Thursday 7 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 316

This week's picture prompt was creted by fine art photographer, Vassilis Tangoulis. This is among his collection, Dreams in Colour on his site. He has some wonderful pictures, worth checking out. 

Delving once again into Tricky's world and the characters in there. Last time was Week 315

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.


He paused on his way to the jetty. Was he being followed? He was sure he felt eyes on him. His eyes scanned the trees at the edge of the path and touched the amethyst Tricky had left him in his pocket. He felt Tricky’s energy and it reassured him, but it wouldn’t make him safe.

Tricky had also left a piece of peridot and yellow birch leaf, and while Nathan slipped into the trees on the right side of the path, he used it to become invisible by pressing them together in his other pocket.

He remained where he was and waited, hoping that whoever or whatever had their eyes on him would appear.

He heard a shuffling and a boy stepped out onto the path from the trees on the other side.

Nathan frowned to himself. He might not have thought much of such a youngster except they were wearing a black cloak. It looked like a uniform, one that triggered a memory from his youth. Could this be one of Douglas Bottle’s students? Did he even still have students? Nathan thought he probably did; it was useful having underlings to run errands for you, while you passed on your craft. And Bottle was that kind of old school mentor – one that Nathan used to respect, but less so now he knew Bottle was involved with The Network.

But this confirmed one thing, he was being watched. Did they know he went to the cabin on the lake? He remained still. He would let the boy show him.

The boy looked both ways up the path and then crossed into the trees, passing close to Nathan. He walked a few trees in and then stopped looking round himself.

Nathan doubted this young one would have any perception of using gemstones to make yourself invisible. Surely if they did they would be using it. Nathan was sure the boy couldn’t sense him, and enjoyed being hidden right under his nose. Tricky had certainly excelled at discovering the intricacies of such energy combinations. Dufray had been just as gifted, and Nathan felt a slight pang of remorse that he was dead; so much knowledge lost to their little world at a time they needed it most.

He watched the boy look around, trying to track Nathan. But Nathan couldn’t be tracked because he hadn’t gone where the boy was looking.

He continued to observe the boy as he return to the path and continued along it, this time with Nathan in pursuit still veiled from view. The boy paused at Dead Lake, and looked at the cabin. However, he didn’t endeavour to go across the jetty and inside, instead giving it a cursory glance then continuing along the shoreline of dead trees, and then passing between them into the living trees behind.

Nathan followed.

When the boy was four or five trees deep, he stopped again and let out some whistles. Two more boys joined him, and they held a whispered conversation Nathan couldn’t tap into while veiled. Then the three of them moved off further into the woods. Nathan continued to trail them, even when they used their energy to pick up speed, a simple trick he used a lot when covering large distances, which this turned out to be. They didn’t meet up with anyone else and eventually disappeared down inside the base of a very large red-coloured tree.

Nathan looked up at the tree. At this point he wished he had Tricky’s ability to communicate with it. He put his hand on the trunk, and although he could feel the energy running through it, and even tap into it, it didn’t give him any information. It was a shame. He could see the opening they used, but it wasn’t a good idea to go down there when he had no idea where it led. He knew it was into one of the bunkers, which was probably connected to others, but getting lost in a rabbit warren of them when your enemy was all around would be foolish.

Nathan turned back instead, remaining cloaked the entire time, not feeling safe to release the peridot and leaf until he was back inside the time wrap in the cabin.

He was confident they knew he was residing here – or at least suspected he did. How long had they been watching him? Questions he couldn’t answer. But they’d know who he was; he was familiar with their mentor, as anyone who had schooled under Tricky’s mother, Angelique Hayek, would be.

They had all met Douglas Bottle at some point – or Gandalf as he liked to be nicknamed. Bottle might look uncouth and larger than life in his garish coloured suits, but he had a keen memory and knew everyone. Nathan knew he’d recall his association with Tricky, Annie, and Lucien. There was no doubt he knew they were working together. But the question that burned brightest was, did they know this was Tricky’s cabin, or did they think it was just another of Nathan’s abodes? Which led to the next question: how much longer was Nathan safe here?

Nathan needed to inform Annie and Tricky as soon as possible. 

Thursday 30 November 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 315

This week's picture prompt was created by hungarian born, Sarolta Ban. She doesn't give this a name, but it is located in the fabulae category.  It's not the first time I've used one of her images. I used one on Week 31, Week 304Week 28, and Week 24 . She has some exceptional images, I would probably pic a different one every week to use they're so good. 

A brief one as I keep exploring some ideas for Tricky's tales. Last time I wrote one for her was Week 314 - just last 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.

A black and white piece of digital art, depicting three giant ravens, and an old man with a walking stick, white hair and a suit, walking between them. One of the birds has his hat in its mouth. The man barely reaches the height of the ravens chests. A surreal piece of digital art by Sarolta Ban


“It was huge, it came at me out of nowhere!”

“It was just a bird, Dimitri. It was probably as frightened as you!”

“No, it knew what it was doing! It had been sent by her.”


“Tricky, that thorn in our sides.”

“But talking to birds is not one of her gifts, that belongs to Dufray.”

“It definitely wasn’t one of his, Gandalf. I’d have recognised it.”

“I think you’re exaggerating. It was probably one of his jackdaws.”

“Oh no, this was much bigger than one of those.”

“Probably one of the larger corvids then.”

“Are there bigger ones?”

“Oh yes. I used to have a pet raven, beautiful bird it was, so intelligent. I couldn’t communicate with it like Lucien does his birds, but it was smart enough to be able to communicate with me. There aren’t many of them left now – at least I don’t see them around where I live. I hope they have managed to repopulate.”

“Aren’t ravens black though? This was brown with a white head.”

Gandalf laughed.

“That was no corvid, that was a peregrine falcon. And that means they’ve brought Safa Odeh in.”

“Who’s that? Someone we should be worried about?”

“Probably not, though her falcon is definitely as keen as any raven. It seems they have their spies out.”

“Maybe I should arrange to have the birds killed.”

Gandalf laughed again.

“Oh, Dimitri, I doubt very highly you’d be able to outsmart a bird of prey. But no, if they are watching us, we can put on a show for them and lead them on a merry dance.”

Dimitri Stanislav’s thin, hard face lit up with an ear-splitting grin.

“Oh yes, what a good idea.” 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 314

This week's picture prompt is a digital creation by Ciara, or Aura, as she calls herself online, and She Freaks, She Speaks, over on Facebook. She has some wonderful digital art, and she also has a shop where she sell crystals and crystal jewellery. If you like that sort of thing there's a lot of choice. I have also used one of her pictures before on Week 301 with the teapot, & Week 291 I with the stained glass bath.

A Tricky related story, exploring some backstory. The last time I wrote one about Tricky was on Week 312

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.

Digital piece of art depicting three glass bottles all with real-looking cat's heads, each with eyes glowing a different colour: Turquoise, Violet and Yellow. The contents of the bottles are swirls of patterns, and stars all in a variety of glowing bright colours. Created by She Freaks, She Speaks on Facebook.


“Have you got it?”

“Yes, it was easy, he gave it to me without question.”

“Good.” Douglas Bottle, aka Gandalf, took the smooth, large, palm-sized obsidian from Adric and turned it over in his hands. “It is rather special, isn’t it?”

“Oh yes.”

“And it records, you say?”

“I’ve tested it a few times, it’s quite easy to activate, you just have to use a combination of energy light and sound.”


“Yes, if I use a certain pitch or intonation with some keywords, and run some magenta light through it, it turns it on.”

“And you can play it back the same way?”

“Yes. And it’s personalised; every person’s voice has a different level of intonation.”

“So I can’t activate it then?”

“Not recordings I make no, but you can make your own.”

“So it’s like secret recordings for each individual?”

“Yes. Though, Dufray has managed to record on it and I’ve managed to activate it by running light through it, so I’m not quite sure.”

“Secret recordings he’s made?”

“Oh no. I’m not even sure he knew it was recording; it was just him jabbering on to his flock of birds. But it’s how I realised it could record and I’ve been testing it out since.”

“It would be a neat trick to leave it in a room to capture conversations.”

“Nice idea, but it needs to be activated by energy light, which has to be sustained.”

“Shame. So there’s no way we can do this without him knowing?”

 “I thought you were going to drug him?”

“Yes, but I was hoping to do it subtly so he wouldn’t catch on. Here …”

Gandalf led Adric downstairs into a dimly lit basement, one lined with shelves full of different bottles containing liquid in an array of colours. He took them over to a bench where three bottles with cat heads as stoppers stood. The innards of each one glowed with swirling colours, but what unnerved Adric was that the heads moved as though alive, blinking and meowing. Gandalf stroked one of them and it omitted a purr.

“What are those?”

“They’re just enchanted. If anyone but me touches them they will hiss or bite to alert me to any trespasser. Their contents have taken me years to develop, and it’s this particular potion I was hoping to test out on Dimitri tonight.”

“He’s no fool. How will you get him to take it?”

“Oh it’s tasteless, thus easy to put into a drink.”

“Okay. Will he be dopey or out of it? To activate the stone I need to create an energy light set up.”

“You could say it’s for protection. It’s not like he will know; he has little concept of this stuff, he just does as I tell him with any of the enchantments or energetic communications he partakes in. He won’t be out of it so much as loose tongued. I’m intrigued what he will come out with.”

“So am I. But remind me again why you wanted this recorded?”

“I don’t trust Dimitri, or his endgame. He treats folk like us as disposable. So should any of this not go the way we want it, we have something to blackmail him with … should that time come.”

“Oh my father would love to get his hands on anything that would incriminate Stanislav. He’s itching for a reason to dispose of him.”

“He’d have to find him first.”

“Indeed, he’s a slippery bugger.”

“Which is why I’m hoping to pin him down on this recording. Now, go back upstairs and get everything ready. He’ll be here in a moment.”


Wednesday 15 November 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 313

This week's picture prompt is by Simone Pinna, a self-taught Italian artist, known particularly for Erotic Faires, so be careful clicking that link - it is definitely NSFW! Though this link should only go to the picture that I am using as a prompt. Despite the riskee nature, there's some incredible art and talent! 

A dabble into the concept of getting wings being a trend. 

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.

Black & white drawing of a pair of bare feet, standing up on tiptoes, with painted toenails and two wings coming out of their ankle joint. Where the wings attach to the ankle the skin looks broken and bleeding. By Simone Pinna


She went up on tiptoes, craning to see her ankles in the full-length mirror. She hoped they looked better than they felt; she hadn’t anticipated them being so painful. She thought that getting your wings would be delightful, maturing and completing. But she felt none of those things; she felt disappointed, ignorant and naive.

She believed from here on out she would be blissfully happy, but if the pain of the fitting into the ankles was this bad, she dreaded to think what the pain in the back would feel like. No one had talked about that, they had only talked about the delight of flying. They didn’t talk about what it took to get there.

Still, she could flutter them, even if it was sore and it made them bleed. They looked pretty. She just had to tolerate a few days of discomfort. But it did make her think twice about how quickly she was going to get her back wings fitted – although how stupid would she look if she walked around for months with just ankle wings? She would only be able to hover above the ground for a couple of minutes before falling flat on her face. No, she had to suck it up and go ahead with her plans for the operation the following week, and get all the pain over in one go.

She hoped that once it was done she would get over her stupid vertigo too. None of her mates had a problem launching themselves off cliffs, and she put that down to them already having their wings for years. They’d had parents that had been able to afford to get them fitted when they were young, so they could grow into them – although it did mean they’d had to have corrective surgery a few times too. At least she would only need to go through it once now she was fully grown.

She tried not to think about how bad her vertigo had got when Belito had taken her out last month. She’d held onto him as he’d taken them to a secluded spot for a bit of romance, but it had taken all her willpower to stop herself going into full blown panic. She’d tried to hide it from him, but he’d known, and when he’d dumped her the following week he’d called her an archaic mutant.

She looked at her ankles in the mirror. She felt more of a mutant now. Did everyone bleed this badly? She didn’t dare ask. She didn’t want to be seen as weak or find out she was the freak. It was bad enough living to this age without wings.

She dabbed at the blood, which was still trickling out. She hoped they wouldn’t get infected. She’d go to the shop and get some ointment today, and maybe visit the cliff, see if she still felt the same. It wouldn’t be long before she’d be taking her own maiden flight. She needed to get used to it. Things would improve – they had to.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 312

This week's picture prompt was created by hungarian born, Sarolta Ban. She doesn't give this a name, but it is located in the old works category.  It's not the first time I've used one of her images. I used one on Week 304Week 28, and Week 24 . She has some exceptional images, I would probably pic a different one every week to use they're so good. 

Okay, this week we have a snippet out of my WIP, Tricky's third book, which I'm working on for NaNoWriMo. It just so happens this kind of phone was mentioned. The last time I wrote about Tricky was Week 305

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 shot of a rotary dial landline phone, of the dial and numbers, in black and white, an slightly altered so that it looks like it is moving. Created by Sarolta Ban

To catch a traitor

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’d got it working. She was sure there was a technical explanation, but she didn’t have the brain for all that nonsense; trees, energy and time were all that worked for her; the telephone wasn’t in any of those realms.

She watched him turn that weird dial: a finger in one of the holes, then it turned back by itself, it did it each time he did this. It looked a bit like a clock 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 the end. Why Tumelo wanted to be messing about with them again she had no idea, but it wasn’t her business, even though it felt strange sitting here listening to him speaking to someone on the other side of the building. 

The last time she’d been to the palace had been 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 here she was again, wanting the same, but this was just the beginning.

Tumelo put the phone down.

“They’ll be here shortly. Sorry, Tricky but you’ll need to set up all the stones again.”

Tricky didn’t mind, it gave her something to do. Although of course the emerald wouldn’t be coming out again, oh no, that was hers for the keeping. She wouldn’t trade it either. It would go in her stash with her mother’s stones, the ones that dirty backstabber Bottle wanted. But he’d never get his hands on them, oh no, not over her dead body - he’d already tried that once and there wouldn’t be an encore. She had to come up with a way of disposing of him, though maybe not death, maybe something far more fun. He liked mucking about with time so much, but did he really know how it worked? She smiled. She had an idea. A nice idea; one she would grow. In the meantime, she had to deal with this other type of backstabbing - the traitorous type. 

Saturday 4 November 2023

Review: The Time of My Life, by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi

The Time of My LifeThe Time of My Life by niemi-lisa-swayze-patrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always been an avid fan of Patrick Swayze's work, but hadn't realised he had written an autobiography until recently, so I managed to get my hands on a second hand copy. I was even more surprised that it was written by him and not his wife, as it is authored by both of them on the cover, though it does tell her life story too as they began together and were never apart. He wrote just after he had fallen sick with cancer, and there's a sort of sad tension as you read, knowing that he didn't survive it yet he didn't know that when writing, and still hoped he would.

There was so much about him I didn't know. That his mother was a ballet dancer and he was a trained professional ballet dancer. The incredible drive he had, and how much he had put his body through physically, not just with dance, but with doing his own stunts, including some serious and nasty breaks. And also I didn't know he was such a huge horse whisperer!

However, in terms of the writing, sometimes I felt the content was a bit repetitive and dry. He seemed to use the same expressions to describe meeting people. He also spoke endlessly about his love his wife, and was quite repetitive about his feelings about her, and how insecure he had been in the early days and how he'd felt when they were first married. Saying that, I can only imagine how hard it was for her to lose him, having spent her entire life with him. It's utterly heartbreaking.

He was a driven man and insisted on excellence in everything he did - as was seen by his successes. I will always love his work, and always remember him as he died on my birthday.

If you are a fan of Patrick, this is definitely a book worth reading.

View all my reviews

Review: Hallowe'en Party, by Agatha Christie

Hallowe'en Party (Hercule Poirot, #36)Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love a Christie, story and I was inspired to read this as I'd just seen the film based off it, A Haunting in Venice, and I have to say they really only took a nugget out of this story. The murder itself, and a few other tiny elements. The rest had little relation.

This was a more rambling Whodunnit, as there seemed to be a lot of tangents and narrating of what had happened, not so much action. But as always, even though you think what you are reading doesn't seem to relate to the murder it all ties up in the end. I have no idea how Christie managed to always do that so well; she doesn't mention any of it in her autobiography, if anything writing was an afterthought in her life.

This is a Hercule Poirot novel and his character comes right off the page, and you get a definite sense of him. And I liked that she had a famous murder mystery writer in there too, as though she was sort of appearing herself. As always it was very well done, but maybe not one of her best books.

View all my reviews

Thursday 2 November 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 311

This week's picture prompt was taken by Julio Lopez Saguar, a photographer from Madrid. It was taken at Central Station at Koln (Cologne), Germany. As I have been there I can confirm that it is a huge station. I like the balance of the links above and below. 

Taking me a while to put this one together but I'm really happy how it came out. This picture always reminds me of the opening of Some Kind of Wonderful - if you are old enough to know that film! 

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.

Photo of multiple metal train tracks, and overhead all the power lines & pylons holding them criss-crossing with a block of flats on the left side. The tracks run away into the distance to a station, which is Cologne central station in Germany. Photo taken by Julio Lopez Saguar.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked these tracks. Back and forth all day long, checking connections, clearing out dirt, making them stable, fixing lines, defrosting signals, replacing lights, the list goes on and on.

There’s a thrill to it as you cross the live lines, and occasionally risk being squashed between two trains going in different directions. You don’t have to keep an eye out though, you can feel it through the ground: the tracks vibrating, shots of lightning dashing along the lines above your head. Trains have an energy, and the longer you work on the lines the more in tune with it you become.

No matter how busy the world is around you, all the rushing about people do: going to and from work, shopping, catching a show, out on the town; once you’re on the tracks all that disappears. You tune right out and into the frequency of that energy. Like hearing a tuning fork all day long. And you still feel it in your body when you leave at night.

Although I seem to have been here for ages today; longer than normal – at least it feels like it.

This morning I was busy chasing off some of those graffiti lot. They were over by the siding spraying their rubbish on anything they could find. There are some that call it art, but it’s not art, it’s indecipherable letters that only have meaning for them. Like some kind of turf warfare, where they are passing messages back and forth.

You never see their faces, always dressed in baggy clothing and several hoodies over their heads, and sometimes scarves to stop the toxic sprays from getting in their faces – though I always thought part of it was about getting high from the fumes.

But I’d been running them off, shouting and threatening to call the cops, and they ran out across the tracks, exactly where I didn’t want them to go.

The 5:15 from Doncaster was coming through, as was the 5:12 from Sheffield. They always crossed here. And I knew they were coming, I could feel it - had for a few minutes already.

Cleaning up the mess of people who get in the way of high speed trains is not fun at all, I can tell you. Plus it means stopping everything on the line for hours while the police come, and all the emergency services, and the reporters; it’s a complete melee.

Anyway, one of them went and tripped, didn’t he? Went down like a sack of potatoes, and didn’t look like he was getting up anytime soon. So I rushed over to him, and tried to bring him round, his mates looking on from safety on the other side. They could hear the trains coming too and weren’t going to risk coming back for their mate. Bloody numpties.

I was trying to get him up, trying to move him, and then my walkie-talkie fell out of my back pocket, didn’t it, and bloody smashed on one of the tracks, which meant I had no way of notifying anyone it wasn’t safe.

The energy was really ramping up now, like a high-pitched whine in my nerve endings, literally any second now they were going to be here. If you looked you could probably see them in the distance. But I couldn’t look, because I was too busy with this bloody vandal who’d gone and knocked himself out.

Then that sound, you know the electric one that shoots along the lines above your head, telling you they are on their way, and coming fast and I couldn’t seem to get a grip on this lad; his clothes were all loose and baggy and I couldn’t work out which way to get a hold on him. His mates were shouting now, they could see the trains, and I had to debate, stay or go, but I knew the mess it was going to make. If I could just shift him over a couple of tracks.

And then it was over.

He was gone. The vibration must have woken him and got him moving.

His mates were gone too. Probably didn’t want to stick around to see the mess if he didn’t make it.

But I’m here, wondering how I’m going to get the other mess, the one they’d made on the wall, off. But I can’t find my bucket, in fact I can’t find anything and every time I try I just seem to end up back here at this wall. 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 310

This week's picture prompt was created by Jeffrey Smith, it's called Summoned. I used one of his recently on Week 307 & couldn't miss this one with the build up to Halloween! He has some incredible art worth checking out.  

A short dark one this week, with an edge of hope. 

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 painting of a muddy field scattered with orange pumpkins and a tree in the middle ablaze in orange flames, shaped like a pumpkin, and yellow flames depicting the eyes & sinister grin of a jack o lantern pumpkin. Above the dark swirl clouds in the sky allow a full moon to peep through over the top of the tree. A man stands under the tree, one hand on it, looking out behind him to a dense forest of fir trees on either side.  Created by Jeffrey Smith

The Hunt

From our hidden burrow we saw it; the sequel had gone up to call them to him. It blazed with its evil grin and we shivered in the darkness.

We could hear the rumblings of the others coming to the call. All the depraved and twisted faces flashing past, lit up by the burning orange light making them more grotesque than normal.

We scuttled deeper under ground, running this way and that, hoping to be far enough away by the time they were gathered ready for their hunt – their ‘trick or treat’ as they liked to call it.

Both were for their benefit: the trick was to catch us, the treat was to eat us. Our bodies would join the blaze in the field. We only hoped they weren’t fast enough, clever enough, or thin enough to find us.

Some of us climbed trees, becoming like four legged creatures as we scurried to the tallest limbs. They rarely looked up making it would be the safest way. They would be expecting us to be underground, where we had burrowed for generations, since they cast our goodness out. And there would be weak among us who would not manage to remain hidden and from the tree tops we would watch their sacrifice as they were torn and roasted.

The only hope was that each year there were less of them and more of us. They were dying out, along with their rituals, which took place is fewer places. Each year they looked more ragged and feeble, some only there to watch, no longer able to walk. As they fed on our weakest, we grew in strength.

Our time would come soon and the only thing ablaze would be the remains of their lives.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 309

This week's picture prompt is from photographer Christy Lee Rogers, an artist from Hawaii. This is actually a photograph taken under water at night. Quite incredible, and there's lots more to see on her site. 

Short and sweet, and maybe a little bit ambiguous. 

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 photograph that looks like a painting containing aproximately ten people captured in underwater movement, all full dressed, their clothes swirling around them, and bubbles rising up. Their clothing is a variety of bright colours and varying style. Created by artist Christy Lee Rogers.


I’m not quite sure how it happened, how we all ended up in the pool – or even why. Though really, who needs a why? It’s a party, we’re all drunk, it’s warm and there’s a huge pool.

I remember Johnny thought it would be a good idea to be in there, even though it wasn’t his house. And when he jumped in and discovered the underwater music, the whole party had to move into the water.

Dancing underwater was fun, but I think it was Felicity’s dress I got my leg’s tangled in and she started to struggle, and even though Dan had his life guard certificate he couldn’t work it free, and then she began to panic pushing him under. By the time Harriet swam up, there were three more caught up in it, and the others just thought we were dancing and having fun.

The more people tried to get uncoiled, the more they seemed to get knotted up. It was like a churning washing machine of clothes and people, but in slow motion. And it felt slow; time crawls when you can’t breathe.

I don’t know who went first, it was hard to tell with all the material getting in the way of faces, but eventually they were gone, and I was there, floundering in clothing that had been discarded.

I felt like I flailed for a lifetime. And as I turned onto my back, my arms and legs still bound up, I looked up at all the faces round the pool looking down at me. Their stricken looks as my last reserves let go, and bubbles of my last breath left me, are scored onto my mind for an eternity.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 308

This week's picture prompt was created by Polish artist: Zdzislaw Beksinski. Unfortunately he was murdered during a robbery at his flat in 2005. (though he would be 94 if he was still alive). He has a lot of interesting art. 

This week's is short and dystopian. 

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 looking across the top of a landscape of flat-topped stone pinnacles, each with a fire burning in the middle of it. There are large gaps between each pinnacle, which are very high up. The air looks smoggy and dark with a green-brown filter. Art by Beksinski

Pinnacle of Life

This is what it had come to; the only way to communicate. I shivered in the cold night air. Despite the fire in front of me, I was too high up to feel its warmth, but this was my life now. This was how information was sent from place to place, and without me up here on the top of this pinnacle, there would be a break in the chain.

I’m not sure which I hated more, the climb up or the climb down. Either way it took far too long and I was so terrified I would lose my grip and then my life, just like Tomo did.

He’d been on the pinnacle to my left, and was clearly tired after the nightshift. Just four steps down and he’d slipped, fallen a few rungs, and then caught one. But I couldn’t work out whether he’d broken his arm during the short fall, or just couldn’t catch a proper grip on the rung, sometimes the cold weather up here covered them in frost. Either way he’d eventually given up and let go.

I’d called encouragement, but I’d been powerless to do anything else. And I’d cried off and on through the rest of my shift. I’d never climbed down as carefully as I had that morning. It had shaken me up badly.

But they said our work was vital work, despite the risks. We kept the world running. Smoke and fire signals were my life. I wasn’t trained to do anything else.

Everyone was shunted into specific professions to help humanity now. There were no choices anymore. I’d read the history and what had got us here, how people had been able to do whatever they wanted, with all this magical technology, but never actually realised it. And it had resulted in this; the wasteland we now lived in.

One thing being up here was good for, was reading – interspersed between my five minute fire check. I read about those days and daydreamed about what it must have been like to have things like trees and grass and animals. Where there had been vistas and not just rock and desert, and where there were all kinds of food. I couldn’t imagine what it must have tasted like; food was functional now, just the basics we needed to survive.

Oh for a time machine to go back to it, and be a part of it, and not stuck up here on the roof of the world, watching fires burn. But then I was lucky. I didn’t have to scavenge on the ground. I got to see the sky; I had my own vista, even if it was a deadly one.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 307

This week's picture prompt was created by Jeffrey Smith, it's called Trust Your Gut. He has some incredible art, and there might well be another one soon. 

A short piece this week. Maybe a survivor of the shift, as depicted in my series, Tricky's Tales. 

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 painting of a person in a small rowing boat, without oars, on a rough sea, with the waves all churned up and rising up on the left and right, as though the boat is in a tunnel. But a path is seen through the water towards the sun on the horizon, giving it a sense of hope. Created by Jeffrey Smith


He gripped the sides of the little boat, praying that it wouldn’t capsize and send him into the churning masses that were once sea. There had to be land out here, it couldn’t all be covered; he couldn’t be the only survivor.

The swirling waters took on their own pattern, a mesmerising one that took him further towards the setting sun. As the ocean rocked and rose either side of him, he felt like he was in a tunnel, driven ever onwards. He only hoped there was a destination, one that didn’t involve his death.

He’d lost the oars days ago, and had been drifting with the current for some time. He hoped it wasn’t sending him in circles but instead to a shore, where there was dry land and people.

Was he lucky to be in his boat? Maybe. But he didn’t currently feel like it. He just kept his eyes on the setting sun, and prepared himself for another night watching the starlit sky – a sky he had barely paid attention to until there were no more light sources to disturb it. The tumultuous events that led to him being in this boat were a blur in his memory, much like the landmass as it had shifted and been deluged by water.

He didn’t know how many days he’d been without food or drink. The spray from the ocean kept his face wet and covered with water, which he would occasionally lick as it ran down his face over his mouth. He wanted to dry out and drink a glass of sweet cold water. Hunger was there eating at his stomach, but it was just a background noise compared to the thirst. And he just wanted to stop feeling this churning, inside and out, and feel alive and safe again.

Was that a piece of land, there on the horizon, its hills silhouetted against the sun and cutting into the shape of it? He couldn’t be sure. It could be a mirage, a trick of the light, a play in his mind’s eye as the dehydration disrupted his cognition. It had happened before. But he didn’t keep his eyes off it as he was pulled closer by the sucking and drawing of the waves; he had to have hope, without hope there was no survival. And as the shape grew larger in front of the brilliant disc of light, his hope grew with it.

Thursday 28 September 2023

How to get Avery Labels to line up in Word 365

 I'm writing this blog post for myself really, because next time I try and print labels I will have forgotten what I did to get them to line up. And I don't want to waste seven sheets of labels trying to work it out - AND I couldn't find any other posts online that told me exactly. 

I am using Word 365 and trying to line up Avery Labels L7160. I have set up a document by click on Mailings (tab in Word), Labels (far right next to envelope), put in my address, then selected Options, selected Avery in Labels Vendor, and looked it up in the list. Then click okay, back to the labels window, select New Document and hey presto you have a sheet of the same addresses. (to enter different addresses, you have to do that manually)

So, I'm ready to print, I think, let's go, and then it doesn't line up.

First makes sure the margins ARE custom: 1.5cm top and bottom, 0.7 both sides. 

Then in Word go to File tab, Print, nad in the next window where it says pages that the A4 option is selected, not letter unless it's the same size.

And even go into Print Properties under the printer and check that is set to A4. 

But the real trick was clicking in the Page setup at the bottom in the same window as above.  

And click on Print Options, which brings up this main window, and under Advanced, Printing (scroll to get to printing), there is this little tricky line that is selected: 'Scale Content for A4 or 8.5 x 11" paper sizes. 

This is NOT the right size for labels. Make sure it is NOT selected.

After that they should print in alignment! 


Wednesday 27 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 306

It's extremely rare these days to not be able to find the origin of a picture, because there's no excuse with so many tracking sites not to be able to credit, but this picture throws up just 5 finds on Google image search, and two on others, with the majority to pinterest all linking to an etsy shop that once had this for sale. The others are just other sites sharing the pic with no credit. It's such a shame. It's a cute picture and the image speaks for itself. And there are loads similar to it on etsy if you want one!

I tried for something a bit different, and it is. Much more timid than I thought. Also a test in writing mainly in dialogue. 

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 tiny clear bottle full of blue liquid with a cork stopper and a chain (to a necklace) trailing out of the picture. On the front of the bottle is a white circular label with a red cross on it and round the edge of the labie it says at the top Zombie, and at the bottom, antivirus.


“What are you wearing that thing for anyway?” Liam flicked the pendant on my necklace.

“It’s the antidote, isn’t it, you dummy!” I clasped the little vial not wanting to risk him breaking it.

“Who are you calling dummy? You’re the one believing it will cure you.”

“It will! As long as I take it within five minutes of getting bit – that’s why I’ve got it round my neck.”

“Who gave it you?”

“Uncle Ryan.”

“No way! Then it’s defo bullshit. He babbles about all sorts of flaky bullshit: how we are all going to die if we don’t get above ground again, how the lack of sun will make us weak, how living underground is doing us harm.”

“And he’s right. Look what happened to Maisy; that was due to no sun.”

“Rubbish! She was already sick before she came down here. Being out of the sun is good for you; healthy for your skin, and better for your eyes. That’s what Babs says.”

I tried not to scoff too hard. “Babs?! You have to be kidding, you’re not listening to her, are you? No wonder you’re believing all that clap-trap.”

“It’s true. If I go out there I’ll burn up before I get bit.” Liam look convinced, I tried to stifle my laughter.

“Why don’t you try it then?”

“What go up there? Don’t be daft.”

“Why, cuz you think you’ll get burnt?” I giggled again and Liam looked angry.

“You’re the one who thinks you’ll be cured taking that silly thing, even if you get bit. Why don’t YOU go and try it?”

“Cuz I’m not as stupid as you.”

Liam kicked the step I was sitting on. I ignored him.

“Dennis reckons they’re all dead up there anyway by now; we’ve been down here almost a year,” he said in a sulky tone.

“He going up there to check, is he?”

Liam gave me a black look and I gave him a fake grin.

“I’m sick of being down here,” he said as he slumped down next to me.

“Yeah, me too. But it’s never going to be like it was even if we do manage to one day go back up there. There’s not enough people left.”

“Do you think there’s anyone else out there, you know, like us, living in hiding?”

“Maybe, but I doubt as big as our group though.”

“Remember that show on TV, The Walking Dead, about a zombie apocalypse?”

“Yeah, everyone at school used to go on about it. But it turned out to be completely unrealistic.”

“TV shows always were. That’s why people watched them. They needed to believe they’d be able to survive alongside them.”

“Fat chance! And all that killing each other and stuff, no one has been doing any of that.”

“We don’t know that, we’ve been down here.”

“There’s no way they’d survive long enough to do all that to each other. Real zombie’s aren’t that stupid. But Dennis might be right; they might eventually kill themselves and die out.”

“Sasha said it would take longer than a year.”

“Yeah, she’s probably right.”

I stood up and dusted off the seat of my trousers.

“Come on, let’s go see if we can scrounge something to eat.”

Liam pulled a face. “It’ll just be more of that pappy shit.”

“True, but at least it’s something.”

“What I wouldn’t give for a chicken sandwich!”

“Oh me too! Or tuna!” I pulled him up.

“Ugh, I hated fish. Although at this point it’d be better than that sloppy stuff.”

“Definitely. Come on.”

I pulled his arm and we ran off to see if my Uncle Ryan had any going spare. The only upside to life underground was that there was always someone around to scrounge off.