Friday, 1 November 2019

100 Words: Home At Last (How many whiskies?)

Home at last, he goes straight for the drink.  His empty tumbler is ready for me to refill before I reach him.  

As I pour I wonder, “How many whiskies this evening?”  

“Not as many as last night,” someone inside me answers, “Or any night before.”

I inwardly nod as I serve and receive a smelly, foul tasting kiss.  He won’t start to slow down for a while yet, so he doesn’t notice the strangeness in taste or appearance.  

Not in his drink, and not on my face.  The face from within, brought out for the first, and last, time.

Written for Friday Fictioneers from the following picture prompt (see here for other stories): 

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Friday, 10 May 2019

250 Words: Shouting across the bar

She shouted across the bar, pointed to the little map.
He listened, didn’t hear and shouted back. 
It went back and forth.
They got nowhere. 
Well, they got lost.

They asked for Becks, he gave them Metz. 
They got irate, refused to pay and stormed off. 
He, shamefacedly, had to explain to his boss. 
And paid.

He didn’t recognise them.
He couldn’t understand their annoyance.
He let someone else take over.

He didn’t see them.
For over forty minutes.
No wonder they soaked him.

Immediately after, a frequent customer smiled kindly and asked for his number.
He gave her a flier, underlining the bar’s number.
She asked again, he gave an annoyed look and jabbed the flier.
She pushed it back and walked away, normally he had much more to say.
He shrugged, carried on.

It was only later he realised it was her.
And, while pouring her usual for someone else, he wondered… and spilt the drink.
And was ordered away from the bar.

It was just one of those shifts, one spent well outside the required zone. 
One not taking in anyone’s words or faces, just order, fulfillment, order, fulfillment.
A buzz filling his head.
Why did they play the music so loud? 
Often he dreamed of sleepy seaside tavernas. 

While collecting glasses outside he spotted his regular drinking alone across the street. 
In the relative quiet of the nightlife he crossed toward her preparing his apology.
Hoping it was necessary. 
He had often dreamed about her too.

Written for Faber Academy's QuickFic from the following picture prompt (there was actually a choice of three...).  
Well done to the winner and and runners-up! (including me!)

Sunday, 7 April 2019

250 Words: I punched the picture and left

I focused on the Elvis poster to avoid the painting.  I’d only wanted a quick browse of the LPs, not the dredging of my mind for something I can only speak about in dreadful rhyme:

In an old house in a distant place it occurred. 
A terrible memory my mind has often demurred,
Pushed back, buried deep,
Inescapable only in sleep;
When nightmares return me -
Thank God, though, not nightly.

But the picture there
Laid it all bare,
Brought back our host,
The malevolent ghost
And its countryside mansion
With bloodied flesh stanchions
Flanking the door -
And corpses of creatures lining the floors,
Its terrible eyes,
The blood curdling cries
Its birdlike fingers and thighs.

It touched my head,
Brought out all my dread
In glorious technicolour.
It drew from my mind
Every awful unkind,
Scenes that could not be any fuller -
That it made me relive,
My soul drained through a sieve
Leaving little left to use.
Shaved my brain with a chiv,
Unwilling gifts I did give
As a base for all its abuse.

This ghoul was no fool
It gave me a rule
To send others into its school.
The experience has past,
But what I then did shall last
And is why I don’t like to remember.
Those dreams in my sleep
All concern the poor peeps
I have sent to it for to dismember.


I lost a year after that, and have spent each since trying to forget, getting angry and frustrated when I remember. 

Written for Faber Academy's QuickFic from the following picture prompt (there was actually a choice of three...).  
Well done to the winner and and runners-up!

Saturday, 6 April 2019

250 Words: Escape into jade skies

The forest had been such a peaceful place.  Full of noise, of course, but our noise. 

As I said, peaceful.

For a time they came to build.  We sent scouts, were assured by them this was only a  temporary disturbance.  They weren’t clearing enough of the forest for this to be business or pleasure, they said.  Seems funny now how they used the word pleasure when all I feel is pain.

A season after they left the buzzing began.  We were blasé at first.  “It will stop soon, just as before,” we said. 

Then light and dark, day after day, week upon week it carried on filling my head with its fuzzy hurt, surrounding me in the trees and bombarding me.  It’s like my thoughts won't ever stop, like my blood beats backwards, like a parasite is burrowing deep, is stuck at the centre of my mind twitching and wriggling and pecking at my core.  

My anxieties heightened until I could only exist automatically.  An automation that stops me from falling forever from my tree.  Instinct always takes over.  Believe me, I have tried. 

That is why I look up. 

Where the sun adds to my torment, the clouds invite me.  I dream of spreading my wings and ascending into jade skies, a safer softer green than that which throws sound at me. 

Up I will fly until the buzz fades, until silence reigns, until I can rest in jade clouds forever.

That green fills my mind as I rise.

Written for Faber Academy's QuickFic from the following picture prompt (there was actually a choice of three...).  
Well done to the winner and and runners-up!

Friday, 5 April 2019

100 Words: Arboreal Life

I used to live in that tree.  Nights were the worst time.  That light shining down.  The cold.  Trying to get sleep, scared stiff of falling.  Owls.  Foxes.  Cats.  The police, well-meaning neighbours.  ‘Til I was a fixture.

I remember one night, early on.  Mr Smith.  52.  Cigarette break after one of his dreams.  Haunted stare right through me as he took long drags.  

“I think it’s you,” he said, “In my dreams.  Waiting, knives concealed.”  

“Nah, guv, not me.” I said, opening my coat to show I had nothing there.  

He smiled.  Went back in.  Never saw him again.

Written for Friday Fictioneers from the following picture prompt: 

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio
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Friday, 14 December 2018

250 Words: No explanation

I was leaving the day behind, but not our tail. 

In my peripheral vision lay the gun I had feared I would need but knew would be useless.

In the rearview I could see my baby son, blissfully and ignorantly asleep.  As would always be the case where this incident and I, especially, were concerned.

I thought again about switching off my lights once night fell, of going off-road.  And again wondered why I harboured hope.

For the two hours they had been following me I had known running was futile.  Once in sight I could feel their presence, just as they could mine; and, with their amplification technique, they were too powerful now. 

And my son too important.  His father killed with no explanation, I had run. 

Yet all I was doing was driving until the fuel ran out, spending as much time with the boy as I could. 

We sung for a hundred miles, ate crumpets in a frozen, remote, layby - now I would watch him sleep with the time and distance left to me, switching on the interior light once night fell. 

With the car’s momentum lost, I got out and fired shots to make me feel better, the bullets forced from their targets.

As I knelt and waited, I contemplated the red and white tableau to be created and how my son would one day connect these colours with this time of year but in very different ways; and for that, at least, I was pleased.

Written for Faber Academy's QuickFic from the following picture prompt (there was actually a choice of three...).  Well done to the winner and and runner-up!

Friday, 23 November 2018

250 Words: Reveille

In the clarity of the morning light I began to make sense of the images in my mind: events from the previous evening that had been flashing before my mind’s eye during fitful sleep.

A shadowy figure at the window.

Rushing to get my keys in the door.

Raised voices, a shrill cry.

Running on the stairs.

The plunging, cutting, tearing of a knife.

A thick red mess on the floor.

Frantic digging.

Frantic cleaning.

The memories made me nervous, worried of what I might have done.  My memory takes time to reboot each morning, to extract itself from the fug of sleep and start to join the dots.  But the light quickly awakening me was soon joined by singing from the shower and remembrance became easier.

I saw the silhouette from the gate, fumbled with the keys in the lock, shouted as I came through.  A shrill cry of welcome was returned and Mike bounded down the stairs flashing the spare keys.

He knew I’d been having a hard time since demob, had sensed something in my voice, had brought cake, prosecco and a plant to cheer me up. 

As we drunk more, our division of the cake got worse, leading to the contents of several doughnuts meeting the floor.  We even tried to plant the plant, quickly as it was freezing, creating more mess, so much we felt we should clean before finally collapsing into bed.

Nothing to report, then.  I wish my mind would be less dramatic.

Written for Faber Academy's QuickFic from the following picture and quote prompt.  Well done to the winners!

Note: I actually entered the story with the title Stand To but decided to change it before blogging (Morning Report was also considered).

a quote from H.G Wells' "The Time Machine" set against a background of a cloudy sky as the sun is setting. The clouds are all coloured in various gradients of pink, white and black. The quite reads "It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning."