Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Advertisements

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.

Whitsun Tide

This is, it seems, the last of the flash fiction tales I’ve written for my secondary writing group.  I’ve decided, for various personal reasons, that attending is no longer worth it for me.  However, the members liked this, my final contribution to their stories.  The theme this final time was “exotic”.

Mary Prentice was special to everyone she met.  She was a loving mother to her children, David and Polly, and loyal to her husband Bill.  She had been a memorable presence at her old office, the local Women’s Institute and in the choir she and Bill had sung with.

No wonder everyone, especially her family, was heartbroken when she died.

The Prentices had never been especially well-off, so none of their holidays had taken them further than Europe.  Yet a quirk of fate ensured that Bill and Mary’s honeymoon was an exception to that rule.

“Around then, your Great Aunt Imelda sold her house so she could move into the retirement community,” Bill Prentice explained to David and Polly.  “She let us have some of the money as a wedding gift.”

Now, 27 years later, David and Polly agreed with their father that the most memorable place their mother had been should also be her final resting place.  They pooled their money and booked the trip.  They decided to take it in May, when Bill didn’t have any choir concerts and the younger Prentices didn’t have to worry about colleagues wanting time off for the Easter or summer holidays.

“Besides,” joked Polly, “What better time than Whitsuntide to pay a visit to the Whitsunday Islands?”

It was an exhausting journey.  Their flight from London to Singapore set off at 22:45, but none of them could sleep easily in cramped seats with noisy jet engines nearby.  Only David enjoyed the onward flight to Brisbane, because he knocked himself out with a shot of whiskey from the airport bar.  The local flight to Proserpine was much more pleasant, as was the subsequent bus trip, and the boat ride over to the Whitsunday Islands themselves was bliss.  The fresh sea air wafting over the cool blue waters were a wondrous relief after so many hours’ flying.

“The Aussies often come here for some sun during their winter,” Bill had once explained to his children, and David and Polly could see why.

The islands had to be the most beautiful and exotic setting imaginable.  Staying as they did in a wooden hut with an open veranda, beside a sun-kissed beach with hammocks strung between palm trees, the Prentices felt like they were part of paradise.  What’s more, despite the tourist presence, the islands were remarkably wild.  Scrub turkeys squabbled on the beach near the hut, while vividly colourful lorikeets swooped through the treetops.  Polly even got the shock of her life one morning when she discovered a huge monitor lizard – a goanna – resting in the shade under the veranda.

“It looks like it belongs in Jurassic Park!” David chuckled, as the great reptile snaked away into the forest.

On the third day, having thoroughly enjoyed the sun and no longer suffering jet lag, the Prentices went to perform their sad duty.  Bill took his wife’s funeral urn out of his suitcase, wrapped it in one of Mary’s old cotton scarves and slipped it into his rucksack.  Then they set off for the island’s main beach.

It was nearly dusk when Bill, David and Polly got to the beach.  They walked along a jetty were jetskis were being moored for the evening, until they were far out over the lapping waters.  Bill took the smothered urn out of his rucksack and began proceedings by reading a short eulogy for Mary.  Then Polly read W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues (substituting “he” for “she” of course) and David recited the lyrics of Dust In The Wind by Kansas (he knew he’d never do it justice by singing it).  Bill unwrapped the urn as he did so and took the lid off.

“Well, Mary,” he sighed, “Time for one last journey.”

He sprinkled the ashes into the water and let the tide carry them out to sea.  Bill, David and Polly all took each other up in a crushing hug, as their hearts broke and their eyes overflowed.

They turned away from the sea to watch the sun set, as the islands showed their wild side once more.  Hundreds of bats began soaring into the crimson sky, away from their daytime roosts in the forest, creating a spectacle Bill, David and Polly couldn’t help but feel awed by.

“If only Mum could see this,” whispered Polly.

“Who knows, Sis?” David said wistfully, “Maybe she can.”