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.