Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73: What Sunny found.

CCC #73

The note led Sunny to a clearing in the woods, to a shipping container half concealed by ivy and brambles. If it wasn’t for the stencilled letters and numbers, it could be something from a fairy tale, home to a sleeping princess.

Once she’d cleared the growth from the door, sweat darkened her top and her arms were lacy with scratches, threads of blood.

She stared at the block of metal, wondering why. Why someone had sent her a note telling her to come. Why she’d obeyed it.

The sun was dropping lower, midges rising from the grass. Time.

She pulled the lever. The bars squeaked, turned slowly, rust catching on rust.

‘Come on,’ she muttered.

With one last tug the mechanism released. An animal smell – ancient and rank – hit her along with a wave of heat. She swallowed, tried to ignore the call to vomit.

‘Oh, no,’ she sighed.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. See here to join in.

Now, why did Sunny follow those instructions – something unresolved from her past, her present? What did she find in the shipping container?

Do drop me a line telling me what you think.

What Pegman Saw: Dust and Ashes

Image: Google Earth

There were the remnants of a fire, set in a dip overlooking the canyon. Pike scuffed the blackened ironwood with his boot, kicking up dust and ashes.

‘She was here.’

Root stood silhouetted against the ripening sunset, one foot up on a rock, thumbs hooked in his trouser pockets. He raised an eyebrow.

‘Smart enough to make a fire out of nothing,’ said Pike. ‘Stupid enough not to think we’d find it.’

Root nodded, chewed a fragment of nail from his index finger, spat it into the drop below. ‘Which way?’

Pike pointed down the canyon. ‘She wouldn’t last long out here and she knows it. She’ll head for people, hope she can get a lift someplace.’

Root nodded, heading back towards the Jeep.

Pike smiled to himself. The least he could do was give her a head start.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Happy Jack, Arizona. See here to join in and have fun.

Iain Kelly’s State of Denial: Santa finally comes to Bristol

Dismal old month, January.

The weather’s awful, Christmas a distant memory, the only signs it even happened being stray pine needles in the carpet and the need to slip into elasticated waistbands for the first quarter of the year.

However, I have found an answer to the winter gloom, something to lighten the long trudge to spring –

I have become my own Santa.

As I apparently wasn’t good enough to deserve Iain Kelly’s latest book – State of Denial – from the real Santa, I thought I’d cheat and order a copy for myself.

And there it is, above (apologies, Iain, for the terrible photograph, especially as your covers are so wonderful! Did you know he designs them himself?).

I haven’t delved in yet, but anyone who read the first book, A Justified State, will share with me a need to know just what happened to beleaguered detective Danny Samson, how he’s fared living under the controlling, sinister influence of the State, especially after his earlier shenanigans.

To read more about the trilogy, pop over to Iain’s blog here.

Or just skip straight to your territory’s Amazon and buy the first two State books, links here.

What Pegman Saw: Lost, found, stolen

Image: Google Maps

We were led along a narrow lane into the backyard of a house. A hosepipe coiled round the base of a banyan tree – emerald green and dusty – an equally dusty tortoiseshell cat coiled on a nearby garden chair.

The gallery was a wooden construction built onto the back of the house, the roof glass, letting in any dappled light that escaped the clutches of the banyan.

Sonny handed his kyats over to the elderly artist and strode in. I watched the twitch of his shoulders through his sweat-soaked shirt as he moved from one image to the next. The trip had been good for us. Time to heal, learn how to be a couple again, not a family.

‘Kim.’ An edge in his voice.

A painting. A little girl with Sonny’s charcoal eyes, my ash-blond hair. Our little girl, holding the ragged Mr Ted we buried with her.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Myanmar. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Oversight

The hill cut the sky in half, a black shrug between the dappled water and slabs of slate grey cloud. Six pylons prickled the horizon, three groups of three, arm in arm.

Even here, the weight wouldn’t lift. The sky pressed down, hills pushed at his back, pylons watchful.

He tied another fishing fly, plucked the silken fluff from the shaft of a quail feather, twisted the cord, trapping more feathers. Once the fly was done, he added it to the others lined up on the pontoon.

They stirred in the wind, a twitch like the flex of dying muscles. He scuffed the bundles of feather and cord into the water.

“It’s time.” The aide was at his side, signalling towards the car. “They need your signature to go ahead.”

“Yes.” He watched the feathers float away.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit Newfoundland and Labrador. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Blue Hole

Image: Google Street View

I told Bernie to meet me at Blue Hole today after church.

Big soft lug didn’t ask why, just winked, nodded, carried on loading the barrels on the truck like Pa told him.

He’ll come alone – Bernie’s always alone when he’s not trailing after me.

I gaze out over the near-still water and the lake shows me how it got its name. It’s a mirror for the sky and the perfection of it makes a bubble of hurt swell and burst in my chest. It’s the bluest blue, like Callie’s eyes the day she told me no, the day she slipped below the glassy surface, leaving only her canvas shoes and a trail of bubbles behind.

If only Bernie hadn’t followed me down here that day, if only he hadn’t seen me bury those shoes.

A sound from behind makes me turn.

‘Hi Bernie,’ I say.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Middle Torch Key in Florida and don’t ask me why such a stunningly beautiful spot made my mind turn this dark way – it’s just how I am.

I’ve been away from the blog a few weeks and how lovely it is to be back. I’ve been finishing up a submission package for my WIP. The cover letter has been crafted, synopsis pared down (again and again!), the opening pages tweaked to an inch of their lives and I’ve subbed to four agents. Expecting four rejections, but you never know, at least one of them may have something helpful to say.

Wish me luck.

The blade that cut the cord

They came to the door at sunup, November rain dripping from hat brims and shoulders. So many of them – neighbours, friends – eager breath rising like fog.

Father stood in their way, but one punch and he hit the flagstones, the wind and fight knocked from him.

The leader sent two aloft, the ladder creaking under them. Hay dust sifted between the boards, speckling father’s blood stained lip. He could only stare and wait.

A scuff of boots, a thump.

Then my brother Gabe, screaming, weeping for our dead mother, for Father, for me. An animal howl tore from his lips. I blocked my ears, praying God I could unhear that sound.

In moments they were gone – with Gabe, with the rusty blade he’d used two nights before.

Dust stung my eyes, ground between my lips and teeth.

Our father wept.

***

From a story prompt suggested by Patsy Collins over at Womagwriter Blog.

For any of you interested in writing for women’s magazines, Patsy’s blog really is THE place to go for magazine guidelines, submission tips and links. Absolutely invaluable.

What Pegman Saw: Say no to yes.

The wind was blowing hard now, peppering Naga’s face with grit. He took a last drag of his cigarette, dropped it, screwed the stub into the dirt with his sneaker.

The sun was low behind the trees, sky burnt orange at the horizon. Where was Maja?

Robbing the convenience store had been her idea. Said she’d seen the clerk bundle notes into a battered tobacco tin, hide it under the counter. The guy was ashy with age, walked with a frame. One look at Maja’s hunting knife and he’d hand the tin over. Sweet and simple, she said. Reluctantly, Naga had agreed.

He blinked, cuffed his eyes.

But the old man had screamed – a weird, trapped rodent noise. He’d stumbled forward, lashed at Maja with his walker. The knife flashed. Naga ran.

Something his mom used to say pinballed through his head.

Say no to yes, beta.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street view. This week we are in Cape Disappointment, Washington. See here to join in.

And if you want to know where I found the title, just look at that scabby wall …

Friday Fictioneers: Easy Pickings


PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Pinkie waits by the big wheel.

The rink is closed for the night, the wind cutting across the ice, bringing winter with it. Fairy lights shiver in the black fingered trees, the smell of fried onions from the food stall reminds him of summer and richer pickings, long nights of beer and open jackets and easily lifted wallets.

‘Alright, Pinkie.’ Rose is smiling, a soft, wet-eyed smile that makes him want to punch her. Her hand in his is cold, slightly damp. Like a dead man’s.

‘The wheel is it?’ he says. It’s high up there. High and windy.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to write your own tale.

Apologies, but due to a heavy workload this week I won’t be reading as many FFs as usual, though be sure if you read and comment on my story, I will reciprocate … eventually!

Fairgrounds and seasides always have a darker side for me. On the surface it’s all family fun and bright lights and loud music, beneath there’s grime and dirt, rather like the rides themselves. Perhaps it’s all those holidaymakers with money in their pockets that attract folk wishing to have a slice of that money and not always legitimately.

Anyway, for some reason the image reminded me of Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock, the tale of the sociopathic teenage killer Pinkie Brown. There’s death and violence, sex and Catholicism, all mixed together in a rather distasteful brew – or at least I found it so when I read it as a teen. For those unfamiliar with the novel, look here.

In my story, I picture Pinkie meeting Rose, his girlfriend later wife who is oblivious to the extent of her spouse’s depths …

What Pegman Saw : The drowned man of Ram’s Island

Image: Google Streetview

The thing that upset Ma most was not having Uncle Niall’s body.

When family die, there’s a way things go, you know? The women wash and dress the dead fella, lay him in his box on a table in the parlour. There’ll be the uncles with their greased down hair and card collars, gripping pints of plain. There’ll be the aunties with their washed-out faces, fingers crimped round tea not drunk, wake cake not eaten.

But from the day Niall was found floating face down near the hide, the questions started. A poacher with no traps or snares. A smoker with no tobacco pouch, no matches. A married man with his ring finger cut clean off at the knuckle.

Time’s passed and more folk have vanished. Now Ram’s Island’s left to the heron’s and the coots, the mute mouthed salmon.

But as Ma says, ‘Some bastard knows, don’t they?’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt that uses Google Street View at it’s jumping off point. This week ,we are at Ram’s Island, Northern Island.

Why did that nature lover’s hide prompt me to write a murder mystery? It looks pretty isolated, pretty lonely out in the water, the perfect place for bad things to happen. It could also be the overhanging Brexit negotiations that threaten the peace in Ireland, the recent parcel bombs that have been claimed by the IRA. Whatever inspired this tale, it seems trouble is never far away.