Tag Archives: 150 Words

Sunday Photo Fiction – A Show of Appreciation

118-08-august-23rd-2015For nearly 50 years he’d worked at the factory – everyone of Ted’s age went straight from school to the factory. Three wives had come and gone in that time, two divorced, one dead – only the last one did he remember with any particular fondness. Six healthy children had been raised in the same red-brick two up, two down on the Marlow Road – all had left, apart from Mary.

‘A gold watch? A gold fucking watch? Is that all I meant to them?’ he spat.

‘But Dad, it is a very nice watch,’ said Mary.

They’d all liked Ted. For 30 years he was Santa Claus to the children gathered at the Christmas party in the factory canteen. Every summer it was Ted who organised and ran the fete in the sprawling grounds of the chairman’s estate. If there was a living, breathing embodiment of a company man, it was Ted.

‘Sod them, and sod their fucking watch!’

Ted coughed, bent double in his armchair: his scarred lungs had paid a heavy price for his loyalty.

Mary handed her father his pills and a brandy. Neither would really make him feel any better, but at least they’d keep the worst of his pain, and disappointment, at bay.

‘A fucking watch,’ he spluttered, once more, as he threw the glinting retirement gift into the fire.

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

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Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Trapped

30-10-october-20th-2013

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/.

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/.

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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Show of Faith

27-09-september-29th-2013The ministry was the last building to fall. Its cold, brutal facade symbolised everything about the regime. We’d all known friends, family and enemies who’d  been taken there – most never heard of again; bodies rarely found.

Today office after office was being ransacked. Files and folders scattered. Everything was going up in flames. It didn’t matter what notes they’d taken on us over the centuries. They were gone; the old ways were over. Everyone’s sheet was now blank.

Shouts up ahead said they had something, or someone. I waited for my second to catch up. He would need to see this. Make sure the message was relayed.

Nods of respect followed my walk up the dimly light corridor. Above a strip light flickered. Papers burned behind every broken door – except the last one. Behind that one was a woman. Everyone knew her. It was likely the last face many who disappeared in this place saw.  I could see her regulation dark blue overalls and boyish, greying hair. Her back was turned to me.

Entering the room my second passed me the loaded revolver. Without turning around the woman spoke in a soft, unemotional voice.

‘Go ahead son. I know you have to.’

She was right – I did.

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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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Listen To The Children

26-09-september-22nd-2013

As we waited by the bus stop on the bridge I slipped free of my mother’s hand.  A few small steps away and I was peering down into the still stream below. It was overrun with reeds; frothy scum rode up against both banks, while a cracked pipe oozed its steaming offerings into the murky water.

As I was about to turn away I saw them – bubbles. Then breaking the surface a long, thin, shiny body: green scales glinting in the late afternoon sunlight. The merest slit of an eye pushing up through the scum. It quickly disappeared under the bridge.

I ran over to mother; yanked at her arm – excitedly told her the whole story. She didn’t believe me of course. My Dad just laughed it off; my brothers thought I was an idiot.

It was never mentioned again.

Surfing the web all these years later I came across a story from my old home town newspaper. A tramp had gone missing – last seen down by the stream, near the bridge.

I reached for the phone. Pausing, I put the receiver back in the holder.

They didn’t believe me then. Why would they believe me now? 

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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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Family Ties

25-09-september-15th-2013

Tom was back again at Glen Morich Manor, the ancient family seat of the once feared Clan Macpherson. Tom had always known about his family’s shameful part in the Macphersons downfall – blood lines tied him directly to the man who triggered their gory demise.

All this fool had to do was let them know when the MacDonalds breached the horizon. Give a signal. A sign. Instead as he slumped into a drunken stupor the Macphersons were ransacked; the family all killed, their mutilated bodies then paraded through the village.

Walking into the main hall again there came the usual slow creep of guilt.  He knew he was being watched. The eyes on the painting. The face on the plaque above the fire. Even the bronze bust of Lord Macpherson seemed to be turned towards him with a look of icy cold contempt.

He bolted.

The only exit was flanked by a pair of Macpherson battle suits. The suit on the left suddenly stepped in front of Tom. He froze. Slowly a sword rose. The blade glinting. Higher and higher. Then it fell.

Tom woke with a start. The nightmare over for now. However, he knew the manor would be awaiting his return soon.

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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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Cloud Factory

24-09-september-8th-2013

My old Grandpa lived in Saskateen Falls, just a mile from the chemical plant; the plant was the only reason Saskateen Falls existed. Like all Grandfathers he was full of stories.

‘Where do Clouds come from Grandpa?’ I once asked him.

‘Clouds? We makes them at the cloud factory of course, where else?’ he replied, with a smile.

As he explained he’d point me towards the huge, barrel shaped cooling stacks of the plant. I had no idea what they were, heck I was only five or six: I wasn’t going to argue. In any case he looked right. Throughout the day (and night too I guessed) these stacks belched out huge plumes of white smoke – ‘clouds’ as Grandpa called them.

I’m back again today, and as ever most of the trees are bare of leaves. The air thick with the smell of dust and decay. The street signs are all but rusted away. The paint on Granddad’s old house flaked back to bare stone.  Granddad himself had passed years before, a chronic asthmatic.

Saskateen Falls seems to have paid a high price for thirty years of playing host to a cloud factory.

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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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Gathering

23-09-september-1st-2013

On quaysides around the world they said their goodbyes. Mothers, fathers, husbands and wives once more parted in the line of duty. As tear filled eyes remained watching, the globes most powerful navies rolled out into the oceans. Ships and their heroic crews making for the horizon and the setting sun; into the unknown.

From the north they came: The Marshal Valenko cruised out Severomosrk. In California the USS Franklin steamed west; across the vast expanse of the Pacific the Peoples Liberation Army readied the Lanzhou to depart from Zhanjiang.

Tension was everywhere. The next few days could determinate the future of the planet. A moment many refused to believe was possible was now here. Some said it was a drill, others prepared for the end.

The message received was at first unclear. Linguistic experts worked in shifts until the meaning was revealed: coordinates and a time – it was a call to a meeting.

Invasion or alliance?

The world waited.

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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/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Bargain Hunter

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Geoff Portman had a passion for oriental antiques. At least twice a year he would fly to Hong Kong hunting for pieces to add to his growing collection. He’d been told of a little shop in downtown Kowloon, but in truth he was disappointed. As he took one last look around he noticed it. Covered in sackcloth, gathering dust in a box at the back of the shop – the glinting tip of a handle lured him in.

‘How much for the sword’ he asked the shopkeeper.

‘Not for sale. Cursed!’

Geoff had heard all this before.  ‘Two thousand dollars?’ he said.

‘Not for sale. Cursed. You no listen to me. Cursed! Need to stay with me. Only me’

‘Five thousand dollars?’

The shopkeeper signed before saying ‘You have it for Ten thousand dollar!’

Back in his hotel room Geoff went to sleep satisfied with his purchase – he would have paid at least double. The next morning they found Geoff still in bed. One half of him on the left; the other on the right. The police were baffled. No murder weapon and CCTV showed no-one other than Geoff leaving or entering his room since last night.

In downtown Kowloon the sword settled back into its box – the glint of the handle sure to catch someone’s eye soon.

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These 200’ish words form my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – River’s End

21-08-august-18th-2013

Jerren Hawkins had been working the Mississippi Riverboats for nigh on 20 years. Most days you’d likely catch a glimpse of him on three or four of the river’s finest steamers. Those days were nearly at and end: Jerren was heading for dry land and the family pig farm in Wyoming. The Hawkins were big in pigs; Jerren was the only one of his siblings not already rearing prime pork. However, the sickness had taken his older brother and Jerren had been called up.

On his last day Jerren was interrupted as he quietly surveyed the decks of the Marylou-Bell.  ‘Step this way Mr Hawkins,’ said the Chief Steward. Jerren looked worried. 20 years above suspicion and now this.

‘Surprise!’ they all shouted as Jerren was ushered into the staff dining room. Most of these people didn’t know who he was or what he did, but Jerren’s was a familiar face and people, it seems, just like to say goodbye.

As the Marylou docked Jerren was waved off on his way. Once he’d faded from view he checked his inside pocket – fob watch, snuff box and two wallets. Not a bad haul for his last day on the job. Leaving parties sure were good for business.

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These 200’ish words form my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Fatal Distraction

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Ray scanned the screens. Being head of security for the Bremington Vets Day memorial service was the biggest break in his career; he couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Ray then spotted something: checking his list it wasn’t down. He quickly contacted his brother on the 2-way.

‘Lanny, this is Ray. Ice cream cart at the west gate. Did you know about this? Over.’

‘Ray, Lanny here. No – must have been added to the programme after we received our copy. Over.’

‘Lanny, this is Ray. We need to get there. Mark a perimeter; nobody else to be allowed in before I arrive. Over’

Ray rushed from the control room – the back of his van – to meet his brother. The man pushing the ice cream cart came under immediate questioning.

‘Hey Paul, didn’t know you were on site today? Gimme a strawberry cone and Lanny will have a vanilla with choc chips.’

‘Sure thing Ray,’ said Paul.

Back in the control van the roving camera focused its lens on the south gate. As Ray and Lanny savoured their ice creams the man with the bulky rucksack slipped into the park unnoticed.

These 192 words form my 100th blog entry, as well as being my story for this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress site. The picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Perfection in Harmony

18-07-july-28th-2013

An anticipation of something special hung in the air. The Moscow Promenade series had been one of the most memorable in recent years; tonight the final recital was expected to provide a fitting climax. The line up of musical talent on display certainly promised all that, and perhaps more.

On the rostrum, Igor Vaclav shared some last words with his right hand – lead violinist Chi-Xe Lang. These two needed to perform as one. Every note, every chord, every semi-quaver had its place. Igor and Chi-Xe wouldn’t accept anything less. Their reputations were the ones on the line. The rest of the orchestra were seen as an extension of them. The orchestra’s faults would be their faults; tonight was too important for mistakes.

The hall was soon filled with an explosion of sound. The audience sat enthralled as sweeping chords, crashing drums and heavenly strings rained down. As the finale approached Igor and Chi-Xe both noticed it: the cellist due to lead the closing piece wasn’t there. No time to think why. A quick glance between the two – they knew what was needed. Where there was meant to be cello there was instead violin. As the last note sounded the crowd roared their approval. The conductor and his right hand shared a relieved, and knowing smile.

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Apologies at once again blowing the 150 word guideline; I hope you regard the extra 70 words as a bonus!  This tale of two acting as one forms my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

 

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The One Under

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The station appeared deserted. Wind whistled down the track; litter sucked into the darkness. From somewhere in that void came the sound of an ever approaching train. The smell of damp and decay was everywhere. ‘One’ and ‘Six’ said the arrivals board. It seemed a lot longer than that since he’d been staring, waiting for his train to arrive. He could still hear it. He could always hear it.

Something wasn’t right. He walked along and out of the platform. The escalators churned, empty of life. Where was everybody? He began to panic. Had he been locked in by mistake? He couldn’t actually remember getting here. Running up the moving stairway; along more silent tunnels. Posters advertising ‘Summer Fun in London’ beaming out as he ran. Running, he kept running. One last turn and he was sure he’d be at the exit.

Rounding the corner the deserted platform beckoned once more. At the mouth of the tunnel she stood. Waiting to jump. His train finally racing from the dark to the light.

***

Harry woke with a start. The woman had died instantly that day. She is free. Harry relives it endlessly. He will never drive his train again. He weeps; his wife holding him tightly.

Apologies at blowing the 150 word guideline. I could take 50 words out but I don’t want to as the story would be lost. I hope I’m forgiven and that you enjoy these 200 words which represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

(For info a “One Under” is what London Underground drivers call a situation where someone jumps in front of a moving train)

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – King of the Castle

16-07-july-14th-2013

His friends thought he was a pretentious oaf. Live in a castle? Why not he’d earned it! Harry Vernon was undoubtedly no King Arthur but the name Camelot had been too hard to resist. Maybe he was pretentious after all? He didn’t care.

Harry woke to the hushed voices of servants tip-toeing past his bedroom door. The gentle sound of splashing water from the en-suite told him the second Mrs, or as he called her, Lady Vernon had already risen. Donning his velvet dressing gown and hand sewn leather slippers Harry strolled across to the window. Throwing wide the shutters the view was as stunning as ever.

Across the street the Elizabethan mansion of plastic surgeon Doctor Rodriguez glistened in the bright morning sunlight. Next door peacocks strutted in the grounds of Deputy Commissioner Mandale’s tribute to the Palace of Versailles. Thankfully money knew no bounds of taste in the millionaire’s row of San Portenza. Harry couldn’t have been happier.

These 150’ish words represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/