Crimson’s Creative Challenge #68: A Lesson in Architecture

CCC#68

A grey green smear of filth and algae on the concrete bridge showed the river’s natural level. For years it acted as a marker, a barrier the water wouldn’t cross.

Then it began to rain and we were told why and how it was happening but all we knew was that the fields were underwater and the drains spewed back what we had pumped in.

We watched as neighbourhoods drowned, homes were lost, people displaced. We tutted, shook sad heads before something new distracted us.

Until it was out turn.

And there was something fitting about watching the deluge from the shelter of that bridge, the strip of water shielded a little from the barrage of rain, the sounds around me not softer but more defined, individual.

The grey green marks were submerged, the river lapped the towpath and I finally remembered the architectural style of that bridge – Brutalist.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #68. See Crispina’s great pic and be inspired here.

Bristol and the entire UK has had weeks – and weeks – of storms and seemingly endless rain and today is no exception. We have the dubious pleasure of welcoming Storm Jorge over the weekend.

Today – right at this moment – Greta Thunberg is in the city on a march against climate change.

Writing Competition: This is the end, beautiful friend

Image: Alicja Pixabay

Is it me or does the world feel like it’s more messed up than ever?

There was a time when all we had to fret over was nuclear annihilation and whether Wagon Wheels are smaller now than they were when we were kids (Yes they are.)

Now the NHS is on its knees, we’re threatened with medicine and food shortages if we leave Europe, civil disobedience if we don’t.

We’re in the middle of a man made Mass Extinction event, global warming is causing erratic weather patterns that threaten much of life on Earth and we’re liable to choke on our own plastic waste in the coming decades.

The question is, where do you channel the quite justified anxiety caused by these concerns?

Do you

A: go full Rambo-style survivalist, build a bunker in your flowerbeds and wait for the coming end armed with a cricket bat and some ancient tins of fruit cocktail to throw at oncoming hordes (I’m in the UK – holding them off with an assault rifle is not an option)?

B: pretend nothing’s happening, keep the worries inside until they form an ulcer the size of a dinner plate?

Hmm. If only there was some useful way to work through these anxieties …

Storgy Magazine has the answer.

They’re running a competition called Annihilation Radiation. There’s an End of the World theme, but here’s the twist that got me excited.

You enter the comp through Storgy’s Submittable page. Within 24 hours, you’ll be sent a link telling you whether you’ve been allotted a Beginning, Middle or End story.

Will you get to write a tale about patient 0 in a global a virus pandemic? Or one that records the catastrophe as it transpires? Or tell what life could be like after the mushroom cloud has settled?

And they’re not purely looking for grim outcomes – humorous stories are encouraged.

If you fancy a go, follow the link and if you do enter let me know – I might just be tempted to hold your hand through the End of Days.

What Pegman Saw: Winter Ghosts

Image: Google Street View

Our village is overhung by the forest, the mountain a spiteful mother at our backs.

For generations the coming of warm weather would prod us from our nests of furs. We’d pick and pickle, cut hay, fill larders and log stores. Ready ourselves.

The cold was always hard when it came. People died, but only those buffeted by years, stripped clean by illness.

Then one year the snow lingered, soft grey ghosts of winter hiding in the shadows. Children scuffed the drifts with their boots, prodded them with sticks before moving on to other quarries.

Each summer those ‘ghosts’ retreated less, were harder to ignore.

This year there was no hay. The ground is too hard to cut even for the smallest grave and the saplings dwindle and die through an endless winter.

Summer haunts my dreams.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Maienfeld, Switzerland. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Red sky


PHOTO PROMPT © Renee Heath

There used to be a saying about shepherds and skies – do you know it?

I sit awake nights, trying to remember the sky Before.

The nights the wolves grow brave, snuffling round camp with their hollow bellies and frosted eyes. The nights cold shoos the black bears from the mountains and I sit vigil with my rusted rifle, cradling our last shells like a miser with his gold.

Memories of the world Before are slipping from me, you see, turning to dreams, to fictions. Only that rhyme proves the sky wasn’t always red.

Tell me you remember it.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale to suit. Visit here to join in the fun.

FFfAW: Bittersweet


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

‘What about this one, Gamma?’ Solly held out a glossy red berry.

Tan looked up from her own basket of fruit. ‘Bittersweet. Eat a handful of those and you’ll be running to the privy for a night and a day.’

Solly let the baubles fall, crushing them with the toe of her boot.

The sun was high, heat building under Tan’s arms, gathering in the channel of her spine. She closed her eyes for a moment, focused on the breeze, how it carried the scent of the distant shore, the quarrel of gulls.

The lights went out twenty years ago today. How had anyone survived those early days? How had she? The loss of all they’d known, all the comforts they’d taken for granted …

‘This is a funny one, Gamma – all spiky.’

She opened her eyes to find another berry under her nose, Solly’s eyes sparkling like fireworks.

After all they’d suffered, here was her silver lining.

*********************************

Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Bittersweet is a member of the nightshade family with glossy red berries that can cause sickness or even death.

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.

What Pegman Saw: Best Watchtower on the Wall

 

Gregor had scavenged blankets and sheep skins, even a couple of ex-military sleeping bags from when army patrols still made it as far as the Wall. Improvised wooden shutters and squares of tarpaulin kept out the worst of the knife cold wind.

‘Home sweet home,’ he’d said, blind eye shining pale in the torchlight. ‘You’re lucky to have been posted here, man,’ he said. ‘Best watchtower on the Wall.’

That night he showed me how to operate the night vision camera, what to look for in the grainy green image.

‘Always scan the ground,’ he said, drawing deep on a roll-up. ‘They try to dodge the cameras by keeping low.’

A flicker of fear bumped in my chest. ‘They’re clever enough to avoid the camera?’

He flashed a jagged smile. ‘Don’t believe what they teach you at school, Con. These mutts are smart.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the inspirational prompt that uses Google Street View as its source. This week, we’re in China at the Great Wall. Be inspired, share, read and comment here.