What Pegman Saw : The Last Freeway

Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.

At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow.  But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers. 

He tried to focus on the plan. 

Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border. 

But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.

Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.

One more day, he thought. Just one more.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.

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FFfAW : The Great Black Bird


This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

Another two inches of snow had fallen overnight, a frost following close behind. When Lou finally ventured out, the wooden sledge she used to haul firewood skidded waywardly behind her over the hard surface, while she cracked the ice and sank ankle deep, the snow holding her every footfall.

The cold wants me, she thought, her thigh muscles burning, skirts growing heavier, stiffer. 

Not for the first time, she was tempted just to stop, let the snow take her. Take the arthritis swelling knuckles, knees and wrists, take the knocking in her left lung, the ulcer on her ankle that wouldn’t heal no matter how many hawthorn poultices she made. 

She stopped a moment, breathless from the wind and effort. The crows were arguing in the tree canopy, great black wings flapping like huge sheets of paper. Somewhere in the future, a black bird waited for her.

But not today.

Tugging the sledge, she headed on. 

***

Written for FFfAW. See the prompt picture, write a tale and share with others. See here for the full rules and to join in.

 

FFfAW: Bright enough to shame the sun

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Michelle De Angelis. Thank you Michelle!


 

Masts stripe the water, their reflections breaking into nonsense with the ripples.

The bridge raises, the pleasure boats scudding through like eager ducks. It’s summer so families have gathered, trapped on either side of the water by the raised bridge, children waving happily to the skippers floating below them, sun glowing from every bronzed face.

And then there’s me. I’m pale where they are brown, the Moon to their myriad Suns.

My hands are cold. My limbs white beneath layers of wool and linen, I am smooth and flawless as a tomb carving.

Here, stranded – this is my natural state. Close to mankind, but cut off from it, I walk among them but never touch, never make contact … not until I must. Then I burn, bright enough to shame the sun, bright enough to blind.

The bridge lowers. The families disperse to buy ice cream and eat doughnuts.

I walk among them, waiting for my time.

 


Written for Priceless Joy’s FFfAW. Be inspired by the pic and write a tale here. This started as a reflection on the water and turned into … whatever this is. Vampire? Ghoul? Someone with an acute allergy to the sun? What do you think was going on in my head when I wrote this?

Call for Urban Fantasy beta readers … tentatively

 

The Shambles, York, Tudor buildings
Image : Pixabay

 

Having finally finished the first draft/second draft/alpha read rewrite of my work in progress – The Restless Dead – I’m now searching for some lovely people who enjoy fantasy fiction to be my beta readers.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader, here are some things you should know … 

The book is Urban Fantasy, not High Fantasy. There are no swords and mages, no orcs or elves. It’s set in the present, in real towns in the UK. Supernatural things occur, and a lot of them, but think more Neil Gaiman or Ben Aaronovitch than JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin.

The book is around 300 pages long.

There will be a questionnaire to fill in. I’m working on it now and will try not to make it too onerous! Though, if you’re used to sending critiques, want to write your own notes and are happy to cover the points I raise, that’s fine too.

Ideally, the process will last no further than Christmas. Though that’s open to discussion, of course – you all have other stuff to do!

This book is based in the UK. One of the main ‘characters’ in the book is the city of York, UK (see above!). The settings are English, the language is ‘English’ English, with English phrases and references.

Now, on to the fun bit …

I loved writing this book! I loved getting to know the characters – good, bad and utterly demonic – and I hope that comes across. I want reading it to be enjoyable too. I want the readers to be caught up in every the running, screaming, drunken, creepy scene.

And if you’re still there, here’s the blurb to give you a flavour of the beast …

Thirty-five-year-old Neil sees ghosts. Or at least the last few minutes of an individual’s life, repeated over and over. Death fills every street he walks along, every home he enters. No wonder he lives a reclusive life alone in his bedsit watching Miss Marple reruns and eating cheese puffs. 
Then one day an old friend – Caro – comes knocking, telling Neil her brother is dead. The police say it’s suicide. She says it isn’t. Luckily, she knows someone who can tell her if she’s right … 
Can Neil solve the mystery, evade Victorian psychopaths, shape shifting demons and save the world from an invasion of the Restless Dead? 

Interested? Want to know more? Then pop me an email. You’ll find the address by clicking the ‘hamburger’ symbol up the top of the screen. My email is in ‘view full profile’ under my terrifying photograph! Look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Three weeks out of Resolute

 

The twins were the first to reach the shoreline, barreling through the snow like ploughs, kicking up the powder with heavy boots.

The rest of us followed at our own speed, striding,  limping, managing best we could with whatever loads or injuries we laboured under.

Nanty and I were the last, she leaning heavily on my arm, though she was no burden – the weight had dropped from her since we left Resolute. Her chest rattled as if her ribs were loose – a bone wind chime, she joked.

‘You see it, Bea?’ she gasped, eyes sparkling. ‘You see it?’

I saw it – a bank of grey cloud, solid as a raft, sitting on the distant water line.

‘Just as I dreamed it,’ she whispered.

Just as we’d all dreamed it, every night for the last seven weeks. Nanty saw salvation, the others hope. What did I see?

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week, we visit Resolute in Canada. See here to join in, to read and comment on the other tales.

What do you think Bea sees? What could the others possibly see and what are they all running from? Answers on a postcard – or just pop them in the comments box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers : The sting of ash

PHOTO PROMPT © Carla Bicomong


 

‘Dodie, wait!’

Gray’s voice carried over the scrubby boulders, through gnarly sea oak and salted grass. I should have stopped, but the smell of burning pushed me on, pulled me up the hill when I stumbled.

Not wanting to see, needing to see.

I reached the cliff edge, a sudden wind nearly knocking me sideways, nearly blinding me with the stink of burning, the sting of ash. I looked below through squinted eyes.

A hundred pyres drifting on a mirror sea, each one a livelihood, each one a future.

‘All the boats,’ I gasped, disbelieving. ‘They burned them all.’

 


Written for Rochell Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture and write a tale and don’t forget to share, read and comment on other stories. See here to join in.

 

What Pegman Saw : To rest among the gravestones

 

‘Can you do it?’ said Connor.

Sonny looked up from tying her laces, lights in her trainers winking in the sunset. ‘You know I can,’ she said.

Her hair was tied in a tangled pony tail, Hello Kitty tee shirt smudged with yesterday’s breakfast beans, eaten cold from the can.

Foot swinging, heel tapping on a slumped gravestone, his sister looked the eight-year-old she was. Not for long, he thought.

A blanket was already spread in the shadow of the archway. Sonny positioned herself on it and lay down, head pointing towards the tumbledown church, toes to the sweeping valley below. Her eyes closed, hands folding neatly on her chest.

He watched, though he hated to see the moment the little girl in her slipped away.

Silence.

Then her face convulsed, rearranged, settled into new folds.

‘Connor?’ said Sonny in a voice that wasn’t hers.

 


This piece of fantastical fiction was written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. See the pic and write a story, see here to do just that.