Thursday, 6 April 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 289

This week's picture prompt was created by William Eubank, an American film director, screenwriter and cinematographer. He shared it on twitter with the words: 'Eyes open, heart braced ...' 

Another Tricky tale. She's definitely on my mind as I begin to work out the next book. This one goes on for much longer than this and I plan to use it in new collection I am working on, so I have only included the first part of it. I wrote about Tricky last week in Week 288

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.

Fantasy art depicting a ring of light and sky, in a sort of sworling vortex with what looks like roots entwined within, hanging in the sky of a plant, like a portal. Created by William Eubank, Film Director

Master of Time

It was huge and it was bright, and everyone could see it, Tricky was sure, but she was also fascinated. How had he managed to create something like this? It was mesmerising.

She stood on the edge of the woods, keeping herself cloaked by the trees, not daring to step out onto the road, staring at what looked like a giant open portal in the middle of the sky. It moved too, in a slow circular motion. She could see different skies from different dimensions, and lines of different coloured energy wrapping round all of it like roots of a tree.

It was a trap, it had to be. It’s how he would lure her in and convince her of his powers. Tricky knew tricky when she saw it. It could be a projection of some kind. She knew there were people on the landmass busy trying to bring back that kind of technology and some of the old machines from before the shift still worked if they could generate a power source.

But this was big, and even though she’d been standing here a while with the sunsetting on this strange phenomenon, she hadn’t seen any movement – even the trees were still, probably admiring it too.

She sent her energy out to it, and immediately felt immense amounts of energy swirling in and around it, as she suspected. She even took some of it in, only heightening her interest more.

Should she attempt to enter? She was a master of time after all, and this was definitely her thing. But she worried she wouldn’t be able to handle such power. She was just one tiny piece next to the realms of that. Oh how she wanted to go in there, and discover what was in it. Oh yes, this was her thing alright, and he knew that.

Did he really have that much power to create such a thing? One man – a pompous bloated one at that? She scoffed at the idea this could be a natural occurrence. Something this big? No, this was a man-sized anomaly.

Nature had a way of knowing how to create and sustain boundaries. It didn’t split and part things without good reason, like when a species gets too big for its boots and destroys things on an epic scale. Then nature has to step in and do something to correct the balance, like shifting landmasses to release pressure and correct the bio rhythms of the planet.

But rents in space and time? No, that wasn’t nature’s thing at all. It was manmade - one particular man in this instance. Tricky was impressed. Maybe he did earn his nickname, Gandalf. Maybe he was a mighty wizard … just not a likeable one.

What to do? Go in or stay out? This was Tricky’s weakness. It piqued her curiosity and her paranoia at the same time. Curiosity killed the cat they said – but it had nine lives, so it didn’t matter if it cost one or two. She’d done alright for herself so far; come close to death a couple of times, but she could hold her own.

And this? She needed a piece of this. Oh yes she did.

She turned back into the woods and travelled through the trees, moving closer until she could feel energy pulsing right through her. Her body tingled from top to toe – it was marvellous!

She approached it from the side. It had a sound now like rushing wind. There were other sounds within it, but she couldn’t define them. They could be animals or birds, or even other humans. Or the sound of so much concentrated energy.

When she was right up against it, she could see into the dimensions. Some seemed to be all sky but there were stretches of land in some too. If this was a trap she wasn’t quite sure what she was meant to do with it. Was he in here somewhere? How would he know where and when she entered? Was it booby trapped? Was he going to jump out and grab her? It’s not like she wanted to find him – not really, but as the saying goes, trick your enemy before they trick you.

And he would trick her. Then he’d kill her. Oh yes. He had no compunction about that. He wanted her dead. And to be honest the feeling was mutual. Usually Tricky wouldn’t go in for such dramatic thoughts and murder was definitely NOT her thing. But in this case, it was definitely a matter of who would get who first, like one of those old western books her dad loved to read. They were always standing there ready to draw their guns and shoot the hell out of each other. Except there were no guns anymore. If any turned up they were immediately melted down. Metal was too precious, and so was human life too. Humanity had at least learnt that since the shift. Although fat wizardy types and his cronies might think differently. But they didn’t have guns now, they had magic instead. And staring at this big swirling rupture it could be just as deadly.

It was then that Tricky realised she wouldn’t be going in. Oh no, she had to shut this thing off. Close it up before some innocent happened across it. If she was going to chase him into another dimension, she was going to be the one controlling the when and where of it. 


  1. It was time to go.
    There was no putting it off, no going back to the start, no getting out of it.
    No, it was time to go.
    The sky lit up, a ring of fire around a vortex of colour and sound. Colours and sounds just on the edge of identification but not quite there enough for true recognition. Like a glance at a moving mirror.
    It was time to go.
    The ground vanished beneath me, the sky spun above, time was no longer moving at a normal pace but still I knew.
    It was time to go.
    A frigid blast of heat, a flash of white hot ice, perception was no longer to be trusted. Sight and sound mixed with taste and smell, a twisting stream of lost thoughts.
    It was time to go.
    My heart beat stumbled, stuttered and stopped.
    It was time to go.


    The Eye filled the sky, and everyone was afraid.

    Dayglow tightened the straps on her pack. She sighed and looked over her shoulder, catching Waldo’s attention.

    “Well,” she said drily. “Are we going to do it?”

    Waldo began to grumble. He’d been reluctant before they’d left Gamestone, and his mood had grown darker. The dwarf who used to greet each day with a song had left their group long ago; the sullen creature, which had replaced him, was more likely to curse and brood, his face hidden behind the neck scarf that concealed his disfigurements, his scarrings the legacy of the battle that had marked the beginning of the end for them.

    “What’s the alternative? We can fail just well without moving. At least we can die together in a more comfortable setting.”

    “You can die in comfort anywhere. You close your eyes, tune out and distance yourself.” Hobbes pulled himself upright, using his staff. “And besides, if you don’t move, I’ll make sure you’re in pain. I'll kick your ass until you get off your feet. Smack you around your head until you stop whining. At least you’ll be doing something productive while you’re complaining. And that’s a promise I’ll take to my grave.”

    “To your grave? Don’t give me an excuse. I could take you out any time.”

    “Guys. Guys. Shouldn’t you be saving your strength? You can use up all your bile on the road.” Dayglow stretched out her legs, easing her muscles. They’d a long day's march ahead and little hope of finding shelter before dark. But that should help drive them forward and make them concentrate on walking instead of dragging each other down.

    But that reasoning would only work if they moved.

    Hobbes had fashioned himself a bindle, using his cape and staff, tying them together to hold everything he had. It was suspicious how much he could carry and the ease he managed it with, his skills as a mage giving him an edge. It didn’t matter that his pack also held many of the other's possessions. There was no logic in their suffering, no consolation in knowing how much they depended on his strengths.

    The day had started badly, with earthquakes shaking the lodge. They’d been sleeping in the stables, sharing accommodation with the asses and donkeys all that remained of Yard's once plentiful livestock that boasted numerous thoroughbred stallions and a team of huge Shire horses that were each large enough to pull a caravan on their own. Everything was meagre now and miserable, with trust in short measure, the tremors shaking most of them awake. All of this went without almost any comment. The end times monopolised the attention of most of the survivors, with minor earthquakes and hailstorms becoming almost irrelevant.

    The Eye was a constant reminder, hanging in the sky like a bruise. It had already captured the moon and most of its lesser satellites; and had begun to siphon the Earth's atmosphere away. The day the world would be completely airless wasn’t too far away.

    That was why the three of them had to do something now.

    Hobbes had a legacy of errors to undo, and their time was getting short.