Crimson’s Creative Challenge #69: Upended

CCC#69

Madge slipped into her boots and headed for the garden. The boots slipped back and forth on her feet, still heavy with mud from the previous day.

She’d always enjoyed this time of year. The spring pruning, the pot scrubbing, righting the gnomes upended by winter storms. There was an excitement to it, an anticipation of summer in the scent of compost and the rows of brightly coloured seed packets.

She hadn’t sown any seeds this spring. She wouldn’t see the cherry blossom break pink against a blue May sky. She wouldn’t sink her teeth into an apple fresh from her own tree. Those thoughts gave her a pang – who wouldn’t want just one more summer?

But the garden would grow lush without her, the bees would still come and visit the trees and plants she’d tended.

The world turned. And that was enough.

***

Written for Crimson’t Creative Challenge #69. See here to join in.

Writing Prompts: What Pegman Saw

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What Pegman Saw is a great writing prompt, unique as far as I’m aware in that it uses Google Street View as a starting point.

The curators (Josh and Karen) suggest a venue each week but it’s up to the individual to choose a specific image to use as inspiration.

Why not give it a go here.

Today Pegman hitches up his camel for a trip deep into the Saudi Arabian desert, an oasis known as Wadi ad-Dawasir. There is no street view, but more than a few photospheres. Feel free to wander until you find something that appeals to you, then write up to 150 words about it. Sharing, reading, and commenting is the meat of a photo prompt, so please participate. If you enjoy yourself, please encourage others to join this community.

Writing opportunity: Calling all Wyrd Sisters … and Brothers

 

Now, I know many of you out there are weird*.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, because you’re like me – you’re drawn to reading and writing on subjects from the darker realms of your imagination and that’s great, right?

When you close your eyes or put pen to paper/ fingers to keyboard, you’re mind is not teeming with big-eyed Disneyfied, fluffy bunny fiction, spilling over with love and flowers and happy endings.

That’s not to say everyone your write is a sociopath with a taste for human flesh, but if your characters are good people who rescue small children and help old ladies cross the road, they are made that way so you can do horrible things to them.

Preferably with pits of magma.

And ghouls.

And horned beasts.

Given that you are a fellow twisted soul who needs a creative outlet (and let’s face it, we’d all be very afraid if you didn’t have an outlet), you might be interested in this writing opportunity at The Wyrd magazine.

So if you’re an author or artist who has

a fondness for weird and slipstream themes

Pop along here. Closing date is the end of this month and good luck, siblings.

 

*Of course, if you’re genuinely weird, you’ll spell this WYRD

Author Interview : The Writing District

 

Lingerie mannequin

Image : Pixabay

 

Earlier this year, I was delighted to win The Writing District’s August competition with my story, Waiting for Angie. (Read about the story’s long road to publication here.)

Now, the very lovely Olive O’Brien (children’s author, publisher and founder of The Writing District) recently asked if I’d like to take part in an author interview for the site. Well, who’s ego could resist that little massage?

So, if you’d like to read about what inspired me to write the story, who some of my favourite authors are, and who was better, Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, do pop along and read here.

If you’d like to read the story before the interview, here it is.

Thank you Olive, it was a pleasure.

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day : That baby faced killer thing

rodent

https://pixabay.com/en/meerkat-fur-small-face-mouth-316736/


 

He rests his elbows on the rail, gazing out at the twitching streaks of sandy fur, a few square yards of mounded dirt littered with scraps of drying vegetable.

‘Aren’t they amazing?’

‘I guess,’ she says.

‘You don’t like them?’

She shrugs. ‘They’re a bit done, aren’t they – meerkats?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘All that standing on your back legs looking cute and killing snakes – ‘

‘I think it’s mongooses that kill snakes.’

Another shrug. ‘What’s the difference? Anyway, they’ve got the baby faced killer thing down. But they still smell like my hamster after it ate one of its babies.’

This wasn’t how he’d imagined the conversation. ‘But they look out for one another. Their family units …’

He feels her body stiffen against his.

‘You want to talk about that here?’ she says.

‘Well. You know. Spring. Nature in all its fecundity.’

‘And kids screaming for ice cream. And kids screaming because they “didn’t see the monkey pooing, Daddy”. And kids just screaming because that’s what they’re good at.’

‘I just thought …’

‘No, you really didn’t. And next time, take me somewhere that doesn’t stink of dead rodents.’

He smiles. ‘Next time?’

 


First posted in response to for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practioner, Week # 15 2016. See here for full Ts and Cs.

Another repost, this time with a Valentine’s Day theme. Well, ish. Look, it’s about as romantic as I get, alright?

Will be posting and commenting in the flesh again soon, when normal service will be resumed.

 

The death of Jesse

beach-690487_1280

Image : Pixabay

 

Others are up ahead, a clump of black silhouettes, paled by a haze of sea spray.

I check my instinct to call Jesse to heel. Stupid dog’s too far away, closer to them than me. If I call they’ll see me.

There was a storm last night. Idiot! I stumbled from the shack just as the cold sun was lifting over the bay, only half awake, unprepared. If only I’d made coffee, got the stove going, sparked some brain cells to life. But the wood store was empty, the coffee jar too.

I watch Jesse for one second, two, as he jogs towards the hunched figures, his tail swinging. Only now do I notice wreckage littering the sands – a plastic bottle, half full of  something blue (shampoo? mouthwash?): sodden paper: a splash of red cloth, bright as spilt paint. The others will have been out all night scavenging for what’s left of the boat’s crew.

One last glimpse of golden fur and I turn back, walking fast, forcing myself not to run, not wanting to draw their attention. I sink my hands deep in my pockets, feel the bag I’d brought along to collect Jesse’s morning mess – a hangover of more civilised times.

Stumbling over a silver belt buckle, a boot with no laces, I hear Jesse bark, growl, yelp.

Poor Jesse. I bite my lip hard, blink away salt water.

I determine to find more coffee.


Not sure if it’s the hunched, hooded figure in the foreground that turned my thoughts to the dark side, or just the fact that I’m a miserabilist.  What do you think of when you see this picture? Is it more cheerful than the way my tale went?

As the Valentine’s Day rush of roses and desperate paramours is upon me, I find myself absent from the screen for a few days. So here’s a tale I penned a year ago.

Apologies to all who comment in the meantime – I shall reply once the madness is over.

 

The Big 5 – 0 – 0

Gold star on red and blue background

Image : Pixabay

 

Well, my dears I’ve been looking at my stats and noticed something pretty big has happened.

A few posts ago I passed the big 500 mark here on WordPress.

In my twenty two months of blogging I have written, proofed and posted just over 500 posts, much of it nonsense rambling – a bit like this post actually – the rest fiction.

I’ve explored words, explored worlds, from fantasy to sci-fi, to historical and domestic with a bit of creepy horror, blood and guts thrown in.

It’s a bit of a landmark, whichever way you look at it.

It means – at a very rough estimate – I’ve written around 150,000 words on here. Both a good, lovely thing and some might think a bad thing, as if I’d used the same time writing novels, I would have stopped prevaricating and finished the current book by now.

Still, I wanted to take time out to say Ta Muchly, because without people to read my writing, to be positive and encouraging, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have posted so much and so often.

Thanks all and you never know, maybe one day I’ll be here celebrating my thousandth post.

 

 

 

Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction challenge: Hurry

lovers_1928

Lovers by Felix Nussbaum


 

‘Hurry,’ whispered Con.

His breath was warm in the cold air, salted with Scotch, his whiskers brushed her cheek, a spider’s leg tickle that made her itch.

‘I dont understand why now. And why the oast house?’ Her voice was a child’s whine, tired and tetchy from a day at play. She hated it.

‘We don’t decide the where and why, Sian. They tell us and we jump.’

His arm pressed her tight to his side, as if he was afraid she’d stumble on the cobbles – or run.

Then the brewery was ahead of them – gate thrown back wide on sagging hinges – and the air grew thick with the green scent of hops, of woodsmoke, of bricks baked to rock by years in the kiln. Sian suddenly wanted home and the fire and Ma darning socks, eyes straining in the light of a single oil lamp.

A figure emerged from the shadow of the oast house. A tall man, cap pulled down low. The clouds fled, the moon shone full, bouncing off a pattern of metal loops, a pole cradled in the man’s arms.

Rifle.

‘Forgive me Ma,’ whispered Sian as she was led inside.

 


Written for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. Use the well chosen painting as the springboard for a story. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

Three Line Tales : Playing with creation

three line tales week 35; deer at sunset

photo by Rebecca Johnston – here’s a bigger version


 

‘What does it mean?’ said Tully, blinking away the mist that gathered liked tears on her lashes.

Wing laughed. ‘Mean?’ he said, cuffing his nose with a meaty fist. ‘A bleached deer with the dun means nothing, only that God is bored and plays with creation as a child plays with a poppet.’

But Tully had been watching, seen the crows clinging to the trees like stubborn snow, seen the ice-coloured squirrels and the ghostly, stripeless badgers. The creatures of wood and heath were paling, fading into the mid-winter sky and there was no part of her that could guess why – yet.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See the lovely photo, write a story of three lines. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

By the way, dears, for those of you not in the know, poppet (though used more recently when referring to a sweet and likeable child) is an old word for doll – though one often associated with witchcraft.

A lead feather boa

Rusty bicycle

Image: Pixabay

 

‘Okay. Run it by me again.’

‘Land’s End.’

‘Yes.’

‘To John O’Groats.’

‘Right.’

‘For charity. To save pandas.’

‘Okay.’ Dave eyed the soggy tyres on the ‘reclaimed’ bike, the red brown rusty spokes, the chain draped over one pedal like a lead feather boa. ‘But on that?’

‘It’s for charity,’ repeated Sarah, voice brittle-cheerful as blown glass.

‘I know honey, but …’ He nearly didn’t say, but the words filled his mouth and had to come out. ‘Is this like the skydive you tried to do for dolphins? Or the sponsored swim for dung beetles? Or the sponsored silence for howler monkeys?’ Dave had loved the thought of that last one, the sweet, mute irony of it.

Sarah’s eye twitched. ‘They were all good ideas – ‘

‘Brilliant ideas,’ said Dave a little too quickly. ‘But – .’

‘I know! The skydive for dolphins was cancelled because the week before the plane crash landed into a SeaWorld, the swim was scuppered by millions of ladybirds invading the local pool -.’

‘Made the local news, that.’

‘I know, Dave. And the sponsored silence … Well, that was really unfair. Who gets disqualified for a sneezing fit? Bloody Gina should have been disqualified for wearing that mucky old gorilla suit.’

‘To be fair, she didn’t know you were allergic.’

‘So she said. It just seems everything I try to do is doomed to failure. And I love pandas so much.’ Fat round tears, heavy with mascara, began to ooze down her cheeks.

Dave fished a paper hanky from his pocket. ‘Well, I can see why you love pandas,’ he said, gesturing towards her eyes. ‘It’s cos you look like one.’

As she wiped her face, Dave stared at the drooping chain, at the slashed seat, green with moss and sighed. ‘Alright. I’ll take a look at it for you. I just hope those chubby bamboo eating bastards are grateful.’

She slipped her arm around his back, planting a kiss on his stubbly cheek. ‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ she said.