Jan 2014

"Spengler's Holiday Car Hire" - Flash Friday

Car Wreck
Car wreck (public domain photo) for Flash Friday 31 January 2014

Spengler’s Holiday Hire Car

Despite the primitive roads Spengler was loving the car’s smooth ride. There were hardly any other cars on the road, which meant the main issue was avoiding pedestrians. His car was certainly a spanking head turner bringing crowds whenever it slowed. The guys who’d sorted it had done a top job.

        An hour later, outside the Western Mutual, the vehicle began to judder unsettling Spengler. The man he’d picked up to take to the station seemed unphased, but he’d probably never been in a car before.

        The red LED pulsed on the dashboard, a little out of keeping with the 1920s vehicle.

        ‘Hi Spengler here,’ he said into his cuff. ‘What’s up?’

        ’Transformation field is failing,’ his other cuff reported. ‘Sorry, we’re going to have to take you out of there.’

        A loud Phutt! and the driver’s seat was empty.

        The front wheel disappeared and minutes later the rest of the car would be a memory too.

        Spengler would return.

(150 words) 31 January 2014
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"Casting Shadows" - Visdare #46

Visdare #46
Another fine black and white photo from Angela's Visdare to bring out so many possibilities.

Shadow Puppets
photo source

Casting Shadows

Carla stepped through the house like it was a museum, touching nothing. It was familiar to her in the way a house would be from a soap opera. It was not a home. At her old bedroom she stopped, looking at the handle, knowing she would not enter.

        Paintings of anonymous landscapes on the wall, of places they’d never been, that meant nothing to the family, still perplexed her.

        Downstairs she found the door to the back-room was slightly ajar. Carla pushed it tentatively and it opened revealing the grand fireplace and, in the middle of the room, the ornate grate. Whenever she’d been in here with a fire blazing she’d watch its shadows play on the walls letting her imagination run free.

        Carla touched the iron grate and felt herself cast back a child again. Locked in the room; her father’s only idea of parenting.

        Finally she cried.

(150 words)
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'Stat!' - Trifecta Week 101

Trifecta 101

or_l
Photo source

From
Trifecta #101 - www.trifectawritingchallenge.com - and above photograph (click to see source). Just 33 words!


Stat!

Highlighter neon seeped into Julia’s fingers like an obnoxious chemical spill. Her head throbbed, bursting with unfathomable words and phrases as her heart set the pulsing rhythm.

        “Exam strength coffee!” she cried. “Stat!!"





(33 words)



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"Return of the Dead" - Race the Date #11

RTDbadge
Race the Date #11

Return of the Dead

Angelo was squashed uncomfortably into an awkward corner of the cafe and was fidgeting. There was something wrong with the taste of the coffee and he left it virtually untouched. He’d briefly contemplated a stronger drink over the road, but that way lay problems. His hands were clammy and he rubbed them hard down his pristine jeans.

Half a mile away Raul was sat in a bus station waiting room with a grin wide across his face at the thought of seeing his brother again. He’d been out of the refugee camp for a month before he’d found Angelo had survived the attack on the village and it had then taken another three weeks to search him out. He’d never felt more elated.

Angelo knew it was probably just avoidance, but his clammy hands were starting to annoy him. He stared at them willing them dry. Maria had told him he was suffering survivors guilt. So many friends and relations had died during the troubles, and he had thought his brother among them. Now he knew Raul hadn’t died but had spent all that time in the infamous refugee camp just a few hours from the city. Angelo had eventually prospered after the civil war had ended and even had a young family; he worried Raul would resent him for it. It was frightening that one wrong spelling - a simple administrative error - had robbed them of years together.

As he entered the bus station Angelo saw Raul turn towards him, his face thin and much older, yet unequivocally his gorgeous younger brother.

They sat in comfortable silence for an age just soaking up each others very existence. Over a vat of coffee their divergent histories then began to leak out as the years melted away in the tropical heat.


(299 words)
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News Flash!

Since December in Race the Date and Flash Fiction Friday I've had a bit of a run with five Honourable Mentions, a Top 10 place in Flashiversary and even a win in 'Race the Date'. It definitely gives you a bit of a warm and cuddly feeling getting some feedback from the great Flash! community - so, long may it continue.

Need to decide which ones to continue with now
Visdare - one of my favourites - is back too. I may drop out of Mid Week Blues Buster a bit (for some reason it always takes me a bit longer!).

Looking forward to finding out what (if any) Flash challenges will be in
Writing on the Wall this year. News is apparently imminent… Watch This Space.


WoW
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"Transformation" - Visdare #45

It is absolutely fabulous to see Angela Goff's Visdare challenge back. The photos she selects are always engrossing and she's back with a bang this week with 'Scrutiny'. Visdare has moved slightly and can now be found at http://anonymouslegacy1.wordpress.com

Scruting 10
Scrutiny - photo source

Transformation

Sam stood toe to toe with the iron man. He got so close to its engrained face he could feel the cold on his nose. He stepped back scrutinising its unearthly head and twisted body and he stared into the eyeless face. It was looking back at him he was sure. It forced Sam back onto his heels.

When he stepped closer again he had his hand on his hips mirroring it. As minutes past there was a shift. The iron man was a representation of Sam he was sure. He felt diminished by it, like his soul had been taken.

The world spiralled and his head hurt like cracked ice. He felt so cold as he looked out from the statue at the man. The man had a raincoat on and a silly hat; while he was naked, exposed to the elements.

Sam felt the rust eating into him.


(150 words)
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"The Tiger's Tail" - Race the Date #9

Jaipur Snake Charmer
The Snake Charmer - (photo source)

The Tiger's Tail


Chhaya, the tiger, watched the villager's festivities. Even through the undergrowth and evening darkness he saw their brightly coloured garments as they sang and danced. They looked happy. Chhaya was not.

        Earlier in the day he’d seen a traveling man with a basket entertain the children with a
pungi and a great snake. He immediately recognised the bespectacled Aswara and saw his discomfort.

        Aswara had been missing for several days and whilst they weren’t the closest of friends their truce between each other felt like kinship. It was difficult to watch him swaying groggily for the sake of a few rupees. He needed to do something to help. Chhaya couldn’t get near the village as it was well defended - they were well aware of his presence in the jungle. He needed a plan.

        A dripping sound behind him caught his attention and he turned to see his swaying tail hovering above a puddle. Plop. He looked at his muddy tail like he’d never seen it before. Plop. A plan.

        Next day Chhaya waited in the undergrowth. Early in the morning as hoped, the snake charmer walked the perimeter with his basket, a sack and a forked branch - peering and prodding the undergrowth. Chhaya turned his back on the charmer and slowly swished his tail - he’d worked all night perfecting it.

        The charmer saw a fantastic snake he didn’t recognise and put down the basket in readiness to catch it. When his forked branch poked behind its head he was surprised to see the mud flakes. He was surprised to see orange and black fur. He was most surprised to see a tiger turn and pounce from the forest.

        Chhaya left the man trembling whilst he carried the basket into the forest and freed Aswara. They became real friends that day.



(300 words)

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"Owl and the Arrogant Giant" - Flash Friday


Wawona_Tree_Road
Wawona Tree Road - Photo from National Parks Service


Owl and the Arrogant Giant

For 2000 summers the giant Sequoia stood resolute in the forest. It had seen many things, its age bringing wisdom. Animals - even minor gods - began to seek Sequoia’s regular counsel. The owl god accepted this, secure that the ultimate wisdom was his.

        One day though the only wisdom being sought in the forest was from Sequoia, and owl beseeched the tree to bow to him. Age though had bred great arrogance. Angrily owl vowed to kill Sequoia that very day. The giant swayed laughing, confident in its eternity - owl could not fight its might.

        While Sequoia slept the owl conspired with the Thunder-Bird sending back messages in time with the wind. In summers past, lightning struck Sequoia bringing fire; spring and autumn rains washed away the soils; and each winter, snows weighed heavily. Unbidden, men drove a tunnel through its damaged base - just because they could.

        Owl - once more the wisest in the forest - hooted when snow felled Sequoia.


(160 words) Flash Friday Fiction 10 January 2014
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"The Morning Coffee" - MWBB Week 43

The Morning Coffee

The bubbling kettle seemed aggressive in extreme as Scott’s head struggled to deal with it. He had tried turning away from the noise earlier, but the light streaming in from the window was impossible for him to take. He was trapped in a purgatory of his own making - in his own kitchen.

        He knew he needed lots of liquids but, right now, he couldn’t even face water. Coffee was all he could think of that may do anything for him. Scott’s special thick weekend blend was called for, which could probably wake a dead man; pretty much what it needed to do.

        In the living room he sat down in the clutter thankful for the blackout curtains. He could just make out the detritus from the night before: two empty bottles of red wine, a box of wine which he daren’t check, two wine glasses, a broken tumbler and crumbs of something they’d eaten - which were welded to the table by sticky splashes of red.

        As he drew a slug of coffee he saw a single white high-heeled shoe peeping out from behind a table leg and he could trace the linear outline of something over by the fireplace. He thought it may be a stocking, it would require investigation later.

        Scott mused that the best nights were always the unplanned ones, but right now he was thoroughly regretting last night as his heads were banging (he was sure one head couldn’t be this painful).

        ‘Scott!’ Christina’s voice came from the bedroom, ‘Scott, are you up? You making breakfast?’

        She already sounded at home - it was one night of drink fueled passion for him, now for the first time he wondered what it had been for Christina.

        He knew her most intimate measurements, but didn’t even know how she took her coffee. ‘Coffee!’ he shouted, ‘Breakfast
is coffee. How do you take it?’

        ‘Black and one sugar, please.’ Christina said as she walked in. Scott thought she looked surprisingly well, which made him wonder whether he’d done most of the drinking.

        ‘Have you seen another one of these anywhere, gorgeous?’ she said holding up a shoe with a single finger.

        Scott thought he had seen one somewhere but his head wasn’t working yet.

        ‘Not sure,’ he said.


(378 words)


MWBB Week 43 - Song 'Heartbeats' The Knife/Jose Gonzalez
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"The Eighth Work" - Race the Date

Palace2

The Eighth Work

Thaksin was late for college, but ambled out his bedroom without any urgency. He needed breakfast.

        ‘Thaki, have you heard? Well, of course you haven’t.’ his mother said, ‘They’ve done it again!’

        His dad looked up from the television, ‘Or
he has, I’m not sure it’s a they.’

        Thaksin yawned a chasm, scratched his balls then grabbed for the coffee jug.

        ‘What are you talking about dad?’

        His dad pointed at the television, ‘They said there’d be eight works and they’ve been true to their word. Look son that
Muay Thai has painted a whole wall of the Palace.’

        Thaksin could feel the room shudder. As the coffee began to work he realised it was his mother jumping up and down next to him. ‘This is amazing, I can’t believe they - or he - has got away with it. I know the paintings are good, but this is a pure political punch in the guts.’

        ‘Perhaps a blow to the head,’ said his dad, ‘They chose their name well “
The Art of Eight Limbs” - clever!’

        Glaring at Thaksin from the screen the stark black and white painting was beautiful to behold, he loved the contrast with the ubiquitous reds and golds of the palace. Work, poverty and death presented as an eastern Guernica. On such a venue no one could question its meaning.

        Thaksin slurped his coffee and noticed some paint flecks on his knuckles he’d missed earlier. His thumbnail removed the last of the flecks and Muay Thai was gone.

        It was Muay Thai’s masterpiece - and legacy - copycat art quickly popped up around the country, then across Asia. As the Arab Spring had spread around the Mediterranean years earlier, so the Artist Revolution began in Bangkok with the work of a little unknown artist who couldn’t fight for toffee.


(299 words)
Race the Date “Muay Thai” 6th January 2014

RTDwinner
This Story WON the Race the Date this week. My first Flash Fiction win of 2014 - so I'm chuffed to little mint balls, I am.
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"The Sausage Lesson" - Trifecta 109

The Sausage Lesson

Liz couldn’t get to sleep wondering what she could do about Susan. She’d thankfully grown out of the “
Talk to the hand” stage, but still the usual refrain from any comment or question was “Whatever...

          Liz needed to get her daughter back - to get her talking!

          It was 2am when she hit upon it. She thought it may be a bit of a
kill or cure, but it would certainly get a reaction.

          Next morning as Susan grabbed some toast and coffee Liz sat compiling the Monday shopping list.

          ‘What do you want tonight love?’

          Predictable: silence.

          Liz tried again, ‘Sorry, Susan. What do you want for dinner tonight?’

          There may have been a quiet grunt, but she wasn’t sure.

          ‘I said...’

          Susan looked up and stopped Liz in her tracks, ‘Whatever!’


The stench of the Andouillette sausage was as hard to stomach now as it had been when Liz discovered it in Paris twenty years ago. Liz was having chili herself, but Susan having a lesson.

          The key in the door quickly brought Liz back from her Parisian memories.

          ‘That you love?’ she shouted out.

          ‘Who else would it be?’ Susan said laying each word thick with sarcastic tones.

          ‘Dinner’s ready. Get it whilst it’s hot!’

          The tell tale clomp only a teenager - or a medium sized hippo - could make let her know she’d heard.

          As the kitchen door was flung open Susan screamed, ‘Has something died!?’

          ‘Just your dinner.’ Liz said placing the plate in front of her, ‘It’s supposed to smell like this.’

          Susan looked in shock at the plate, then at her mum’s.

          ‘You’ve got chili, my fave,’ she said.

          ‘Yep, it’s spot on too, I must say.’ Liz said taking a forkful.

          With teenage bravado Susan sat down and started to eat.

          ‘Every mouthful is another nightmare!’ Susan said ten minutes later almost in tears.

          Liz didn’t have the heart to make Susan eat even half of it.

          Susan never said “
Whatever!” to her mum again. Lesson learnt.


Trifecta Writing Challenge - 'Whatever" 6th January 2014
(333 words)

Andouillette1
Andouillette Sausage
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2014 Reading

I am aiming to read 35-50 books this year including some classics. So for every book I would normally choose to read I'll follow up with one of these 18 classics. Look like a good list?


  • ‘Oryx & Crake’ and ‘Maddadam’- Margaret Atwood
  • ‘Pride & Prejudice’ - Jane Austen
  • ‘Jane Eyre’ - Charlotte Bronte
  • ‘Great Expectations’ - Charles Dickens
  • ‘Birdsong’ - Sebastian Faulks
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ - F Scott Fitzgerald
  • ‘The Scorpion God’ - William Golding
  • ‘A Farewell to Arms’ - Ernest Hemingway
  • ‘Dune’ - Frank Herbert
  • ‘Ullyses’ - James Joyce
  • ‘Shikasta’ and ‘The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five’ - Doris Lessing
  • ‘Alice Munroe’s Best Stories’ - Alice Munroe
  • ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ and ‘Homage to Catalonia’ - George Orwell
  • ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ - John Steinbeck
  • ‘Day of the Triffids’ - John Wyndham

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