Wednesday 1 February 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 280

This week's picture comes from Andy Poplar, who makes these incredible bottles, at Vinegar & Brown Paper - do have a look, there are loads of others, also household bottles. Brilliant idea. I can't find this pic on his site, but I suspect it used to be there as it dates back to 2017 (when it was first shared), and the page people link to is not found on his company site. I wonder if he sold this as a print as he does some of them. I love the colour contrast and the reflection in this one. 

This one went dark - like the bottle. 

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 brown glass apothecary bottle with a white etched on label that says Regret, (corrosive). There is a reflection of a bright glass conservatory roof which gives it a lightness. It is on a shelf with a blue wall behind. Take by Andy Poplar who makes them for his company Vinegar & Brown Paper.


Debbie popped the cork on the funny shaped bottle of port and poured another large one into the glass. Her buzz was beginning to fade and she needed to refresh it. She gulped down half the glass and poured more in.

She was sick of being the one that made all the compromises. She did all the things he wanted to do, but he never did the things she wanted to do.

‘I’m not interested in the things you’re into,’ he would reply. ‘I don’t care about the things you care about.’ 

So why the fuck am I with you? she would think to herself. And indeed, she did wonder why she kept on tolerating it. Was it hope that one day he would turn into the lover she’d thought he was going to be? Was it the safety he’d provided? A roof over her head, a warm bed, and no expectations – emotional or physical. But the longer it went on the more resentful she felt, and the more angry she’d become.

Debbie hadn’t been angry when she’d met him. She’d been carefree and living her own life, enjoying her independence. But he’d been fun and sociable, and she felt comfortable with him, which had drawn her on. And she’d hoped that maybe this would be the one.

And he sort of had been for a while.

Then he’d started to do more and more of his own thing, and caring less and less if she joined him. Eventually they were living separate lives and just sharing a house. And the longer it had gone on, the more frustrated she’d become. And the more she’d tried to talk to him about it, the more he had stonewalled her.

She’d fly into rages and he’d shut down and fuck off out the front door, saying, ‘I’ll be back later when you’ve sorted yourself out.’

She’d been so furious she’d sometimes fucked off herself, making sure she wasn’t back until after he was – but he didn’t care; he’d be in bed snoring his head off like any other night and pretend the next day like nothing had happened.

And recently he’d been particularly belligerent and offhand, treating her with disrespect and distain, contempt in every eye roll and sigh. She’d ranted a few times at him already this week.

Debbie downed the last of her drink, drowning the spark of rage that tried to ignite, dowsing it with regret. It felt like heartburn – quelling one fire and creating another. She sat up and pushed her fingers against her diaphragm as though that might cure the unpleasant sensation.

She should have left years ago. It hadn’t been good staying, not for her or for him. They’d both tolerated more than they should. She wasn’t quite sure why. Hope maybe, or having already put so much time in – neither of them were quitters.

But they should have been, oh how they should have been.

She glanced over at him still sitting at the dining table. His eyes had glazed over, but the lids hadn’t shut. His head turned slightly as though watching telly, but he wasn’t. His mouth had dropped open too, as though amazed at something on the screen. It had opened when he’d gasped in reaction to the fork being shoved into his throat.

He’d uttered those dreadful words in such a condescending tone, she’d just lost it.

‘You are so fucking irritating; you turn everything into an argument, so tiresome. I just wish for once I could eat my fucking dinner in peace!’

A dinner she had cooked; a dinner she’d bought the ingredients for; a dinner she would clean up after, as though he was the only one working in this household.

It had been the final straw – or in this case, fork.

She popped the little cork on the bottle and poured another large glassful – not that she needed it. What she needed was a plan. What was she going to do? Disappear or call the police? She’d be on the run for the rest of her life. If she confessed how long would she be in prison for? Is there any way she could make them believe it was an accident? She was drunk and hadn’t called for an ambulance straight away … she could say it was shock.

Fuck. She took another swig of port and glanced at him.

‘Yeah, you get the last laugh, too.’


  1. Ellesse laughed, her chin wobbling as she reached for the bottle. She poured herself a second glass and then offered me the rest.

    “I’d rather not,” I said. “I need a clear head for everything that's coming. I don’t want to make mistakes I might regret.”

    “All the more reason to drink,” she replied, refilling the glass before me. “If you don’t blunt your senses, you could hesitate when it counts. And then all your plans would have been for nothing. All the years of physical training, mental conditioning, the money you’ve invested. You could lose all that in a flash. One blink and everything’s forfeit.”

    It was true the pain would be a distraction. And it was gradually getting worse. The Soma Bees would continue burrowing until their paths crossed. They would begin to home in on one another when they got close, but until then, I had to place trust in Ellesse’s competence. That and the directional mesh that she’d etched across my scalp.

    Which reminded me. I’d come here for a scan and the little guidance she could exert on them. Anything that could improve their chances of success. I could become a genius, a drooling meat cabbage or remain completely nondescript. The odds of an improvement were in my favour, but there was a lot of cranial real estate I’d rather not lose to a hungry bug. They'd ingest anything they encountered on their way and cared nothing for the effects that would result after they’d passed.

    I picked up the glass and threw its contents directly down my throat. It burned as it coated my larynx, then numbed everything it had touched. A few minutes more: I’d be floating, my senses shutting down as it worked.

    “You 100% made the right choice,” she muttered, pulling on a surgeon’s mask. “Now, keep still and let me get down to business.”

    She attached her first set of probes to the contact points that poked through my skin, snapping their jaws onto the duralumin studs and fusing them in place. The display on the monitor on the wall behind her switched to a different view, a three-dimensional grid appearing; the Bees imaged in sharp contrast against the cloudy grey mist filling my head.

  2. (Continued)

    I watched her at work, disconnected from the fact she was pulsing electrical currents through my skull and the matter it contained, her deft fingers manipulating a pair of miniature joysticks as though it was a computer game. I wondered if she’d been a Tech-Head when virtual games became enhanced, her game rig implanted subcutaneously, both that and the nodes needed to interface with the GPS global mapping matrix. Very few of the original Tech-Heads were still sane, their consciousnesses siphoned away by the AIs that had evolved at that time. Maybe some of them were still alive, the skeins of chemical and electrical potential that had been their neuronic signature retained in a quantum probability state. Perhaps that was the best chance of heaven any of us could hope for now. It was no less certain than anything the physical world had ever promised; religion's promised land was equally as reliable as a hypothetical electron hidden in virtual space.

    “I’ve got their attention. They‘re responding to me now.”

    The monitor showed the Bees in a higher resolution, their mandibles scooping out a cavity and their segmented body flowing into the space they’d created. I felt a little nauseous, but that could have been the drug I’d drunk, its effect overriding every equilibrium I’d grown used to in the three decades of my life. Normality was something that I’d left behind when the Bees had been implanted. I’d be a pioneer for the rest of my life.

    I wondered who I’d be when I became somebody different. Would I remember who I’d been, or would I feel like I’d been newly born? And who was I now? Was I still the man who’d taken the coin from the Observer? And would he recognise me when this process had run its course?

    “And that’s as much as I can do now.” Ellesse wiped the sweat from her face, sending her jowls and throat wattles swinging. Her mask had disappeared, and I wondered how long it had been gone.

    “So, what’s the verdict?” I asked, still feeling queasy. “Am I better or worse today? Are they still on target?”

    “You bet your fucking life they are. One hundred percent A-OK, plus compound interest.”

  3. It was just a little thing, an old bottle, seemed to be of little worth but still it bothered him. He had just knocked it off the shelf and it shattered into a million sharp brown shards that would certainly get stuck in his feet. That was a problem for later.
    Later came quicker than he expected, a glass splinter was painfully stuck in his toe.
    While he cried out in pain the only solace he got was her attention: "Bad cat, breaking mommy's bottle!"
    It wasn't much but it was somehow satisfying.

  4. Hmmm... I hope your husband doesn't read your blog!

    Anyway, my entry is called Straight Up. It's on my blog. And I blew right past the word limit this time. Sorry!

    I'm not sure if it's horror, noir, or a morality play... Straight Up