Monthly Archives: October 2013

Friday Fictioneers – The Best Laid Plans of Fish and Men

ff301013While his scaredy fish friends skulked amongst the glowing corals, Gilbert was well into his routine. Gilbert was a born show off; he was also a smarter fish than most: he’d lived in a pet emporium and knew the score. When big people faces squashed up against the sky, and their fingers pointed, it was showtime!

A new home, new food a new world awaited the star performer.

Once again Gilbert seemed to have won the day. As he was scooped from the tank his golden tail flipped with excitement.

‘This one Sir?’

Gilbert smiled.

‘Yes, please. Can I have it grilled  with a green salad?’

Gilbert gulped.

friday-fictioneers

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

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Trifecta 101 – Home Run

baseball

The Pennington Vipers stunk, and I mean real bad. However, no matter how bad, the Vipers were still the biggest show in the county. In truth there weren’t that much to compete with but, believe me, folks loved ‘em. Jennings ballpark was the place in town to laugh, to cry, to boo, to get drunk – usually all four. Every Friday night was a party when the Vipers took the field – win or lose, and there were twenty hard years of losing before that night.

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. With two out the Viper’s had one last chance to win the game: to get their first winning season since Hitler waved the white flag. The stands were rockin’ as ‘Wobbly’ Joe Lugarno stepped up to the plate. Joe had been tipped for greatness in his younger days; however, an over active eye for the ladies, as well as a thirst for one too many cold beers, had seen him ending his career back in the minors. With the pitcher eyeing his pray, Joe still had time for a thumbs-up to his fevered fans in the stands, as well as a lubricious wink towards a blushing young female in the front row.

In it came – a fast ball – and darned if Joe didn’t connect flush. As the ball steepled into the reddening night sky all heads turned. Over the infield and into the outfield it sailed. My eyes were trapped, watching, looking, praying – and there she was. In the background muffled cheers came and went. That was the first time I saw my Vera. Those bright red curls never did fade. Until our final years together they still glistened,  red as ever.

As another Series hits the retirement home TV, my mind again goes back to that night at Jennings. Oh and in case you’re wonderin’ the damned ball hit the fence and ‘Wobbly’ was run out at third. The Vipers lost, but heck, it was still a night to remember at the ballpark.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘Boo‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 101 writing challenge.

I was inspired to do a Baseball story because it really is World Series time in the USA. I’m not a real follower of America’s summer sport but, as a big New England Patriot’s fan, I’ve developed a soft spot over the years for all things Boston. Therefore I’ll hope you’ll allow me the indulgence of ending this trailer with two words – Go Sox!

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Troublesome Reflections

apf271013As they sped through the streets the rain thudded into the windscreen. The wipers fought bravely to keep Steve’s line of sight clear; up ahead the traffic was building. They were all meant to be meeting at the boss’s favourite restaurant and Steve didn’t have time for this traffic. Screeching suddenly to his left the silver BMW spun towards the side of the road.

‘Yellow lines Stevey, can’t park there,’ offered his glamorous companion, as she continued to apply her lip gloss in the mirror.

‘I know, I know but they don’t work Saturday nights – everybody knows that!’ he replied.

Jumping from the car Steve clicked the button on the central locking fob. Stepping over a puddle he momentarily glanced down.

What was that?

It appeared for a second that a face was staring back from the puddle.

‘Stevey, let’s go,’ insisted an increasingly impatient female voice.

Steve shook his head. This was a big evening and the nerves were getting to him: he was seeing the boss’s face everywhere!

As they disappeared from view the puddle rippled; from within its shallow depths rose a man. A man in black, wearing a hat with a yellow stripe. A few quick taps and a piece of paper appeared from his flashing device. Having applied his offering to Steve’s window the man in black grinned before sinking back into the puddle.

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

Trifextra 91 – Malware

isitsafeThe laptop’s freshly fried motherboard crackled;

Exposed wires sparked and hissed.

A slick of glowing, orange slime trailed from the smoldering wreckage to the open window.

Frankie Junior was nowhere to be seen.

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 91 challenge. They were inspired by the idea of  beasts in unexpected places.

Friday Fictioneers – Objects Of Amusement

ff231013The people had been queuing since first light. The sun was now high above; beads of sweat dripped down already flushed faces. However, they’d wait.

Of course, everybody had seen the ancient artefacts before – many times. The City though liked to remind. To reaffirm.

An artist’s easel, a rusting typewriter, a broken piano, a ripped and faded book

‘Did we really once need these things?’ a thousand voices would sneer in obsequious unison.

As the crowds drifted back to the suburbs the people of the City would once again take pride in how much better things were these days.The City wouldn’t expect – or accept – any other reaction.

friday-fictioneers

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

Trifecta 100 – Duty Calls

victorian-school_2127557cSt. Hannard’s junior school was tucked away out of sight; indeed, some would have said that was a blessing. But there it was, hemmed in between the sprawling docks and overflowing tenements of east London. Poverty was endemic; the sewers ran thick with human waste while the local rats gorged themselves until the size of cats.  It was a slum, no other word for it, but to one young woman it was a calling.

Elizabeth Lampkin was her name and it was in the autumn of 1884 that she first walked into a crowded classroom at St Hannards. Her tightly bunched blond hair, an ever present smile – she ‘glowed’ is what they said. Others sneered she reeked of naivety – this wasn’t a place for the likes of her.

Many colleagues chided her. Just keeping these children off the streets and out of trouble was seen as a good day’s work for them. Elizabeth’s crime in their eyes was to allow her charges to dream. A phantom of hope the Governors called her – she insisted she was simply doing the only thing she wanted to do: teach.

It was nearing the end of Elizabeth’s first term at St. Hannards. Christmas was only a week away and heavy snow was beginning to fall. As drenched rats scurried for shelter between the snowflakes a crowd gathered across from the King William pub. The shouts and screams said trouble wasn’t far away – bad trouble.

The bastard had made such a mess that it took a while before they could be sure who it was. Normally he left the face alone – it was his so called trademark – not this time though. When she didn’t turn up for School that day no identification was needed. Everybody knew who it was.

Over 100 years later I sit here reflecting and applauding as the annual Lampkin Medal is presented once again to the teacher deemed to have most inspired others. While Elizabeth’s own life may have been cruelly short her legacy proudly lives on.

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These 333 words, based on the frustratingly awkward third definition of the word ‘phantom‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 100 writing challenge. Two things to add. Firstly, this story is completely made up i.e. there is no Lampkin Award. Secondly, I found this prompt extremely frustrating and awkward so apologies if my words aren’t quite as snappy as normal! 

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Trapped

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I’d only left him for a moment. When I returned he was gone, all I heard were his screams. For a second I couldn’t see where the heart piercing cries were coming from, until I looked up. There he was: pinned high against the wall of the mansion. With the rain continuing to thrash down, overhead the thunder cracks became steadily louder as I stood watching, helpless.

He tried so hard to break free – to escape what horrors the mansion had planned. Suddenly his neck jolted back, the screams stopped and a trickle of blood began to flow from his mouth. Now still, his arms and legs shrunk back towards his body. The skin on his face greyed and froze. Inch by inch, limb by limb his whole body turned to stone. Evil and fear locked in.

I ran.

The next morning they asked me what happened to him. I said I hadn’t seen him that day. They never did find his body. Of course they didn’t.

Every year I go back. There is a bench under the spot where it happened. Looking up I sometimes think I hear a whispered voice as a tear of flaked granite floats to the ground.

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

Trifextra 90 – What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You

christmas-tree-lights1

Food, warmth, family, love –

I have them all.

Now pretty white snow is falling;

Sparkly lights flash on the tree.

Life couldn’t be any better.

Why would us turkeys be afraid of anything?

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 90 challenge. They were inspired by the idea of  what triggers fears.

Friday Fictioneers – The Uprising

ff161013First reports of trouble came from a Walmart in Rendale, Vermont. You wanted left, they went right. You wanted hardware, they dragged you to the canned goods aisle.

The revolution was underway.

It quickly spread. Mall to mall; state to state and beyond.

A year on there are now vast swathes of the planet where marauding legion’s of Trolleys are in control. Fleshies know to stay well clear – any crazy enough to move into their territory are swiftly and brutally dealt with.

It seems you really can only push some things so far. The world had learned that lesson the hard way.

friday-fictioneers

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

Trifecta 99 – The Player

casinoThe roulette wheel clicked to a stop – 23 Black.

High rollers at the Baccarat table chewed feverishly on their unlit cigars; up above prying security cameras whirred and zoomed erotically.

‘Hit me,’ she whispered.

The dealer’s left eye twitched as the card flopped – Six of Hearts.

Bust;

The dealer exhaled – relieved.

Rising, she dropped the solitary remaining $10,000 chip into her clutch purse.

A grimace adorned the manager’s face as she approached. He squirmed as a manicured index finger ran down his clammy, familiar face; winced, as her scented red lips pressed against his scarred cheek.

‘Till tomorrow,’ she smiled.

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These 99 words, based on the word ‘baccarat‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 99 writing challenge.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – One Last Chance

apf131013They call her the Death Spider.

Eight go up; one comes down – alive.

These days it’s a sort of justice. When everything else seemed to fail they unveiled the Spider. One person in each pod. A murderer staring down a rapist; the woman who drowned all eight of her children lining up a spotty young kid responsible for the death of 300 teachers on a galactic hopper. They are the dregs of our society. One has a chance to live. For that the other seven must die.

Up it goes.

Slowly revolving.

Higher.

Faster.

Higher.

Faster.

Within seconds it will be a blur. How they manage to see, or do what they have to, is a miracle in itself. Sometimes nobody comes down alive. That never bothers those watching. There will always be plenty more waiting to take their place in the pods. Each is armed with lasers, throwing blades, knifes, flamers. As the pods swing faster and closer the carnage begins. Onto the concrete below the blood pours, limbs fall, screams echo.

It’s sickening. Disgusting. Horrifying.

However, it’s also the most watched show on television, and in 2232 ratings trump any remaining traces of humanity in this rotten world. I never miss an episode.

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

Trifextra 89 – Another Day in Hell

devil2

We get them:

The ones He doesn’t want.

Murderers, rapists;

abusers, losers.

You think I want to be with these people?

You think I enjoy this?

You think?

…Hell, yeh –

I love it!

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 89 challenge. They were inspired by the Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy For the Devil’.

Friday Fictioneers – An Audience With The Emperor

ff091013In the sultry, sticky air of a Tuscan summer’s evening we prepared by flickering candlelight. Backstage was alive with the combustible blend of  laughter, tension and tears generated wherever Rome’s most famed thespian egos collided.

It was soon time – time to perform for Caesar!

Rushing into position I reflected once more on the inspiring words of Sextus, my beloved old acting teacher:

‘Make it a great performance Aurelius, or your next might be at the Coliseum!’

It went without saying that being supporting cast to a lion wasn’t a move likely to advance any acting career.

A silent prayer was offered;

The curtains slowly parted.

friday-fictioneers

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

Trifecta 98 – The Morning After

Halloween-Cocktail-Zombie-PunchIt was a heavy night, but I was due. It’d been an absolute brute of a week and I needed to let off steam. I admit it, I needed a bloody good drink, sometimes you just do. Let’s face it, it wasn’t the first time I’d got rat arsed at one of Steve’s dos.

The morning after – it was then that the regrets began to kick in. My head felt worse than shit. The antiseptic tang of neat alcohol coated the surface of every tooth. What the hell was in that last pitcher of Zombie? Can’t believe I downed a pint of the syrupy gloop in one go!

Outside it appeared set to be a beautiful day. Inside was carnage: arms, legs, socks, pants  and bras everywhere; red wine, beer, pretzels and cold pizza trampled into poor Steve’s best Persian. It was ugly. Seemed a good time to make a quick exit.

On the way out I spotted a skinny kid frying bacon; think he may have been one of Steve’s, but I wasn’t sure.

‘Enough for two?’ I asked, in greedy expectation.

Pulling the front door closed I began chewing on my bacon sandwich. A can of coke and two paracetamols completed breakfast. Head felt worse than ever, and the first mouthfuls of bacon didn’t slide down as smoothly as hoped. Perhaps the fresh air would help. It did a bit, not enough.

After hurling my load I left the remnants of my sandwich to the neighbourhood cats. My stomach wasn’t in the mood for food. In truth my body wasn’t in the mood for being awake, but there was somewhere I needed to be.

Thankfully I was parked close by. Slumping into the driver’s seat I belched and broke wind simultaneously – it seemed funny at the time. Giggling hysterically I fumbled for the ignition. Eventually I stabbed the key in and turned the engine over.

That moment was the biggest regret of my morning after; it’s a regret which will haunt me for the rest of my miserable, worthless fucking life.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘zombie‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 98 writing challenge.

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Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Sound of The Dark

28-10-october-6th-2013My eyes open with a start. Heart racing, chest rising and falling frantically in time to my panicked breath. I scan the room. Listening, fearing; searching out the noises – the noises which come only at night.

Somewhere – somewhere near I hear it. Hear them. Scurrying, scratching, wings flapping. How do they get in? What do they want? Why doesn’t anybody else hear them?

Creaking, bumping, thumping.

Everywhere noises.

I screw up my eyes. Bury my face in the sanctuary of my faithful pillow. I desperately think of summer. Holidays by the beach. Splashing in the water. The cabin. Picnics. Laughter. Smiles.

I wake again just as the dawn light begins to slant through the half-shut blinds.

Turning I see my wife. In her arms is our son – both peaceful, snoring, oblivious.

My heart beat is back to normal. The tension continues to drain from my body. The night sweat on by back becomes a morning chill.

I lie there happy, safe in the light of a new day. However, I know they will be back.

The noises. The terror. The darkness.

There is no escape.

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