Thursday, 22 June 2017

Hat-Trick! - 'Spiders' - Flash Flood Journal Entry



This year I have managed a Hat-Trick! My fifth entry into the yearly Flash Flood Journal.

It's an international flash-fiction journal created by writers and edited by a team of volunteer editors on behalf, and in aid of National Flash Fiction Day, which took place on the 24th of June.

Every 10 minutes a new piece of Flash is put on the Flash Flood Journal for the full 24 hours of Flash Fiction day.


This ended up being a last minute entry, being that the first two I submitted, and had worked on for a few days were rejected. You are allowed three attempts, so I thought, what the hell, in for a penny in for a pound. I sent it in just half an hour before the deadline! Goes to show that sometimes it isn't about how long you have worked on a piece but whether it grasps the reader.





My entry 'Spiders' will be going up at 1pm in the afternoon.

This piece was inspired by a photo prompt for a Horror Bites competition. This was the photo:






Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 16

Last week's photo prompt brought four entries with such unique concepts, its why I love doing these challenges. I have my take on a picture, but there are so many others. Plus I'm happy people are still showing up to write.

This week's photo prompt is on what I have always believed to be Midsummer's Day - the 21st of June. Although apparently it can differ depending on your beliefs, for some it is on the 24th of June (in Germany and other places). But the Internet - and my beloved timeanddate.com site which I use for timezones and daylight savings - tells me June Solstice in the Netherlands this year is indeed on Wednesday, 21 June 2017, 06:24 CET (Central European Time). So I picked this photo, which to me reflected long summer evenings.

Tracking down this picture, as is usually the case, was quite hard, but fortunately the original place I had pinned it from held the answer as it was credited correctly. It was taken by Studio Impressions, Marcus Bell & team in Brisbane Australia - for a wedding in Bali (Angie & Ben's)

My entry this week went darker than planned, but hey, that's how I roll. Maybe others will be able to show the lighter side.

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.





Feast

Ramkin sat back and rubbed his swollen tummy. It had been a fine feast and no mistake. They’d sent them off well, and on the most perfect night of the year, Midsummer Night. Mind you, half the attendees would only come out on that night, it being a special night for those of a shadier nature.

It had taken time and work to bring it all together, but fae gatherings were never taken lightly, there had to be exact planning and execution. When Hommel proposed to Mayfoot it had caused ructions: the fae weren’t meant to marry out of their own blood for risk of tampering by other elements, elements whose ultimate aim was to bring down the race. But the pair weren’t gonna budge, they believed they were destined and no one could argue with that. Ramkin dared not think about their offspring, that was not his business, or others either, although there’d be plenty of talk.

A cheer went up and more glasses were raised, the clinking resounding off the wall of forest surrounding their twilight party. The glitter of the day had passed into a twinkling evening, scented by the sun baked foliage and delicate table displays of flowers and candles. And despite his full belly, Ramkin knew the feasting had only just begun. In particular, the darker meat was yet to be brought forward and roasted. He could see his brothers at work now, getting the pyre and spit ready.

But his people were not the ones to bring that meat, oh no that belonged to their cousins who lived on the other side of life: in the shadows and dark corners, blending in with the night. They were responsible for catching this prey, it was their speciality, although everyone enjoyed the ritual of preparation, and it would take a good few hours yet before it was cooked.

He heard the moans already as they brought it into the clearing, and then the screams as it realised what would be taking place; its feverish eyes on the fire that was now burning under the spit, ready to take on its flesh. The louder the screams the higher the laughter rose, especially while watching their tiny cousins run up its body and begin the cutting, forcing it to its knees.

It was one of the few moments that the fae felt superior. Living among the giants was hard at times, but when they managed to catch one for a feast such as this, it made it all worthwhile. 



 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 15

Three entries last week. I'm wondering if we are entering a dip. Summer is coming and people are getting busy. It won't be long before my children will be on school holiday and writing time will get tight.

This week's photo prompt is actually an advert on Etsy. Antique keys seem to be popular. I have always been fascinated by keys and doors - and the metaphorical meaning of both.

Looking forward to seeing what this might inspire.


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.



Hidden



Hannah rolled the key between her thumb and forefinger, watching it glint in the evening light coming in through the window. She loved its ornate design; they didn’t make keys like that anymore, but then they didn’t make houses like this anymore with secret backrooms and passageways leading to dark dank corners underground. 

Her parents finding this place had been a blessing, and her finding the secret door had been a revelation – although the key had been the key.

She chuckled to herself at the pun, but it was true: had she not spotted it under the stairs, hanging in a dusty corner when she'd been exploring, she would never have known there was a secret door to find - and then she wouldn’t have found anything to hide behind it.

She smiled to herself. How long could keep it hidden was the big question – or should she say ‘him’, keep ‘him’ hidden. She let out another chuckle and popped the key into her pocket as sat back grinning.

They were looking for him; they had been for two days now. She couldn’t help the thrill it gave her seeing everyone so distraught, especially her mother. All the angst and guilt that came out and all the additional hugs and comfort they gave her. She struggled with liking it and resenting it, but that was their fault too. If he hadn’t been the one given all the attention all the time none of this would have happened.

Her face changed to an angry scowl, although it froze at the thought of what would happen when they did finally find him. She could see her mother rejecting her then, maybe even ejecting her too – putting her in some kind of home.

It’s why she had to draw this out as long as possible, milk as much from it now as she could, because once they found his body it would all be over.

She pulled the key out again and turned it over in her hand. Its beauty turned sinister as she looked at it. Maybe its discovery hadn’t been as good as she had first thought then.




Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 14

Despite a lot of reactions in the forms of comments and retweets, last week's photo prompt only elicited two submissions - although I did enjoy both of them very much.  I am grateful for those. I dread the day no one comes to write!

This week's photo prompt I have held onto for a while, as I try and change things up every week, and not repeat similar themes. This was taken in a former, now abandoned, TB sanatorium in Grabowsee, Oranienburg, Germany, which is a little north of Berlin. It was taken by someone over on Flicker called Michael.

I felt it offered a wide range of interpretation. Mine, as often is the case, is dark. I'm interested in what it might inspire in others. 

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.




Attainable

She sees the window but can’t look through it. She yearns to touch it, but can’t reach it; an illusion she can’t shatter.

She imagines how it would feel: what breeze would come through it, how it would light up the room, give her hope. It held a promise the current room she was in had lost.

She knew it was unattainable now; she would never experience it again: to look through a window, feel the air on her face, smell the sweet smells of the outside. All she could smell in this room was herself: the body odour, the wounds, the abuse.

He would be back soon. He had a rigid schedule. She wasn’t the only one he held. But it wouldn’t be for much longer; she knew that. He didn’t. He still expected to get more out of her: more screams, more begging, more moans, more pain, more blood.

The mirror had been a punishment, reflecting her state. But it had been jolted during one of her days of resistance: a kick here, a push there, a shove causing it to crack and split. It brought hope.

Footsteps outside. His hand on the door. She braced herself, clutching the fragment that would end this. There would be blood, and pain, maybe screams. She hoped for begging – but none of it from her this time.   
 



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 13

We seem to be settling in at around 5 entries a week at the moment, which is fabulous. I also love that people keep dusting off their blogs to come and write. That's what I want - to inspire people.

This week's photo is from an abandoned Sulphur Mine, on White Island, New Zealand, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. It was taken by Dr Richard Roscoe, who is selling prints of this photo and other volcano related pictures on his website Photo Volcanica.

I felt this photo inspired many things. I might have gone for the obvious, but I couldn't help myself. I'm looking forward to see what others make of it.

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.



Ancient Relics 

“Apparently they used to use them for transporting themselves through space and time?” Melchey walked round the big metal circular structure.

“What? You’re kidding me. How?” Adam peered through the centre of it, looking out to sea.

“Connected them to some kind of power source and they led to other worlds.”

“You sure?” Adam knew Melchey had a tendency to wind him up about stuff. He could be doing that now. “How do you know all this?”

“It was on one of those old broadcasts they used to make. It explained how people back then used to live. Points on the metal rim would light up, and they’d step through and come out somewhere, and meet other beings. It caused a lot of wars, and brought all sorts of strange things to the planet.”

Melchey was convincing; Adam couldn’t see his eyes twitch, or any static on the feed.

“What, did it cause the big war?”

“Maybe, no one’s sure how that one got started.”

“Some say it was the concept of some great being.” It was Adam’s turn to impart knowledge. “They used to make up stories about something creating them and would fight over which parts were true or not. Maybe that connects this, then. Maybe it came from meeting all those other beings in other worlds.”

“Could have been. But all we’ve got now are remains like this to try and learn from.” Melchey patted the metal rim.

“It’s a shame we haven’t learnt how to reach other worlds like they did, though; that would be cool.” Adam mused on the idea of meeting another civilisation and what that must have been like. Their neural networks only reached out to the planets close by, and they were empty.

Adam heard a fizz and the hologram disappeared; the structure and the beach faded. The flat, bare concrete floor and walls of his bunker came back into view.

“What are you doing?” Adam had enjoyed the connection. Sharing with someone in both the real and neural worlds was rare.

“I want to show you some of that broadcast. It’s fascinating; how they dress, how they talk, how they treated themselves and others so brutally - killing seemed so easy to them back then.” Melchey brought up a file and transmuted it into a moving picture on the wall.

Adam sat cross-legged on the floor, and Melchey joined him. He liked Melchey’s company; it was the only reason he’d put with a tedious two dimensional projection from centuries ago. Although, when the first image appeared of a circular metal ring like the one they’d just visited, all shiny and new with flashing lights, he was intrigued. Wording flashed up across it.

“What does that say?” Adam had never been good at ancient lettering.

“Stargate. It’s what they called them.”
 



Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 12

Last week's prompt brought 5 wonderful entries - with a couple of people dusting off their dormant blogs to join. And some incredible tales along with it. I'm constantly surprised by the high quality of ideas and writing shared. I am also humbled.

I struggled to find the owner of this week's photo. I tracked it to someone called mbies55 on 500px.com, but their page seems to no longer exist. The photo was named 'Sunset at Pier'.

I also struggled to write for this picture - not that it didn't inspire lots of tales; in fact it inspired too many, but I didn't feel they had enough depth or said what I wanted to stay, or were complete enough. The final result, finished just this morning, managed to finally do it.

I look forward to reading how it inspires you.

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.


The Calling 

Prince Argolis stomped to the end of the pier and threw up his arms at the raging sky.

“Why? In the name of all that is sacred, why?!”

No reply came. The clouds appeared to flee his words, streaking across the brilliance of the setting sun as it threw up its fiery hues.

He dropped to his knees, shaking the dust out of the jetty, and covered his face, letting loose heart rendering sobs that wracked the world around him. He didn’t care that the city below could hear him. Maybe if they all fell to their knees too, something could be done; maybe the Gods would stop playing their sick games and stop taking the lives of children through the sickness of minds.

But the Gods fed the sickness of minds.

The thought struck him, and his hands fell from his face as understanding dawned. Looking out at the sky unseeing, his mind started to make sense of what needed to be done.

There would be no more laying blame at the feet of an elusive concept; some ethereal idol that existed only in the minds of people. He would have no more of this devotion and paying homage to something imagined. He would take down the place of prayer and start a new tradition, one that put man first, made kindness to each other a priority – even law – with honesty and integrity.

He stood up, and facing the fading sun, paced back and forth across the end of the platform. He knew he could not do this in a heavy handed way; it had to be gentle and make sense to the people. If it didn’t, they would fight it, they would rail against it; it would result in more blood being shed. And enough of it had been spent on the different factions refusing to respect each other and accept each other.

It had always seemed crazy to the Prince how just one person deciding that a piece of ancient writing meant something slightly different to another, could result in the destruction of so many innocent people. They used it as a way to gain power and wealth, hiding behind the veil of what they called ‘righteousness’.

There was nothing righteous about looking down on others, judging others, and treating them unfairly; it was cruel and heartless. In fact it indicated something wrong in their minds; someone who was not able to think clearly or feel properly. If you could torture or kill another, how could you be capable of having healthy relations with another? And yet, more still supported or accepted that it took place – even considered it necessary! – or pretended it was not associated with them or their beliefs. The whole thing stank of hypocrisy, and the Prince would have no more of it.

He was fully aware that he was in a position of power and influence, one that had been granted to him by the concept of such idols, but he was willing to renounce that if he must; if that is what it took. He knew he had the favour of the people. The words he spoke were taken seriously and were heartfelt. He had to grasp that opportunity, but wield it in the right way, be careful and thoughtful.

He abruptly stopped pacing and turned his back to the sky, returning with renewed purpose to the palace. The words of his coming speech were forming in his mind and he needed to capture them and work on them if he was going to begin on this path. Other ideas were also entering his mind and flowing in a way that had never happened before. He knew it; this was his calling, his path to walk. Let the journey begin.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2017 - I'm in!

I was over the moon last week to find out I am going to be in the National Flash Fiction Day 2017 Anthology. I sent in two entries, and my entry 'Friends' made it through. I'm delighted!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1547192615/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498121390&sr=1-1&keywords=sleep+is+a+beautiful+colour



For those that don't know, National Flash Fiction Day is a yearly event founded and run by Calum Kerr, who himself is an avid flash writer. It has taken place for several years now, and this year it takes place on the 24th of June.


On the actually day there is also a Flash Flood Journal, where a piece of flash is put up on the blog every 10 minutes by a different writer for the entire 24 hours. I have managed to get a piece accepted for the last four years, and I plan on trying again this year.

Various events take place around the UK to support it. You can find more details about those on the official website.







Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 11

Despite the stir last week's picture created, only 3 entries were produced - although they were rather magnificent entries, with some really diverse perspectives. It's what I love the most about running this challenge, how differently the prompt photo speaks to writers.

This weeks' photo is from the inside of the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadephia, PA, which was was operational from 1829 until 1971. The photo was taken by Simon Woolbert, who can be found over on Flicker.

My story reflects the darkness of this photo, but yours doesn't have to. What perspective do you see?

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. 



Life Sentence 

She brought her arm up and dragged the nail down as hard as she could to mark the wall. It took all the energy she had. There wasn’t much left now, the raging thirst having given way to a burning throat and a light, almost out of body feeling. These marks were the only thing that registered her time here, or even her existence.

She’d been here a long time; so long she couldn’t remember not being here anymore. She knew there was some semblance of a memory in the back of her mind, something bright, free, like a breath of fresh air – although that too was a memory, that didn’t exist here. It was a prison, she knew that, could see it from the bars on the tiny window up at the top of the wall. Window would normally indicate light, but the only light she caught a glimpse of was the flashing of a strip light out in the hallway that came in under the door. It stuttered and changed. She knew it would go out eventually, but she was no longer sure if she would survive to see it happen.

She wondered why there were boards on the window, but not as much as she wondered why the water had stopped. The water in the tap had been her lifeline since she had woken up here. Despite the dust and grime in the cell and coating the sink, water still came through. She caught bugs and things crawling along the floor to feed herself, to try and keep the pain in her stomach at bay, but she needed the water more. She didn’t know why they had stopped it.

There was a they – there had to be. Someone had put her here. She didn’t know who or why; no one came, no one checked in on her. There was no sound; there was no noise, other than the scuttling of insects and creatures in the walls or across the floor. She’d sat and listened ever endingly for something, anything, but there was nothing.

Her hand dropped back to the floor and she watched the nail fall out of her hand. She looked at the marks, the hundreds of them. They signified a day as best as she could ascertain by the crack of light that came through the boards on the tiny window. But there could be more than there should be. She didn’t know. It didn’t matter. Who would ever see them?


***

“If you follow the corridor down this way, you will find the cell where she was found.” A tour guide took the group down another one of the penitentiary’s abandoned corridors.

“And who was she?” someone asked.

“Nobody knows. No identification was found. We only know that she was about 7 years old when she died, and from the markings on the wall she had been in there for over 2 years.”

“Surely she had a family who missed her?” A southern accent from the back.

“Maybe, but there are so many missing children, it can be hard to identify them.”

“Not even by dental records?” A woman in the front found the idea incredulous.

“Her teeth had rotted from malnutrition, there was nothing to work with.”

The silence of minds working overtime on all the possible scenarios lingered in the air as the group paused outside the closed cell door.

“But I don’t get it, why was she brought here and left here?” A young guy off to the side spoke for the group.

“Many theories have been suggested: something happened to the person who brought her here – maybe got killed in an accident or something and no one knew she was here; she was kidnapped and the kidnapper couldn’t get the ransom paid; someone wanted rid of their child. Unfortunately none of them are pleasant.”

The tour guide observed that enough time had been spent on this particular story, and led the group on.

“Now, if we turn right at the end of this corridor we will arrive at the cell that the infamous mobster, Al Capone, was held in for a brief eight month stint back at the end of the 1920s ...”