Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 38

This week's photo prompt is from a young American photographer, Alex Currie, who is just 20 years old. She has some incredible work. Go and have a look at her website. She was 16 when she took this photo, and you can read an article about it here.

I wrote half of this with one story in mind, but when I  came back to it the following day I couldn't pick it up and so changed it to another story. A nice bit of Sci-Fi for a change.

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.


Message in a Bottle

Christopher sat up, his heart pounding, forehead pricking with sweat. He could still see the chair surrounded by ocean as far as the eye could see, and him twisting and turning on it, somehow stuck to it as the tide came in.

What did it mean? Did it mean anything? He wasn’t sure. Sometimes his dreams happened in real life, things he dreamt – no matter how random, would suddenly fall into place and unfold before his eyes.

Water was a metaphor for emotions in dreams. Did he feel overwhelmed? Some days. It was tough at school. Yeah, he liked wearing bow ties, so what? It was better than the chumps who copied the latest YouTuber’s hair do.

Christopher had always known he didn’t fit in and he was good with that. He didn’t need to fit in. He had his own friends and they didn’t fit in either. They hadn’t when they were at school and they didn’t now as they pursued their cutting edge careers.

Christopher checked the time; he didn’t want to be late for Professor Hardingsworth. He got dressed, choosing a red bow tie. It was Saturday; he was going to the university, not high school.

Once he’d locked his bike outside the science building, Christopher rushed through empty corridors to the studio in the basement, the professor’s favourite place. It was meant for photography, but the professor had commandeered it. He was testing more complex things than how light fell on a chair. Although there was a chair. Christopher hesitated; it looked like the one in his dream.

“Morning Professor. What are you planning today?”

The professor’s head popped up from a row of laptops he had on his desk. “Christopher. Excellent. Be a good lad and sit on that chair for me, will you?”

Christopher smiled. There was never any chit-chat with the professor; he always got right down to business. He took a seat.

“What is this experiment for, Professor?”

“Co-existing realities, Christopher. Are there any?”

“What, here Professor?”

“Here, there, anywhere. Can we locate one? That’s the question for today.”

“And the chair?”

“Somewhere to put the test subject?”

“Test subject? You mean me?”

“Yes.” He chuckled. “Hope that’s alright.”

“Of course, sir. But how does me sitting here do anything?”

“Do? It’s less about doing, it’s more about sensing. Hang on.” The professor tapped vigorously on various keyboards.

Christopher heard a seagull cry. He assumed it was outside. Then it sounded like several were circulating the room. He was sure he could hear waves crashing too.

The professor glanced at him. “You hearing something?”

“Yes, I think so.”

The professor grabbed a bottle off his desk and thrust it into Christopher’s hands. Christopher looked at it. It had a piece of paper rolled up inside: Message in a bottle.

“Throw it, Christopher, as hard as you can.”

He felt the bottle in his hands: glass. It would shatter hard against the wall, but who was he to argue. He flung it out to his left and braced for impact, anticipating it smashing, but there was nothing. The bottle was gone.

He looked wide-eyed at the Professor who laughed his funny donkey laugh.

“Quick Christopher, let’s go.” The professor grabbed his coat and rushed out the door. Christopher followed. They jumped into the professor’s car, and drove out of the car park.

“Where are we off to, Professor?”

“Why the beach, of course.”

“For the bottle?”

“That’s right.”

“But how do you know where?”

The professor laughed. “When will you learn to trust me?”

Christopher smiled. He loved Professor Hardingsworth’s enthusiasm and passion. And he was right, the professor was rarely wrong in his calculations.

They pulled up at the deserted autumn beach. The professor hopped out of the car and strode down to the edge of the surf. He hesitated and then let out an ‘Ah!’ He walked to the right, wading into shallow water without a care for his shoes, and grabbed a bottle floating there.

He came out shaking water off the bottle and unscrewed the lid. He pulled out the paper and smiled ... then froze.

“What is it, Professor? Is it the right one?”

“Yes, yes it is, Christopher, but someone has answered it.”


He handed the note to Christopher who read the “Hello is anyone out there?” message in the professor’s handwriting, and then scanned the scrawled reply at the bottom: “Yes, we’re here. Please help us.”

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 37

This week's photo prompt was taken by Kari Liimatainen, a photographer from Finland. She has some amazing seasonal photos. You should take a look at her gallery over on Deviant Art.

I could hear these voices as soon as I saw this picture. The question was, what was going to happen. I rather liked how it turned out.

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.

 Festival Offering

“You’re sure they’re going to come through here?”
“Yes Master, they come through here every week.”
“Okay, good.”

Rhodri looked through the eyepiece of the crossbow resting on his shoulder at the snow covered clearing ahead. If Hadrin was right, then they could land themselves a serious feed tonight.

He adjusted his footing in the little stream to keep himself hidden behind the overhanging trees, the snow giving them weight and creating a thick screen. He also moved to give himself more stability. The water wasn’t deep, but the rocks were slippery. They had to stay in the water to keep their scent off the land - plus footprints: they didn’t want to be hunted too.

“When did you last see them, Hadrin?”
“They were rounding the spinney near the rocky mount, Master, so they shouldn’t be long now.”
“Good work.”

Rhodri was grateful for the little elf’s speed. He was an asset to their team and had helped them keep their bellies full since his capture two moons ago. Rhodri could hear movement: a rattling that indicated a wagon, and ... was that singing?

“Are they stupid?” he whispered to Hadrin.
“Or smart, Master.”

He felt something hit him in the head hard and the sound of a splash as he fell into the stream.

When he came to, Rhodri could feel his body being jostled from side to side. He was moving, but how? He opened his eyes and saw a wooden ceiling. He was in a wagon, and from the singing, it was the wagon he had planned on capturing.

He moved to sit up but found himself pinned to the floor, even his head had been strapped back.

“Whoa Master, I wouldn’t move if I were you, those restraints have a tendency of tightening under pressure.”
“What’s happening, Hadrin, why am I tied down in a wagon?”
“Dinner, Master, we mustn’t miss it. It’s a special one tonight.”
“I don’t understand your meaning, Hadrin?”
“Tonight it’s the festival of Yanis, and we need to supply the offering.”
“You’re talking gibberish, Hadrin, what offering?”
“You Master. It has been planned for some time. It was fortunate you took a shine to me, made it a bit easier.”

Hadrin smiled at Rhodri and he felt a shiver go up his spine.

“But you have been working with me against your people.”
“That’s what you believed, yes Master.”
“You hated them for leaving you for dead.”
“Yes Master, that’s what I pretended.”
Rhodri roared, “YOU DUPED ME HADRIN!”
Hadrin giggled. “Yes Master.”

Rhodri tugged at his arms and legs and tried to lift his head. But Hadrin had been right; he lay back gasping as the strap round his neck choked him. Hadrin came to his aid to loosen it slightly.

“Why do you bother to keep me alive?”
“Oh you mustn’t be dead, Master, we have to follow the ritual of the ancients. Once a troll has been entrapped he must be duly processed. The blood letting is done in stages, for maximum results.”
“Results, Hadrin?” Rhodri could feel his blood drain from his face already.
“Your soul must be cleansed to pass through the doors of Arroubin.”
“Yes. A cut for each life you have taken.”

Rhodri stared at the ceiling thinking about the hundreds he had slaughtered.

“Don’t worry Master, you have plenty of flesh. I made sure of that.”

Rhodri realised Hadrin was referring to all the food he helped him catch. It had all been a set up. The elves had planned it all along. He closed his eyes. It was going to be a long night.

“Yes, that’s right master, save your strength. You will need it.” Rhodri could hear the smirk in Hadrin’s voice.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Lost - 55 Word Challenge Week One Entry

Here is my entry to the 55 Word Challenge Week One. I used all photo prompts.

Icy wind blew swirls of snow round my head as I stood looking down the steep incline to the lake. It was frozen again, but at the edges water leaked through revealing its fragile state, something we’d missed last year when our son had gone into it and been lost to us. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

55 Word Challenge is back!

I was excited to see in my emails today that Lisa Hollar is bringing back the 55 Word Challenge Flash Fiction contest - although it is less of a contest now and more of a weekly inspiration and writing challenge.

Lisa ran this contest for years, and then had to stop due to demands of every day life. But after a three year hiatus it is back and I am excited. 😁 

I have always loved this contest: trying to squeeze a tale into just 55 words based off one or all three photo prompts provided. Back in the day I even managed to win a couple of times.  It teaches you about economy of words and forces you to find the right word(s) to describe something, which is good for all writing. 

So if you like to write and you like a bit of a challenge, come and give this a try.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 36

This week's photo prompt is all over the internet, particularly on wallpaper sites, so trying to track down the owner has been unsuccessful.

The photo draws the senses, which is what my tale reflects.

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.

Bed of Roses

Ella stood in the pouring rain, letting it soak through her clothes and touch her skin. It felt like the tears she was unable to shed. She embraced the wetness having run dry inside, numbed by the course of events that had left her standing alone on the patio.  

With her head stooped, eyes down, initially unseeing as her senses reached out to the falling rain, they came into focus on the flowerbeds that lined the small garden she had been tending for years, in particular the red roses she had poured all her love into.

Their perfection shone through the wall of water, droplets hanging off them like luxurious jewels magnifying their deep red colour. Ella craved their texture, wanting to feel the silk of the petals against her skin.

She walked over to them, getting as close as she could, letting her hood shade them from more rain. She pulled a hand out of her pocket and reached out a finger to trace the line of the flower. She immediately felt the energy lift in her as though the life force of the rose had been transmitted to her. Ella took a deep breath.

She was reminded she could make a choice to rise above the betrayal that had followed the revelation of her partner’s duplicity. She could recognise her mistake in accepting that duplicity, and even attempting to embrace it so that she might not lose more. Ella knew she could choose to stand tall and remain beautiful through all weather, and learn to be resilient like the rose. But she also knew that like the rose she was more fragile than she appeared; that although she might appear to have thorns, they were flexible and easily pushed aside.

All Ella could be certain of was the beauty of the rose, and when there was nothing else she still had that to hold onto. It reminded her that not all was lost: she still stood as sure as the rose and had refused to succumb and be cowed by the storm. 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 35

This week's prompt is a piece of art by Heise, a Chinese artist who has lots of other wonderful art on her page at Deviant Art.  She calls this simply: The Angel. He is so beautiful.

I have actually written for him before back in July 2015 for a Midsummer Night's Dream contest, a story called Soulmates. But he is so wonderful I wanted to write for him again, and wanted others to have the same opportunity. He is so gorgeous. And I thought an Angel in the week running up to Christmas was appropriate too.

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.

Human Assignment

“But Dad that’s not fair, you can’t do that?

 “Michael, I can and I will, you have to start taking this seriously.”

“But none of my friends have to.”

“None of your friends are in training to be an Archangel. It takes a lot of responsibility.”

“But what if I don’t want to be an Archangel?”

Michael’s father spun round. Michael could see him clench his fists in frustration.

“There is no choice in this Michael, it has already been decided.”

“But that’s not fair!” 

“You were made to serve; it’s what the Gods created you for. It’s why you have four wings and not two like the rest of us. I was honoured my son was chosen, but your resistance makes me question their decision. You care for nobody but yourself.”

“What do you expect from me? I’m not even at full maturity yet. Why should I have to care about anybody else?”

Michael’s father rolled his eyes to the ceiling of their cavernous home, his wings stretching up along with them. “Give me strength!”

Michael’s mother entered the room. She was a delicate Seraphim, dainty and fragile to look at. His father had chosen her for her striking beauty, despite being two realms higher than her in hierarchy. As a Dominion angel some would say he married beneath him, but he would say that it had been destined by the Gods, and Michael’s very existence proved it. Michael’s pure white quad wings, combined with his perfect facial features and natural accentuated physique, put him above everyone. And he hated it.

“Michael can you not understand that resisting your future will only make your life harder; the sooner you accept your position and embrace it, the easier everything will become, and in time you can do all the things you want to do.” His mother’s gentle voice quelled his irritation at his father, and he could see the same magic working on his father as he brought his wings down.

“I just want to fit in, mum, that’s all. I want to be normal and do normal work for the Gods. I don’t want to have to interact with humans.” He shuddered, his feathers rippling from top to toe. “Just the thought of having to protect that wanton, arrogant species makes me feel dirty to my core.”

“But the Gods enjoy them. They see them as some kind of experiment, believing we can all learn something from them.” His mother stroked his feathers, calming him further.

“But what could we possibly learn? We are far superior to them.”

“Being humble maybe?” his father interjected.

Michael sighed. He just wanted to hang out with his mates. He didn’t want to do extra training or undertake special assignments. And the human he’d been assigned to for his trial run was a nightmare.

“But the boy I’m supposed to be protecting doesn’t seem to get anything. He just does what he wants, when he wants, no matter what anyone says or how much others try to help him.”

His father’s eyebrows went up. “Remind you of anyone?”

Michael scowled. “He’s making decisions that are only going to cause more problems. If I’m so much like him, how am I supposed to help him?”

His father smiled. “And therein lies your answer. What would help you if you were like him? What would it take to make you hear the voice of reason?”

The realisation dawned on Michael, but he resented giving his father credit for it, so he kept his expression neutral. But Michael knew his father wasn’t stupid; Michael’s silence was enough to indicate he’d understood. His father looked pleased.

“It seems we needed to have this conversation, Michael. I hope now you can continue with your assignment and move towards your full potential.”

Michael rolled his eyes and stomped out of the room. But it was an act; he was excited to see if he could get the boy to respond to what he needed to understand now. A smirk spread across his face. He’d never admit it to his father but he enjoyed the challenge of working with humans.