finding a compromise. He hoped they could find a way forward, if not together at least in a way that would suit them both.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Review: Territory, by Dan Howarth

TerritoryTerritory by Dan Howarth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a holiday read and it got to the point where I deliberately made time to keep reading because it was so compelling, and I had to know how it ended - which was completely unexpected!

Jari, a hunter living in a small village in Norway, loses one dog and find his other under attack from a pack of wolves, and he's not the only one; several others in their small community lose their animals too. Then some boys are chased down by the pack and the community decides they have to do something about it.

Set in the middle of winter in heavy snow, Dan Howarth writes this dark, tense story and keeps you on the edge of your seat with the wolves literally at your door the entire way through. A compulsive story in a tough setting, it's not an easy read - but read you must if you like dark tales, with elements of gore.

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Review: Alone With Myself, by Kev Harrison

Alone With MyselfAlone With Myself by Kev Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A super short story, but a brilliant little read. The concept is that of grief taking a little bit of your soul - and then what happens when it comes back.

A dark, thought provoking tale and a great introduction to Kev's writing style, which is easy and succinct, flowing off the page. I really enjoy the stories he writes. I can't recommend him enough if you like things, dark and different.

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Wednesday 10 August 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 262

This image was once up on Etsy as an item for sale but it is no longer available so I can't credit either the company of the person who took the picture. But it is rather wonderful. 

I tried to think a little out of the box, and my mood infected this one, and it's run over the word count, but I can't edit it anymore without ruining the story. Enjoy. 

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 close up of a glass bottle with a small amount of yellow powder in it, with a label printed on it saying Sun Dust sprinkle any time to add a little light to your life. The bottle has a stopper in it and is tied with string.

Lifting Life

Felicity needed it today more than ever. It was yet another overcast day and her mood reflected it. She felt sad. In fact she often felt sad, although she was someone who kept it to herself. People saw her as sociable and outgoing – and she was, but she also felt deeply disconnected from everything around her. She lived alone and worked from home. She spent most days not seeing anyone or speaking to anyone. Only at weekends, when she arranged to meet others, and although they were great people, they were surface friends; no deep and meaningful conversations or relationships. It was taking a toll on her and she didn’t know how to change it.

She picked up the little bottle she’d bought at a shop that sold herbs and tinctures. ‘Sun Dust, sprinkle anytime to add a little light in your life.’ She wondered if it was just a sales gimmick. But the shop assistant had assured her it was very real and would bring her what she needed. The assistant had advised her to sprinkle just a few grains of it around her room to brighten up her life, so she took out the cork stopper and sprinkled a little over different areas of the house.

She waited. Nothing happened. Maybe it was a gimmick.

There was a bright flash at her window. Great, lightning, now there was going to be a storm to make the day darker.

Felicity went to the window to watch it but didn’t see any more and there was no rain. The clouds were grey but they didn’t look that heavy. Maybe it was just a random strike.

She went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. She was about to switch on the light when she saw the sun had broken through the clouds here at the back of the house. Yet while she was clearing the dishes out of the kitchen sink she glanced out and saw the clouds were still there, blanketing the sky. It must have been just a brief glimpse.

She looked down into the sink again and saw sun glinting off the chrome of the pans. She frowned. Where was it coming from?

She looked round the room and saw beams of light cutting across the counter. She opened the back door and stepped outside but it was still completely dull and chilly. She came back inside and saw the outline of the window frame cast across the kitchen table as though it was full sunshine outside.

Was it real? Could the Sun Dust be doing that? She couldn’t think what else it could be.

Felicity went out of the kitchen and checked all the rooms she’s sprinkled it in, even upstairs. Sure enough, they were all lit up with invisible sunshine. It was glorious.

She smiled. And when she left her bedroom she felt her feet lift more than usual. When she reached the stairs she floated down them rather than stepped. What was going on?

She kept her hand on the banister, worried she might not be able to stay grounded if she didn’t. But at the bottom she had to let go to get into the lounge, and glided across the floor, plopping down onto the sofa, although it didn’t feel like she was actually touching it.

She giggled at the idea, and then she couldn’t stop and lay there laughing for at least half an hour, not really sure what she was laughing at.  Her sides ached. What was happening? Had the bottle released some kind of laughing gas?

Felicity didn’t know, and no longer cared. She felt good. She hadn’t felt this good in years, in fact not since she last fell in love.

That was it; it felt like falling in love. Only there was just her. But that was okay. She liked that it was just her; she was enjoying herself on her own for the first time ever. She realised she could be happy all by herself. She didn’t need other people to have a good time. She could do things by herself that would make her happy.

The revelation made her want to go for a walk, It didn’t matter it was overcast; it didn’t stop nature being wonderful. She couldn’t wait to get out in it and breathe in the air.

Felicity stepped out of the front door with a big smile on her face. But by the time she reached the road her feet were no longer gliding, the weight of her body had returned. And when she reached the woods she began to wonder what she was doing there. She did, however, enjoy the trees and the smell of the foliage on a dank, cold day.

When she reached the lake in the middle, she saw the ducks and wished she’d brought something to feed them. And although when she returned home less light and happy than she had been, she felt at peace. She knew now what she needed to do.

The Sun Dust might have been the catalyst, but she understood that her sadness was because she kept herself cooped up and didn’t appreciate herself enough, or the outside world she lived in.

She smiled. She’d use the dust again, she knew that, but now she had a deeper understanding that to change her life for the better it started within.  

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 261

This week's picture prompt was created by The Master Baron on Deviant Art. They call it the Dream Machine. They have a lot of interesting digital imagesm wirtg a browse. 

Took me a while to decide on this one, and it's short but I 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.

A digital image of circle patterns like cogs, wheels and/or bubbles. Some of then look like they are lit up with a gold light. By The Master Baron on Deviant Art

Star Struck

Am I dead?

I must be, right?

That truck just went right over me. It came out of nowhere. I was just looking at that squirrel by the side of the road as I stepped out and, wham!

Unless this is ‘seeing stars’ … but that doesn’t look like stars; that looks like cogs.

But cogs for what?

My brain?

Or are they bubbles?

Lights even?

I’ll just reach out my hand …

Okay, no hands.

No body, just me.

I’m dead.

Or am I dreaming?

Could be dreaming.

Or could this be what is on the ‘other side’ – is this the afterlife?

Well if it is, it’s pretty.

But where are the people? You know all those people who loved you in life and are already dead, like grandparents and such, who come back to meet you and take you through?

It’s all bollocks then, isn’t it? Thought so.

So instead of a bright white light you go through, there are some kind of cogs, or wheels … Or is this space?

Have I drifted up in an ethereal state into the universe? This could be a nebular of some kind. I might have floated into it.

But wow, isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it wonderful? I feel so elated, so full, so happy?

Is this happiness? Is this what it feels like to feel complete and whole and ‘at peace’?

Am I at peace? I definitely feel it.

I can’t even remember ever feeling different. I can’t remember … well, anything.

I could just stay here and stare into these amazing rotating circles forever.

And I will.

I just want to be here with them. I want to be in them, I want them to be here with me.

I love them. And they love me, right? I can feel it. Like a tangible thing coming through their light.

They do.

I never want to be anywhere else ever again.

There is nowhere else.

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Review: Elevation by Stephen King

ElevationElevation by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I delayed getting this book, because it's a novella which is being priced at the cost of a novel. This is the publisher's way of making money from the Stephen King Constant Reader and I don't like it - PLUS this book has been padded out with the first three chapters of his next release (The Institute) so I find this particularly scammy. Not a good look for Stephen King OR his publishers.

That said, I'm a lifelong fan of Stephen King's work. I own all his books - The Dark Tower in duplicate (hard and soft covers), so when I started reading this book, the opening was really familiar too me, like I'd read it somewhere before. It follows a similar storyline to Thinner, and the main character also talks in the opening about a doctor and him weighing himself. I wondered if this book was maybe a story Stephen King had written before Thinner and he'd pulled it out of his draw and decided to release it. I'm okay with that, but this one could have gone into a collection.

In terms of the story, it is classic Stephen King. It's been a while since he's brought one out that has this kind of storyline. Something unexplained but yet compelling, with a brilliant ending. His writing has been mixed these last few years, some has even be shockingly bad (Sleeping Beauties), with others going off the rails a bit (The Outsider). It's a light story with well developed characters, and he uses modern day themes like the changing attitude to same sex marriage, based on recent political agendas. It was refreshing, if brief.

I would recommend this one to those that enjoy his writing. But if you can find a second hand copy so you don't have to pay the extortionate price for something so short, I'd urge you to do so - or borrow it from a library.

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Review: Tender Morsels, by Jack Rollins

Tender MorselsTender Morsels by Jack Rollins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading Jack Rollins' work, and I was not disappointed. This was only a short story, a taste of what's to come - which is within itself a pun on the story within these pages.

This story was drip fed and built tension while setting the scene and giving the reader a chance to get to know the characters. It was set in the Victorian times, in a poor district of London and the dialogue and writing style reflected that.

Knowing it was a dark, horror-filled story I was waiting for the reveal, and it came much subtly than I expected but with full impact right at the end. Just a few simple lines to expose the terrifying truth.

This is not a story for the faint-hearted but those that like their horror dark and not put off by gory. I look forward to reading more.

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