Category Archives: Other Challenges

Stories from various other challenges I do from time to time

Yeah Write #164 Gargleblaster – Office Politics

auschwitz1Stolen scent.
Trickling sweat.
Heart thumping; stomach churning.

She smiles.

A searching hand; an encroaching breath.
Lusting.
Expectation.

He smiles.

A hollow cheeked boy sleeps nearby.
Jaundiced eyes full of sorrow; a soul emptying of hope.
Grateful still for a mother’s love.

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

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. 

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. 

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!

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.

krist1

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. 

Yeah Write #158 Gargleblaster – Self Defence

doubt

…because I have life still to live –

Stories to tell,

People to love.

Yet, sometimes it’s hard:

Hard to repel the doubt;

An exhausting struggle to let sanity prevail.

But then I see her smile and know:

Know we’re worth the fight.

These 42 words form my entry into this weeks Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. The words were prompted by the question ‘Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?I hope you enjoy where I went with it.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Escape

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As soon as he woke he noticed it: the door lay slightly ajar – a yellow shaft of freedom spilling into the bedroom. He needed to hurry: she would wake soon, and the moment would be lost. He knew he’d never be able to leave her when those deep, controlling, blue eyes looked upon his soul.

Even though he understood the urgency of the moment he still paused – he couldn’t help it: her beauty required one last look. Shimmering, blond tresses spilled from silken pillows over the side of the bed; long, slender fingers rested gently on the pure, white sheets. Briefly she stirred, her eyes flickered open only to gracefully glide closed. He had to go, otherwise he would remain trapped – forever under her spell.

The light from the hallway became brighter. The single shard of early morning sun now all but covering his hushed footsteps. He was nearly there. Behind him he heard movement, a silken pillow falling to the floor. From above the light from the hall suddenly dulled.

Looking upwards, her deep blue eyes narrowed as they once more watched her prey. Her long pale fingers firmly held the stem of the upturned wine glass. She hadn’t finished with him just yet.

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

Speakeasy #157 – Recollections

Miners-Cabin-Snow1

Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold of the forest that year – even more so than normal. All the paths up to Jepson Point had been blocked since the first heavy snows drifted in last fall. Even on that day, as the sun yawned across a blemish free, azure Alaskan sky, the chilled air remained stubbornly resistant to the approaching spring.

It was cold, it was – but at the same time, not as cold as it looked. It’s hard to explain. So I didn’t. It’s just the way I’ll remember it.

As the Rangers made their way into the trees, tiny drops of snowmelt splashed into freshly made paw prints: wary footsteps lightly trodden by the first animals to venture from the warmth of their dark, winter hiding places. Up in the canopy the opening bars of an embryonic spring song whispered through the pines. It took them all night, but finally the Point was in sight.

I’m not sure why we couldn’t have got there sooner. It might have ended differently. Maybe it wouldn’t. No, I don’t think it would.

Radio contact with the cabins nestled on the edge of Green Lake had stopped three weeks back – lines down were the explanation. Even in the days of mobile technology man seemingly remains in communication at the pleasure of nature; lines were down all over the forest.

The forest. Beautiful and terrifying. I never wanted to be anywhere else; I’ll never go back. How can I?

The cabins were quiet. The lake’s eerily green waters still frozen. Ribbons of smoky fog swirled amidst the early morning battle of sun and ice. Piles of chopped wood lay gathered in neat stacks at the gable end of the first cabin after the lake head.

Almost too neat.

The windows remained shuttered. The snow covered chimney said there was no fire burning in the grate. There was no answer as Chief Ranger McLennan rapped firmly on the door. Unlike in the movies the door didn’t then creak open: it was locked from inside and the key was in the door. It took the persistent boot of Assistant Ranger Jefferson to prize a way in. On the bed is where they found her – blood stains everywhere.

We should have waited for the others. We should have.

Nobody knew who she was or where she’d come from. The cord between frozen mother and child painted with ice-tipped crystals. The radio crackled in the corner of the cabin. Blood smeared the smashed controls; there was no sign of the hunter who had rented the cabin. Without thinking a shivering Assistant Ranger Jeffries set the hearth ablaze. Slowly the cabin’s single room began to defrost – to feel alive again.

From the bed there came a child’s cry; a mother screamed a scream of unimagined pain. Harry McLennan’s last words were ‘Run, for the love of God, run’. Assistant Ranger Jeffries remembered nothing more in the cabin – he has never been able to recall how he got back.

I  know you don’t believe me. But that’s the way it was. I know that’s the way it was. I just wanted to get warm. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Winter has returned to the forest. The cabins at Jepson Point now lie broken and abandoned – a mother’s screams still echo through the pines; her child now silent and still once more.

Yes, I admit this is weird, but it’s truly what came to mind when I read the prompt i.e it had to be written! I hope the crowd over at Yeahwrite find something in it they might enjoy.

Yeah Write #156 Gargleblaster – The Morning After

toothfairy2‘Daddy, she’s been!’ yelped an excited voice.

Through the hangover fogs he just about recognised the approaching tooth-gapped grin. In between her stubby little fingers a coin, gleaming with golden crystals.

‘I said she would, honey’.

Maybe he hadn’t forgotten after all.

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

Sunday Photo Fiction – Closure

54-04-april-6th-2014

The cemetery was all but empty: Kenny Foster’s only company the tall, respectfully imposing figure of Father Delaney. In the background two gravediggers waited, one fiddling with a phone while the other yawned after what must have been a long, successful night before. It now appeared that the Father expected Kenny to say something, something prophetic, something deep and meaningful – just Something. Kenny though was out of words.

His knew his wife had deserved better than this. Better than an cold empty graveside. She had been the most beautiful girl in the village. All the boys came calling. Kenny didn’t think he stood a chance so didn’t even try. She though had spotted him and her mind was set. Other’s mocked as her flaming red curls and jade green eyes were soon keeping Kenny Foster company. At times he looked as if he’d won a lottery, a lottery he hadn’t even bought a ticket for.

She gave him everything. Four kids, a picture postcard home, unquestioned love. What had he given her? A cemetery with nothing but the chill spring breeze for company.

As the Father closed his wrinkled, leather book the two young gravediggers slowly shuffled their way across. Shovels in hand it was time to seal his love away. Walking out through the churchyard the apple blossom began to drift from the trees. Within that shower of fragrant petals his thoughts once more turned to the one he was leaving behind:

She deserved better than this – she deserved better than me.

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

Yeah Write #155 Gargleblaster – Night Vision

couple-staring-at-the-stars-600x399From the distant, blackened heavens they come –

Piercing, sentient lights, writhen and confused by our sphere’s, protective, embracing winds.

Fleeting twinkles delivered to waiting, forever wondering, eyes:

Are we the watchers or the watched?

Here on our spinning home within the stars.

These 42 words form my entry into this weeks Gargleblaster challenge over at Yeah Write. The words were prompted by the question ‘What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?.I hope you enjoy where I went with it.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Living on the Edge

53-03-march-30th-2014

Several times a day the shuffling gait of old Davy Hawkins could be seen silhouetted against the angry skies framing his beloved cliffs. While Davy may have been past his athletic prime, his bouncing young dog was still full of life. Time and again Davy would send a bright orange star tumbling end over end; time and again a sprinting flash of black and white would return it to her waiting owner.

When the Hawkins had first moved into their bungalow the cliff face was well over 200 yards away. Even back then many didn’t want to live that close to the edge, but Davy shrugged off such concerns. Forty years later the cliff face is just 20 yards away from the home Davy shares with his faithful collie.

Outside the  house a crowd has gathered. Camera bulbs flash, a desperate police officer appeals over a tannoy for the onlookers to stay back. As the yellow security tape ruffles in the breeze a single light glows beyond the frosted glass of the bungalow’s side door. Slowly it opens and out into the frosty  darkness spins and twists an orange star, closely followed by a blur of black and white.

The door of Davy’s house closes once more. Down below an enormous wave crashes into the bluff; the 20 yards between his house and the sea are no more.

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

Sunday Photo Fiction – Baked Alaska

51-03-march-16th-2014Thirty thousand feet below, the north west oceans shimmer dark blue, in land, mile upon mile of patchwork fields glow resplendent in their healthy plume of greens and yellows. Back home my kids can still run and play in the dew tipped grass, drink fresh spring water from the tap, swim in Calldale Lake. For them – for most – life continues as normal.

As we slowly bank over the Bearing Sea, and head east into Anchorage, normal life begins to recede from view. The closer we inch to land, the more of the cracked, crumbling sea bed is laid bare. Buildings smolder, the unfiltered UV Rays are blinding. The signs had been there, but when the hole above Alaska ripped it was horrifyingly sudden. Most had been evacuated, yet the burnt out planes and charred corpses littering Runway 1 of Anchorage International made it clear not all got away.

After touching down we carefully check each others protective suits before stepping out for another days research under the blazing, unforgiving Alaskan sun. Meanwhile around the world politicians will continue to argue as Industry denies and delays – for some this once achingly beautiful outpost of our planet a seemingly small price to pay for the accepted excesses of modern living.

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

Sunday Photo Fiction – Reunited

50-03-march-9th-2014Danny Porter’s tangled, grey locks were a familiar sight on the hot, dusty streets of Grantsville – most people thought Danny was a bit peculiar. It hadn’t always been this way: once he was a bright, starry eyed kid with plans to leave town and earn his fortune in the big city. Instead his wandering eyes met those of Ellen Jenkins; within a year they were wed, within two, a blissfully happy Danny and Ellen were expecting their first born.

When Ellen started to bleed a month from her due date, Danny’s world began to unravel. A night filled with screams and tears ended in terrifying silence. As dawn broke both mother and son lay at peace; Danny was never the same man again.

Over the years he began to drink and drift. From time to time he’d come back to town to sit at Ellen’s grave with his chocolate lab, Scruffy. When he returned last fall it seemed he was finally losing what was left of his mind:

‘She’s in there, wants me to join her,’ he mumbled. ‘In the swamp, I saw her, looking out at me – my Ellen.’

The barman in the Red Lady just smiled. ‘Sure Danny, sure she was. Another?’

The following morning they found Scruffy barking himself hoarse by the swamp.

***

Many years have passed since that morning. Yet, when the moon is high in the clear night sky some say you can still see them: Danny, Ellen and their son – locked in the reflections.

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