Category Archives: Trifecta

Weekly 33 to 333 word challenge. My entries will usually be of the 333 word variety.

Ahoy Trifectans!

whoamiAs a regular entrant into the creative writing challenges hosted by the Trifectan gang  I thought it time to let my fellow writers know a bit more about me. Not a lot more but enough to be going on with!

1. What is your name (real or otherwise)?

My name is not a pseudonym. I am not anonymous. I really am Paul Clements.

2. Describe your writing style in three words. 

Raw. Developing. Mine.

3. How long have you been writing online? 

My main web output over the last 15 years was a sports site on which I wrote match reports for my local football team. This has now closed. I needed another vehicle for writing and so turned to creative fiction. I have been telling made up stories since March 2013 i.e. just a newbie!

4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? 

Other than the Trifecta and Trifextra challenges I regularly submit entries to:

Friday Fictioneers got me started in creative fiction. 100 words or so of flash based on a Wednesday prompt. No idea why it is called Friday Fictioneers!

Alastair’s Photo Fiction is a Sunday photo prompt requiring a story in the vicinity of 150 words.

5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. 

By taking a creative writing course. I plan to do an online one later in 2013. Feel it is important to put some solid foundations in place. I may think I have some ability when it comes to writing but it’s important to get the basics right.

6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Not been at this long enough to have been given advice from anybody yet. That will no doubt come in due course. However, the best piece of advice I’ve read is to keep on writing. Don’t get too obsessed with editing and reviewing. Just go with the flow of the story and when the flow stops then you can review and edit.

7. Who is your favorite author?  

Confession! I’m not a constant reader. I will go through phases of reading a lot then phases of not reading very much. Also never been a person who really has favourite anythings i.e. bands, singers, authors. There are those I like but none I obsess over. These would include JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Steven Erikson. Some of my favourite reading over the years has actually been non-fiction.

8. How do you make time to write?

Writing has been a hobby in one guise or another for many years. As such I will always find time to do it. Watching less television is one way to make time if you’re really struggling!

9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember–it must have a third definition. 

Fantasy

10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn’t miss reading.

Well so far in my first few weeks doing the Trifecta weekly challenges I’ve managed a third and a second place. This was the story which got me the second place and I think it is one my best so far. For a non-Trifecta piece this is one my favourite.

Above is correct as of today i.e. 28th June 2013. Beyond that I can give no guarantees to its accuracy!

Trifecta 83 – When The Boy Becomes The Man

t83p2With the day’s light dwindling the lamps glowed brightly in the windows of the Trawzelen miners’ cottages. Over at the tin mine all appeared quiet. Below ground shift boss Richard Dengarran struggled desperately to save his men. The seam above their heads was crumbling. Richard screamed for everybody to get out. One by one they scrambled past. He couldn’t hold back the creaking beams for much longer.

Of the 25 men on his shift 20 escaped. Five including Richard were lost. The collapse was so severe they are yet to recover the bodies. It is truly hoped that none of the five survived. Better dead than buried alive.

Maisie Dengarran still lives with her only son John in their miners cottage. No man has yet to replace her Richard. Some have tried but they soon realise there is no room in Maisie’s heart for anyone else.

Maisie misses the silly things. The rust coloured overalls Richard used to bring home. The stains they would leave in the sink when washed. The rusty puddles he’d make when he got home on a wet night. The iron in the mine discoloured everything. Her house is now spotless. Pristine. She is forever cleaning up.

John says his father comes and talks to him at night. Tells him to look after his mother. He is the man now. Maisie just smiles. She doesn’t believe him but she pretends that she does. Sees no harm in it.

One night Maisie listens in to John having one of his conversations. Two voices? One is Richards! It can’t be!

Maisie opens the door. It goes quiet. John looks at his mother.

“He doesn’t want you to see him. Not after all this time” says John.

“Where is he?”

John points to the open window.

Maisie rushes to look. Nothing. Of course nothing. As she steps back her heart shudders. Below the window sill. A wet, rusty footprint.

The bedroom candle flickers. The window crashes shut. John takes his mother’s hand.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 83 writing challenge. Have to say I really enjoyed writing this story today. I hope you like it! As an aside if you live in the UK and are interested in the history of the Cornish tin mining industry I beseech you to visit Geevor. A truly fascinating time capsule of an industry and way of life which has now disappeared. 

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Trifecta 82 – Under New Management

fishermans club Newhaven HarbourThe tourist swarm which infested all the neighbouring villages never quite reached Gunnerdale Cove. The few remaining fisherman were too busy to care much. There wasn’t anything to see anyway. Some visited and loved it precisely for that reason. Most need something else. Normal life ain’t enough.

There was one thing. The Fisherman’s Club. Over fifty years since Charlie Simpson first pulled a pint behind the bar. Some would say that’s when it last saw a paint brush. The roof leaked. The windows hadn’t kept out a draft since they were fitted. However, it was their club.

The locals were happy enough. One wasn’t. Ray. Known to most as the TV man, Ray had moved into Gunnerdale last year. Bought and renovated the old mill. No. Ray wanted more for his village. Used to wind the locals up something wicked when he said that.

“A restaurant and wine bar” he announced. His old mate “Chef Freshman” from the “Hit” TV show would run it. They would flock from all parts to eat some of Freshman’s delights. So Ray told everybody. They weren’t really listening. Neither was Ray. His heart was in the right place but his brain was in his wallet. That’s what old Jim Ballast told folks as he sold them boiled lobsters.

It went quiet for a while. The club remained open. Then the sign went up.

“The Fisherman’s Club will be closed from 10/04 for renovation. Signed – The Management.”

The locals were shocked but resigned. The club closed at the end of the week.

One month later it reopened. The drafty windows replaced. The leaking roof fixed. The walls painted. Nothing else changed. On the grand reopening night the management appeared. It was the grandson of Charlie Simpson. Made his money in chemicals. Back home for good he says. Even bought Ray’s old place. The locals weren’t half pleased.

The tourists still have nothing to see in Gunnerdale Cove. However, they’ll always get a warm welcome at the club.

These 333 words are my “Club” inspired entry into the Trifecta Week 82 writing challenge. 

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Trifecta 81 – Hill of The Poisonous Tree

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He’d arrived during what should have been a beautiful summer’s day. Through a rip in the transport’s canvas covering he could see pavements, parks, buildings. They were deserted. A once prosperous capital city of half a million people reduced to an empty shell. Everyone had left. They had all been made to leave. He was coming back and knew exactly where he was going.

He became prisoner 54. No longer a name. Just a number. He didn’t know how he survived those first days.

“Confess!”

“Traitors. Name traitors!”

It’s all they wanted. They never stopped asking. He’d had no choice. The screams of his childhood friend reminded him nightly of that decision. They had only lasted minutes. They would remain with him forever.

Most others would stay chained all day. Prisoner 54 had a job. He mopped up after the seemingly continuous torture sessions. Was it a reward for all the names? Perhaps this was his torture. Whatever the body was capable of producing he had to clean it up. He had to watch it spilling onto the stone floor of the interrogation chamber.

The stench in the tiny wash room was overwhelming. A cracked light on the wall flickered. The electricity supply stubbornly unreliable since brother number one claimed power.  As he sent the grime from his brush down the blood soaked grill his suffocating layers of guilt weren’t so easily dismissed. He wondered whether he should end it. They were always being watched but it would only take a moment. The cleaning bottles. Perhaps if he drank one quickly?

No. He didn’t have the courage for that. He was sure they would come for him soon anyway. That was the ending he deserved. A quick way out was for better than him.

“Traitors. More Traitors!”

54 was almost out of names. Almost out of time. There were only two left. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t bring his parents here. They weren’t traitors. What did that matter? None of them were.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 81 writing challenge. This unapologetically shocking story is dedicated to the 12,273 people known to have lost their lives in S-21. Otherwise known as Tuol Sleng or the ‘Hill of the Poisonous Tree’, this Phnom Penh genocide centre was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

tuol_sleng_rules

Only three survivors had the chance to tell their stories. What happened in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 is often forgotten. If told some would scarcely credit it did happen. It did. The world should never forget. The estimated two million people who lost their lives under the Khmer Rouge regime deserve better.

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Trifecta 80 – The Hermit

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Ok son you gots 10 minutes. Ain’t spending all day talking to you. Me and the bats got better things to do with our time. Now what is you want? Hurry up son. Hurry up….

….wait, wait! I can stop you there Mister. You wanna know why I live out here? On me own. In a cave. Yeh, yeh I’m the local freak. The hippie who lives with the bats and the bears. What’s yer point son? Ask me summink original if you can…!

Snap to it lad! Cat got yer tongue? Come all the way up here and yer staring at me like I got three heads and five legs. Ah hah. You think I’m a freak too? Ach, past being bothered what anybody thinks. Specially the likes o’ you with yer agendas and focus groupies.

You write what you like son. Sures you were gonna anyway. Away! Scram! Leave me alone. Go ahead. Call me a freak all you want. All them down there can say it too. I ain’t carin none. Wars I fought so you lot could have yer video games, textphones and cable TV. Folks I killed so you could point and laugh at the likes o’ me. Think on that for a minute why don’t you!

Now come on, times up. Get goin’. Oh and son…son! In yer paper, or whatever it is you do, you call me what you like. Have a big laugh. Just don’t call me a coward lad. Don’t you say I ain’t a patriot. Don’t you dare.

(Picture courtesy of http://englishrussia.com/2011/01/07/romance-of-the-hermits-life/)

This 258 word one sided conversation is my entry into the Trifecta Week 80 writing challenge. Apologies in advance to anyone who thinks it’s complete nonsense. Thought it was time to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Thinking of the word “Freak” brought this character into my brain. I hope some of you might like it!

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Trifecta 79 – A Model Employee

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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.

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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.

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