I received confirmation by e-mail today that my short story submitted to 1000words is up on their website, having been accepted by them. Check it out here, including the photo which prompted the story. Really nice to know it was appreciated enough to publish.
For those interested, 1000words began as a project in response to photographs published on a Pinterest board, with a number published as a result. The website remains open to submissions, with flash fiction accepted on an ad hoc basis i.e. as and when accepted.
Hope people enjoy the story!
Saturday, 31 May 2014
Friday, 30 May 2014
Photo Prompt - here.
The green goddess grants wishes to those she chooses, they say. Blessing believers visit the legendary garden shrine daily in their droves to test the theory. They cross her leafy palm with its freefall water flow with coin, hoping her lids will lift and she will smile on them as they kneel in supplication before her torso. Gaia, too, hopes her namesake will look kindly upon her as she whispers her wanting into the tresses cocked to one side. Seconds pass, with the queue long behind her. The frond fingers close upon the offering, empty on the opening; no fall to freedom here. The coin’s capture brings an intake of breath as the shrubbery shifts then settles, shape now clear to the eye. The leaves lie longer on the grass, with starker contrast at the crown.
The green goddess grants wishes to those she chooses, yet chooses freely from those who approach her alike. Earth has called on her own.
Another one for this week's Flash! Friday Vol.25 competition. Everything stemmed from the idea of the green goddess and developed organically (pun intended) from there...
Monday, 26 May 2014
Grace was nineteen when life changed. Too young; too little known, the knowing discovered too late. Her first sighting was amidst swirling wind and water, as she sank deeper into the lake from which she did not think to return. Eyes blurry, mouth swamped with weed, she could be forgiven for thinking herself mistaken in seeing the bird-like figure with the sizeable wingspan and red reflector eyes. She thought they revealed her fast approaching ruin but came to beside the water, clothes melded to her body, damp, not dripping. Time had passed, though she could not say how much. That was the first time.
The second time, Grace saw white wings in her sleep; woke covered in down she had not felt settle. Her mind was filled with the image; the recollection of how it felt to face the knife’s point; the blade entering her body. Her skin was without blemish. As expected. The figure facing the assailant had not been her; she knew that, without knowing where the knowing came from. She sought out the location imprinted in her memory; finding herself drawn to it, again and again. It needed to be nightfall – the stabbing would happen at dusk. Grace must be there, though she had no idea how she could help. The events had played out with her as observer, silent witness. She did not know if she could turn the tide.
Grace haunted the hotspot, waiting for events to unfold at an indeterminate time. Drank cups of lukewarm coffee in the café around the corner from the alleyway she could not escape, whether waking or in slumber. The continuous layers of chitin coating her covers each morning told her so; a daily unneeded reminder, given her fear full dreams; the pierce of her skin.
Night after night she fulfilled her watch; shadows beneath her eyes showing rest disturbed by burden, the groove between her brows now permanently etched into place, until the night to change those coming after. Camped on the corner, feigning homelessness beneath blankets, as the sky grew dark and the temperature dropped, Grace saw her vision slot into place. The slender teenager taking a short cut, face hidden beneath swathes of long hair, followed by the mugger to become much more. She opened her mouth, perhaps to shout to disturb him – them – to call to the girl to run. The creature, the cryptid, the ten-foot wingspan, was there in the streetlights; called into action, without word or a whisper. Grace turned as he – it – descended, hiding her eyes from what happened next. When she turned, it was over. No sign they had been there. That was the second time.
The third time, Grace saw scales and dust, pale in colour. Now, she knew what knowing without knowing could not tell her, without experiencing it first-hand. She would endure; would survive. Her saving had its price to pay for – a deal of undying duration. Until eventually she saw black wings and her service had passed.
This was written for the fifth Horror Bite Challenge - for which the word limit was extended to 500 words, giving a bit of scope to expand on ideas produced by the photo prompt. This is a Mothman demonesque mash up, possibly creating a form of urban legend in the process..
Just a very quick blog entry to mention that my writing group (The Poised Pen) has recently released their third anthology - and for the first time it is available for download on Kindle here.
To quote from the very brief blurb on the site - it's "a showcase of writing including poetry, flash fiction, scripts and short stories to get a flavour of the breadth of talent from our wee little club. Come on in and take a dip!"
Added to which it's a very modest 99p for 98 pages worth of work. So, for those who are interested, feel free to take a look!
Saturday, 24 May 2014
Letter Boxes, Area 51 Public Domain Photo by Martin Str. (via Flash! Friday)
Paying A Flying Visit
It has taken the Red Planeteers light years to reach the quarter-inch thick bulletproof metal box on its chipped pole – Black Mailbox 80, owner Steve Medlin, with its Master Lock and contradictions. For a start it’s faded white; for another thing, it’s not used by Medlin, nor anyone else the hundreds who camp around and converge upon it and the Extraterrestrial Highway have ever seen. The signs towards Rachel with their question marks are there for those in the know, though any activity takes place when they’re not looking. Suggested sightings are delusional; sometimes placed to mislead and misdirect – misinformation at its best.
They often wish there was a more convenient drop box – somewhere around Deimos or Phobos, as opposed to Route 375. It would be a sight easier – and cheaper - to sort interplanetary tax liabilities. Still, if Area 51 showed on planetary positioning systems, perhaps the payment wouldn’t be perennially late. They always take a wrong turn somehow.
It's been a little bit since a piece for Flash! Friday featured here. This is my latest, requiring inclusion of unpaid bill as part of the prompt. Went slightly tongue in cheek this week, which makes a change from the darker stuff which recent photo prompts generally seem to have been resulting in. Loads of great entries over at the site for those who care to take a look!
Sunday, 18 May 2014
Light A Life
Freya travels the world and carries her world and its occupants with her. There is no escaping the memories which follow her wherever she goes, whether she tries or no. Her salve and service to them is her penance; the ritual, now familiar in its repetition. Where and when she can, she strikes a match; places flame to wick, to watch it burn; black at its centre, amidst the incandescence, so bright it hurts the eye to watch it closely, for too long. She keeps her silence, in the cool dim of the church, whilst civilisation carries on without her, unheeding, uncaring; unknowing, in those mere moments. She will catch them up in due course. There is time enough - and time owes her her time out, every once in a while; such is their unspoken bargain with one another. She watches as the wax disintegrates; the wick to nothing.
Another VisDare piece. The word prompt this week was "festival". Guess we'll have to of Freya as having her own private, slightly sombre festival/celebration of times past when she lights her candle to those who have gone before her here...
Photo Prompt courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass "Flash Frenzy"-Round 20)
The Ice Clause
Liv has decided. She wants rid of him, now – no going, simply gone; the bitter sting of her last words to him and his response, erased from the tip of her tongue, where their sour taste sits still. She doesn’t want to see or feel the space where he was and should be. It is what has brought her to Dr Seva, to sit on plastic, in a sparsely furnished room, after a tip off from Sara, who has already been here, courtesy of the guy she previously referred to only as “git features”. The corners of her mouth raise slightly, at Sara’s “gift” to her. Certainly, it’s one way of putting it.
They have explained the procedure to her in minute detail, so she understands what it entails; the hardening of the heart to dull down residual pain and crystallisation in the central nervous system, through to the cerebrum. It will take time to take fully, although there will be some immediate relief post-treatment. Liv signs the page in front of her with a flourish after they have explained the benefits and potential side effects; no hesitation, signature transcribed across the “Ice Clause” – a contract like and unlike any other. Dr Seva describes it as the latest non-invasive technological and medical advancement.
It feels odd to walk the streets after the solution has been injected, knowing it is making its way through her, set towards a gradual spread of indifference. She feels colder; knows it is not the chill of the slight breeze blowing across her arms; not this time. She pulls her jacket around her shoulders; feels the warmth for a split second, before the ache sets in again.
The pain creeps through her spinal cord as Liv reaches her apartment door and sees the card tacked upon the door, waiting. The message is simple. Mike has written two words only – “I’m sorry”. Liv rests against the doorframe, as she feels a sting gathering in the corner of her eyes. She wonders if it is too late for him to try and reverse the process, so they can work towards a thaw, instead of towards freeze and ice.
Another "Angry Hourglass" entry. "Claws" became "clause" - at least in my mind ;)
Sunday, 11 May 2014
They tell me it’s in my head, though I’ve tried to make them understand that my nightmares are real, running riot, not imagined. They don’t listen, so I figured I’d try talking to someone else; aim to get the message out there, my missive to the masses, you amongst them. That’s why I’m sitting here, talking like mad into my microphone, gabbling to get the words out, while I’m still making sense of them in my head. It’s hard to describe it, somehow, now it comes to it and it’s me and the disembodied world; all of you I can’t see, those of you I can imagine. Maybe even the Whitecoats, the ones who think I’m mad. They might be listening too, making their way here, if they can find me, can track me down. I took precautions though. Hopefully made myself difficult enough to locate. Maybe that will put them off, at least long enough for me to finish what I’ve started.
I see the world as it really is – it’s everyone else who’s blind, that’s the truth. Apologies if I’m putting you off by saying that; making you angry. I can’t help it. I have to tell it as it is, so you’ll get it, by the end. I have to try and make you see too – all of you - it’s the only way.
I guess I thought there was a simple medical explanation, at first. Especially given they kept trying to tell me so. Easy to believe what they want you to, when it’s so much simpler than the truth. Migraines was the first one they came up with, when I mentioned the clouding across my vision, the blurring and spotting, in whites and greys, when I looked directly at people in the crowds surrounding me. Didn’t fit though, given there were no accompanying headaches, no incapacitation lasting over the space of several days. Not to mention that it seemed to come and go subject to who and what I happened to be looking at at the time. They checked my eyesight – twenty twenty – scanned for the obvious blips and blurs on MRI and CT without finding anything. Small wonder, really, given there wasn’t anything there – but that’s something I only realised later and need to explain in the right way.
To give them their dues, the doctors, all those clever medics, they kept looking; determined to help me find the issue. Possibly the problem was they finally figured it had to be me – something they couldn’t see with all their machinery and gadgets; that the internal cogs weren’t working the way they should be and I might have done something to bring that on. That’s not it though, even though I listened at first when they suggested it. It was the fact that they had no faces, those bodies in amongst the crowds, which did it – the reason I was willing to accept what they said – and to be fair, it was plausible enough. They thought it was some kind of break with reality; I did too. ‘Til I saw them kill; ‘til I saw them maim, right there in daylight and the red stains spreading across the concrete as the girl dropped from living to lifeless in seconds. She was the first. It made the news too – that’s how I know it isn’t just me, that they’re real. They put a call out for any witnesses as part of the investigation – not that there were any apart from me. Seems as though they’re too clever for that. I guess they saw me though; not that I can say for certain, given they don’t have any eyes but the featureless forms turned towards me at the last second. That was when I lost it and ran. Freaked me right the hell out. Guessing that’s possibly where they come from too. No kidding.
A few more “unexplained” deaths and that brings us up to speed. Now I’m barricaded in here, talking to you, all of you, everywhere. Because they’re coming now, stronger. For me; certainly. In time, for you too. So you need to try and see them, while there’s still time. Before it’s too late.
Nice feedback on this one this week, even though it didn't place. Interesting to think about expanding it out... :)
Nice feedback on this one this week, even though it didn't place. Interesting to think about expanding it out... :)
Photo Source (via VisDare-60)
Taking The Time
He had lost it, somewhere. Sam couldn’t even recall the when and where, by this point in time. Perhaps it had been thrown out in error. He simply knew he must find it again, if his mission was to succeed. It was his imperative; his only, enclosed in scratched, oaken casing, pendulum at its hidden, beating heart. The dials would point the way, once spun in the right direction. Counter clockwise, widdershins, that would be the way. Find the timepiece first, find her second – first things first, to seek what mattered most; order in all things, first and foremost. The moment was what mattered and he must hit upon it exactly, pinpoint in his accuracy, to the hour, minute and second. Miss it and he would miss the meeting completely. He knew he must not make that mistake, if he found it.
If only for enough time to find it.
Another "VisDare" piece, after a week off. The word prompt this week was "patience".
Friday, 9 May 2014
Photo courtesy of Officemango.com (Horror Bites Challenge 4)
There’s a way out, I know it. I just haven’t found it yet. Even though it’s been..sixty days? I think. The problem is it keeps changing! I look away for a split second and – wham – there’s a wall where there was an open space literally moments before. There are doors, of course. Doors in their tens, possibly in their hundreds. I lost track somewhere along the way. I started a tally once, with the pen I had in my pocket but the fascia I scratched my markings into disappeared somewhere around Day Thirty Two. I gave up keeping count after that. Seemed little point, really. That was when I figured the key was to keep moving, to try and make my way through the maze before it had chance to manoeuvre itself around about me too much. It’s been harder than I thought it would be though. Sleep deprivation plays tricks on you, for one thing and you need to keep your wits about you, so I’ve had breaks here and there. That’s when the walls close in again. It always knows as soon as you close your eyes. Somehow. I looked for cameras once, amongst the wood and plaster, to see if that was it. No such luck or I’d have had them all out, straight off. Just me versus the all-seeing eye and sentient walls. I swear sometimes they contract and expand – breathe – with me trapped between them. Keep moving, stop thinking about that, that’s the knack! After all, so many doors must lead somewhere new. Eventually. I wish I could stop myself thinking they might just be leading me further towards the epicentre though; I really do. Daren’t think how many more doors it would take to get back..
There’s no way out. I know it now.
Another short piece for the "Horror Bites" flash fiction challenge. Think this one stems slightly from a fondness for the film "Labyrinth" and the more recent watching of the indie horror flick "Armistice". This one was lots of fun to write!
Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass Round 18)
He meets me at the door; suit smart, whip thin; touch of grey at the temples. No distinguishing features, weathered with wrinkles. Seasoned, at a guess. “Welcome to the society. I’ll show you around; show you the ropes. This is where you’ll be stationed.” He gestures to the double doorway at the end of the corridor.
We move through to the hub of the action, where the machines stand ready. The one nearest the doorway has no rider, whereas the others have men seated at the saddles, peddling at pace. The motion is frenetic, feet moving, seeking speed at a blur. Sensors capture their progress; careful calculation and conversion on pedal power.
“Here you go. Have at it.” Before there is chance for questions he is gone.
The machine in front of me blinks; the red light on the monitor, on and off. Insistent. I figure I’ll humour it. That’s my job; what I signed up for. I climb onto the leather, legs astride the frame; seek to set a steady speed, without undue pressure. Presumably, technique counts in this game.
There is no talk, no banter from those to the right, who peddle incessantly; look towards the parent machine and progress chart it controls, displayed on the farthest wall.
It’s a strange set up. Despite the bikers’ speed, which causes sweat to drip from their brows and coat their clothing, there are breaks as they change position; swap from one machine to another. It doesn’t last long before they continue apace. The pause is perfunctory; practised. No debate; no discussion.
It takes time before I get it; the price for my sign up. The nudge from my right as we shift rows, bike to bike, is my cue. The guy furthest from me sways on his feet; seems likely to fall, before he masters himself. He passes through the right hand door and beyond.
Later, he returns, suit clad, from the left, bringing an unknown face with him, towards the last machine. We make eye contact briefly. I know I will not see him again, where he heads. Know, the exit through which I, too, will leave, in time.
Another one of my recent weekend flash fiction pieces for the Angry Hourglass "flash frenzy" challenge.