Monthly Archives: May 2014

Friday Fictioneers – The Other Side of the Tracks

ff280514Shards of late autumn sun creep between the houses on the hill. Rattling bikes carry puffing, ruddy-cheeked riders over cobblestones towards the University, royal blue scarves flapping in the breeze.

A hint of coming winter chills my throat as I pause to catch a nervous breath. The gatekeeper turns towards me, his black top-hat almost hiding his eyes.

Can he tell?

Do I look different?

My mother’s words provide a lone, reassuring voice.

You’re as good as them, son, never forget.

Clutching my scholarship papers, I lift my head and walk through the arch.

The gatekeeper nods;

Their world, now my world.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

Yeah Write #163 Gargleblaster – Soulmates

never-alone

Entwined in every flake of winter snow,

and all the songs of spring:

Your voice.

Between the scented breaths of summer breeze,

and the crunch of withered, autumn leaves:

Our memories.

I can never be alone;

No matter how alone I feel.

These 42 words form my entry into this week’s Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. 

Sunday Photo Fiction – A Break in the Weather

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Baking hot winds forever whistle east to west through the arid, lifeless valley floor. The rusting vane on the clock tower steadfastly points south to north. The hands of the clock face move slowly; at times they move backwards – in other moments they stay still, vibrating with angst ridden indecision. Not a single bird ever flies over head. All forms of life seem to avoid the town, those already here never leave.

In the town square the lonely figure of Mr McAfferty stumbles painfully through the swirling dust. From the north the sounds of thunder roar. The red skies suddenly turn a worrisome ash; flashes of lightning streak across the darkening horizon. Mr McAfferty pauses to remove his hat and spectacles as heavy droplets of rain sink from sundered heavens. Steaming water runs through his once thick black locks; a wizened tongue reaching out to taste the moistened air. A subtle smile cracks his wrinkled face.

The old fool finally goes on his way, an extra skip in his occasionally arthritic gate. Ned McAfferty swore the autumn rains made you younger. Some still say he is mad,  maybe he is; however, after 173 years people have started to believe him.

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These words form my entry into this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. Must confess I sat down and wrote this off the top of my head with no idea of the story, other than the wind vane pointing the wrong way. This may explain why it’s a bit weird!

Friday Fictioneers – Morning Glory

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Mum was yelling from the bottom of the stairs: I was late, again.

Bleary eyed, I reached for my jeans.

Disaster!

On each knee a sticky, wet grass stain. Pulling them closer to inspect the dark green patches I could smell it: strawberries. It was on my hands too, and in the hair on my arms. Suddenly it was everywhere.

Fumbling, excited fingers checked the pockets:

A crumpled McDonald’s receipt, a daisy chain and a torn corner of pink notepaper – on it a number and five swirly kisses beside a smiley face.

I felt dizzy.

Was this love?

Mum yelled again.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge. 

Yeah Write #162 Gargleblaster – The Moment of Truths

dinerA single strand of fluorescent pink escaped from beneath the waitress’s hat.

‘More coffee, Sir?’ she repeated.

Ingenuous, hazel eyes met my own;

She smiled a kindly smile.

I shook my head.

Below the table, sweating fingers struggled to grip the detonator

These 42 words form my entry into this week’s Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. The words were prompted by the question ‘Which way to go?. I hope you enjoy where I went with it. 

SFL1 Play-Off Review 2013/14 (aka ‘We Are Going Up!’)

8-DSC_0213Up until a few weeks ago it hadn’t been a particularly memorable season for Stirling Albion; in fact it hadn’t been memorable at all. A promising start fizzled away as we found ourselves several points and places distant from the one automatic promotion spot. However, in the Scottish Football League there is of course the season saving entity that is the “Play-Offs”. For those who aren’t aware what these beasts are, well simply put, they give teams who haven’t automatically earned promotion, or relegation, the chance for redemption. Even this way out of the murky waters of SFL2 appeared unlikely at one point, until a barnstorming end to the campaign saw us rack up the wins needed to secure third place and a date with Annan Athletic.

As an aside, the play-offs are funny things. If you’re not in them then it’s because your season is over, and as such you’ve likely switched off from football. I know myself that when this happens the play-offs pass by almost unnoticed. Yet, if you’re in them then they are undoubtedly the most intense games of the season. To come out on top you play four games in twelve days: a two legged semi-final followed by a two legged final. As the third placed team our opponents were the second place team, the aforementioned Annan Athletic. The highest placed team gets the second leg at home which meant our play-off run started on Wednesday 7th May at home to the Galabankies. A fast start saw Stirling 3-0 up in half an hour. Despite cooling off after the break we still managed to record a 3-1 win on the night. Three days later a big Stirling support made the 100 mile trip to the border town of Annan for the decisive second leg – they weren’t to be disappointed. Another quick start had the Beanos two up, and 5-1 on aggregate after only a few minutes. The home side rallied briefly before the visitors cruised to a 5-3 win on the day and a whopping 8-4 over the two legs.

1-DSC_0203In the final, Stirling would take on East Fife. The side from Methil in Fife were fancied by many to challenge for promotion in 2013/14. Those predictions were left looking rather silly as a theoretically strong Fifer’s side simply failed to add up to the sum of its parts. In their semi-final it required a marathon penalty shoot-out to overcome Clyde. Indeed Clyde blew a chance to win when Michael Daly saw his penalty saved. It was therefore Gary Naysmith’s East Fife outfit who would be our opponents. Stirling manager Greig McDonald had eight years as a player with the Fifers, but there is no doubt where his loyalties now lie. Therefore it came down to this – one tie, two legs in five days. The prize for East Fife, to stay in SFL1; the prize for Stirling Albion, to get promoted to, and replaced East Fife in SFL1.

The first leg of the final took place on Wednesday 14th May at an expectant Forthbank Stadium, the home of Stirling Albion. A big home crowd, and a decent away turn out, witnessed a fairly nervous encounter. Stirling took the lead before the break when veteran skipper Ross Forsyth looped a header into the net. Sadly though, Stirling failed to build on the momentum of this goal and it was the visitors who looked more of a threat after the break. Substitute Scott McBride bulleted a leveller following a corner, before in the last minute another sub, Nathan Austin, stunned the Stirling fans with a second. There was still time for the Beanos to hit a post and miss a sitter, but as the final whistle blew it was Gary Naysmith’s men who had earned the spoils with a 2-1 win. Stirling therefore had it all to do with the second leg to be played at East Fife’s New Bayview Stadium five days later.

4-DSC_0208Despite being a goal down, some 700 Stirling Albion fans travelled to Fife still optimistic about their favourite’s chances. Win the game after 90 minutes and the worst we could have would be extra-time. However, if we were two goals or more clear at the end of regulation we would of course be the play-off winners. On a pleasantly warm afternoon the agenda seemed set fair from the start. East Fife were looking to negate Stirling, lock-down midfield and to keep our potential match winners as far as possible from their goal. To be fair in the first half they did a good job of it. The second period was another tight affair. With only 16 minutes left on the clock a goalless draw seemed set to end our season on a low note. However, then step forward our little and large goal heroes. Firstly, top scorer Jordan White got on the end of a knock-down to loft the ball past the East Fife keeper. It was then the turn of his pint-sized strike partner to take centre stage. With almost nothing on, Sandy Cunningham lashed an outrageous half-volley past the spectator that was the East Fife custodian. It’s unlikely the home keeper even saw the ball as it ripped past him into the net. To say Stirling fans went a bit potty would be an understatement.

There was still ten minutes or so to go, but other than one near post save from Beanos goalie David Crawford, the host’s goose was cooked. It was therefore with relative calm that Stirling made their way to the final whistle, and promotion. Well done to the players, coaching staff, Executive and fans of Stirling Albion for making such days possible. See you all again next season in SFL1.

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Friday Fictioneers -Animal Instincts

ff140514By the rutted, single-track road, worried mothers stood guard as their newborn chomped on soggy nettles. Up ahead bug-eyed rams remained unmoved by the angry glare of oncoming headlights. These were the Laird’s prize stock – Charlie McPherson’s stock.

The hills and glens of Atlnasheean had been Charlie’s home and office for nigh on 30 years – he’d never once let the Laird’s beasts out of his sight. 

Back at the estate, Charlie’s cottage lay dark and empty; cold embers dying in the hearth. On the hat stand his crook swung in the breeze – Charlie never went anywhere without his crook.

The rain was getting heavier, and louder; the gurgling hillside streams now foaming red.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge. A couple of weeks ago a few of you said you liked stories which left you wondering what had happened, well here’s another!

Yeah Write #161 Gargleblaster – The Stuff of Nightmares

buried

Cool, clammy soil crushes down on breaking ribs.

Unshed tears remain sealed behind closed eyelids.

A wireworm burrows its way into bulging veins;

A beetle clicks.

Silence begets darkness –

No air to breathe, no voice to scream.

My final hope:

To wake.

These 42 words form my entry into this week’s Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. The words were prompted by the question ‘Is something crawling on me?. I hope you enjoy where I went with it. Thanks again to everybody who voted for my ‘Crowd Fave’ piece last week, much appreciated!

Friday Fictioneers – Sanctuary Lost

ff070514Down by the mouth of the Hosniak river you can still see The Club. In all weathers, and all seasons, sparkling white boats once sailed from the safety of its harbour towards open seas. On scented, star-lit summer evenings the thrum of expensive parties would gently carry across river to those night-fishing along the north bank.

The Club closed its doors a year back. Many of the boats remain, unsold – flaking hulls now moored tightly to rusting cleats. Upstream the pylons are advancing; urban jetsam now strewn amongst the once sandy shores.

The fishermen are gone; the city is on its way.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

Yeah Write #160 Gargleblaster – Spoils of Defeat

sunset_nature_birds_eagles

Impaled flags stiffen in the pungent summer breeze.

A single, riderless mare bolts for home.

Foaming;

Frantic.

Distant, snow-peaked mountains sink slowly beneath a bloody red sunrise.

Crimson framed silhouettes swoop and circle through the tremulous horizon.

The glories of battle await.

These 42 words form my entry into this weeks Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. The words were prompted by the question ‘Why do birds suddenly appear?. I hope you enjoy where I went with it.

Pleased to say that this story won the top spot in the voter’s poll. As ever I am flattered that people saw something in my work.

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Sounds of Breaking Glass

58-05-may-4th-2014He’s dead,‘ said Papa, as he switched off the radio.

On the mantelpiece the brass hands of the clock ticked toward nine. In the fireplace tiny flames danced their final dance above the faintly glowing embers. In the one other room my sisters already slept: unaware and innocent.

Out in the street there came the distant sounds of gunfire. Creeping to the window my Papa watched from behind the curtains – his hand trembling.  Vans loaded with boisterous, drunken Stormtroopers and Hitler youth screeched to a halt – front wheels ridding onto the empty pavements; pavements now full of angry, misguided young men out for revenge. A revenge on those they saw responsible for all the troubles of their once great Reich.

The sounds of gunfire were soon joined by shattering glass. Glass crunched under the heavy, angry footsteps of a nation obsessed with reprisal. The noises came closer. The next windows broken that of Papa’s own store below our flat. More shouts, more anger. The angry, heavy footsteps were getting closer still: the stairwell now filled with shouts and screams.

Mama told me to take care of my sisters. I watched through a crack in the bedroom door as they dragged my Papa away.

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For information the man who had died was Ernst vom Rath. The events which followed his death, two days after the shooting, are known to the world as Krisallnacht.

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These words form my entry into this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.