Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 8

Two months in already - time just flies by. And again we had a big week - five incredible entries for last week's photo! 

This week I have gone with a face. It was a struggle to find the creator of this incredible image because their current page on Deviant Art is empty. But two sources confirmed that it is indeed called 'Dragon Incarnate' and was created/copyrighted by LuckyWolf13 (Lauren from the US).

The story I imagined coming out of this picture turned into something else, and refused to change to what I wanted - as stories are often wont to do. And it pushed the Word Count too. But I do rather like it. Hope you do too.

The General Guidelines can be found here.




The Challenger

Avilijn sat in front of the mirror watching the tracer work on the intricate design on the left side of her face. She remained stock still as the heat of the needle left behind its black ink creating a depiction of her latest conquest for all to see.

This latest scrollwork made it clear that she wasn’t to be trifled with. It made it clear she was a woman of strength and means. She felt a flush of pride, her mind turning to what she needed to do to have designs on the right side.

Her musing was interrupted by Finnella, who fluttered in behind her in awe and anxiety.

“Calm your wings Finnella, and tell me what news?”

“Word has spread my lady, more will come to try and defeat you.”

Avilijn smiled, her eyes flashing. “Good. I need more.”

“There is talk of Falcroon showing up.”

Avilijn’s mouth opened as her eyes sparkled. “Oh yes, taking him would be my pleasure.”

Avilijn pictured Falcroon and his oversized wings. The way he would always flex them whenever a pretty fledgling would go by while still in conversation with another. He thought he was such a hot shot. Would he really dare to come and take her on? She wondered. Would he be vain enough to risk his life? Would pride be his downfall? 

The pecking order was strong, and she had to keep them all in place now. Since her father’s demise many had tried to usurp her and turn the skies into chaos, but she was responsible for maintaining peace at all costs – something Hawkseye had found out to his detriment ... and death. 

Falcroon was coming to defend his honour. They had always had an intimate alliance: brothers in blood. She’d heard of their comradeship during the War of the Kestrel Marshes, but he had to understand that compliance was going to be the only way, and if that meant bloodshed then so be it. She wasn’t afraid.

A messenger arrived and she waited for Finnella to speak to them. When Finnella turned, the fearful bright eyes that met hers in the mirror told her all she needed to know.

“When is he coming?”

“At evening song.”

Avilijn glanced at the artist who had lifted the needle from her face. “Time to prepare for the right side decoration.”

The artist gave her a bob of the head as Avilijn rose to take on her next contender.

***

Avilijn stretched her turquoise and black wings, the magnificent glint causing gasps from the crowd, who had begun to gather in the archaic atrium since word had spread of the challenge.

Falcroon was more subdued than Avilijn expected. Was he nervous? Or was this something he didn’t want to do? But he was the one who had requested the duel, so it was his choice. She waited for his move.

But he didn’t swoop, instead he spoke.

“Princess, I am deeply hurt by the loss of my blood brother. Some believe I come to avenge his death, but I am not foolish enough to try. Instead I ask you to take my life too, so I can rejoin with him in eternity.”

Avilijn struggled to hide her annoyance. This wasn’t what she wanted. She wasn’t here to grant wishes, or be some kind of public executioner. What game was he playing?

“Falcroon we are known to each other. If you aren’t here to challenge me, then you pledge fealty. I offer nothing else.”

He surprised her by flying low and bowing his head, offering the back of his neck; an act of submission. And one she had to acknowledge.

She flew over him in acceptance, but rather than remaining in position, Falcroon twisted just as her talons crossed over him, stretching his head back and up, exposing his neck. Before Avilijn could react a claw sliced through his skin, sweeping across it – deep. Blood gushed, as his body fell limp to the ground below.

Avilijn circled in shocked dismay. He had manipulated her into granting his wish, but this also placed her in a precarious position of an unwarranted kill, something which could upset the balance of power.

Damn him! He had not only avenged Hawkseye’s death, but achieved Hawkseye’s original intent.

 


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 7

Last week's photo prompt set a record at 5 wonderful entries! Such a diverse range of stories too. I love seeing how people are inspired. I am hoping this image will do the same.

I ummed and arhhed over the choice for this week's photo, as there are just SO many waiting to be used. I want to provide something new and fresh each week, and not the same sort of photo either, as well as a prompt that provides ample possibilities. I'm hoping this one does.

This photo was taken by Sirombo (Luca) from Italy over on Deviant Art.

My tale this week is actually based on the novel I have been working on, which is in the final editing stages. It gives a good outline of it, although it is set 10years on.

The General Guidelines can be found here.



Fresh Start

Lizzy stooped to pick up the feather stuck in the pebbles on the beach. She ran it through her fingers as she looked out to sea at the setting sun. It was a sign, she knew it.

Feathers had always shown up at significant times in her life: a turquoise one had landed on her windowsill the day before Steve had asked her out; a tiny brown one had been on the dashboard in her car the day he had proposed, and a beautiful white one had fluttered in through the kitchen window the day before her wedding. They had all signified good things. And this one did too. This  one signified freedom.

She inhaled deeply, taking in the sea air, something she hadn’t been able to do for over ten years. Instead she had been stuck in a prison cell looking at four grey walls twenty hours a day. It was the penance you paid for losing your mind and taking your husband’s life.

She sighed, still feeling the weight of what she had done deep inside her chest. The last time she’d walked on a beach she’d been with Steve on a holiday they’d taken to try and recover from the loss of their second child. They’d splashed out and gone to the Maldives, a dream destination for Lizzy. With Steve’s modelling career taking off they’d been able to afford it.

It had helped a bit; they’d reconnected a little, although the return home had not gone as well as hoped with his parents forgetting to cancel the delivery of the pram. It had stood there in the entrance hall, taunting her when they’d arrived.

Gosh that all seemed so long ago. Another lifetime. She could recall the feelings but they didn’t cut her like they used to. She had something new to cut herself up about instead; something much bigger. And now she was out, the pain of what she had done was much keener.

In the years running up to the murder her head had become fuzzy, full of angry noise, bitterness and resent. And during her first years inside it hadn’t cleared; it had only become foggier as more negative emotions had swallowed her up: guilt, shame and despair. Now she stood here, finally out, on a beach in the crisp evening air, there was no noise in her head, no anger, there was only sadness and a gratitude at the chance for a fresh start.

Lizzy took in another deep breath and turned her back on the sunset. But before she could begin on that, she had to face the people and the memories from the past, the last part of her penance. But the arrival of the grey feather was a positive sign, and one she clung to as she headed back up the beach. 



Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 6

It seems that last week's challenge was a hit, with 4 wonderful entries. I hope we can eventually top that, but I am very happy it spoke to so many people. I am hoping this image will do the same.

Despite hours trawling search engines, I can not find the person who took this photo - the key site that it seems to link to is currently 'under construction'. But it appears on thousands of pinterest boards, so I was able to find out where it was:

The Chateau de Singes (Castle of Monkeys) is really the Ch√Ęteau √† Cahaignes (Castle Cahaignes), located in Cahaignes, Eure, Upper Normandy, France. Abandoned in 1976.

This is how it inspired me. I hope it inspires you too. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.




Threshold

She could see the cracks of light falling on the floor, so knew that stepping through the door would not lead her into darkness. And she could even see more doors in the distance so she knew it wasn’t a trap, so what held her on the threshold?

It could only be fear – but fear of what? Fear that it would not take her anywhere; that the time and effort to go through and find out it was a dead-end would take too much from her. She had been through so many doors like this, with the light shining in, only to find that they were empty, devoid of the life and connection she sought. She wasn’t sure she could deal with the overwhelming disappointment again.

But standing her on the threshold was no solution; she gained nothing standing here – she knew that. You gained nothing without risk. Sometimes you had to take a leap and hope for the best, and try and not anticipate what might come; try and embrace the moment and have no expectation.

She heard the creak of another door in the distance. She heard the chatter of voices.

Her heart yearned to be a part of them, to join in and feel alive again, feel a part of something. She had been trapped in this place for so long, she could only fantasise what it might be like.

Her toes tingled as the voices drew nearer. Shadows moved further ahead in the corridor she was looking into. They would come round the corner at any moment. They would face her and she would see them. If she could just step forward she could greet them, she could walk with them and hear their conversation properly and not just snippets. But she could not compel herself to do so.

“... just a simple mark on her skin ... hidden away ... fear of reprisal ...”

The voices grew louder

“... broke in ... caught ... there was an uprising ...”

They would be here any second.

“So they killed her for a simple birthmark?”

“Yes, and they say her ghost still haunts this ruined mansion.”



Thursday, 6 April 2017

Horror Bites - Tinkering

Here's my entry for the new Horror Bites challenge, hosted by Laura Jamez. A a photo prompt challenge, where you have to write a horror piece to a set word count.



Mandy rolled a gel ball around between her fingers. She found the motion soothing. She needed soothing after the row they’d just had. He’d stormed out as usual, revved the engine of his motorbike and squealed off up the road.

She didn’t have the luxury of buggering off when things got tough. She couldn’t drive. It’s how he liked to keep her: financially dependent, kids, unable to read, and unable to drive. He’d kept her this way since she was fifteen. He liked the control it gave him – and she knew it.

But he didn’t know she did.

He thought she was dumb, but the older she got the more she understood. And once she’d discovered audio books, she’d understood a whole lot more.

She looked at the gel balls in the glass, how they were clear at the top and grew darker as they reached the bottom – although the ones at the bottom weren’t gel, they were metal.

The doorbell rang. She opened the door a crack and saw two uniformed policemen standing there.

“Mrs McNally?”

“Yes?”

“I’m PC Banes. Does your husband own a Honda GTX motorcycle?”

“Yes.”

“May we come in?”

Mandy opened the door and led them into the lounge. They remained standing.

“I’m afraid we have some bad news for you. I think you might need to sit down.”

Mandy sat, her eyes on the PC. “We’re not quite sure how it happened yet, but it appears your husband lost control of the bike ...”

Mandy caught sight of her phone while the PC continued to tell her how her husband hadn’t made it to the hospital alive. She glanced down at it and saw it was still on; the book she had been listening was still playing. It was what had caused the row – him finding out she’d been listening to books.

Fortunately it was a different one to the book she’d been studying the last few weeks. That one had helped her through the difficult bits when tinkering with his motorbike in the garage while he’d been out at work. 


Word Count: 348

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 5

Last weeks challenge brought two entries. I had hoped it would inspire more, but maybe it was a little intimidating. Hopefully this week's photo will elicit more. 

This week's prompt photo was created by Marcela Bolivar, a digital artist from Columbia. You can check out some of her other wonderful creations on her website here.

This photo provides many different interpretations. I am interested in what others might make of it. This is what I came up with.

The General Guidelines can be found here.  



Once Bitten Twice Shy 

He carried the pain around with him as though it was on display. He thought others could see it as though his chest were made of glass and people could see inside, see the damaged darkness where there was once a heart – once a happy healthy heart, full of joy and love and giving. But it was no more. It was now an aching husk of darkness that poisoned his body, draining it of energy, of any desire, of any point of being.

He wanted it to end, but he didn’t have the guts to. He couldn’t quite bring himself to step out of this life. There was guilt at what it might do to those around him, those that felt they were good and close friends. And there were those that flung the word selfish around when people took their lives, which led him back to the guilt. Although he always believed that was a reflection of themselves: how they felt wrong and selfish for not understanding. No one knows the pain another suffers, let alone should judge it. 

He imagined being free of this pain; imagined throwing off the shackles of the dead weight it brought to his life. But it did little to change anything. She was gone. She was just a shadow in his heart. She had come, wrought her damage and left. Turned her back and walked away. He could even see her in his mind’s eye, walking away across a field, while he was unable to move or call out and stop her.

It was the risk he had taken; one he would never take again – or so he told himself. 



Horror Bites - Mist

And one more belated entry for Horror Bites, hosted by Laura Jamez, to bring me up to speed, and ready for the new challenge. A a photo prompt challenge, where you have to write a horror piece to a set word count.

My entry to challenge #5





Mist

Reg frantically rubbed at the inside of the windscreen, but it made no difference, the mist was outside, not in the car. It had come on so suddenly it unnerved him. He hated driving at night as it was. It served him right for taking up tennis in the winter months; driving home in the dark was a given with dusk falling at 4pm. He was a summer person, he hated winter.

He swerved sharply to miss someone standing at the edge of the road. He looked in his rear view mirror but the mist had enveloped them. Who would want to be out in this?

Then there was another. He just spotted them in time, hearing the screech of his tyres as they twisted on the wet road. But as he avoided them another came into view, until all he could see along either side of the road were outlines of people.

In the dim foggy light he couldn’t make out their features, but they didn’t seem to be moving very fast. He slowed down, wondering where they were had come from. Could there be some kind of concert in the area? It was all countryside round these parts, but surely it was too cold for one of them raves.

At the reduced speed some of their features came into view. Reg wondered if he was seeing things; they all seemed to be slack jawed with their mouths hanging open and arms dangling at their sides. And he was so busy staring he didn’t spot the few that had wandered into the road until he felt the thud of a body hitting the bonnet.

He came to a sharp halt, and jumped out, running round to the front of the car to see who he had hit. It was a bad move. He didn’t see them turn towards him as he squatted down to check the pulse of the person on the ground, and as he readied himself to give mouth to mouth resuscitation he didn’t look up.

He was pushed forward onto the body as someone fell on top of him, and when another body fell on top of that he was pinned to body on the ground. He felt the last of the air in his lungs expel when several more dropped on top, and as he lay gasping, all Reg could think was how he planned to have pasta for his tea. 



Word Count: 406 

Horror Bites - Demon

Horror Bites, hosted by Laura Jamez, has started up again, reminding me that I am not up to date with my entries, so here is my entry to #3.

It is a photo prompt challenge, where you have to write a horror piece to a set word count.


When she returned to the seating he was gone; only his empty juice box remained. Maggie ran her hand through her hair as her eyes scoured the platform. He couldn’t have gone far.

Most mother’s would worry someone had snatched their kid, but not Maggie. She knew better. He’d been encouraged to play hide and seek again. She’d tried to teach him that he needed to keep control in public places, but he was still too young, Jake would get the better of him. She sighed and bit her lip. People didn’t take kindly to Jake’s games – they hurt. She’d lost count of the amount of times they’d ended up in the police station.

She caught a glimpse of blond hair as a woman leapt forward suddenly clutching the back of her leg. Maggie moved in that direction, taking her time, acting nonchalant. If Jake thought he had been spotted it could get dangerous. Then she heard a ‘Hey!’ shouted from the other end of the platform.

People were starting to look round, nervous expressions on their faces.

“Where ARE you?” Maggie muttered under her breath. She stood still and saw movement in her peripheral vision. She stuck out an arm behind her and grabbed, catching material. Then she heard a rip and her hand was empty. Damn!

A woman screamed and she heard shouting from a guard. Christ, he was escalating; this could get really bad.

Then the rumble of an approaching train began and people started moving forward to the edge of the platform. Maggie moved backwards even though this was their train. Jake would be weaving through people; it’s what he liked doing best. She would get a better view from behind.

She saw what appeared to be jostling to the right and moved in fast. She needed to grab him now. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if someone ended up pushed onto the platform.

She lunged between two people, startling them, and caught the collar of a coat, yanking a wriggling child back. As she dragged Jake back she ignored the judgmental looks, only registering his eyes rolling, and the dark irises. He turned and bared his teeth at her, snapping at her hands as she firmly took hold of his face and crouched down in front of him.

“Alfie? Come back right now. Do you hear me? I need you back right now!” She held the shaking head steady, ignoring the growls, and waited. “Alfie! We need to go now!”

Movement reduced as blue returned to the irises and the eyes stopped rolling. They focused on her. He smiled. “Hey mummy.”

“Hey baby, time to go.”

“Do we have to? Jake likes it here.”

“I can see he does, but Alfie, Jake has to stay hidden you know that.”

“But why mummy?”

“I told you. People don’t like Demons, they’re scared of them.”

“Oh, okay.”

Alfie took his mum’s hand as they climbed onto the train.




Word Count: 495