Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 51

This week's prompt is a photo taken by Gen Harris. These are her dog and cat.

I thought it was time for something soft and fluffy! 

I had planned on something bigger and more dramatic, but ended up with this simple piece, an imagined conversation about what a cat and dog might discuss on such a day. Having had a headache for over a week now, it has been hard to get my mind to produce much. I hope you all find it more inspiring.

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.




Rainy Day

“Hey George, I’ve found a long one. You got one yet?”
“Yeah, over here. Trickling nicely.”
Cassie looked his way, where he was watching the line of rain water running down the French windows too. “Oh yeah.”
“Yours still going?”
“No, mines stopped. Here, how long do you think this is going to go on for?”
“What your trickle?”
“No the rain.”
“Dunno. But they’ll probably take me out in it in a bit.”
Cassie shuddered. “Glad I don’t have anyone forcing me out in it.”
“It’ll be great, still plenty to sniff.”
“Doesn’t it all wash away?”
“Sometimes, but just means I can put fresh down and take ownership.”
“I don’t get you dogs. Why bother? Such a waste.”
“You do it.”
“Do not! I’m a girl cat; we don’t make that kind of stink.”
“But you like sniffing it though.”
“Do not!”
“Do too. I’ve seen you out there when that big red tom from number 16 comes round.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Keep an eye on your trickle!”
“Never left it. Although it’s winding down now.”
“Found another yet?”
“I’m sure there’ll be one along shortly. What about you?”
“There’s something moving out there.”
“Where?”
“There!” Cassie pushes her nose up against the glass. “See it? I’ll catch it!”
“You can’t, it’s on the other side of the glass.”
“No it’s not.”
“Yes it is.”
Cassie tries to nibble at it. “Oh, maybe your right.”
“Why don’t you come with us when we go for a walk?”
“No way! I’ll get all wet.”
“But that’s the best part. Loads of puddles. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a chance to roll in one.”
“Why on earth would you want to do that?”
“Oh it’s great, all over your fur, nice and gritty. Then you get to shake it out.”
“Bleugh, fancy licking all that off.” Cassie licked a paw.
“I don’t have to lick it off; they’ll wash me when I get back.”
“Ugh, how awful. I couldn’t abide anyone doing that to me. It’s not natural.”
“You’ve been washed, I saw you. That time you fell into that boggy patch at the end of the garden.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. First in that stinking water, and then in that perfumed muck they said would get me nice and clean. My tongue wasn’t right for weeks coated in that soapy stuff. Yuck.”
“How’d you fall in the bog in the first place? I thought you cats had perfect balance?”
“No, nine lives is what we’ve got, and I lost one of them that day I can tell you. I was chasing a blue thing. It landed on the ground. Very pretty it was, would have been very tasty, but when I put my paw on it, it wasn’t ground it was that horrible wet sludgy stuff. That’s how I lost my balance, and almost my life!”
“You’re so dramatic. It’s not that deep.”
“How would you know?”
“Oh I’ve been in there loads of times. I love it.”
“Ugh, you’re revolting. Ooo, look at that another long trickle coming down.”
They both watched the one near Cassie as it made its way down in a stilted fashion. Their peace was broken by a call from the kitchen: “George! Here boy!”
“That’s me. I’ll be off then.”
“See you in a bit.”
“You going to stay and watch more?”
“Nah, I’m going to go curl up on the little boy’s bed.”
“Okay. Later.”
“Later.”


Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 50

This week's photo prompt is from German photographer, Amelie Satzger. She has a collection of photos over on 500px.

WARNING: My tale is a disturbing one. It is not for the faint hearted - but it does end with hope. It is inspired by a true story I read a few year ago about a woman who survived being sex trafficked. It's what I thought of when I first saw this picture. Yes, I know, my mind can get very dark. Sometimes it's best not to follow me down here.

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.




Freedom

She taps the crack in the glass, hoping it will get bigger, hoping it will open out and maybe a hole will form. If she breaks it completely she might have a chance. She looks round the room, but there is nothing there to help her; it’s empty apart from the blood stained mattress - her blood. She looks at it and feels the sore spots it came from. Sore spots she knows are going to be reopened soon.

If only there was some kind of implement, but they never leave anything. They bring what they use. She stops that thought there. She can’t think about it, she has to block it. If she thinks about it she will scream and cry and won’t be able to stop. She remembers what happened to the girl in the next room who did that. She wants to live. She wants to get out of here. She wants to return to her life. She wants to never go on a blind date again. Never meet someone that no one else knows. Never believe that after three dates they must be trustworthy. Was anyone even looking for her?

She hears a noise in the room next door. They brought in another girl last night. They’re breaking her in. Another one that doesn’t sound like she’ll survive long. She’s stronger than the others, but if she wasn’t strong she’d be dead - like the one they dragged past her room several days ago. They’d left her door open deliberately.

She thought back to the first time they left her door open. She’d tried to get out. Foolish. They played cat and mouse with her, giving her hope, then taking it away. She’s learnt. But it gave her a sense of the house: size, how many others and how many men using them.

This thought jolts her back into action. She taps harder on the crack - the sounds from next door motivating her. She hears the screaming start and then that guttural noise which tells her the new girl might not last long. She resists the tears and sick feeling in her stomach. She puts her upset into what she is doing.

She pushes the glass and the crack spreads. She keeps pressure on the centre point and more cracks appear. A small piece in the middle falls out. It tumbles. She knows she’s two storeys up. She knows this area hasn’t recovered from the civil war and most of the neighbouring houses are empty. She’s going to have to run a long way.

Her breath quickens, she’s created a hole as big as her head now. The noise from next door is covering the sound of the glass shifting. More pieces fall out. Her fingers are bleeding, but it’s nothing compared to the other wounds she has.

A larger piece falls out and smashes below. She holds her breath and waits. If they find this she’s not sure she’ll survive the punishment. She doesn’t hear footsteps; she only hears the grunts and torturous screams from next door.

She climbs out onto the windowsill. She sees a drainpipe next to the window. She shuffles to it, shards of glass embedding in her knees. She pulls at the pipe, it doesn’t move. She dares to put her weight on it. It holds. She starts moving down to the ground, until it is close enough to jump.

Her heart is in her throat, the noise of it hammering in her ears. She lands heavily. The shock makes her pause. She hears nothing but the wind. She stands, testing her legs - then she runs.

She convinces herself she can hear shouts and men running after her, but at every glance back she sees nothing. She runs through the empty streets past derelict houses. She wants to get on the other side of the hills behind the ruined town. She’d had weeks to work out a route from the window.

She reaches the hills and clambers up and over them, adrenaline still feeding her. She sees another town in the distance. She sees lights as dusk draws in. It’s populated. She’ll find sanctuary there. But for now she must stop and rest. She finds a cove hidden by trees. She pushes herself in it and sits, exhausted, shivers running through her as the fear loosens its grip. She’s free. And soon the others will be too.



Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 49

This week's picture was created by artist Erlend MØrk, from Norway. He has some interesting dark art and his website is worth checking out.  

I had planned to go a bit darker - although some might feel my tale is dark enough - but instead I veered toward the storyline from a partially written novel from more than 15 year ago. 

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.



Infilteration 

“Surely someone will notice them.”

“Why should they? They’re just jars.”

“You and I both know that’s not true.”

“No, but no one else does.” 

“They’ll be spotted at some point, I’m sure of it.” 

You credit them with too much intelligence.” 

And you credit them with too little. They can be smart you know.” Adrienne wasn’t prepared to accept Johnny’s under estimation of the local inhabitants. She’d been here longer than he had; she knew how they worked; what they saw and what they didn’t see. He liked to think he and Adrienne were superior.

“We are the same species, Johnny, you seem to forget that. Their brains work the same as ours.”

Johnny scoffed. “But they’re blind where we are not. They have no clue what is really going on around them.”

“Not all of them, you’d be surprised.”

Johnny stood up in the dark basement, his head almost touching the ceiling. “We have to keep them here, there’s no other option if you are going to bring the hosts here for the procedure.”

This time it was Adrienne’s turn to scoff.  “Hosts? You mean surrogates. I have some lined up already.”

“Top echelon? We have to get them into high positions otherwise there’s no hope of pulling this off. If we don’t provide evidence of visible change, the government will remove them under the contamination laws. There’ll be no salvaging them then.”

“I know, I know. Don’t worry. I have three from families whose influence covers half the globe. And I’m talking to seven more. Trust me. We can turn this around. But I need the jars to remain hidden. I can’t have anyone asking questions. My reputation depends on it.”

“Do you think someone will?”

“With this being the basement of a shared building there’s no telling. We need to get some tarp to cover them.”

“Won’t that make them more suspicious? Like this they just look like pickle jars.”

Adrienne laughed. “Gosh they’d get a shock if they open up one of these expecting a pickle.”

Johnny smiled. “They would indeed. I’ll get a tarp.”

Adrienne looked at her watch. “Look, one of the surrogates is due here in a minute, so I need to get back upstairs. You go do what you need to do to make these look inconspicuous, and I’ll meet up with you later.”

“You hoping to implant today?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ve put a jar upstairs in my cupboard just in case.”

Adrienne prepared the apartment for the planned session with her client. The art of fortune telling had brought her into the higher circles of society. She had managed to target a few key people and word of mouth had done the rest. It was amazing what being adept at reading minds and bodies could achieve. It meant nothing where she came from, everyone could do it, but here they existed in the lower brain levels, so it was unique.

A few had mastered elements of it but without full understand, so it had been shunned by the controlling religious factions who preferred to live in ignorance and pretend that things they didn’t see or understand were the work of some strange, unreachable being – a far less rational notion, but one that allowed people to shirk responsibility for any of their words or actions.

Adrienne and Johnny hoped to change that with the souls they had brought. They were pure and once implanted would bring about words and actions that would alter the course of society here. It was just a matter of bringing about the opportunity to install the implant, which Adrienne hoped to achieve today.

The client arrived and Adrienne got to work putting them at ease by instinctively knowing their likes and dislikes, while lulling them into a sense of trust and security. Then she talked them into a trance state, which went easier than expected because really Johnny was right.

She retrieved the jar from her cupboard. When she opened the lid the new soul climbed out, moving straight to the client’s face. Adrienne spoke a few words and the client’s jaw went slack, so the soul could squeeze into the mouth. The client convulsed a couple of times, but then sat up, bright eyed and ready for more. Adrienne could see the glint of the new soul inside. It was done, a new era was about to begin on Earth – one of true enlightenment that would restore the planet back to health for her people to harvest. 


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 48

This week's picture prompt comes from Hossein Zare, an Iranian artist. He has some wonderful work, check out the gallery on his website here.

This turned out gentler than planned. I wanted to give it a twist at the end, but it came out how it came out, as they often do. I look forward to seeing how others interpret this weeks.

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.
 


Not a Mirage

“Not much further now. Look you can see it up ahead.”

“Are you sure that’s real and not another mirage?”

“It has to be, look how the light sun is highlighting it.”

Gabriel paused to catch her breath and look at their destination – a tree. It could be the only tree on earth. They’d been travelling for years and not seen one yet. It looked too real with its rich green foliage standing out against the scorched earth it stood in; it seemed surreal.

But then the whole of the earth was scorched now, the only life that could be sustained was in the crowded, dirty cities, using recycled ocean water. The seas might still exist but nothing lived in them now – nothing lived anywhere anymore, except humans in their cities. Mankind had made sure of that – or at least the ones that controlled the bombs. A hundred years had passed and the land had grown hot, arid and barren. The only plants that grew were in underground glasshouses and were only for those that could afford them, the rest of the population had to make do with supplements; it was the second largest thing to cull the population after the bombs, and the one that kept it to a minimum.

Gabriel and Peter hadn’t wanted to stay in the cities. They were dangerous and toxic. They didn’t believe the stories that there was nothing out here; they wanted to find out for themselves. So they had. They had travelled across landmass after landmass, witnessing the desertification, the monotony broken only by isolated, congested cities where the people crowded in, trying to survive.

Up until now the only sightings of any other living thing between the cities had been water starved illusions. Gabriel was surprised they were still alive.

And here ahead of them was a tree – or potential tree. She had only seen them on computers and in old films. She wondered what it would smell and feel like.

“Oh I hope it is real, Peter.”

“Let’s find out, Gabby.”

He took her hand and led her down the rocky hillside onto the plain. The tree loomed larger as they drew closer. It didn’t wobble or shimmer, it remained steady. Gabby felt the same urgency as Peter as he tugged at her hand, upping their pace, breaking into a jog as they approached. They stopped a foot away, silently observing. They could hear the whoosh of the wind blowing through its leaves and smell the slightly acrid smell of its foliage. Peter stepped forward and tentatively put out a hand to its trunk. His fingers brushed its surface and he moved closer pressing both hands against it.

“It IS real!” he laughed. “It is! It is!”

Gabby rushed forward to join him, flinging her arms around the tree’s wide girth and embracing it. She felt the rough texture of the bark under her cheek and inhaled the woody smell, so alien yet so familiar. 

Peter stepped back a couple of feet and started digging in the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“If it can survive here, then so can we. There must be a water source.”

After he dug down a foot or more the earth started to get damp.

“See? I told you.”

Gabby joined him and after a while they had a puddle of water in the bottom of a hole. It smelt of sand and soil but when they licked it, it was sweet. Gabby cupped a handful, it was a little gritty but it quenched her thirst. She took another and found that the hole never quite emptied.

Once they had both had their fill, they settled down against the base of the tree.

“What shall we do now, Peter?”

“Set up camp, Gabby, this is our home now, and our tree.”

She smiled. They had done it. They had found life outside the cities; a fresh start, a new beginning.