Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge: The Whisperer

Michael_E._Arth_-Moscow_Metro-_oil_painting,_1980

Tasha had taken the cold journey from home in her stride. She examined every passersby closely: the women with their head scarves in shades of mud; the men’s faces hidden by Party caps, their hunched, overcoated shoulders.

She watched the trams and buses jostle through the city, along Gorky Street. The child hardly spoke, her expression curious but calm – she hadn’t reached for her grandmother’s hand once, not even when a milkman’s horse reared as they crossed the road.

‘This way, Tasha.’

The girl followed Ludmilla obediently, wide, dark eyes everywhere as they entered the metro station. The vaulted roof was golden and blood red with Soviet stars, chandeliers and mosaic tiles blinding in electric candlelight.

Ludmilla caught a glimpse of Tasha’s reflection as they rode the escalator to the next platform. That river of brunette hair, the narrow, pale face – she could almost be her Kaya at that age.

The golden station glittered and dissolved. She turned away, not wanting her tears to be seen. Her poor, betrayed Kaya.

A small hand slid into Ludmilla’s and she shivered. ‘Aren’t you looking forward to me getting my special prize, Babushka?’

‘Of course,’ said Ludmilla, trying to smile.

Tasha held her hand for the rest of their journey and it took all Ludmilla’s strength not to scream.

***

During the Soviet period, children were actively encouraged to inform on adults, even if they were relatives – even if they were their parents. See the story of Pavlik Morozov. Though the truth of the Pavlik legend is contested, the fact he was hailed as a hero by the Soviet state is not.

Written for Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge. And what a fabulous painting she’s chosen. It’s entitled Moscow Metro and it’s by Michael E. Arth. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a poetry challenge, but Jane was happy for me to write prose, so here it is.

What Pegman Saw: Folly

Image: Google Earth

‘What’s the point of it?’

The tower was five storeys high – bruised white washed walls, red corner stones, an onion dome roof.

Steph shook her head. ‘No point. Just a wealthy man showing off. That’s why they call them follies.’

Up close what had looked like a wooden door was just painted plaster, the grain worked in with a fine brush. It was cold under his hand, the surface slightly damp.

‘So, are there rooms inside?’ he said.

Steph peered at her guidebook. ‘Says here – the brick and plaster construction was thought to be solid until 1996 when a scan revealed a hollow chamber inside.’

Dai’s fringe flopped over his eyes. He gave her a lopsided smiled. ‘Like a burial chamber?’

Steph rested her hand on his, fingers curling round his. ‘Like a prison,’ she whispered.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit French Polynesia. See here to join in.

Taunoa, French Polynesia

I’m rather late to this week’s Pegman party, but we still have until Saturday before the new prompt lands so if you’d like you join me this afternoon in exploring beautiful French Polynesia, jump on in. My efforts will be along shortly.

WHAT PEGMAN SAW

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Today Pegman flees the plague-infested lands for a tropical paradise thousands of sea-miles from any continent, Taunoa, French Polynesia. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to wander about this beautiful place and find something that inspires you to write 150 words. When you get it where you’re satisfied, post the link to share. Remember that reading and commenting on the other stories is part of the charm.

Have fun, and do your best.

JHC

inlinkz frog

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Friday Fictioneers: Love Letter

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

The stomp of boots echoes up the narrow stairwell.

Anton scrambles out of bed to the attic room door, rams the bolt home. His fingers describe a sigil in the air as he mutters a holding spell. It won’t stop them, but it might buy him time.

On his desk, a manual typewriter – black and gold, antique. He creates another spell over the keys and begins to type…

…In a cottage in the deep forest, an identical typewriter rattles to life, the keys tapping out a message.

I am discovered. Take the children. Never stop running. Love always.

A

***

Written for Rochelle Wissoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt picture and write a tale. See here to join in.

Released this weekend: The Spinner's Game

The Spring Equinox has arrived so that can only mean one thing – the release of Crispina Kemp’s epic fantasy series, The Spinner’s Game.

You may remember Crispina did a couple of guests posts on Word Shamble earlier this year (you can find those posts here and here), well now her wonderful five book series is available to buy through Kindle for the ebook versions and Amazon for the physical books. Skitter across to her author page now.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in these wonderfully imaginative and immersive novels…

Kerrid, a fraudulent seer born of a fisher-hunter clan, holds two beliefs. That in her psychic abilities and exuded light she is unique, and as Voice of the Lady she’s exempt from an arranged marriage. Both convictions are shattered when nine boats arrive from the east carrying the ancient Chief Uissinir who wants her for his wife, and five of his sons who emit similar lights and share tricks like her own. Forced to make an unwise judgement, a trail of death follows.

Questions plague her. Why does she dream of babies dying? Why does a voice in her head taunt her: Suffer the loss, suffer the pain? And what is she that no matter how lethal the wound, she does not die?

What Pegman Saw: Madam Light (Post number 1,000)

Image: Google Street View

To the Bobbies she’d give the names Molly Brand, Moll Prate, Maggie Gardener, according to her whim. But to us of the rookery she was always Madam Lighthouse – Light if she looked on you kindly.

It was Light who used the cabbies, the bill posters, the street sweepers and hawkers as her eyes and ears, gave protection in exchange for all they knew.

It was Light who warned us of fresh-faced beat coppers out for an easy collar, of gangs bringing their own toms and dippers into our patch. And when sober requests to move on were rebuffed, it was Madam Light’s boys who did what had to be done.

She shined bright, steady as Dover’s white cliffs, for twenty glorious years.

Until this morning.

She was found in her chair, boots on the grate, pipe hanging slack from her lips.

Light snuffed out.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as inspiration. This week we visit Silver Bay, Minnesota. See here to join in.

NB

Rookery – dense collection of houses, especially slums.

Bobbies/coppers – policemen (I would say ‘police officers’ but in the Victorian period in which this story is based, there were only male officers).

Toms – prostitutes.

Dippers – pickpockets.

Last month was Word Shamble’s fifth anniversary and this is my 1,000th blog post.

The blog has developed over time – I’ve tried humour, book-based posts, a serial and now mainly write flash fiction. I’ve had a lot of fun and ‘met’ a lot of lovely people – both in the UK and abroad.

Thanks to all who’ve read and commented over the last 1,000 posts, my WP family. Hope you can hang around for the next 1,000.

What Pegman Saw

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Another share of the cracking writing prompt, What Pegman Saw which this week visits Silver Bay Minnesota. I’ll be joining in tomorrow, but in the meantime, why don’t you run along ahead, take a look around and see what you can find. Visit HERE to join in.

Today Pegman finds himself in the once-great forests of Minnesota in the American Midwest.  Your mission is to wander around using the google photosphere until something inspires you to write 150 words. When you’re satisfied, post your link to this week’s InLinkz site to share with your fellow participants. Remember, reading and commenting on other stories is part of the fun.