Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 3

Last week's photo pulled in four marvellous entries. It inspired them in such unique ways.

Feel free to join in with previous challenges if this one doesn't inspire you. There is no closing date, and I love reading your entries.

Initially I had another picture in mind for this week's Mid-Week Flash Challenge, but this one spoke to me first. I couldn't resist his beckoning hands and intense gaze. What is he saying to you?

He was taken by Ekaterina Zakharova, a Russian photographer who named him '1Fairy'. She normally photographs nude males, but this guy is only 16! (or was when this was taken). You can find more on her Deviant Art page.

The General Guidelines are here.  Now go write!


Family Ties 

Catherine’s startled reaction was tempered by the sprites playful nature and beckoning arms, particularly his electric blue eyes that delved into the deepest parts of her soul.

She knew the woodlands around her aunt and uncle’s estate were alive with wonders and miracles, and she had hoped to meet some of the characters from the stories she had been told, but up until today they had only been glimpses and peripheral movements.

She wondered if her coming of age party on the lawn yesterday had done the trick; maybe once you turned sixteen it became permissible.

The sprite in front of her should certainly come with an age restriction; his semi-clad body causing a flush in her cheeks as he danced in front of her, moving slowly backwards, drawing her into the thickest parts of the wood. She was happy to follow; her curiosity ignited by his silent alluring manner and mischievous grin.

Eventually they came to a clearing, reached by pushing through a dense thicket which her guide pushed back for her, to bring her through safely. Initially they were alone in the clearing and his continued intense gaze sparked thoughts of romance in her mind. Butterflies took flight inside and out, and Catherine waited in anticipation for his next move.

But the silence was broken by laughter nearby, which caused the sprite to erupt in the same, the light sing-song of his voice like wind in chimes. Bodies burst through the undergrowth surrounding them, and danced around her, creating a myriad of colour. Swaths of material rushed through the air, which seemed full of petals and seed pods swirling around them in the late midsummer afternoon. All manner of mythical creatures danced past, each slightly different from the next, all enchanting and full of an energy that seemed to glow around them.

Their enjoyment was infectious. Catherine joined in, taking their hands and moving with them in time to the slowly manifesting music as more fairies joined playing pipes and small hand drums.

Catherine grew dizzy with the movement and the giggling. She wasn’t sure if she was spinning or the woods around her were, until eventually she found herself lying on her back giggling up at the blue sky, lost in the magic of the sounds.

Those sounds became faint as they were overtaken by voices calling her name, and she sat up to find herself alone, and her parents pushing through the foliage, worried expressions on their faces.

“Catherine, are you alright? We couldn’t find you?” Her mother came to her side and put her arms around her.

“I’m fine mum, I was just ...” Catherine looked around her. How was she going to explain this? “I was just enjoying the sounds of the woods.”

Her dad smiled. “They found you, didn’t they?”

“Who?” Catherine put on her best innocent look. Her mother laughed.

“We knew they would when you turned sixteen, it’s the right of passage.”

“Right of passage to what?”

Her dad squatted down next to her. “To becoming a guardian of one of the best kept secrets in this family.”

He looked at her solemnly, his blues eyes glinting in a way that reminded her of the sprite.

“I won’t breathe a word of it, I promise.”

He laughed, the pitch identical to that of the sprite’s, and ruffled the top of her head. “I know you won’t. Blood is thicker than water; you wouldn’t betray members of your own family.”

Catherine smiled as her mum pulled her up to her feet and took her arm, leading her back through the underbrush. But her father’s words stayed with her as she pondered them: my own family?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 2

There were three marvellous entries to Week 1, which is a good start as we gain some traction.

And two other flash fiction competitions that are currently running were shared:

Microcosm on twitter here. Every Friday.

The Angry Hour Glass, Flash frenzy, host by Rebecca J Allred. Every Saturday.


Here is the next Flash Fiction prompt for Week 2 of the Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

You can find the General Guidelines here

Art is by Kasia Derwinska, a polish art photographer.


Hope 

She had sucked it dry of all there was; there was nothing left for her here. As Maddy turned from the drying husk of the man that had once been her lover, she embraced the view of the future. Would it withstand her needs and wants? Would it bring her replenishment and sanctuary? Would it be worth her efforts should she risk love and devotion again?

The land ahead was open, devoid of any richness, but the sky was bright and hopeful and there were tracks. Those tracks meant she wouldn’t be alone forever, that there might be others in her life if she let them in.

She tempered her doubts and scepticism and took a deep breath. She had to muster her strength and push forward; there was nothing behind her but dust in the wind. Only by putting one foot in front of the other would there be hope and a chance at joy.

Again she fought the thoughts that chuckled at such an absurdity. She did still have time, she argued, and plenty to offer, but not if she continued to stand here.

She stepped into the view, and once the light from the bright sky touched her skin she felt refreshed and renewed. In the distance soft outlines began to emerge of future places and events. Her heart lifted. She had done the right thing, and her thoughts were quiet, muted by the truth of her conviction. There was life out there to be found, and she was going to be a part of it.




Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 1

For some time now I have wanted to get back to writing some Flash Fiction, but there aren't the amount of weekly flash fiction competitions there used to be online. I only know of Thursday Threads, hosted by Siobhan Muir running at the moment. (if you know of more, let me know in the comments).

I contemplated starting my own competition, but really I wanted to write for them, not judge them, so I decided to begin a challenge where I write a piece inspired by a photo each week and post it up, and if others want to join in too that would be great. So here goes for the first one.

General Guidelines:
Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.

And spread the word. If you are on Twitter, I am @PurpleQueenNL the hashtag is #MidWeekFlash.

Now to the first week's challenge:

This picture was brought to my attention by@noveliciouss on twitter, and interestingly (because I live in Holland) it was taking by a Dutch photographer Hans Wilschut.

https://twitter.com/noveliciouss:




Little Boxes

Lying on his back, Jack viewed the rectangle of sky he could see. It was dusky and moody tonight. The glow of the apartment blocks surrounding it lent it a blue hue.

As he ran his eyes over all the lit windows climbing up to the sky, he wondered about the people living in their little boxes, one on top of the other. Did they know each other? Or did they live in their secluded worlds, divided by concrete floors and ceilings, oblivious to those around them?

Jack thought about his own little box and its defining square rooms, identical in layout to all those around it. It might even share the same d├ęcor. But it wouldn’t share its current state. He didn’t think there were many that would have fresh blood spattered walls, and limbs in chest freezers in the utility corner. Although he couldn’t be sure: who knew what went on in other homes? The stories you head about abuses of wives, husbands, and children were rife in the media. Maybe it was more likely than he thought.

He took another deep inhale of the night air and thought about what was ahead of him. He knew he had to go and clean up, but he hated this part. It took so much time. And he had to make sure he got every little bit, every last drop, every micro of blood that splashed; otherwise the next victim he brought back might get suspicious. He didn’t want that, oh no.

Sometimes he liked to spend a bit of time teasing them out of their shell first, getting them worked up, thinking they might get to see the inside of his bedroom. But that rarely happened; it had to be someone special for him to mess up his bedroom for – there had only been one this last year. He remembered it keenly. He’d had to touch that skin all over before separating it. The smell it had given off had been divine.

Jack shifted on the grass, the thoughts inspiring him. Maybe he could find another one like that; maybe one even lived here in one of these little boxes. He smiled. Yes, that would be good. But he knew better than to find one so close to home.

He turned over and pushed himself up to his feet, stretching, the tips of his fingers wiggling as though trying to touch the sky. He was ready to take on the cleaning job now; he was motivated. It was always easier to do when the mind had planning to get lost in. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Horror Bites - It's Alive!

I managed to get on a roll and write two Horror Bites entries in one night. It's delayed, but I kept to the rules with the word count and mention of reading. Hopefully I will be fully caught up soon. Here is my entry for the second challenge.

sir-duncan-rice-library


When it arrived everyone just thought it was another arty looking building, nothing special; another attraction on the skyline of the city, another chance for fancy photographic shots. And when another arrived on the road behind, everyone assumed it was part of a chain. No one questioned it. 

Marjory sat in the park nearby on her lunch break reading a crime thriller she’d been enthralled by all week - Willow Walk by SJI Holliday. But something caused her to look up at the building and wonder about it. She had never seen a door, although the querky green zigzag lines that ran down it could make them invisible. She’d walked by it and its sister many times and never seen anyone going in or coming out. The coloured glass reflected the outside world making it impossible to see in. She pondered the strangeness of it, especially since the newspaper reports. 

The papers said they were base jumpers, illegally flinging themselves off the top to prove something. But Marjory had been unsettled by the stories. There had been nothing to indicate an interest in base jumping from any of the victims, or so the family members claimed - one even suffered from vertigo. There had been more than five deaths so far, so why were people continuing to do it? It didn’t make sense.

As Marjory turned back to her book, movement at the top of the building caught her eye. She saw a figure approach the edge and realised with increasing horror what she was about to witness. But what confused her was the way the building seemed to move and contract, tipping the figure and not allowing them to hold on. Her hand flew to her mouth as she saw the body descend, a loud bang and screams from bystanders announcing its arrival on the ground.

Then she watched as the building seemed to shudder as though shrugging something off. The matching building behind moved too, as though tipping its head in agreement. Marjory went cold. If these weren’t buildings in their midst, what were they?


Words 347

Horror Bites - Arranging a Date


I'm a bit behind on the Horror Bites Challenges, run by Laura James. She recently started them up again over at her new blog Get Wordy, and I am trying to keep up.

I have been out of the loop with writing for some time, and I need to return to it as I felt I have lost my focus with everything lately.

In attempting to write for the first challenge, I didn't register the word count, and went quite a bit over (400 words). And although I clawed it back to 280, trying to get it down to 200 will lose the entire story, which is a different kind of horror - but just as scary. Enjoy.



clock

Jackson looked at his watch and up at the clock again. “Come on, come on,” he muttered. He hated waiting, especially in train stations. Any one of them could be who he was waiting for. That was the downfall of arranging things over the net - and the beauty of it.

He smirked, his irritation forgotten. He’d always thought about doing this, but never had the nerve. Working as a team gave him courage. 

A man caught his eye: head down, black Parka, tufts of curly hair sticking out the sides of the hood - it had to be Carter. He glanced up looking straight at Jackson. That’s when he knew. They were a go.
The sleeve of Carter’s coat brushed Jackson’s arm as he whispered, “Down from 10 …”

Jackson started counting, moving rapidly to the agreed destination. She’d be in view by the time he reached it, and she was. 

Her blonde pony tail flicked from side to side as she walked towards the escalators. Jackson saw another guy flanking her on the left - that had to be Mandelson. Jackson moved up behind her and pushed the lid off the syringe in his pocket, letting his sleeve disguise it as he pulled it out. He pretended to trip and knocked into her, feeling the tip enter the flesh of her arm and the contents release. She took in a sharp intake of breath and scowled at him, rubbing her arm. 

The scowl became confusion and he saw her eyes roll. He stepped forward to support her from behind, Carter and Mandelson came in on either side to keep her upright. They were going to have fun tonight! 
 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Horror Bites - Properties of Glass

I was a bit shocked to find that the last time I wrote a Horror Bites tale was in August of last year, but then the host, Laura James, has been on a hiatus. Thankfully she is back, and providing some truly wonderful inspiration for dark tales. This is the last Horror Bites on her old site, Office Mango, the news one will appear on her new one: GetWordy.



Maggie ran her fingers over the tips of the smooth metal instruments, being careful not to press too hard in case she should break the skin. She didn’t want to taint the fine polished steel or mark the display board beneath - even though it was red anyway and no one would notice.

She smiled to herself. The equipment had been hanging in the museum for several months - she’d even taken a job there to be near it - and no one had noticed how the collection had expanded; how there were ten more pieces now. 

Maggie’s fascination with glass had started as a child. Her father liked to make his own ‘artwork’ using broken pieces of it on her and her mum. It had made Maggie want to learn more about it and how it was made. She’d taken an evening course in glassblowing once she was old enough and become quite proficient at it. She’d collected the utensils for crafting and shaping the glass one by one, squirreling them away, lest her father should find them and decide to use them for further abuse.

So when she’d discovered the exhibit at the museum, she’d wanted to share them, put them where they rightfully belonged; be amongst their own - even though in truth they’d rarely touched any glass.

No, Maggie had discovered a much more effective use for them once she’d brought them home. And her dad could testify to it too, having been the one to experience their sharp and precise abilities.

He wouldn’t be hurting her or mama any more.  


Friday, 21 October 2016

Monster Mash 2016

Monster Mash is a yearly Halloween flash fiction writing competition hosted by Ink After Dark, a site run by three great writers: Ruth Long, Laura James, & Cara Michaels.

This year a story had to be written around one of three lines, which had to be used exactly within the piece. Here's mine, with the line highlighted.
monster-mash-2016



Sacrifice to Cthulhu

She let the waves lap at her toes. In the moonless night, the dark water left darker trails running from her feet with each pull of the tide. It could have been blood. She knew it wasn’t - yet.
She edged in, letting the black fluid encircle her ankles, tugging at them as though encouraging her to come deeper. She did. 

Some might have missed the movement ahead, mistaken it for a swell of waves, but she knew better. Her breath caught as her heart rate increased, excitement sparking adrenaline, enabling her to take another step forward. The cold water brushed the inside of her thighs and she shivered. The surge of water in front of her expanded.

She moved further in, eager to see him rise, wanting to be claimed, waiting to be taken. 

The water broke apart and a round head appeared glimmering in the starlight as tentacles broke the surface around it. Two eyes blinked into life and eyed her as the body continued to rise, the scaly flesh appearing to ripple as water ran off it. She opened her mouth in a gasp of awe as his wings opened up on his back, blocking out what little light there was, engulfing her in darkness.

She felt her body move towards him as though drawn by an unknown force. She didn’t resist.
His clawed hands reached for her, slicing her flesh as they grasped it, the blood looking like water as it ran down her arms. She felt his embrace and let him pull her in. 

He lifted her above his head and carried her like a trophy, moving back out into the ocean. She felt weightless and dizzy, whether from the height or the blood loss she couldn’t be sure, all she knew was that she was flying. 

Once out in the midst of black seas of infinity he lowered her and put her out in front of him, laying her on the top of the water, the points of his claws piercing holes into her back, but she didn’t care; she felt numb.

She looked up into the star filled sky and waited for him to take her, to consume her and feed on her, but he seemed to be waiting. Then ripples broke the surface of the water all round them, turning into violent splashes. 

She jerked her head left and right to try and make out what it was, but his shadow blocked her view. Then he released her, pushing her forward towards the frantic movement like an offering, and her eyes opened wide at what was revealed in the half light: hundreds of sharp glittering white teeth descending upon her. Her throat was barely able to let out a screech before it was shredded.  

Her consciousness faded with deep sadness: her sacrifice to him meant nothing, over ridden by his offering to them.