Author Archives: rpatersonwriting

About rpatersonwriting

I live in Hertfordshire, UK, and have been writing fiction for fun since I was 5. This blog is here so I can share my work with the world and connect with others who are of like mind. Being a great lover of animals who has spent time riding and looking after horses in the recent past, my first featured stories are about an impish little pony named Cheesecake. They are aimed at children of early independent reading age and if published, would have page-by-page illustrations. I will aim to post each story, with an illustration, approximately once a month. I also aim to post other written works I have produced on this blog in future, for adult as well as younger readers. These works are copyrighted to me, so please, no replication of this work without my permission. Those of you with Twitter may follow me at @FromHerts81.

Odd Sock Sam

The completed version of a story I started on flash fiction night.  This one was meant to be written based on two concepts that were chosen from a list.  I chose and island and an odd sock!

Y’ wanna know why they call me Odd Sock Sam?

Well, it goes all the way back to ’25, back when oi were quartermaster on board the HMS St Anthony.  We was sailin’ the South Pacific we were, a few days out o’ Panama, headin’ south for the ‘Orn, loaded wi’ tobacco.  Now, on’t fifth night, a storm comes up.  No’ the worst oi’ve seen, but Cap’n Briggs were worried ‘cos it were gettin’ worse an’ we was nowhere near the mainland.

Now, just as the waves starts gettin’ big, the Cap’n, ‘e spots a few li’l islands threw ‘is telescope, an’ there’s one wi’ a nice round cove we might shelter in t’ ride out the storm.

“Set a course for those islands, Mr. Green!” ‘e tells the ‘elmsman, an’ Mister Green turns the wheel, fightin’ ‘ard against those waves.  ‘E knows ‘e’s got t’ follow orders, but whether or not the St Anthony rides out the storm, ‘e doubts we can ever make them islands.

All the same, we gets close t’ the cove, just as the waves is gettin’ ‘uge.  Oi’m pitchin’ about on deck tryin’ t’ ‘elp the ‘ands secure the sheets proper when…

WHOOSH!!!

The biggest wave you ever saw ‘its the St Anthony starboard side an’ knocks me overboard!  Into the sea oi go, an’ oi’m thinkin’ this is the end as oi go under one wave, up out o’ another, gettin’ further an’ further from the St Anthony, an’ try as oi might t’ swim oi might as well be a cork in a river!

“Sam!  Sam!  We lost Sam Swallow!” oi hear ’em yellin’ on deck, but it’s no use.  The Cap’n can’t alter course now; ‘e’ll just have t’ ‘ead fer shelter an’ ‘ope ‘e doesn’t lose another man.

Oi lose sight an’ sound o’ the ship afore long, ‘cos the rain were comin’ down ‘ard in sheets, an’ the wind’s screamin’ like a damned soul.  Just as oi’m thinkin’ oi’m off t’ join me old Mam in ‘eaven, I see one o’ the islands comin’ out o’ the fog be’ind me!  The waves is shovin’ me t’wards it!  Oi might just land there!

Oi kicked an’ pulled an’ ‘eaved in the water like oi’ve never done afore.  Some’ow oi get myself onto the beach.  Some o’ the debris from the ship’s washed up next t’ me, an’ oi think that might be useful, but first things first.  Oi run into the shelter o’ the nearest tree an’ oi wait fer the storm t’ pass.

Well, it passes, an’ dawn’s just breakin’, an’ oi’m thinkin’; maybe things ain’t so bad as they look.  Maybe Cap’n Briggs ‘as still got the ship tied up in that there cove, an’ ‘e’s close enough that oi can send ‘im  a message some’ow.

Now, in the hollow o’ that tree, there’s a little pile o’ sticks, still quite dry.  Another bit o’ luck too; someone’s tinder box got washed ashore, an’ the tinder’s dried out.  So, oi lights a beacon fire on the beach an’ oi keeps feedin’ it while I look what else oi can use.  Moi clothes are wet through, so oi looks around fer some dry ones.  Luckily, oi found some fresh clothes, an’ a few scraps o’ food t’ keep me goin’.

Now, fer four fine days without sight o’ storm nor rain, oi’ve got that fire burnin’ on the beach.  Oi’m just about thinkin’ the St Anthony‘s moved on, an’ maybe oi should think o’ settlin’ down like Mr Robinson Crusoe did, when oi see a ship comin’ from the north.  Oi recognise ‘er in a moment.

“Ahoy, ahoy the sail!” I shouts as it comes nearer.  “It’s me, Sam!”

An’ sure enough, it’s the St Anthony.  Mister Green steers ‘er close offshore an’ they send the launch t’ pick me up.  Cap’n Briggs is aboard, an’ ‘e’s smilin’.

“Good work, Sam,” ‘e says.  “We saw the smoke from your fire leaving the cove.  Sorry we didn’t come sooner, but some of the boys were badly injured below decks and we had to make repairs.  How did you do?”

“Well, oi managed, Sir,” oi says, “Thanks to these boxes an’ stuff that washed ashore wi’ me.  Oi ‘ad everything oi needed fer a few days, though not quite in the proper way o’ things, Sir.”

“Meaning what, Mr. Swallow?” asks the Cap’n.

“Well, while oi got a change o’ clothes, Cap’n,” oi explained, “Oi ‘ad t’ make do wi’ odd socks, Sir.”

“Odd socks?” says the Cap’n, raisin’ a brow.

“Aye, Sir,” oi says, pointin’ downwards.  “Oi got seven socks washed up wi’ me ‘ere, but not one o’ them matched the other, Cap’n Briggs, Sir!”

An’ at that, the Cap’n roars wi’ laughter, an’ all the men at the oars beside him laugh together, an’ then oi starts laughin’ at moi own joke.  An’ from then on, on the St Anthony, on every port oi came into, an’ on every ship oi sailed on until moi ‘ealth didn’t allow it, oi was Odd Sock Sam.

Buy me another tot o’ rum, an’ oi’ll tell you another one.

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A Scream (Flash Fiction)

Another creation from that flash fiction night earlier this year.  I read out this one performing like a diva!  You’ll soon see why.  PS, any art historians reading this, please forgive any facts I might have missed or perverted.  This was written for fun and I have gaps in my knowledge about the creation of the painting in question.

AAAAAAAAH!

The Voices!  They’re calling at me again!

They won’t leave me alone.  Not now, not even now!

I drove all my friends away because of the Voices.  Even my family are afraid to come near me, at least unsupervised.  The Voices drove me into this miserable asylum, where lost souls are confined to mete out their madness, clinging to the slim hope of release…

Oh!  Oh!  OOOOOOOOH!

Stop, please stop!  I can’t bear it!  I hear the blood pounding in my ears, crimson like the sunset sky above, resounding as the voices shriek and cry, driving me deeper into myself, further away from aid and redemption…

They’re quiet now, at last.  And night has fallen over the fjord.  The stars twinkle within the firmament.  Distant waves lap cathartically.

A few months later, Dr. Ulf tells me I’ve made great progress.  I believe him, too.  The Voices don’t come nearly so often now.  Perhaps they’ll consider me safe enough to release soon.

And there’s some better news.  Apparently, an artist has been inspired by my plight and painted me at a time when the Voices were screaming at me.  I hope I do get out and get to see his painting.  It might be famous one day.

Beat the Clock (flash fiction)

Another story from the flash fiction night.  The chosen theme on this occasion was; “time is running out”.

Oh no, the adverts are over!  I can tell; the last one held on longer than the rest.

Better fill up a bowl with crisps.

Now the screen’s showing promos for next week’s war documentary…

Where’s that bottle opener?!?!?  Oh, it’s in my hand.

Now the network logo and the announcement sequence.  Phew!  It’s taking longer than usual.

OK, I’ve got the beer open…   AAAH!  Too warm!

The title sequence is starting!  I’ll never make it!

Grab a glass from the kitchen…

Squeeze a few ice cubes into it…  GET IN THERE YOU…!

Fill it up, rush to the sofa…

JUST IN TIME!!!

I can’t stand missing even one second of Beat the Clock.

I’ve Made My Choice (flash fiction)

My writer’s group recently held a flash fiction writing evening, where we wrote stories based on quotes, or scenarios.  This one I based on a witticism by Mark Twain; “Familiarity breeds contempt… and children.”

I’ve made my choice; that’s the main thing.

But it’s not always easy.

Anne’s not interested in what I like and doesn’t make a secret of it.  I just forget about her when I attend singing practice or tinker in the shed.  I can’t stand Anne’s friends, so she doesn’t bring them round any more.  They just snipe at me when they meet at the mall.

We don’t excite each other in bed.  Anne criticises my washing up.  I grumble because she usually leaves food too tough, or too limp, when she boils it.

So why do I stay?

Because I made my choice.  No, I made a promise.

And because of the family.

We scarcely raise our voices in front of Aaron and Emily.  They’re healthy and content.  We’re proud of each other.  There’s Jake and Carol, of course.  Who’d have thought, eh?  They’re my wife’s parents and they love their son-in-law!  Family gatherings are cosy fun all the way through.  Our neighbours, Greg and William, are dear friends.  Another miracle!  Work’s not usually fun, but it pays, and the team like me.

Sometimes I wonder if a separation might do Anne and I some good.  It need not be forever; we’d just see how things turned out.  But I’ve never had the heart to bring it up with Anne.

Perhaps it’s not such a good idea.  Or perhaps my choice wasn’t so bad after all.

Horses!

Like my Day At The Zoo entries, this came from a moment’s inspiration when touching pen to paper.  I do, however, feel the sentiments written here wholeheartedly.

Horses!

Tremendous companions; affectionate, responsive, hearts like an ocean… and such cheeky rascals when they want to be!

What a chore they can be; so much to feed and house, you need to tack them up properly, clean up after them, learn to ride them… the list goes on.  They can misbehave too.  They turn off the route you want them to follow, or just remain stationary where they are.  Riding them is an art form too; commands, motions, maintaining balance and subtle changes of the hands and legs.

But what a reward it is just to be with them!  The beautiful lines of their bodies, soft and powerful, are a testament to what stirring passions nature can produce.  Their eyes glow like warm, dark, welcoming beads of topaz and jet.  The curve of their nostrils and skewed line of their mouths, like a mark made by a lazily wandering stylus, completes a noble, finely proportioned head.  Their coats and manes are pleasantly rough beneath your fingers.  What a joy to see it mirroring the golden rays of the sun.  To see them in full, unfettered motion, one cannot help but imagine that they could fly.

Yet just as awesome as their beauty are their souls.  Many are affectionate and appreciate a kind hand stroking them.  When in the saddle, one truly feels a special, sacred bond with the horse, like your hearts are joined by a tiny silver thread.  Send out good feelings and they will reciprocate.  In many ways, they are the truest friends imaginable.

 

Carriers

This was a short story I submitted for a competition where the theme was “Breaking the Bond“.  And what stronger and more loving bond is there than the one between a dog and his master?

FINALLY!
I was weary, hungry and my joints ached with damp and chill, yet I felt a giant looking down into the valley to behold that glorious little hamlet I knew so well.
HOME!
The main road meandered southwards, following the line of the river. On the north end of town sat the village hall, the inn, the church and the post office. Drystone walls lined the roads, behind which lay houses where my friends were no doubt rising to meet the dawn. Yet it was the house on the southernmost tip of the village, with a big white caravan on the front lawn, that truly sent my heart soaring.
BECKY!
I galloped downhill, vaulting over rivulets and tussocks, not stopping for anything, even to scratch the burdock seeds out of my fur.
I could see it all now. I’d bound up the path as the smell of breakfast cooking on the stove washed over me. I’d bark until the family heard me and opened the door. Gerald and Tessa would be over the moon. They’d stroke and tickle me endlessly while I planted kisses all over their tear-stained cheeks. And wouldn’t little Becky jump for joy when she saw me? Her delighted shriek resounded in my imagination…
“CHESTER!”
With single-minded purpose, I raced at top speed past McCrae’s Farm.
“Hey, Chester!”
Hearing my name called in Canine snapped me out of my daydreaming and I scrabbled to a halt. It was Zephyr, the McCraes’ rough collie, peeking through the slats in the farm’s five-bar gate.
“’Morning, Zephyr,” I replied. “Am I glad to see you again, and the valley!”
I was bounding back and forth excitably at this point, still anxious to get going. Zephyr, on the other hand, didn’t seem her usual bright self. There was a host of strong, strange smells clinging to her; silage, rust and an ominous smell of decay.
“Yes, welcome back,” she said flatly. “Could you come into the farmyard a moment, Chester? Just squeeze through the slats. I’m too big to fit but you’re a Springer; you should be small enough.”
She was right. Tessa’s always been amused at my ability to sneak through tight spaces; under gates or table legs, through cracks in walls and gaps in wire fences. The McCraes’ gate was no challenge.
“Oh Zephyr, I’m so pleased to be back!” I gushed. “I’ve just been through the most horrible experience of my life. Two days ago, three horrible people in white plastic suits and masks dognapped me while I was chewing my rubber bone in Gerald and Tessa’s front garden. They shoved me into a little plastic box inside a big white van, alongside a few other dogs. But later the van crashed, which smashed a lot of the cages open. I managed to escape and find my way back. It wasn’t easy but I found the way by…”
“CHESTER!”
Zephyr’s harsh bark shocked me into silence.
Oh my! I hadn’t realised until then just how still everything seemed. I couldn’t hear any motor vehicles nearby. Even the birds overhead and the sheep on the moors could scarcely be heard. Why was that?
“Chester, something very bad has happened.”
“What?” I said, more sharply than I intended to. “To who? My family?”
“No,” Zephyr said heavily. “To mine. Come and see.”
Zephyr led me over to the farmhouse, nosing open the front door which for some reason wasn’t closed. I gagged as the vile decaying smell I had sensed on Zephyr hit me 100 times harder. Zephyr urged me on through the hall, past the kitchen and the stairs, to the silent, shady lounge where…
“AAAAAGH!”
I couldn’t help yelping in terror. The smell of putrefaction was almost unbearable in here, and for good reason. Mr and Mrs McCrae were dead; he collapsed on the sofa and she slumped in an armchair. And I could see why with nauseating clarity.
Both Mr and Mrs McCrae’s corpses bore the marks of a most hideous disease. Their skin was pale, papery, and covered with raised black lesions. Their sightless eyes were swollen and bloodshot and their mouths hung open, with lips and tongues swollen and distended.
How could this have happened?” I whined.
“I think I know how,” Zephyr replied, in leaden tones. “Oh, thank goodness their kids live in Bradford now.”
“I’d better head down the valley and see if Becky and her parents are affected.”
“NO!”
Zephyr’s bark cut me short even as I wheeled around.
“…Chester,” she continued, controlling herself. “I’m afraid that may put both them and you in danger.”
“But they’re missing me,” I protested. “They’ll be sick with worry.”
“That’s not all that might make them sick, Chester,” sighed Zephyr. “You need to see something else.”
Zephyr led me out of the house, then the farm. (She was able to jump the gate.) She then led me along the road to Foster’s Farm, although she leapt with fright when an engine started some distance away. Another mystery. Even country dogs are used to the sound of tractors and Land Rovers.
“Remember Teddy, the Fosters’ border collie?” said Zephyr as we peered through the gate. “A van just like the one you described took him as well, two days ago. I haven’t seen the Fosters since then. But if you look closely in the kitchen window…”
I strained my eyes and I saw, to my horror, an emaciated figure covered in black lesions, slumped over the wooden table in the farmhouse kitchen. The wind was in our faces so even from here, I could catch the same loathsome rotting smell that had struck me at McCrae’s Farm. I hunched my shoulders and my tail drooped.
“The McCraes hid me in the silage store when the vans came, because they were suspicious of them,” Zephyr explained. “That stank, I can tell you. But I’ve travelled round all the local farms and the pattern is always the same. In every household that owned a dog, the dog is gone and the owners are either dead or vanished.”
“WHOA!”
We spun round as a great reverberating tattoo began overhead. Our fur was blown back as a huge dual-rotor helicopter flew past less than fifty feet above us. It swooped down into the valley, in the direction of the village.
Zephyr and I ran back across the road, so that we could look down upon the village and see what was going on. Other such helicopters were now already down there, landing in fields behind the houses. Meanwhile, soldiers were piling out of trucks near the village hall.
Worst of all though, men just like the one who dognapped me were walking up and down the high street. Even at a distance their dreaded white plastic suits and face masks were unmistakeable. Several of their despicable white vans followed them down the road as they patrolled it.
“Chester, I think those men took you away for a reason,” Zephyr said gravely. “This disease that killed my family, and everyone else, must be carried by dogs. Those men wanted to study you to find a cure, or quarantine you until the threat was over. Or possibly just to…”
She couldn’t finish, but she didn’t need to. I understood what she implied.
“I wouldn’t even be surprised if the van crashed because the driver was infected,” continued Zephyr. “Chester, if you go down into the valley, you’d be putting your family at risk, if they’re not sick or dead already.”
“ARRROOOOOO!”
I howled in anguish, still refusing to give up hope.
“This can’t be right,” I protested. “If we carried this disease, why aren’t we dying?”
“Maybe it affects humans quicker,” Zephyr shrugged, “Or simply passes us over. Either way, we can’t take any chances. Chester… you can’t go home.”
“NOOOOO!”
It wasn’t fair. Had I trekked over the moor for two nights and days, through mist, rain and perishing cold, only to find I couldn’t go back to Gerald and Tessa? Or Becky? This just couldn’t be real.
“Every good dog is loyal to his family, Chester,” Zephyr said sadly. “But right now, that means you must stay away from them. Completely. We need to go out onto the moors and stay well away from any human until this dies down. Or better yet, we need to find one of those vans so they can take us back and study us so…”
NO WAY!”
My heart burned with fiery anger. How dare Zephyr suggest that I put myself back into captivity! I was so close to home now, so close, and yet…
And yet Zephyr looked at me so earnestly I couldn’t contradict her. And however hard it wrenched at my soul, I knew deep within she was talking sense.
I hung my head.
“What now, Zephyr?”

Full Moon Fun (A Flash Fiction tale)

Yes, I should have added more to this blog ages ago, but now here’s an amusing little narrative about a prank that has a stronger impact than the joker intended.

Somewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains, night had fallen on the campsite where the Yates family of Philadelphia were staying.  It was a fabulously clear night with a moon as round and bright as it could be.  Chris Yates was making a fire while his sons, Fraser and Tyler, were at the edge of the clearing playing tag.

“You fellahs better come back to the campfire,” Shelley Yates told her boys, as she finished washing the dinner plates.  “We’re about to start singin’ songs.  Plus, ya don’t wanna be too near them woods with werewolves about tonight.”

“Don’t be stupid, Mom,” Fraser complained.  “They don’t exist.”

“Yeah, Mom,” Tyler agreed.  “The ranger told us to watch out for bears, not werewolves.”

“I’m not takin’ any chances, Fraser,” Shelley warned.  “Now stay a bit closer to the lights, where we can see ya.”

Suddenly, a piercing shriek rent the night.  Everybody’s blood ran cold and they turned as one towards where the tents were set up.  One of them had walls that were rippling and flapping madly, as though a devilish struggle was going on inside.

“Jeezah Louise!” Fraser yelled.  “That’s Aunt Ginger’s tent!”

Shelley and her sons charged over to the tent.  Aunt Ginger was Shelley’s little sister and she was particularly concerned to see what the scream was about.  The three of them were barely a pace away from it when the flap was torn back and a hideous, yellow-eyed face burst through.

“GNAAAAARRRRGGGH!”

The bestial snarl made the boys shriek in terror and they took to their heels.  It was a real werewolf!  It couldn’t be anything else!  If all they had seen was a head, they might not have been so frightened, for it might have been a man in a mask.  But the creature that now emerged from the tent was seven feet tall, with a genuine lupine head, mouth open with fangs dripping blood, black and brown fur right down its body, paws for hands and feet, and hideous claws stained in gore just like its teeth.

Fraser and Tyler ran right over to their father, who was still tending the fire.

“Dad, run!” screamed Fraser.  “WEREWOLF!!!”

He pointed desperately towards the tent, where the monster was still snarling in throaty, animalistic rage.

“Fraser, calm down,” Chris soothed.  “It ain’t a problem.”

“Get outta here, Dad!” Fraser yelled.  “It’s killed Aunt Ginger and it’s… it’s…”

Then he fell silent.  The panic was subsiding, and for Tyler too.  At last they began to see it.  The werewolf’s face hadn’t changed by so much as a line since they’d first seen it.  What’s more, the werewolf had now stopped snarling and slashing its claws.  It was now standing erect and quite calm.

Aunt Ginger emerged from her tent behind the werewolf.  To Fraser and Tyler’s amazement, she took both sides of its head and lifted it clean off.  It was a man in a suit!  A very tall man in a very realistic suit, but still just a clever fake.  Fraser and Tyler began to feel very sheepish.

“Fooled ya, didn’t we?” Chris laughed.  “This here is Nathan; he’s the nephew of yer Aunt Ginger’s boss.  He’s a Greyhound bus driver out of Charlotte normally, but he’s a huge fan a’ werewolves.”

“Ah wanted t’ play basketball fer the Hornets,” Nathan said cheerfully.  “But ah got a bite on the knee from some dude’s Alsatian that ended that dream.  Instead, ah made this lifelike werewolf suit an’ wore it at, say, Hallowe’en, parties, conventions, always pretendin’ that bite had made me a werewolf rather than killed mah basketball career.”

“It’s a cool suit,” grinned Tyler, “But it’d be cooler if you really were a werewolf.”

“Who says ah can’t be, just for tonight?” Nathan replied with a devilish grin.  He took the werewolf head off Aunt Ginger and placed it back on his own head.

“C’mere yah little giblets!” he snarled.  “GNAAAAARRRRGGGH!”

The game of tag began again as Nathan chased the boys pell mell round the campfire until all of them were exhausted.  Then, all six of them sat round the campfire, Shelley took out her guitar and while everyone else sang songs, Nathan howled hauntingly along with the tune.

All in all, it was the best night Fraser, Tyler, Chris, Shelley or Aunt Ginger had that whole summer.