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. 

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.

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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.

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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. 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 310

This week's picture prompt was created by Jeffrey Smith, it's called Summoned. I used one of his recently on Week 307 & couldn't miss this one with the build up to Halloween! He has some incredible art worth checking out.  

A short dark one this week, with an edge of hope. 

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 painting of a muddy field scattered with orange pumpkins and a tree in the middle ablaze in orange flames, shaped like a pumpkin, and yellow flames depicting the eyes & sinister grin of a jack o lantern pumpkin. Above the dark swirl clouds in the sky allow a full moon to peep through over the top of the tree. A man stands under the tree, one hand on it, looking out behind him to a dense forest of fir trees on either side.  Created by Jeffrey Smith

The Hunt

From our hidden burrow we saw it; the sequel had gone up to call them to him. It blazed with its evil grin and we shivered in the darkness.

We could hear the rumblings of the others coming to the call. All the depraved and twisted faces flashing past, lit up by the burning orange light making them more grotesque than normal.

We scuttled deeper under ground, running this way and that, hoping to be far enough away by the time they were gathered ready for their hunt – their ‘trick or treat’ as they liked to call it.

Both were for their benefit: the trick was to catch us, the treat was to eat us. Our bodies would join the blaze in the field. We only hoped they weren’t fast enough, clever enough, or thin enough to find us.

Some of us climbed trees, becoming like four legged creatures as we scurried to the tallest limbs. They rarely looked up making it would be the safest way. They would be expecting us to be underground, where we had burrowed for generations, since they cast our goodness out. And there would be weak among us who would not manage to remain hidden and from the tree tops we would watch their sacrifice as they were torn and roasted.

The only hope was that each year there were less of them and more of us. They were dying out, along with their rituals, which took place is fewer places. Each year they looked more ragged and feeble, some only there to watch, no longer able to walk. As they fed on our weakest, we grew in strength.

Our time would come soon and the only thing ablaze would be the remains of their lives.