Monthly Archives: May 2013

Trifextra 70 – Parting Exchanges

iran-tehran

“Why can’t this still be our place?” he pleaded.

“You knew this wasn’t forever” she smiled. “Come. Your wife and children need you now.”

He loved his family.

Unfairly he loved her more.

trifecta

These 33 words are my entry into the Trifextra 70 writing challenge

Friday Fictioneers – Home For Good

ff290513It was just another day for Mabel Vandersak. Others didn’t think so.

“Fifty grand Mabel!”

“Don’t fight them Mrs Vandersak”

Mabel didn’t want the money. She was almost out of fight.

Below the crowds watched on as the bulldozers revved impatiently. Mabel emerged to hang her dress out to dry. Jeers from some. Cheers from others.

As darkness fell the foreman broke down the door. They found Mabel on the bed wearing her freshly washed and ironed dress. The same one she wore in the faded bedside photo of her and Hank on their wedding day.

This was the only house they’d ever shared. She wasn’t leaving.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Beacons of Mercy

lights

The waves crashed against the jagged coastline of the Northern Boundaries. Thick fog was swirling in the frozen air. Ten miles out the Hyratal Laguna was desperately making for the shelter of Berlatas harbour. As the Laguna rolled violently from side to side her crew struggled manfully to keep their vessel on course. Most of the 50 passengers were praying. Praying to their Gods, praying to any God who would listen.

The winds continued to batter the ragged sails. Captain Thietus Gundsmork remained confident. He knew these seas like the back of his hand. In the darkness ahead the serrated edges of the Hellaran rocks were about to welcome their bounty.

From the left it came. From the right it followed. The twin lighthouses of Berlatas illuminated the scene. Just In time Gundsmork heaved his vessel from disaster. The lights guided the Laguna safely home.

The passengers continued to pray.

This is my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress site. The picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

Trifecta 79 – A Model Employee

trainset1

As a boy he’d been obsessed with trains. As an adult very little changed for Vern Easelton. There was only one place Vern had ever wanted to work.

For a year he watched attentively from the learner’s seat. His instructor would drive the shuddering old diesel locomotive on the 50 mile loop from Ganakville to Bolswater and back. He knew what to do. He couldn’t wait to do it himself. He needed a second year said his instructor. Vern was crestfallen but he wasn’t about to give in.  Another year. This time surely he thought. There wasn’t to be a third year.

These memories ate away at Vern. He did end up working for the railways. However, the signal box at Whistler’s Curve never featured in his childhood dreams. “A monkey could do this job” Vern used to mutter to himself. Green Lamp at one end. Red lamp at the other. From his perch on the hillside Vern could clearly see both lamps. If he couldn’t both would be set to red. The line wasn’t even that busy. Two trains rarely approached the short stretch of single track at the same time.

They did the week before Christmas, two years back. The 3:29 from Ganakville and the 4:05 to Bolswater.

***

“Diminished responsibility” his lawyer said.

“Clinical depression” the state psychiatrist proffered.

Murderer the relatives screamed.

The jury agreed with the state. Vern avoided the chair.

“Was this man really insane?” enquired the media as Vern Easelton was led from the courtroom.

“Managed to appear sane enough to keep his job!” responded Joe Ravansaki the line controller from the Handane County railroad company.

To this day Vern still indulges his love of trains. It’s said he has the finest train set in the county. The wardens at the Sanatorium helped him build it. It even includes a painstakingly created replica of Whistler’s Curve. Hasn’t been a crash yet. One Green lamp. One Red lamp. Vern has learned his lesson.

These 328 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 79 writing challenge.

trifecta

Trifextra 69 – The Art of Surprise

balloons

Nearly there.

She’d appeared oblivious to Bob’s grumbling.

Should I tell him?

Don’t!

I will. I’ll tell him.

Rounding the corner they saw the banner.

“Congratulations Bobby!”

The secret was out.

He smiled.

trifecta

These 33 confession themed words are my entry into the Trifextra 69 writing challenge. If you like it you can vote for me on Monday morning. If you don’t like it then you can vote for somebody else. I won’t hold it against you, honest!

Friday Fictioneers – One Man and His Dog

ff220513Xavier Barncastle could sell anything to anybody. He’d even sold Miss Simpkin a phone without an ear piece. She didn’t seem to mind. Miss Simpkin was Xavier’s best customer.

For years Xavier and his Labrador Scruples had hawked their wares throughout Saskaran County. He’d been married once. Preferred the road and the company of his dog. Miss Simpkin though was different.

He had the ring. It was time to settle down. As they approached the Simpkin house he paused. He wanted to. He needed to. She wanted him to.

Turning back towards the freeway he looked at his old friend.

“One last trip, eh Scruples?”

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Trifecta 78 – Gone Fishin’

abandoned2The biting summer winds shrieked their way through the deserted streets of Saskatill. Doors of homes long shorn of life blew open and closed in an endless cacophony of thuds and bangs. The frozen, hulking skeletons of rusting machinery at the abandoned fishing plant rattled day and night.

Nobody cared. Nobody was there to care. They’d all left when the plant closed. All except Mickey Keeperman. He’d stayed.

“Come on Mickey. Think straight. We leave tomorrow” they’d said.

“I ain’t leavin’. This is my town. Why woulds I wanna leave?”

Who wouldn’t want to leave this end of nowhere? Use some imagination Mickey!

Mr Mayhew called him pedantic. He didn’t know what that meant. He had everything he wanted right here. They didn’t understand.

“I can’t leave my family. They needs me” insisted Mickey.

At that point they stopped asking. Soon they were all gone. Rust moved in as the town began to rot away. Those who left didn’t forget their old friend though. Supplies were delivered. Hardly enough to feed a bird but Mickey survived. He survived to keep a look out.

*****

He came down to the dock every day to wait for them. They had been gone since Mickey was a kid. His father and brother were his heroes. A child needed heroes in this sort of town. He would never give up on them.

The cold and loneliness were beginning to take their toll on Mickey. His health wasn’t what it was. One bone chilling night, with the view crystal clear, Mickey thought he saw a boat. No! It is! Is it? It all went hazy. It all went quiet.

*****

Five years after they left life returned to Saskatill. They’d struck oil. The first ones back found Mickey down by the dock.

It’s said when the skies are clear and the air is cold you can see it. Out in the fishing grounds. The old Keeperman trawler. Three hands on board. Mickey at the wheel.

These 329 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 78 writing challenge.

trifecta

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Pandora’s Box

apf190513

She’d heard it all a million times before.

“How’s ya box Pandora?”

“Woah, don’t open the box Pandora!”

She was a bit strange. It didn’t hurt her that people thought that way. Pandora Waghorn had lived in this small, end of the line town all her days. It was her father’s box. She’d loved her father dearly. He’d doted on his Pandora. She swore to him to keep it close.

Pandora slept soundly that night. The box was in its usual place by her bedside. He was in and gone in moments. Her snores went undisturbed. The bedside table was now empty.

I’ll see what’s in this friggin’ box. That Pandora. Stupid cow. Should be in a mental home. Right. Hmmm. Damn this is tight…..Ah, nearly there…Got it!…Wha…What the….!!

Pandora Waghorn continued to snore. The box was once again by her bedside.

Across the street his face remained frozen in shock as they zipped up the body bag.

This is my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress site. The picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

A Question of Grammar – Semicolon

semicolonEverywhere I go these days I see one. My eyes can barely glance at a piece of fiction without one of them being there. Talk about being in vogue! I’m almost beginning to worry whether I should publish any more writing without this year’s grammatical must have. I am of course talking about the oft lamented but now simply irresistible semicolon. It’s getting to the stage that I now come across them so often I genuinely wonder whether people are putting them in for the sake of it. Are they all really needed? If in doubt put one in seems to be the mantra for writers in 2013. Well I confess I’m not totally sure when to use them. There will be others out there like me embarrassed to admit they are semicolon ignorant. If you’re one of those then be ignorant  no longer. When should you use one? When shouldn’t you? What is the point? Time to find out.

Let’s first get a couple of definitions:

While terminal marks (i.e., full stops, exclamation marks, and question marks) mark the end of a sentence, the comma, semicolon and colon are normally sentence internal, making them secondary boundary marks. The semicolon falls between terminal marks and the comma; its strength is equal to that of the colon

In other words:

The main task of the semicolon is to mark a break that is stronger than a comma but not as final as a full stop.

Yes, yes. “Examples, examples” I hear you cry. Well, if I’m reading this correctly there appears to be two main uses for the semicolon.

1.Between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation, especially parenthetic commas, where the semicolons function as serial commas

To you and me this means sentences which already have punctuation such as commas i.e.

The report concluded the following: 76% of surveyed firms monitor employee Web-surfing activities, with 65% blocking access to unauthorized Internet locations; 57% monitor employee telephone behaviour, including the inappropriate use of voice-mail.

2. Between closely related independent clauses not conjoined with a coordinating conjunction:

Again to you and me this suggest sentences where we don’t use words like “and” or “but” to join two closely linked pieces of text i.e.

At the sales I spent £20my brother spent over £50.

In this example you could use two sentences as both elements stand independently. However, as they are related pieces of information the briefer pause given by a semicolon makes it read better.

For more info check out the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon (This is particularly excellent!)

Well, after writing that I am a bit clearer. Hope you are too!

Friday Fictioneers – Suffering in Silence

ff150513Groundsman of the year 2012” announced the framed certificate. Other than his wedding day and the birth of his son it was big Harry Patchway’s proudest moment.

It all changed that night. He changed that night.

The lights. The screeching of brakes. The screams. The blood.

He still came to work. You could hear him. The weeds were running wild but he was still there.

If only someone had spoken to him. Why didn’t someone speak to him?

It was inside the Pennington mausoleum where they found Harry. As they took him down a picture of his wife and son floated slowly from his hand.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

Friday Fictioneers – The Pain of Separation

ff080513

“Crazy ain’t it? It’s a Jesse Mallakoy original. Cost us a million bucks” said the barman as he poured his customer a whisky.

Slowly sipping the drink the old man stroked his mottled beard and smiled.

“He’s dead. Killed himself after finishing this. Locked his soul into it or so the story goes. That’s him in the middle” continued the barman as he turned to point at the picture.

No! How?

The man in the picture was gone. The barman quickly spun round. An empty stool. The glass of whisky he’d poured seemingly untouched.

Jesse Mallakoy felt whole again. He could now rest at peace.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

The Artist Formerly Known as RedWeb

redweb2.1 For the last 15 years of my life I have been known to many as RedWeb. My name is not RedWeb. Never has been RedWeb and never will be RedWeb. I am Paul. However, the name of my Stirling Albion match reports website and my own seem to have become one over the years. Even in conversations I will still get referred to as “Red”. Well no more. Hour upon hour spent conjuring up 1500 word reports from a handful of my scribbled notes is over. RedWeb is dead. Paul is very much alive. Perhaps I should be sad. I’m not. I am relieved. I’ve done my bit. Now it’s time to move on.

redweb3.1RedWeb, the site NOT me, started in 1998 as a way of introducing myself to the world wide web. The idea that a PC, a dial up modem (remember them) and some basic software could get you seen and heard around the world was too much to resist. Not that this has ever been an ego trip. Some might say it was but it wasn’t. Well not really. Anybody who publishes their work in the public domain is a little bit of a show off. Let’s be honest. Undoubtedly I thought my opinions on Stirling Albion were interesting ones and I now had the vehicle to let others hear them. Before RedWeb there were only mailing lists. Hard to believe but true for those who have only ever known the wonders of the information age. From then to now, well yesterday, I was hooked. It became who and what I was.

redweb1.1Now who I am and what I want to be has changed. Almost a third of me has gone after a year of dieting and the new Paul has different goals. I still want to write. I love writing. I need to write. However, that writing will now take the form of blogging and dabbles in the world of creative fiction.

Over the last day or so I have received many thanks and well wishes from people who have enjoyed reading my reports and looking at our photos over the years. It means a lot to me that these people took the time to say “thanks”. As much as I may have enjoyed the writing process in itself the fact that it was actually being read and appreciated made it mean more. Let’s face it. Every writer wants to be read. I was no different and never will be.

Ah well. That is that. Today is the start of a new chapter. Indeed you could say an entirely new book. The one called “RedWeb” is complete and my new one loosely titled “Paul” has begun. I hope from time to time you may take a moment to view and enjoy some of the chapters from here on in.

(For those who want to read my last ever article on RedWeb i.e. as RedWeb, then you will find it here. Be warned it includes a lot of pictures of me when I was “bigger” than I am now. Shocking but essential viewing, for me at least!)

Friday Fictioneers – Lasting Impression

ff010513“It’s a beaut ain’t she?” said Matt Honeyball to his ever doting wife Mirabelle.

“Wha’r is it Matty babe?”

“What is it? Hellooo? Err, umm…it’s a genuine Gaudi” he said pausing to read the plaque. “…built ’em all over Barcelona. Famous he was. One of the world’s most famousest architents that’s for sure!”

“Wow. Clever Matty.”

Matt and Mirabelle had seen it all. The Pyramids, the Coliseum and now a Gaudi masterpiece.

As the smell of grilling burgers and French fries wafted across their nostrils it was time to go. Yes siree. Las Vegas was a hell of a city.

This is my entry in this week’s 100 word writing challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.