Wednesday 28 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 301

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 - remember the stain glassed bath? That was one of  her pictures. 

A gentler story today. 

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 glass-bodied teapot, with multicoloured gemstones adorning the top half, set into filigree metalwork, and a decorative metal spout and handle with a decorated lid, toped with a clear crystal. The teapot is sitting on a stone, on a table, and crystals are scattered around it, all catching the light in rainbow colours. Created by She Speaks, She Freaks on Facebook.

Mind Magic

Adeline swirled the special glass-bodied teapot, with its multicoloured gemstone decoration round the top, letting the herbs and spices within release their properties into the hot water.

She inhaled the steam coming out of the filigree spout, and smiled, knowing it was almost ready.

She set it down on the small coffee table and laid crystals and gemstones around it, placing candles in between so the light flowed through them.

She moved into her cross-legged position and inhaled deeply. The scent was getting stronger and she knew it wouldn’t be long now.

Since Adeline had discovered this route to accessing the other side, she indulged it as often as she could. She hoped soon she would reach him.

She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. The light behind them swirled with rainbow colours, which began to move into a spiral, taking her further into herself and the cavernous rooms of the mind. Then an archway appeared in her mind’s eye and she stepped through into a meadow which swept away to a cliff edge.

She walked to the cliff edge and looked across the wide vista in front of her, where the mountains opened up to plains of lush green forests and open spaces. It was a spectacle to behold.

She called out his name hearing it echo across the land. She did this repeatedly then walked to a hill that rose off the left side of the meadow, and sat cross-legged at the top. She closed her eyes, seeing the meadow in her mind’s eye again and repeating the same actions. She did this four times. During the fourth she felt him: his energy, his mood, his aura.

Then a whisper; her name on the breeze. She called out to him again, opening her eyes and standing up, hoping to glimpse him.

  She opened her arms wide and felt an energy swirl round her. It was his energy. He was here!

She wished she could see him, but feeling him was special, being that it had been several lifetimes since she had. She hoped to be reunited in their next life – it’s why she was doing this. If she could connect to him enough times in this life, they would be able to find each other more easily in the next.

She breathed in his aura, remembering his softness, his loving nature and his heart. She felt his yearning and reciprocated it. For a few precious seconds they were entwined again. She revelled in it, not wanting it to be over, but before she knew it he had gone.

Adeline waited in case he returned. It could have been for a few seconds or it could have been hours. Eventually she accepted the moment was over and she pulled herself out of each level of meditation. Then she brought herself back into her body, and opened her eyes, staring at the elaborate teapot.

She felt sad yet at the same time elated. She missed him, but knew he was there waiting.

She treasured that moment as much as she treasured her teapot.

She touched the side of it. It had grown cold now, but, like her love for him, the hot water could be replenished; the magic was still alive.   

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 300

This week's picture prompt was created by Hungarian artist Sarolta Bán. She has some incredible art, and in fact I have used one of her pictures before back on Week 24 - in the early days of me running this challenge. And I have another one due to be used in the coming weeks, and there will be more in the future. They are just so thought provoking. 

Another Tricky tale, maybe I'll use it in her books, maybe I won't. But I do love developing the stories. The last one was on Week 297

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 canva painting on an easel showing a cowboy walking away from the painting on a beach. The easel is standing on the same beach, so the painting looks like a mirror. There is a white dove in flight approaching the painting, and a colour painting palette on the ground. Created by Sarolta Ban.


Tricky heard a fluttering and watched two birds land on the beach behind her. They weren’t the corvids from Lucien’s flock, so who were they? They eyed her and she wondered if Douglas Bottle had them in his employ. Had he sent them to spy on her? She felt uncomfortable now as she adjusted the easel, turning the canvas towards her.

One of them cooed. They were doves, white ones. They seemed far too pretty and delicate to be handled by an oversized clown like Bottle. They circled each other as though putting on a display, while moving towards her at the same time.

“I don’t trust you,” she said out loud. “How have you found me?”

They kept on coming, ignoring her words. A part of her had expected some kind of reaction, maybe they were just birds that lived here. But Tricky didn’t think so.

An entire empty beach and they land by her? She didn’t buy it. There was something crafty and sneaky about them. Then one of them flew up and perched on top of the canvas. It cooed again looking straight at her. It was definitely here for her. Did it have a message of some kind? She looked at it’s feet but there was nothing attached to them, or the one on the ground.

“What are you trying to tell me, deary? What is it you want me to know?”

It scratched the top of the blank canvas.

“You want me to start painting? I can do that – but this isn’t any normal paint, you know that, right? This is painting with energy, to see something that isn’t here in this time.”

It cooed at her again as though agreeing. It bobbed its head up and down. Okay, that was definitely a nod. Tricky rolled her shoulders to quell a shudder that had run up her back. These birds were here for her, but who had sent them? The only person she knew who could do that was Safa, who had to be working with Annie – but it could also be one of Gandalf’s lackeys. She wouldn’t put it past him to have tracked her here. She kept trying to remain undetected but he kept finding her. He was definitely her match with this time jumping lark.

So how could she be sure this bird was on her side? She tried to think of things only Safa would know that could be answered simply.

Tricky picked up the painting palette and held it close to the bird. Using the paint brush, she pointed to the circle of colours.

“What is the colour of my mother’s protection stone?”

The bird looked at her. Safa knew the answer because she’d been there when Tricky had used it. It turned its head to the side and eyed the palette. It looked at her again, then it sprung onto the palette. Tricky steadied it with both hands. It circled the colours, eyeing each one, then it dipped a claw into the green and swiped it across a blank piece of palette. It eyed her again as if asking if it was the right one.

Tricky felt the hairs on her arms rise. Yep, this was Safa’s bird alright.

“Good. So what is it you want me to know?”

It jumped back onto the top of the canvas and again tapped its claw on it.

“Something you want me to see?”

It bobbed its head down and cooed.

“Okay, I’ll get started.”

Tricky dabbed the paintbrush into the yellow and smeared it across the canvas. It began to glow. Then she dipped it into the green and painted round the edges of the canvas for protection. The glow covered the dove and it fluttered its wings before settling again.

Now for the tricky bit.

Tricky swirled all the colours on the palette together, while taking long breaths, drawing up as much energy as she could from the ocean. Then she blew over it and it glistened. As she swept the brush across the canvas another picture appeared. The back of a man walking away from her. But not just any man, one she knew, (you couldn’t help spot him with that ridiculous top hat and silly old-world costume), one she’d love to see the back of – although not like this; she wanted him dead and gone.

“Tell me, deary, what do I need to know about Dimitri Stanislav?”

The second dove joined the first on the top of the canvas and they both started cooing and bobbing in unison. A white energy began to form around them and they simultaneously swooped down in front of the canvas onto the ground, spreading the energy across the painting.

This time the man was joined by a group of five others, one of them dressed in garish, clashing colours: Gandalf, aka Douglas Bottle.

“They’re in cahoots. I know that already, deary.”

But the group huddled, and then stepped back and what Tricky saw made her gasp.

“No! Oh no. Oh shit. I need to move – now!”

Tricky scrambled in her pockets for the obsidian, germwort and creasy, and immediately activated a rent in time. It opened in the middle of the canvas. She pushed it open making sure it was the destination she sought, and climbed through. As she turned to seal it, she saw the two doves sitting on the sand watching her.

“Thank you so much, dearies. Tell your mistress I’m on my way. I’m not having this!”

And with that she sealed it with a pop. She only hoped she would be in time to get Nathan out of her cabin. 

Thursday 15 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 299

This week's picture prompt is by Jim Campbell over on twitter, taken at a hotel in Melbourne in 2016. He said: “The outside of hotel room windows taken through the window from the inside of a hotel room. Perspective." Jim also said: "I had just returned to my hotel room after a walk around Melbourne CBD and I looked out the window and all the lights were off and I thought, 'Well that's dull.' Within seconds that one light came on and I got the shot."

This one took a while to unravel, 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.

Black and white photo taken at night-time of a hotel building with all the square bedroom windows dark, except one. Taken by Jim Campbell, in Melbourne


When he saw the light go on, Jack felt his heart rate increase. They were back. It was time.

He shifted his position on the window ledge and leant behind him for the binoculars, altering the focus so he could get a better look.

A lot of people in hotel rooms on high floors didn’t bother with curtains – especially when it had a view of the city below – and these two were no exception. Jack was glad, otherwise this operation would fail.

He could see the two of them on the sofa, getting fresh with each other. He could have stayed and watched the whole thing, but that would screw up the plan, and he didn’t want to do that. Others were depending on him.

He left the room he was in and hurried down, taking the stairs rather than the lift so he was less likely to be spotted. He ran across the courtyard between the two buildings, pulling his black hoodie up tight so no one could see his face in the night light, and ascended the other side using the stairs too, waiting at the top to catch his breath before taking the next step.

He heard a sound along the corridor as he came out of the stairwell, and froze, listening keenly. There was whispering and a lot of shushing. He knew who it was, so remained in the corridor, and waited.

They appeared round the corner and when they spotted him, he put his finger to his lips. They immediately quieted. There were four of them and, like him, all decked out in black with black hoodies.

They moved together as one along the corridor until they came to the room with the light showing under the door.

Even though they knew there weren’t any other occupied rooms in the hotel, they checked up and down the corridor to make sure they weren’t interrupted. There was no way of knowing if someone had discovered their plan and were going to sabotage them.

Jack put his hand up and counted down from five on his fingers. On one, he put the master keycard into the lock and heard the click as it opened. He carefully opened the door, hoping that they were still so busy with each other they wouldn’t hear anything.

Once all five of them were through in the hallway of this particular suite, he carefully closed the door, guiding the automatic closing mechanism to make sure it remained silent.

They stood and looked at each other, each pulling a different object out of their pocket. Then they moved into the room swiftly, flicking the light switch off as they went.

There were screams and shouts, strobe lighting, and the sound of a camera shutter. Then they exited as quickly and quietly as they’d entered, this time leaving in different directions.

Jack returned to the stairs he had come up and ran down them, his soft shoes almost soundless. He heard doors opening and a few shouts – security no doubt – but they were too slow and he was out of there and out of the courtyard of the hotel before they had even reached the bottom.

He returned to his flat and processed the information he’d gathered straight away, sending it out to the relevant people, working in co-ordination with the other four. Then he relaxed, took a shower and read his book until he fell asleep.

The following morning, he turned on the news to find it buzzing with footage of a top government official caught with a hooker in one of the rooms in a new hotel complex that hadn’t yet opened. No one seemed to know where the footage had come from, but it was a scandal he wouldn’t come back from. Jack smiled. Job well done.


Friday 9 June 2023

Review: Tread Gently Amidst The Barrows, by Jack Rollins

Tread Gently Amidst The BarrowsTread Gently Amidst The Barrows by Jack Rollins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short, sharp, dark and claustrophic short from Jack Rollins, which gives a whole new spin on the existence of Trolls and a different, more terrifying perspective of their existence - this is no Three Billy Goat's Gruff!

This little tale is not for the faint hearted, and I particularly liked the use of an event in the MC's past coming back round. A great way to grow the character and bring him closer to the reader.

An enjoyable introduction to Jack Rollins' writing style. A definite recommend.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 298

This week's picture prompt was taken by Shihya Kowatari, a Japanese photographer. Shihya Kowatari is a Japanese photographer who captured the leaves and flowers under the lights of different colors. She has some incredible pictures, so worth checking out. 

A dark little fairy tale.

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.

The skeleton of a pink leaf slightly curled lying on a purple ground, with blurred lights in the background making it look glittery and magical.

Fairy Wings

Iolanthe caressed the delicate leaf-shaped wing, its fine gossamer structure silky under her fingers. She couldn’t believe they were finally hers. She would at last be able to fulfil her true fairy potential. She trembled at the anticipation of having them fitted, but first she washed the blood off the tips; if they saw that they might be alerted to the fact she hadn’t come into possession of them legitimately. Some things were worth more than morality – at least she thought so.

If you wanted to be accepted in life you had to be prepared to cut corners, and on occasion take risks. Those might include cutting another life down and risking your own, but to finally be able to become one of them, it was all that mattered.

She went over to the full length mirror and turned her back to it. Her own mangled stumps had kept her grounded. A congenital defect they said, because her mother shouldn’t have fallen in love with her uncle.

Io didn’t care. He’d been a good father until they’d hanged him for treason to the Queen. Iolanthe didn’t consider her a true Queen. She’d been self appointed and used brute force with some of her sycophantic followers to become their ruler. She wasn’t loved she was tolerated. Everyone knew it, but her father had been the only one stupid enough to say it.

But none of that mattered now. Once Io had her wings she would be away from all this. She’d heard about another collective in woods to the south and that was where she was going. Her escape plan was in place. Everything was moving along as it should. As long as the surgery went well, it was full wings to the wind.

A knock at the door told her they were here. She dried off the wings, let them in and they set about preparing her and the room for the operation. She thought she’d be too excited to fall asleep, but the hypnosis spell worked within seconds, and the next thing she knew she was waking up in a darkened room, her back killing her.

Iolanthe’s head was fuzzy but she was sure this wasn’t her chamber. And when she tried to move she couldn’t finding her hands and feet strapped down. Was this to protect her new wings? But no matter how much she tried she couldn’t feel any motion from her back, just pain. Even her old twisted nubs used to move a little bit.

Then she heard a door open and a lamp was lit, and she saw she was in an empty cell, laid out on a cot.

“Ah, you are awake, good. We will keep you here for the time being, until we deem it safe to move you,” the nurse said, checking her wounds.

“Where am I? I can’t feel my new wings.”

“That’s because you don’t have any.”


“Only donated wings can be refitted. Stolen wings have a fail safe that can’t be unlocked. You should have known that. The doctors realised as soon as they attempted it. You are no better than human now – even less than, because you’re a murderer. Once they recover the body they will dispose of you along with it.”

Io felt tears fill her eyes. If she couldn’t fly they may as well dispose of her too, there was no point in living otherwise.