Thursday 28 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 319 - The Final Prompt!

This week's - and final - picture prompt is from digital artist Jeffrey Smith. I love his art. I used others of his pieces on Week 245, Week 307 and Week 310. It's definitely something I'd fill my house with. He created this back in 2017 and called it 'I'm never going back.' Strangely apt for my last Mid-Week Flash entry and post. 

I've decided I need more time to focus on other projects and have been struggling to write for this on time or sometimes at all over the past year, so am bringing it to a halt, the end of 2023 being very fitting as I've been running it for 7 years, and life tends to run in 7 year cycles.

I will never say never in terms of returning to it, but for now, it's time to retire it. It's benefitted my writing so much, and I've really enjoyed it. 

Today's is short and sweet as I am still working on Tricky's third book, and this is a snippet. 

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.

Left Hanging

He’d gone and left another one open! What was with him? Did he really think Tricky was that stupid? His big shiny ‘follow me this way’ signs weren’t going to fool her, oh no. She wasn’t going to jump through every open time portal he created in an attempt to chase him, no way, definitely not. He thought she was stupid, clearly, or that she wasn’t as gifted as him - but he was proving he couldn’t possibly be, with leaving these things hanging in the sky all over the place.

Tricky stopped on the path to take in the magnificence of this opening though; portals were truly beautiful to behold, even though they were horribly dangerous – and not just for the individual but for the whole time plane. It was like making a tiny hole in the leg of a stocking, eventually it would tear the entire thing apart, making it unusable.

Tricky narrowed her eyes, or was that his plan? Was he trying to destabilise it all? Or was he trying to play some random game with her that didn’t make sense, other than boy wizards with overblown egos who were crap at setting traps?

Tricky didn’t waste time on trying to work out his mindless ploys to entrap her, she knew better, but she wasn’t just going to ignore what he’d done, instead she had to work to close the portal and return this plane to safety.

It didn’t take her long, being that she’d done it before, and with the swathes of grasslands around her there was an abundance of energy to work with and help her shut it down. It was still scary as it pulled together – also pulling at her - but once it reduced to a certain size it zipped up quickly with a deafening pop, and the pale blue sky returned.

It cleared the pathway ahead, which led in between the fields to a point as yet not visible, but Tricky knew was there. She needed to reach it before dark. She took in deep breaths, calling in her own yellow energy and the lime green of the land around and sped up. This was not a place to be after dark. 

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 318

This week's new picture prompt was taken by photographer Dec_Des, they specialise in abandoned urban buildings. Their own account Instagram is locked, but manage Abandoned Addiction where they share pictures from other photographers. However, when asked about this picture they confirmed that the image was real and from an abandoned button factory in Athens, Greece. They said, that the photograph wasn't staged, and that the buttons were "all over the top floor in plastic bags decayed and opened with that result and all over the stairs."

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 looking down an metal banistered, concrete stairwell in an abandoned button factory, with thousands of different coloured and shaped buttons covering every step. Taken by


Silvia stood frozen at the top of the stairs. Oh my god! Who had done this?! Someone that knew, that’s who!

She could feel her heart racing and sweat break out on her palms as her trembling fingers gripped the banister while she peered over the edge to see every stair covered in buttons; thousands of them in all different shapes and sizes, and a kaleidoscope of colour trailing down the two flights.

Her mind raced trying to identify who she had told about her phobia; it wasn’t something she usually did, there weren’t many that knew. Most people would cross examine her or tease her or then trigger her by waving them in her face. She hated it.

No, Silvia had kept it to herself for years, so how had it come about that not only did someone know, but they had broken into her house and done this? What kind of lunatic would?

Silvia needed to get down the stairs – something the person that had done this obviously knew. She shuffled forward and pushed some of the buttons along in front of her causing them to topple over each other, some going over the edge of the stairwell and hitting others, causing a cascade.

Silvia took deep breaths. She could do this. They were only bits of plastic with holes in them. She didn’t have to touch them; she didn’t have to feel their slimy texture or funny ridges, and they wouldn’t be coming anywhere near her face!

She reached the edge of the first step, disrupting a pile there, causing them to trickle over it, the sound of them bouncing down the stairs as one hit another like an avalanche putting her teeth on edge.

She lifted her foot and knew she had to put it down on the button-covered first step. She shoved her foot forward, dislodging more of them but at least making room for her feet. She clenched her teeth and took in rapid breaths through her nose as she told herself to keep moving. If she stopped she might not be able to get started again.

Silva kept this mindset as she took each step, encouraging herself and calming herself, until she got into a rhythm. She relaxed at the first floor landing. She could shuffle forward pushing through them, rather than having to feel them under her feet. She felt stronger on the next flight down, and was so focused on her mental coaching she didn’t see the figure standing at the bottom until she took the final step and they started clapping.

The sound startled her, making her cry out. For a moment Silvia forgot about her fear of the buttons even though they were scattered all over the floor down here too.

And there he was, Nigel, standing there, looking all smug.

Why didn’t she think of him? They’d spoken about it recently too; how had she forgotten that? Maybe because she liked him – a lot, so much she’d given him a key, just last week. And maybe because he’d been sympathetic, and their new relationship was still growing and her heart warming to him. But that warmth now turned to fire as she became overwhelmed with anger and hurt.

“How could you! And why would you?”

He stopped clapping, a surprised expression wiping the grin off his face.

“The best way to overcome a phobia is to confront it.”

“You know nothing about my phobia! You know nothing about how it affects me, or what it was caused by! You have no idea what emotional trauma you are triggering and wounds you are opening! You barely know me!”

“But … but … I thought, you know, because you told me and … you gave me a key … that we weren’t strangers anymore.”

“And that would make it okay for you to think you could heal me by putting me through something as horrific as this? And not just all the buttons, but that you snuck into my house and laid this for me like a trap! I think you need to leave now, Nigel, and leave my key too.”

“But, Silvia, baby, I’m sorry.”

He endeavoured to reach out to her, but she took a sudden step back, feeling the buttons under her heel as she did so, making her cringe.

“Go now! I’m not interested in sorry. You’ve shown me your true colours. I don’t want to know. Go!”

Nigel’s mouth opened and closed a few times, but he did as she asked, handing her the key and silently left.

Silvia waited for the front door to close completely, then she made her way through the hallway, the buttons thinning out and dissipating completely by the time she reached the kitchen.

She filled the kettle as though on autopilot, and switched it on, standing there motionless while it began to boil. And then she burst into tears, her sobs coming hard and fast, her hands on her mouth to try and stifle the sound.

The relief of getting down the stairs, and unexpected break up with Nigel – and the thought of having to clean up all those buttons was too much for her, and she sat on the kitchen floor and let it consume her.

But once the flood of tears was over and she caught her breath once more, she realised one thing: he’d been right; confronting all those buttons had made her face it, and although she would never like them, they no longer held such fear.

In fact, as she spotted one by her hand, she picked it up – she could even touch them now. She still hated their slippery feel, her nose flaring with revulsion, but she didn’t shake or sweat with fear. She might not be able to forgive the sneaky, back-handed way of doing it, but he’d gone and bloody cured her!

Monday 18 December 2023

My favourite 3 reads of 2023

Over on Shepherd book website, they asked me what my top three reads for 2023 were so I told them! 

Click on the picture below to find out why 

And if you are an author, Shepherd are always looking for more authors to join, so get in touch with them here. It cost nothing! 

Sunday 17 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 317

This week's picture prompt was created by French digital artist Cyril Rolando. They call this one We are dancing in chains. They have made some incredible pieces and clearly their works speaks to me because I have used a few on Mid-Week Flash before: Week 283Week 278 and Week85.

Finally got round to writing this piece that's been stuck in my head. It's a dark one. 

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 digital image of a man in blue underwear in the throws of arching backwards and up on tiptoes, while he is chained at the wrists and ankles. A pool of ball and chains is in front of him. What appears to be spray of water follows the movement of the chains as he flails backwards. The title of the art is We are dancing in chains, created by Cyril Roland.


There was that sound again and he was gone, triggered back into a time he had worked so hard to put behind him. But suddenly he could see that room again and smell the rancid sweat, not just of the visitor but of his own fear. And he could feel them – the chains, on his ankles and on his wrists, holding him, keeping him there, keeping him submissive, keeping him as their play thing.

He was frozen to the spot. He worked to take a breath and remind himself it was over, it would never happen again. But even after all this time (he’d be celebrating ten years next month) the sound of chains did this to him. It didn’t matter where they were – today was the harbour – or why – they were hauling in an anchor – it didn’t fail to paralyse him, stopping him dead in his tracks.

He felt his mind switch over into automatic pilot. He managed to continue walking back to his car, and get in and drive back to the office. It was like he was watching himself as he made all the correct motions on the way back, while his mind tried to stop him from falling into the pit of darkness that would shut him down mentally for days or even weeks. At the office he made all the correct sounds and expressions for people to believe he was fine, but once alone behind his desk he knew there was one person he had to speak to; the one person who could help him get a handle on this flashback.

“Hey, Giles, it’s not like you to call me during the day, is everything okay?”

She knew, she always knew.

“No, not really. I had to go down to the docks and watch something being loaded, and it happened …”

“What happened?”

“Chains on concrete.”

“Oh shit. Do you want me to come over?”

“I’m still at work.”

“I can meet you after if you like?”

“I just needed to tell someone who understood. I just needed to say it out loud.”

“I understand. Sounds are the hardest part – and smells.”

“Yeah. It’s like I could smell it again, though it was just in my mind.”

“I’ll meet you after work, we’ll have dinner. It will break the cycle of the reaction.”

“Good idea.”

“When’s your next therapy session?”

“Next week.”

“Not too far away then.”

“No. Hopefully I can report on how I processed it.”

“You already are processing it by calling me.”

“True. Thank you Shaunna.”

“I’m just happy you called. I’ll see you outside at six, okay?”

“See you then.”


Giles put the phone down. He felt like he was coming back to himself again. He felt like he could focus on what was in front of him on his desk. He’d managed to switch off the autopilot.

He didn’t know what he would do without the support of another who had been put through the same. Someone who knew the horror of being sold as a child, and used and abused for years. Some days he hated that they had survived to live with the memories, but most days he was just grateful to be free.

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.