What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

 

 

The cafe lights bleached the night, washing colour from the hoardings, turning people to cut outs.

Ahriman imagined taking sharp scissors, snipping away plastic chairs and litter bins, sycamore trees and scraps of discarded samusa, leaving only the figures behind, their legs bent in mid step, lifting cups of black tea to puckered lips. He saw the paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards, packed away when he tired of them.

He used to love humanity, its endless capacity for greed and hatred, its skill at weaving lies, glittering webs to trap the innocent before the fatal strike.

Now he walked among these flimsy beings, sharing the fragile beat of their hearts, the flicker of pulse so easy to snuff out.

Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair.

Life had been better when he was a god.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tehran in Iran. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

Ahriman is another name for Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism. Many believe Angra Mainyu will ultimately be destroyed, his power quenched. I imagined him passing into human form, becoming obsolete.

Samusa are pastries filled with spicy meat and vegetables. See here to discover more delicious Iranian food.

 

 

 

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What Pegman Saw : Take me with you

 

‘What do you remember, Casey?’ asked Donaldson.

A bluebottle tapped at the blanked-out window, tangling in the curtain. Decorating the facility like a home had been Donaldson’s idea – better for the children, she thought – but the recycled air still smelt like plastic and singed hair.

Casey smoothed her doll’s skirt, straightened the plaits of golden wool. ‘A stone path,’ she said, ‘the colour of dirty sand. It’s bendy.’ She made a shape in the air with her hand. ‘The trees are black with branches like fingers.’

Zeb’s description had been identical. And Sunny Lo’s.

‘And it smells funny,’ said the little girl frowning. ‘Of the Big River after the flood. And of the day my bunny died.’

Donaldson crouched down, took the doll from Casey’s unwilling hands. ‘Can you go back?’ she said, eyes flicking to the surveillance camera.

The girl nodded.

‘Next time, take me with you.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Texas, I’ve used a photo sphere of Wildcat Bluff Nature Centre. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling in love for the over forties: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

 

Falling in love is the best, isn’t it?

The anticipation when the object of your desires draws near. The raised heartbeat, the sweating palms, the desire to spend all day, every day in your loved ones company, denying all others. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, all you can think about is them and the next time you’ll be reunited. And when that moment finally comes, when the two of you are alone, slipping between the sheets, your fingers clumsy, hungry to run over those silken pages, to open that glossy cover, to let your eyes feast on what’s inside …

I’ve loved many authors over many reading years – Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, later Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters and Neil Gaiman

Yes, I’m a fickle soul, but what can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

Recently, I’ve begun a new affair with David Mitchell’s Booker longlisted The Bone Clocks. I’d like to describe to you what it’s about, but I’m only halfway through and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure myself.

There’s a teenage runaway and a predatory, swindling Cambridge undergraduate, a conflict-addicted roving reporter covering the war in Iraq and a supernatural fight between good and evil – I think.

Social commentary, love lost, fantastical horror, life and death and a family wedding – all things that keep the reader engaged.

But it’s Mitchell’s writing that’s drawn me in. Rounded characters, genuine shocks and terrifying threat – both those otherworldly and all to familiar from the evening news – make us care and sympathise for his protagonists, even those who are in the wrong, even as they’re performing the most heinous acts.

To say I’d love to be able to write with his skill and intelligence, handle a range of settings and styles and manage to hold the lot together without it falling into a mess, is an understatement.

Have I found another author to love, another to add to the list and me so damned cynical and middle aged? Perhaps I’ll only know once the last page has turned.

Like love, I don’t know where this story will lead me in the end, but for now I’m just enjoying the ride.

 


Have you recently discovered a new author to love? Did you think you’d never love again, but found a book that sent your heart a-beating as if you were a teenager in the first throes of bookish passion?

Link : What the late Ursula K le Guin thought of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.

 

 

 

The Metamorphosis

 

A dozy blue bottle dashes against the window pane, body tock-tocking, a sound like thrown cooked rice.

Metallic soldier flies – emerald and sapphire – ding on the corrugated roof, as if their combined effort might lift the iron sheets from their bolts, set them loose in the chill night air.

Above a bowl – contents melted by rot – dance the fruit flies, their zigzagging a distraction from the bumble bee corpses lined up on the mantle piece, furry bobbles pinned to strips of padded crimson felt.

On every sill and shelf another order of invertebrate – Coleoptera, Dermaptera, Diptera, through the alphabet  – though each frustratingly incomplete.

My menagerie, live and dead.

I close my eyes and the buzz of the dead joins that of the living and my wings shimmer like finely spun glass.

 


This piece of fantastical flash fiction’s title was lovingly stolen from the novella of the same name by Franz Kafka. It surely contains one of the most arresting opening lines in literature.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Friday Fictioneers : The silvering of clouds

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

There’s a light you get at twilight, when the sun is tucked behind silvery clouds. The sky’s still blue, holding onto day, but the earth is draining of colour, already sliding into night.

It was like that twenty years ago. Day Zero we call it now, but really it was just another summer’s day, a day I have no memory of. Until the broadcast.

I remember Ma’s face as the news came buzzing and tinny over the radio. A sandcastle crumbling under waves. The radio has remained dumb since.

If you could see us all now, Ma, you’d weep.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Come on over, be inspired here, read and comment. It’s a joy.

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Beyond the Pale

 

Indri was already running, sandals slapping flagstones. ‘I know where they’ll come out!’

His legs were longer than Pina’s and he’d soon rounded the corner of the alley, dodged a pomegranate seller, vaulted the legs of Zaru the beggar, careening into the opposite wall before stumbling on. Complaints rang around her.

‘That boy!’

‘Pina, tell your brother -‘

She yelled her apologies, tucked her head down and ran after him. ‘Indri! Where are we going?’

But soon the city gate was looming overhead and she knew – outside the wall.

‘The Pale?’ she yelled. ‘You think they’ll come out at the Pale?’

Outside the protection of the city walls, where traitors were executed, where outcasts cried and screamed for home.

Indri had stopped under the golden halo of the gate.

She came panting to his side. ‘What …?’

He pointed towards the baked earth of the Pale as it cracked open.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Stretview. See here to share, read and comment. Today, we visit Mdina in Malta.

So, what do you think is coming out of the earth? I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear yours.

Notes

The Pale – a term borrowed from County Down, Ireland when governed by the English.

Beyond the pale – There were many ‘Pales’ (a term that signified home ground, being within paling, meaning fencing) and to be beyond it means going outside the confines of what is acceptable.