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.


  1. What madness is this? We both have folks ending up in institutions...

    Anyway, my entry for this week's challenge is called Scripture.


    “And this one’s equipped with a semiconductor-based laser. It’s perfect for a writer with the ambition to top the New York Times best seller lists. If Ernst Stavro Blofeld had owned one before he met Mr Bond, he’d have had no need to try to dominate using nuclear weapons. He’d have written his way into a position of power: an easy way to be a world beater with minimum risk to his person.”

    I picked up the pen and rolled it between my fingers. It was nicely balanced, a little heavy toward the nib, but that was the way I preferred my writing instruments. I liked to be reminded of the power of my words; a pen like this had its own presence, a sense of enormous potential. I could blaze across and down the page, burning my way to the bottom. It might not need filling with ink; I was hoping it could etch the characters line by line, scorching the paper as I raced through my drafts.

    “How do you turn it on? What’s the trick to it?” I tried pressing the clip, thinking it could be the switch. It was the most obvious way to control it.

    Fontainebleau smiled, reaching to take it back. He performed a series of actions, compressing the ends together, then twisted the body and nib so that a subtle mechanism clicked inside. The end of the cap began to glow a vivid lime green, and a narrow beam appeared, lancing through the air, singeing the dust particles as he swept it over my head.

    “It’s adjustable, of course,” he said, focusing the beam to make it shorter. “It can slice through tungsten, vanadium and most of the commonest steel alloys. It can vaporise beryllium, chromium, and manganese. It can even bore through the boron blends. It’s the perfect choice when you’re locked in the trunk of a parked vehicle, but I'd recommend you direct it away from the gas tank. It might precipitate an awkward incident - I’d not guarantee you’d survive the experience.” He gave it another twist, and the beam blinked out. He kept his gloved fingers away from its end: the metal cap was still glowing.

    “But can you write with it? Does it function as a pen usually does?”

    He shook his head. He gave me a peculiar look as though reassessing my worth. I was expecting him to send for someone to escort me outside, someone more familiar with martial arts rather than the specialisms he preferred.

    He returned the pen to the case on the desk, slotting it into the niche between the one that could write in space and the other that would open every lock ever made. He stepped toward the door to the rear of the shop, lacing his fingers together and mumbling beneath his breath.

    “I’ve an another idea,” he said, drawing a display case out from under the counter. He extracted a silver-coloured pen from the box it contained, its patina suggesting decades of regular use. He handed it across to me, careful to keep it away from himself.

    “This one’s an artefact rather than a gadget. You might find this one more to your liking. It’s got a provenance that can’t be ignored.”

    This pen was a more conventional one; its body and cap elaborately tooled but still functional. It felt as though it belonged in my hands, stirring the dark voice that regularly kept me awake at night.

    “What’s with the photo in the case? And the letter as well? I’m guessing it belonged to a German. A significant officer, I’d suspect.”

    Fontainebleau plucked the photo from the showcase, handling it by its edges. It showed an officer in front of a car, a black Mercedes. It was parked in front of an imposing building with a pair of German eagles guarding the steps leading inside.

    “Its last user was Josef Mengele, a favourite of Hitler. His history speaks for itself. I would have thought a writer of horror would be familiar with his works.”