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?

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers : The Fiji Mermaid

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


 

Blossom’s heart beat faster as she pushed to the front of the crowd. They’d paid a shilling each to see the Fiji Mermaid, surely she’d be the most wondrous …

Tufts of fur sprung from the balding skin around a jaw of jumbled bodkin teeth. Scales shed from a tail the colour and sheen of the smoke slicked ceiling in Red Lion where Mother held court at the bar.

No beauty, no magic.

Mother’s doughy bosom pressed into her shoulder. ‘A lesson for you,’ she said with a grim smile. ‘Don’t believe any man who promises you a fairy tale.’

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in.

Seeing the collection of artifacts made me think of a Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities, natural wonders that wealthy Victorians would gather to entertain and educate themselves and their friends.

And from that my mind jumped to the Fiji (or Feejee) mermaid, usually the mummified torso of a monkey attached to the tale of a fish, the idea being popularised by P.T Barnum – an illustration of his specimen below. See here to learn more.

Image result for fiji mermaid

 

 

Down the muddied gullies of the Thames

 

They called her Polly-Mynah on account of her own given name and the bird that needled her shoulder.

Down the muddied gullies of the Thames, ‘neath crumbled eaves and untrusting eyes, one body needs another to keep watch or a body won’t last too long. That’s what Polly-Mynah had. Yes, the body in question had an oily black head, a beak gold as a sovereign and eyes sharp as frost, but he watched for Polly, keen as any madhouse copper.

Even when the creature died she kept his name, like a pining widow twines to her marriage vows.


First written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers, October 11th, 2017.

What Pegman Saw : The gravedigger

 

Gordie skidded to a halt, front wheel throwing up dirt and twigs. He jumped off the bike, let it drop. A crow flapped up into a nearby tree, cawed once and hunkered down.

There was the pile of twigs he and Chris had stacked to mark the spot. The thought of his friend made Gordie’s eyes prickle, but he couldn’t think of all that now, couldn’t cry.

Falling to his knees, he pushed the twigs aside, heard the thump of wood hitting dry leaves, a layer inches deep. Once the twigs were gone he began to dig. It hadn’t rained for days, so the dirt was still loose and dry, easy to scrabble away.

His fingers hit something hard. Clearing away more dirt, he saw the dull sheen, felt the cool metal as he lifted the thing free.

For Chris, he thought, tucking the revolver into his belt.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its inspiration. This week we are in the Basque Region of Spain. Choose an image, share, read and comment. See here to join in.

If you think those names ring a bell, then you’re right. For some reason, that discarded bike reminded me of the great coming of age film, Stand by me, which was of course based on the Stephen King story, The Body. Chris and Gordie are two of the main characters in the story.

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Parallel Worlds

 

 

It’s only after thirty years away, I see how idyllic my childhood home is and I have the strangest feeling of seeing two parallel worlds, as if each eye is imprinted with a different image, my brain struggling to reconcile the two.

There is the picture window gazing onto the endless ocean, a porch swing wide enough for two, a spotless white picket fence.

Blink and I see the other world …

… six years old, paint brush falling from my hand as a boot kicks me from behind. The graze on my temple from the fence  …

… shivering on the porch swing as the dark creeps in, as wild things snuffle closer, as the shouting from inside turns to screams …

… banging at the picture window as my mother walks away, never turning, never looking back …

Tugging my collar against the wind, I’m glad of its beauty.

It means it will sell quickly.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are on Mackinac Island, Michigan. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers : A watchful eye

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Nathan Sowers grandson of our own Dawn M. Miller


 

Dew had settled on Bertha’s shawl, seeped through to her dress. The damp drew out the warmth from her shoulders, making her shiver.

She glanced into the mirror, at the reflection of a wormy shed, the path leading to it choked with fleabane. Back when she was ill, she would have seen the shed’s lone window as an eye, wide, watchful, judging …

A scrape, a thump. The demons were awake inside the shed. Thank goodness she’d thought to lock the door, to protect herself against their grasping claws, their greedy mouths.

‘Mama!’

How the devils screamed! She closed her eyes.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Write a story and join the fun. See here to learn how.

NB Bertha’s name just sprang to my mind when I went to write this. Hardly surprising for anyone who has read Jane Eyre, for Bertha Mason is Rochester’s disturbed wife, the original ‘madwoman in the attic’.

As a teenager, I loved Jane Eyre, but grew to have greater sympathy for Bertha after studying Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which explores the themes of racism, colonialism and prejudice in Charlotte Bronte’s original telling.